Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Dark History Of Damian Wayne, DC's Most Terrifying Robin

Batman and Robin have been the ultimate crime-fighting pair since 1940, when "Detective Comics" #38 first introduced the dynamic. Over 80-plus years, the vigilante pair have flapped their capes across comic books, television, film, video games, and lunch boxes. Robin the Boy Wonder epitomizes the sidekick cliché, perfectly representing the bright-suited Dr. Watson to Bruce Wayne's brooding Sherlock Holmes. However, over the generations of comic books, Batman's loyal liege has undergone significant transformation, turmoil, and identities.

Whether it be the bright and optimistic Dick Grayson, the hero-turned-villain Jason Todd, or the handful of female versions, the iconic red, green, and yellow Robin costume has passed through an assortment of unique characters. However, none have been as complex and disturbing as DC's current iteration of the sidekick: Bruce Wayne's biological son Damian Wayne.

With a bat-shaped chip on his shoulder, Damian's arrival to inherit the Robin cowl in "Batman" #655 has only complicated Batman's long-standing family drama even further. Their unique dynamic has quickly become one of the most interesting relationships in all of the comic books, and despite only being around since 2006, Damian is set to hit the big screen alongside his father in James Gunn's recently announced "The Brave and the Bold" DC Universe feature. Before this darker version of Robin lands on the main stage to assist Batman in his vigilante fight for justice, we've got everything you need to know about his short — but troublesome — history so far.

He has been around longer than you think

In true Damian Wayne fashion, the character exploded on the scene and angered everyone along the way when he arrived in 2006's "Batman" #655. In nearly no time at all, Damian moved into Bruce Wayne's home, pulled on the Robin outfit, and was in line to become the next Batman. However, this breakout was not the official first appearance of Damian, and Batman's son had already been introduced nearly 20 years previous in "Batman: Son of the Demon."

The story of Damian Wayne's conception is explained in "Batman" #656 when Talia al Ghul reminds the Dark Knight of a steamy night the pair once shared. The moment Ghul speaks of is a reference to the book "Batman: Son of the Demon" by Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham, in which the pair conceive a son, but she convinces Batman that he died during birth. However, in the final panels, the very healthy and living infant is revealed to the audience. In the modern titles, Batman is adamant that he was either drugged during the conception or it was created in a lab. However, writer Grant Morrison set the record straight saying, "Batman is clearly a willing participant in flashbacks to the event! The running joke is that he denies it, to hide from responsibility and convince himself that his youthful passion was some result of trickery." (via Bleeding Cool

His strained relationship with his Bat-dad

Bruce Wayne's paternal relationships are as complicated as they come and have been a central point in many iterations of the character. Famously, Bruce lost his own father at a young age — which has resulted in some extremely unhealthy coping mechanisms in his adult years. Wayne's relationship with Dick Grayson has traditionally been portrayed as fatherly — despite his original intention of dropping him back off at the circus after a single mission. The two have shared a rollercoaster partnership but have remained in each other's corners the way a father and son should. Meanwhile, Wayne's middle child, Jason Todd was handily his most rebellious, and Tim Drake made him a proud father regardless of their own tumultuous affairs.

Even with plenty of experience in the paternal role, Batman was undoubtedly ill-prepared for the arrival of his biological son. Damian landed in Bruce's lap with differing ideologies, a serious lack of respect, and better equipped than all the Robins before. Many of the plots that first included Damian involved the father and son learning to trust one another, but the more they learn to cooperate, the better — and more dangerous — their dynamic becomes.

His relationship with the other Robins

In the same manner that Damian Wayne had to learn to navigate a new paternal figure in his life, he also had multiple siblings to deal with in the Bat family. With his sights set on becoming the undisputed Robin, Damian entered DC Comics with one goal — killing the sitting sidekick and newly adopted Wayne heir, Tim Drake. In their first collision in "Batman" #657, Drake attempts to befriend the new recruit but is repaid by Damian nearly beating him to death. Over time, Damian learns to accept sharing the Robin mantle, and by the 2021 "Robins" miniseries, he proudly accepts Drake as his brother.

On the surface, it would seem like Damian Wayne would get along best with the second Robin, Jason Todd aka The Red Hood. The pair share similar methodologies and both have equally complex relationships with the Dark Knight. However, the two are arguably more contentious than the rest of the Robins — culminating in Red Hood giving Damian a painful lesson in "Teen Titans Annual" Vol.6 #1.

Thankfully, Damian has enough common sense to show his respect to the first Robin, Dick Grayson. Surprisingly, Grayson is one of the first people to be able to connect with Damian and the pair even became "Batman and Robin" following the Caped Crusader's death during the "Final Crisis" event. Although they do not always see eye-to-eye, there is a brotherly camaraderie between them that allows them to work together effectively.

He was trained by the League of Assassins

On the surface, Damian Wayne comes across as an arrogant and selfish brat, making him distinctly unlikeable. Yet fans cannot get enough of the egotistical teen as he always seems to do the right thing when it counts the most. Damian is unlike any Robin that audiences have seen before — and even he has boasted that is far more advanced than his predecessors (via IGN). Damian may have an ego — and many personality traits inherited from his father — but he has the skills to back it up.

Hidden from Batman since birth, Damian grew up under the care of his mother, Talia al Ghul, and his nefarious grandfather, Ra's al Ghul. The child was later trained under his grandfather's elite group of ninja warriors, the League of Assassins. Before stepping foot in the Batcave, the next Robin already had significant training in martial arts, sword fighting, and stealth. More than brawn, Damian also shows proficiency in academics and the arts, while proving he has the investigative reasoning, business management skills, and genius-level intellect to challenge the throne of Batman. Excitingly — with a plethora of talents engrained in him by the League of Assassins — Damian will undoubtedly surpass his father after years served under his tutelage.

He is a better archer than Green Arrow

Frustratingly for many characters of the DC Universe, Damian Wayne has seemingly inherited his father's talents for being better at everything. Green Arrow has been DC's premier archer since he was first introduced in 1941's "More Fun Comics" #73. It is this single skill that has lifted the mortal Oliver Queen to stand beside the god-like heroes of the Justice League. And despite training his own revolving door of sidekicks, Green Arrow has dominated the field of archery — being able to ricochet a single arrow multiple times and still land a perfect bullseye. It would be a significant blow to the character if an adolescent newcomer arrived and outdid him at his own game. So, of course, Damian Wayne is quick to announce his superiority upon their first meeting.

During the 2017-18 "Dark Nights: Metal" event, Green Arrow received the task of looking after Damian Wayne. Obviously, Damian is not too kind to his temporary babysitter calling him a "second-stringer" and boasting that his training under the League of Assassins makes him a far better marksman than the Justice Leaguer. While the pair did not have a direct competition, in the final issue of the "Gotham Resistance" tie-in, Green Arrow missed a shot and pierced Damian's shoulder. Sharp-witted Damian then used the arrow to defeat his "Dark Metal" doppelganger, effectively turning the tide of the war.

He has a secret prison

It has been well-established that Batman does not always play by the rules. Famously, Batman is known to have secret plans to defeat each and every member of the Justice League — including Superman — should any of them turn against him (via CBR). For Damian Wayne, it seems to be a case of "like father like son," especially when it comes to cooperating with his own superhero squad, the Teen Titans.

Damian joined the young supergroup in "Teen Titans" Vol.3 #88 — a tradition upheld by each previous Robin. However, when the team inevitably disbanded, Damian reformed the Teen Titans as their new leader in the fourth volume of the franchise. Interestingly, Damian's method of building a team involved knocking them out, kidnapping them, and forcing them to work together.

Unfortunately, Damian took his role as the new Teen Titans leader slightly too seriously. In "Teen Titans" Vol.4 #20, it is revealed that he repurposed the subbasements of the Titan's headquarters as a makeshift prison for the team's most ruthless villains, including Gizmo, Brother Blood, and Black Mask. After Deathstroke attempted to escape the dungeon and was killed by Red Arrow, Robin initiated even more drastic measures, using his romantic interest, Djinn, to erase the minds of the villains.

He has a Super best friend

As valuable as the Batman and Robin dynamic is to comics, Bruce Wayne's other partnership with the Last Son of Krypton is one of DC's most powerful forces. Batman and Superman have teamed up in hundreds of adventures throughout their long literary lives and have even clashed on the big screen in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." The combination of the Dark Knight's dark mortality and genius mixed with the Man of Steel's optimistic raw alien power has not only saved the universe countless times but makes for an entertaining read for audiences. Naturally, when both of these powerhouses became fathers, they — along with comic enthusiasts — could not wait for their heroic sons to have their own crossover.

Damian Wayne first met Kal-El and his son in "Superman" Vol.4 #10, after he essentially kidnapped the Superboy. Getting off on the wrong foot, the two children are tasked with working together by their fathers and eventually form a duo known as the "Super Sons." Their dads even build them their own underwater base called the "Fortress of Attitude," and together they save the world from threats like Rex Luthor and Kid Amazo. Although their conflicting personalities have made their friendship a formidable hurdle, the Super Sons have formed a bond that only their fathers could understand. And their collaboration even earned them their own animated film, "Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons."

He is a vegetarian

While Damian Wayne may be hostile, arrogant, and an all-around pain to be around, he's not all bad. Even the most ruthless of teenage superheroes must have at least one soft spot. And Damian's weakness? A genuine love for animals. This bond for creatures seemingly stems from his early life when he was assigned to slaughter ancient dragon bats as part of his initiation into the League of Assassins. As depicted in the "Robin: Son of Batman" miniseries, Damian could not fully commit to the murder and adopted the youngest of these creatures.

Aside from the dragon bat Goliath, Robin has taken on a few pets, including a great dane named Titus that was gifted to him by his father, and a cat named Alfred that shares Damian's ferocious attitude. Still, the pet that had the most significant impact on the young assassin was a fully-grown bovine, affectionately dubbed Bat-Cow. In "Batman Incorporated" Vol.2 #1, Batman and Damian stop a criminal ring infecting cows with diseases at a local slaughterhouse. The disgusting scene was enough to turn Damian off from meat, vowing to become a vegetarian and adopt the last cow standing. The bovine creature — along with his other pets — remains at Wayne Manor, with Damian always ensuring that the animals will be taken care of before taking extended absences.

He already died and came back to life

It is the biggest cliché in all of comic book history — every superhero dies and comes back to life at some point. It is true for nearly every popular comic character from Superman to Wolverine — death is a temporary milestone used as a tool to captivate readers and shake up stale titles. For a character as young and as new to the universe as Damian Wayne, one would expect this momentous death and reincarnation to be years — if not decades — away from transpiring. But, of course, DC has already put the fifth Robin through the ceremonial right of passage.

This iteration of Robin the Boy Wonder was defeated by a sinister new villain in the pages of "Batman Incorporated" #8. "He saves the world. He does his job as Robin," stated Damian's creator Grant Morrison to the New York Post. "He dies an absolute hero." Of course, Morrison had a plan when killing his favorite new character, saying, "Batman will ultimately always have a partner." Sure enough, the "Robin Rises" story arc kicked off one year later, with Damian's resurrection occurring in "Batman and Robin" Vol.2 #37 after Batman chose to bring back his son over his parents.

He killed the first Robin... kind of

The storyline known as "Injustice" has become infamous through comic books, video games, and animated films. And Damian's position in this alternative reality is one of the most harrowing retellings of the young character. After Joker tricked Superman into killing his own wife and unborn child — sending the Man of Steel on a tyrannical rampage — Batman was preoccupied with fighting the oncoming incursion. Left to his own devices, "Injustice" Damian didn't fully agree with Batman's side and betrayed his father by joining Superman's regime.

Hoping that Damian was just lashing out, Nightwing and Batman attempt to get through to him the only way they know how — by punching a bunch of bad guys in "Injustice: Gods Among Us" #16. Unfortunately, Damian was past reasoning and he lashed out, knocking Nightwing over causing him to hit his head on a piece of debris and die. Remaining as one of Superman's generals for years, Damian eventually becomes the new Nightwing. Inevitably, as Superman's regime falls, Batman faces his son in a final battle where the Dark Knight disowns Damian, stating that Dick Grayson was his "true" son.

He is DC's most influential new character

Aside from the biggest names, comic characters can come and go faster than a speeding bullet. There are only a handful of characters that have survived becoming another one-comic book wonder, and new additions rarely find the fame that Damian Wayne has collected. From the moment he arrived in 2006 ready to take on the entire Justice League, the kid was meant for big things.

True to form, Damian managed to make a name for himself in a few short years — while ticking off nearly every significant hero in the DC Universe at the same time — and he has become an influential figure in nearly every cross-company mega-event since. In addition, the character has already burst out of the pages and onto the screen, appearing in several cartoons, video games, and the DC Animated Movie Universe. Subsequently, Damian Wayne will be one of the first characters created in the 21st century to appear in a live-action film when he enters the DCU in "The Brave and the Bold."

He is destined to become Batman

By birthright, it is expected that Damian Wayne should inherit the title of Batman upon Bruce Wayne's inevitable passing. Although, it is not as straightforward as that considering Damian has a few adopted brothers to contend with. In truth, when Batman was incapacitated, it was Dick Grayson who took on the cape and cowl with Damian serving as his Boy Wonder. Alternatively, many fans expect the future of Batman to lie in the hands of Terry McGinnis, as depicted in the "Batman Beyond" animated series. However, there is truth to the idea that it is in Damian's destiny that he will one day become the Dark Knight.

It was only a few issues after Damian Wayne's first appearance that he was already being portrayed as the future undisputed Caped Crusader. In "Batman" #666, a potential future of the DC Universe is written, in which Damian has succeeded his father in becoming Gotham's champion. The event would have been considered a one-off had the same version of him not reappeared in "Batman" #700 and the "Damian: Son of Batman" miniseries. Subsequently, during the 2019 "DCeased" event, another adult version of Damian has taken on the mantle of the Caped Crusader. Certainly, with the popularity of the character and the possible future storylines, it is only a matter of time before Damian has his rightful title.