|By Brett Weiss
DC has killed off Batman’s sidekick, Robin, once again. This time he was killed in the pages of Batman Incorporated No. 8, written by Grant Morrison with art by Chris Burnham, which hit comic book stores Feb. 27.
The Robin in question was Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s 10-year-old son. Damian’s mother was Talia al Ghul, making him the grandson of the immortal super-villain, Ra’s al Ghul.
Damian first appeared as an infant in the hardcover graphic novel Batman: Son of the Demon, which was published in 1987 and featured an introduction by Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hamill. Factory-sealed copies of Batman: Son of the Demon go for $30 or so in near mint condition while limited (to 1,700) copies signed by writer Mike Barr and artist Jerry Bingham sell for around $50.
Damian’s death has received a fair amount of media coverage, but Robin died a more famous death in the Batman: A Death in the Family storyline taking place in Batman No.’s 426-429 (1988-1989, valued at around $10 to $12 each). Here DC killed off Jason Todd, the much-maligned second Robin, by way of fan votes (with an assist from the Joker) via a 900 telephone number. The margin was slim, with 5,343 votes to kill Robin and 5,271 to let him live.
Robin’s gimmicky death kicked off a firestorm of controversy among fans and creators, with Frank Miller, author of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and Batman: Year One (1987), calling it “probably the ugliest thing I’ve seen in comics and the most cynical.”
As happens so often in comic books, Todd’s death wasn’t permanent. The character was resurrected in 2005’s Batman: Under the Hood story arc, in which he became a violent antihero called the Red Hood.
As longtime Batman fans know, Dick Grayson was the first Robin, making his debut way back in 1940 in Detective Comics No. 38, which is now worth $114,000, according to www.nostomania.com. Grayson fought alongside Batman for decades before graduating to the role of Nightwing in Tales of the Teen Titans No. 44 (1984), which goes for around $10.
Unlike Damian Wayne and Jason Todd, Grayson never died, but he did appear in a famous story called Robin Dies at Dawn, in which Batman, while participating in a military experiment to test the long-term effects of isolation on the human mind, imagines Robin being killed on an alien world. Robin Dies at Dawn is in Batman No. 156 (1963), which is worth approximately $100.
According to retailers around the country, Batman Incorporated No. 8 was an instant sell-out, and copies are already showing up on eBay for $15 or more.
“DC didn’t tell us ahead of time that Robin was going to die,” said Doug Shark with Lone Star Comics, a retail chain in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. “This was a terrible decision on their part.”
A second printing of Batman Incorporated No. 8 was scheduled to arrive in stores on March 13.