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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Son of Batman



He's a real son of a bat, that Damian Wayne. Based upon Grant Morrison's 2006 story "Batman and Son," Son of Batman introduces Bruce Wayne's dangerous little bastard into the DC Animated Universe. Damian, a name perhaps too on the nose, is the child of Bruce Wayne (voiced by Jason O'Mara) and his estranged beloved, the voluptuous international terrorist Talia al Ghul (voiced by Morena Baccarin). The details of their union are sketchy, but Bruce Wayne and Talia did the nasty-in-the-past-y (after Talia spiked Bruce's drink), and the product of her dark night with the Dark Knight is a son. Ten years old when Son of Batman begins, Damian (voiced by Stuart Allen) is a violent and deadly boy assassin trained to be the heir to his grandfather Ra's al Ghul's League of Assassins. 

Damian is a young boy who is intended to inherit a global network of ninja murderers based out of Himalayan monasteries. But when the League is attacked by Slade Wilson - Deathstroke - and Ra's is killed (Talia is so sure he's dead, she nonsensically doesn't even try to dump her father's body in the adjacent Lazarus Pit to see what happens), Talia brings Damian to Gotham City so he can get to know his other inheritance: the high tech, crime fighting legacy of the Batman. How lucky can one little rich kid get? Actually, Damian is less enthused with the Wayne side of his family. His father only has one servant! Alfred, whom Damian dismissively orders around as "Pennyworth," is equally unimpressed with the young new master of Wayne Manor. The most laughs in Son of Batman are gleaned from Alfred's weary interactions with Damian. Also funny is Damian's evaluation of Dick Grayson and his original Robin costume ("a little effeminate"). Damian thinks the same of Grayson himself. Sharp kid.

Damian loved and admired his grandfather, but Batman calls Ra's (pronounced here as "Raysch" al Ghul and voiced by Giancarlo Esposito) a madman. They're both right. Seeking to avenge his grandfather's murder, Damian and his reluctant father are drawn into a ridiculous plot by R'as involving the creation of an "unstoppable" army of flying man-bat ninjas that "no army would withstand." Uh huh. We do have nuclear weapons, but flying mutated bat ninjas, sure. Deathstroke appropriated this plot as his own when he killed R'as. Son of Batman hardly does Deathstroke justice. Instead of the superpowered international mercenary and master tactician Slade Wilson is in the comics, Son of Batman re-imagines Deathstroke (voiced by Thomas Gibson) as the jealous former heir to the League, cast aside by Ra's when Talia met Bruce Wayne and sired a son. Deathstroke seems to be jealous of both Batman and Damian for subsequently taking his spot in the League. In Son of Batman, Deathstroke gets his ass handed to him by a ten year old boy. In fact, it's Damian who takes his right eye by sticking it with the pointy end of his sword.

From Batman ripping off Killer Croc's prehensile tail to Damian - now the new Robin the Boy Wonder - interrupting Deathstroke's henchman Ubu's night with some of Gotham's finest prostitutes with murderous intentions, Son of Batman doesn't skimp on the crazy. The limitations of animation means Son of Batman doesn't delve too deeply into the various emotional complexities of what it truly means for Bruce Wayne to suddenly have a son or for Damian to meet his father. Son of Batman is a brisk 74 minutes and is primarily concerned with the absurd man-bat (men-bat?) plot and acts of bloody vengeance with swords. If you crave ultra-violence and questionable dialogue in a story about a ten year old kid who learns his father is Batman, Son of Batman will slake your thirst.