The DC Comics Graphic Novel Collection has shown us one thing for certain: DC knows Batman is its most popular hero. Suitably, Volume 6 delivers another Batman story, Batman and Son, which collects Batman #655-658 and 664-665 as well as the first appearance of Talia al Ghul in Detective Comics #411. With all this family stuff, it’s like an episode of Family Matters, but without the annoying Steve Urkel.
Grant Morrison has always been a divisive writer. At times his stories are absolutely magical, while the rest can best be described as a night of too much LSD and whiskey. The “Batman and Son” arc, though, captures the best of Morrison as he explores the familiar trope of a father and son trying to get along. It’s a tale as old as time, but he’s managed to refresh it for the superhero world in his own unique way.
The shock of discovering he has a child he never knew about doesn’t really rock the stoic Bruce Wayne. Instead, it’s Damian’s affection for killing and trying to murder Tim Drake that causes the biggest flare-ups between the two. Bruce refuses to give up on little Damian, however, and believes he deserves a chance, no matter what everyone else thinks of him. Meanwhile, there’s also the looming threat of Damian’s mother, Talia al Ghul, and her army of Man-Bats. Just another day in Gotham for the Bats, right?
Despite the family drama and plentiful action, the highlight is Morrison’s humour that drips from the pages illustrated by Andy Kubert. While the subject matter of murder is undoubtedly quite serious, he does it in such a way that he makes us laugh at Damian’s rationale for what he does. This is a child who grew up amongst assassins, so he’s not exactly well adjusted (ahem, like father…). Additionally, Alfred gets all the best lines in the storyline as he delivers the drollest responses to the newest Wayne in the family. It’s a barrel of laughs, as “Batman and Son” displays Morrison’s twisted humour in between the drama.
Even though Damian has become a polarising figure and a lot of comic book fans dislike him, there’s no doubt he’s an important addition to the mythos. As such, “Batman and Son” is a pivotal story as any to the modern-age Caped Crusader. It’s a memorable arc that led to an even better series featuring Dick Grayson and Damian: Batman and Robin.