There and Back Again selects a character to highlight, then showcases iconic stories and moments within that character’s history.
Written By: Grant Morrison
Art By: Andy Kubert
Published: September-December 2006 by DC Comics
Pause for a moment and imagine the life of Batman. No, not how amazing the Justice League would be, or what it would be like to drive the Batmobile. I’m talking about the life of Bruce Wayne, running the multi-billion dollar company Wayne Enterprises, a job that’s more than a little stressful. As such, every media group in Gotham would be demanding time and attention. His social life, or at the very least, the appearance of a social life would be mandatory. Paparazzi, news media, charities, public appearances, and every other meeting type would nearly drain every minute of every day. Then comes the nightlife of Batman: constant, high level detective work, death defying situations, constant injuries, and the nearly constant patrols of Gotham’s streets. I’m also assuming he sleeps at some point, when, I have no clue. I’d dare say, Batman’s schedule is packed fairly tight.
Now, imagine that life, then add raising a son to the mix, just for funsies. Not just any son either, a trained ninja assassin, with more than a few emotional issues, and a real appetite for defiance. One might dare say that the addition of a son not only complicates everything about Batman, but it takes the character to a place no other character can. This character, of course, is Damian Wayne, son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul.
Unlike every other iteration of Robin, Damian is the only “Wayne” in the bunch. This places an incredible burden on Damian. He isn’t just the lost son of a billionaire. He isn’t just another Robin. He’s both, thus living under Bruce and Batman’s shadow simultaneously.
From Damian’s introduction, he’s a burden, initially sent to distract Batman from Talia’s plans. Yet, over time, his character develops beyond a son, or even Batman’s pupil. Damian constantly pushes himself to be better than everyone. In his mind, he must prove himself because he’s the least connected to Batman, regardless of being Bruce’s son. Every Robin has a deeper, longer history with Damian’s own father. All of which is further complicated by the fact that he was raised by the League of Assassins.
Of course, some might argue that it could’ve been worse. Some of the Robins were orphans, living on the streets, their parents murdered. Damian’s always had his mother. True, but Talia isn’t winning any mommy awards. She raised Damian in a clan of murdering ninjas, which I’d dare say isn’t the healthiest environment for a child. Also, we’re ignoring the affect ole’ Grandpa al Ghul has on anyone, especially Damian. Yet, through all of this, Damian shows himself to not only be a standout amongst the legends of Robin, but also connects Batman to a family.
Bruce, a scarred orphan turned Batman, once again has a family of his own in Damian. This kid single-handedly adds something to Batman that no other character could. He made Batman a father. Damian deepens Batman’s emotions toward the other Robins by exposing him to fatherhood. Every Robin became a “Wayne,” in Batman’s eyes, after that. Damian’s arrival morphed a superhero and his sidekicks into a group that would go to hell and back for each other. Damian is more than Bruce’s son, more than another Robin. He was the catalyst that turned the entire crew of Batman into a Bat-family.