I’m sure you’ll be angry with me for disobeying you again but I don’t care, I will not let you fight Leviathan alone. You need me and I will always be at your side. Because it will be hard for me to say these words face to face, I want you to know that Mother may have given me life, but you taught me how to live.
Love and respect,
There comes a time in when we lose someone close to us, whether it’s a relative or friend. Grief is a natural coping mechanism and we all grieve in different ways. Grief is the focus of Batman And Robin: Requiem For Damian, as The Dark Knight struggles to cope with the loss of his son. Written by Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Patrick Gleason, Requiem For Damian presents a raw, emotional father who will do anything to bring his child back.
The story is broken down into the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, despair and acceptance. Batman’s allies are used for different stages, such as Red Hood being used for anger and Batgirl representing bargaining. It’s a clever piece of storytelling that shows Batman’s emotional journey from start to finish.
The first part of the story is a real tearjerker because there’s no dialogue. All you see is the pain on Batman’s face as he goes on patrol and buries himself in his job. When he comes home, he finds a letter from Damian that pushes him over the edge. Bruce smashes up everything around him until his hands are bleeding and he desperately clutches Damian’s Robin costume.
In denial, Batman tracks down Frankenstein’s monster and kidnaps him against his will. Bruce wants to bring Damian back to life. By dissecting the monster, he hopes to find some clue to how he can reanimate his son. Alfred believes he’s going too far and calls in Red Robin. When Tim arrives, Bruce has already cut the monster open. Red Robin and Batman fight until he destroys the machine Batman was building. Tim wants him to understand, but Batman disappears.
During the anger story, Batman takes Red Hood to Ethiopia to find a group of assassins who targeted Damian. After they’ve beaten the assassins, Bruce takes Jason back to the place he was killed by The Joker in the hopes he can remember something of how he came back to life. Jason gets angry that Bruce lied to him and the two of them fight. Bruce stops fighting back, wanting Jason to hit him until he can’t stand. This act drives another rift between them and Red Hood leaves Batman alone in the desert.
The next stage is bargaining and Batgirl runs into Batman during patrol. She’s heard about how out of control he is and confronts him in the cave. Barbara tells him he’s got to stop bargaining with his own pain and smashes the glass case that has Damian’s uniform in. She offers to be Robin if it will help him, but Bruce screams at her to go.
For ‘Despair,’ Catwoman needs Batman’s help to recover a spy who’s being held in China. It turns out the ‘spy’ is a five-year-old girl called Jia-Li, whose father defected. Batman and Catwoman are successful in rescuing her, and it leads to a touching moment where Batman comforts Jia-Li in his arms.
In ‘Acceptance,’ Bruce replays Damian’s death over and over on a machine, trying to find a way to save him. Nightwing decides to go into the machine with him and the two manage to save Damian. Dick urges Bruce to turn his loss into another reason to keep fighting.
Later, Alfred goes into the machine and simulates Damian’s last night in the cave. In the simulation, he stops Damian from going off to fight. Bruce realises how selfish he’s been for not seeing how much pain Alfred was in, and he agrees to turn off the machine.
Tomasi’s writing is superb, painting Batman as a deeply flawed father who can’t accept his ten-year-old boy is dead. As he pushes away his friends and family, you’ll understand Bruce’s motivations, but wonder what the hell he’s thinking. His supporting cast are fleshed out and believable, with none of them afraid to speak their mind.
Gleason’s art is phenomenal, with the best panels happening in the earliest part of the graphic novel. He tells an entire story through Batman’s facial expressions and it brought me close to tears.
Batman And Robin: Requiem For Damian is a powerful exploration of grief and how it effects a parent. Batman is at his most unrestrained, so I couldn’t recommend this book enough.