Batman and Robin #18 is one of the most surprising issues in the Batman canon that I have ever…well…read. That’s a misnomer because there are not any words in the issue–it might be described as a silent story. This takes place shortly after the death of Robin (aka Damian Wayne, Batman’s flesh and blood son). The impact of his son’s death is apparent on every page of this remarkable issue, from Batman visiting the scene to holding his son’s Robin suit and shedding tears, it is a heartfelt story told in freeze frames. That this comes immediately after the Joker incident means no one in the Bat-family has had a chance to rest and regroup yet before this tragedy befell them.
I finished reading all of the issues that I had purchased covering the Requiem story arc before starting in on any of them, so I got the whole story in one sitting. I had not read Batman Inc #8, and couldn’t find a copy on short notice, so I came into the story as a subscriber to the other issues and only found out about Damian’s death in passing (pun intended). This is not your typical vengeance or payback story, like so many stories in the Batman canon. Every member of the Bat-family deals with the loss in their own way, from Nightwing turning to a friend for consolation to Batgirl not quite knowing what to do to Batman rounding up several dozen criminals in a single night of over-zealous crime fighting.
There was a touching scene in Nightwing #18 where Dick was entering a state of depression and feeling isolated and alone. Before he could finish the thought, though, Batman arrived and asked him to come with him. They spent half the night just patrolling together without saying a word–something they both needed. And, this is good storytelling! I feel that these characters have real depth. I can relate and feel empathy for their struggles.
Since there are really two separate issues of Batman (when you include Detective Comics), the writers have had to creatively tell a similar but ongoing story to reflect Batman’s emotions through this trial. Interestingly, The Dark Knight was not included in the story arc again–it was not included in DOTF either, as it seems to tell a different story with different villains most of the time. Not that it’s an alternate universe, but it fills in additional stories not related to the rest of the canon.
The question I’m sure every fan is asking is: What will become of Batman and Robin, sans Robin? I have a theory about that. As any fan of Frank Miller knows, there was once a girl Robin named Carrie (as told in the story The Dark Knight Returns). A similar character to Carrie has appeared from time to time in Batman, by the name of Harper Row (see Batman #12 and #18). Will she fill in as the new Robin in B&R? I don’t think DC can get away with a comic by this title with the “and Robin” part being inconclusive. A new Robin must come forth. Not that I feel overly fond of Robin characters, but the title demands it. And, truth be told, B&R is one of the bestselling series because it appeals to a younger audience (while several other Bat comics tend to tell more mature stories).
Here are the issues in Requiem that I have read, and do plan to pick up Batman Inc. #8 and #9. Although a graphic novel collection of this story will likely be published, it will be many months from now since DC hasn’t even announced a “Death of the Family” collection yet.
- Batman #18
- Detective Comics #18
- Batman and Robin #18
- Batgirl #18
- Catwoman #18
- Red Hood and the Outlaws #18
- Batman Inc #8 and #9 (dnr)
- Teen Titans #18 (dnr)
I am not a reader of Teen Titans or World’s Finest, and really not of Red Hood, though I bought it on impulse and curiosity. Red Hood was not a very compelling read, dealing with issues Jason has over his death (and who wouldn’t?). As for the others, some barely touched on the issue of Robin despite the (R) on the cover, which is okay. I’m glad DC didn’t drag this story out across multiple issues (#20 starts a whole new story–Year Zero).