And what else might be a confirmed rumor?
What about the death of Damian Wayne in Death of the Family?
The image shown above is by Batman & Robin artist Patrick Gleason. It’s a cover that leaked last week via a site called Gotham Spoilers, and spread around the Internet over the weekend, but we waited until it was officially released to have our say.
The cover certainly appears to be an homage to The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller’s most famous work and arguably the most critically-acclaimed Batman story of all time. In that story, Batman had a female Robin who wore a modified version of Dick Grayson’s original costume, including the all-yellow cape that was standard issue on Robins until Tim Drake came along and detailed it with some black.
On the cover above, the little corner of Robin’s cape you can see is ALL yellow, no black at all. That certainly suggests it’s not Damian’s cape. That seems to suggest that we’ve got a new Robin costume in this issue, and given that we’ve been speculating for a while now that Damian might die at the end of Death of the Family, that’s an intriguing possibility.
The cover for Batman Inc. this month could also point toward the death of Robin. With the Batcave as a backdrop, we see half of Batman’s face, clearly angry and with clenched fists. What if, when the gatefold is revealed, Batman’s got a glass case with a Robin costume in it behind him? It’s not solid, but it’s a decent guess.
Also, the homage to The Dark Knight Returns would make sense if the Robin in question were a Girl Wonder and the mirroring effect of the covers was more obvious.
There’s been quite a bit of speculation by fans that if Damian Wayne were to die in the Death of the Family crossover, the most likely candidate to replace him would be Harper Row, a Scott Snyder creation who seems perfectly suited to play the role of the first female Robin in the New 52.
Since Stephanie Brown doesn’t exist in this continuity, she would in fact be the first female character to ever have donned the uniform in the rebooted timeline.
Of course, if you look at Batman in that image, the mystery deepens. He’s absent much of the “armor” look to his gloves and kneepads, and doesn’t have the seams and some of the other detailing that his New 52 costume has featured. Since we’ve seen that in Justice League, which takes place five years in the past, Batman is already wearing his redesigned costume, there are basically two possibilities here: that Batman, for one reason or another, has a new, less protective costume in the storyline that begins with Batman & Robin #19…or that this image is a flashback that goes back farther than five years.
In which case, most likely, this would be Batman and the FIRST Robin, Dick Grayson.
Even if we didn’t get a female Robin, or a replacement Robin of any kind right away, the death of Damian Wayne would leave a hole in DC’s publishing slate, since they have a comic book called Batman & Robin. Given that Dick Grayson is the most iconic, recognizable Robin, perhaps a flashback-style book would be the best way to keep that title alive until a new Robin were introduced or Damian turned out to be less dead than previously expected.
Certainly if this arc were the last one, and the title was cancelled in order to keep DC’s number at 52 when the new Scott Snyder/Jim Lee Superman book is launched, a finale that teams Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson as Batman and Robin for the first time in the New 52 would be a good way to be sure the doomed title still moves units.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Damian will actually die, although his absence on covers this month is troubling. Even if he does die, there’s no guarantee that either of these things are right or that the cape thing is any indicator of anything other than a coloring error. That said, when the pieces fit so nicely together and seem to reinforce existing theories, it’s hard not to at least entertain them, take them out for a test drive and see what happens.
Even if Damian does die, this could be the Bat-team’s way of exploring the theme that Christopher Nolan recently played with in The Dark Knight Rises: that Batman and Robin are more bigger than just the people in the costumes. After all, the other shot we’ve seen with the lightning (and, in this case, even the same color palette) tells us that “Batman and Robin will never die.”