Damian’s short life was tumultuous after he entered Bruce Wayne’s world, a continuous struggle to excise himself of the cruelty he’d learned while upholding his father’s ideals instead. Damian never resented those ideals; he made the choice to join Batman, and though he lapsed in the case of Morgan Ducard, Damian fought his instinct to kill his enemies because he saw qualities in his father that he wanted to develop in himself. To show the ultimate mercy to those who had wronged himself or others is counter-intuitive to everything Damian had been taught about vengeance, but even if he didn’t understand his father’s refusal to kill, he tried his best to respect it.
Damian was a child who was taught to be wicked, but longed to be good in the end. Even if he’d grown to be an adult, I’m certain he would have always struggled with his conflicting impulses, with compassion trying to blossom beneath the drive to be merciless and self-centered. I don’t think he would have ever been a gentle spirit, no. He would’ve always been arrogant and sharp-tongued, combative just for the sake of it, insatiable in every aspect of life. But he would have grown to understand that compassion must be at the center of Batman’s mission, and he would’ve upheld his father’s ideals if he ever adopted the cowl. He respected Batman that much. He respected Bruce that much.
I’m glad little Damian had one opportunity to act as Batman (Batboy) before he was killed. He was successful in solving the case, he enjoyed himself, and Bruce wasn’t angry with him. Damian still had much growing to do, still had many years before he answered the questions of identity he poses in the panels above (Batman and Robin #8). Perhaps he never fully would have answered them to his own satisfaction.
But Damian did, at least, become comfortable in his role as a member of Bruce Wayne’s family. Dick and Bruce allowed him to be Robin, and that was important to developing Damian’s respect for authority and sense of justice. But more importantly than that, they took a little boy who had a childhood of brutality and cold ambition and gave him the opportunity to be a kid. In the end, Damian became more inclined to smile, to accept affection, to play with his dog or pull a prank on his father. He began to value others and himself as more than just pieces in the games of those in power. Damian was still difficult, and it’s likely he always would have been. But, if given the chance, I think he would have grown to be happy.
Fortunately, Titus and the rest of the family helped him find a little tranquility for the brief time he had with them.
We’ve been dedicated to Damian for a week around here, and now it’s time to let him rest and resume normal operations. This is the last post in the Damian Wayne in Memoriam tag, but the link will remain in the sidebar to visit whenever you’re missing him. I’ll begin posting other characters again, but have no fear: Damian will remain a fixture on this blog. He will be posted frequently amongst the rest of the Batfamily characters.