Funnybooks Offline: Damian Wayne Animated!

I know the guys give me a pretty hard time about picking up Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, but I think the one thing that we’ve all come to agree upon is that at least one good thing has come out of it – Damian Wayne.  Sure, the character started as a little prick that we were just waiting to die off, but as the character matured, he became something we’ve never seen before – a badass Robin.  Tim Drake was awesome, Dick Grayson as well.  Jason Todd was a little schmuck.  But Damian has been kicking ass and taking names.

Which is why preview footage of a recent Batman: Brave and the Bold episode (episode S02E22), entitled “Knights of Tomorrow,” had me excited.  It showed a Dick Grayson Batman facing off against the “son of the Joker,” and the first animated appearance of Damian Wayne!

After all, I said on a recent Funnybooks episode that I think the television show Young Justice would have been a prime time to introduce the rest of the world to Damian Wayne (they went with Dick Grayson).  I was shocked that Brave and the Bold would introduce Damian into its mythos, but I had to see how they were going to make it work.

“Knights of Tomorrow” is a rather oddly formatted episode.  While I know that Brave and the Bold typically has a pre-credits sequence that has nothing to do with the regular episode.  Still, it usually at least partially leads into the main storyline.  Not so with this episode.  We see The Question on Apokolips fighting with Kalibak, and jumping into a flaming pit, just in time for the credits to start.  Literally had nothing to do with the episode, though I think episode 23 involves Darkseid, so maybe it led into that episode better.

SPOILERS ON FROM HERE ON OUT – READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Still, after the odd choice of pre-credits sequence, we are given a storybook-ish introduction to the legacy of Batman.  In this episode, we see Bruce Wayne take on Dick Grayson as Robin, who then grows older and finally assumes the mantle after Wayne marries Selina Kyle and they have a son, Damian (yup, not with Talia in the cartoon).   At the opening of the Batman museum, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are murdered by the son of the Joker (the original Joker presumed dead years ago).  Damian joins up as Robin to join up with Dick Grayson, now Batman, to take on both the new and original Joker, who’s old and has one final caper to pull over before he dies.

SPOILERS OFF

I was surprised at how relatively serious the material was taken in this episode.  Characters die, and it’s all quite a serious affair.  Sure, there are a couple of little touches that make this decidedly Brave and the Bold, such as the way the elder Joker is animated.  But overall, this was definitely an impressive way to approach the material.  Not only that, fans (or readers at least) of the Morrison run on Batman will see a ton of references to the material, including cameos of many major villains from the storyline.

My main gripe is the way Damian is portrayed.  He’s not the Damian we’re used to from the comic.  He’s essentially Damian in Wayne only, a kid who’s struggling with the destiny of becoming Batman (and the constant pressure from Bruce Wayne), but nowhere do we see the touches that make us love Damian like we do.  Despite being a great episode, I’d venture to say we still haven’t actually seen an animated Damian Wayne.

Despite the changes to the storyline and the characters, I’ve got to admit that this is probably the best Brave and the Bold episode I’ve ever seen.  Of course, there are those who’d say (including myself) that that’s not saying much.  Still, definitely worth seeking out.

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