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Why You Should Read BATMAN AND ROBIN "Born to Kill"

The New 52 series started with an unforgettable story that tested the relationship between Bruce Wayne and his son, Damian. We think you need to read it and we're going explain why!

Damian Wayne, a.k.a. Robin, has been selected by our community as the latest Character of the Month. Last week, we took a look at some of the hero's best covers, and this week, we want to suggest one of the little guy's great stories. If you spend just a few minutes researching Damian, just about everything will point you in the direction of Grant Morrison's brilliant work. From Batman and Son to the first volume of BATMAN AND ROBIN, many of you probably already know about the Morrison stories that demand to be read. We shouldn't even need to talk you into reading those; they're mandatory. We want to recommend a story that really shouldn't be overlooked: Born to Kill. It's the first story arc in The New 52's BATMAN AND ROBIN and it's full of character, action, and serves as a great introduction to their world.

No Caption Provided

Taking place in BATMAN AND ROBIN #1-8, Peter J. Tomasi (writer), Patrick Gleason (artist), Mick Gray (inker) and John Kalisz's (colorist) story is all about the complicated father and son relationship between Bruce Wayne and Damian. After witnessing the murder of his parents, Bruce Wayne trained his body and mind until he could become the ultimate hero, promising to himself that he'd never cross the line and take a life. His son, however, was raised by Talia al Ghul. At just the age of 3, Damian was training with the League of Assassins. He's been raised to be tactical and ruthless. He was taught that taking a life is an easy and logical choice. So yeah, Damian's ideology was drastically different from Bruce's when he first came to Gotham.

Even though the child is living in Wayne Manor and wears the Robin costume, Bruce is still hesitant and concerned about how his son acts. He can tell the killer instinct is still in there and it worries him. And even though Damian is doing his best to meet Batman's rules and impress his father, he can still be brash and he's often frustrated with amount of information Batman holds back. It's the classic case of a child wanting to impress their parent and lashing out when they don't feel properly rewarded for their work. He knows Bruce loves him and just wants to protect him, but he's still young and wants more. He wants his respect and wants to be viewed as an equal. How far will a child go in an attempt to impress the person they admire the most? How long will it be before a father realizes he's slowly pushing his son away? This is a dynamic that Tomasi handles incredibly well -- especially with Alfred Pennyworth being thrown in the mix -- and the art team helps us fully understand their personalities by putting a strong emphasis on the expressions and shading. Damian's often looking unamused, arrogant or frustrated, while Batman tries to keep emotion out of it and remain focused.

To Batman, saying
To Batman, saying "commendable" is his way of saying, "I'm proud of you, son."

As if the relationship between them wasn't rough enough already, this arc introduces one of the most memorable new villains from the New 52, Morgan Ducard, a.k.a. Nobody. The villain is the perfect addition to the storyline's theme, constantly boosting Damian and Bruce's frustration. We won't spoil his story, so all we'll say is he disagrees with Batman's methods and thinks killing criminals is the only way to deal with them. He can see Damian's holding back and he wants to take the little dude under his wing so he can unleash Damian's true potential as a lethal fighter. Given the rocky relationship Damian has with his father, does part of him really want to bond with Nobody and learn from him? Does Nobody have an ulterior motive? How will Batman respond?

During the dramatic and violent adventure, Nobody sheds a little more light on Bruce's past while his own tale offers a different and twisted take on the story's theme. His role brings out some unforgettable reactions from the two heroes and this one truly is all about character. Sure, there's plenty of action along the way -- don't worry, we'll discuss that soon -- but it all boils down to giving these characters depth and shining a spotlight on what means the most to them.

Quite a way to end a chapter, isn't it?
Quite a way to end a chapter, isn't it?

Born to Kill includes some jaw-dropping action scenes. Nobody's handling of his targets is swift and cruel, delivering some bloody and harsh reminders of why he's the story's antagonist. The way Batman and Robin battle goons is a total blast. The layouts hit you with some exciting close-ups of bad guy's getting obliterated and there's more than a few cheerworthy splash pages of the dynamic duo simply looking awesome. And the fights Batman has with Nobody? Oh man, they get astonishingly savage and things get crazier and crazier as the story progresses. Nobody may not be as good of a hand-to-hand fighter as Bruce (to be fair, few are), but, thanks to his weapons and his brutal ways, their encounters are vicious. Their final battle in the story is one for the ages. It's gripping and ridiculously intense.

In one moment, the art team will have you smiling as Damian rapidly punches a bad guy in the face. Later on, they'll have you shocked and horrified as the child temporarily lets loose against a common criminal and the child abruptly realizes what he's doing. Whether the script calls for something fun, scary, heartfelt or lighthearted, the art team is able to do a stunning job making sure each page pulls you right into the story and leaves an impression.

No Caption Provided

Born to Kill is loaded with thrilling action and consistently excellent visuals, but the story offers so much more than just excitement and spectacle. It also does an exceptional job highlighting the bond between Bruce and Damian and gives the reader a terrific insight into their heads. It's character-driven, full of emotion, and downright awesome. Whether you just want to read another Batman story or learn more about Damian, you need to add Born to Kill to your collection.

Have you read Born to Kill? If so, do you share our enthusiasm for the story and think people interested in Damian Wayne need to read it?

56 Comments

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longbowhunter

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I don't think Tomasi and Gleason's run on Batman & Robin ever quite matched what they accomplished during that first arc.

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TheBlueAngel93

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My only real complaint with this arc was them killing off Nobody...such a great, new Bat-villain. :( But overall it was an epic story and really defines the relationship between Bruce and Damian as not only partners, but more so as father and son.

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Devbob98

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Edited By Devbob98

New 52 Batman and robin is one of my favorite runs of batman in general

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deactivated-5edd330f57b65

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This was one of the only stories where I actually liked Damian Wayne. So much growth and depth between him and batman here.

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deactivated-5c901e667a76c

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I read this in August after seeing the "best Batman stories" article, but I didn't like it as much as the others I read.

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nappystr8

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This was a great story arc. I like Damien since the previous Batman and Robin series started, but it was this story that cemented Damien as my favorite DC character. A must read for Batman fans. So excited that Damien's on his way back...and with powers!

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DarkKnightwing

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Edited By DarkKnightwing

The reference to Batman inc was a nice way to connect the Bat-titles.

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The_Kidd

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My only real complaint with this arc was them killing off Nobody...such a great, new Bat-villain. :( But overall it was an epic story and really defines the relationship between Bruce and Damian as not only partners, but more so as father and son.

Yeah, he was one of the better villains to come out of the N52.

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dagmar_merrill

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I love the "why you should read ____" articles.

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SynCig

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Edited By SynCig

I love Damian and Born to Kill was such a great story. A lot of the stuff that followed wasn't quite as good and I'm not a big fan of Tomasi but I think he nailed it with this arc. It's the best thing I've read from him.

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WarDishy_

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I read it with single issues so the first couple of issues were actually a bit of a slow build and it didn't get interesting for me until issue 3 or 4 I think.

It's a really good story, but I have a small problem with how Peter Tomasi writes Batman's dialogue. It just sounds different to how he speaks in other books and the 'voice' (which varies between writers) is a bit off to me.

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TDK_1997

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A great story that I simply adore. I really like how well they started out the new volume of Batman and Robin and what they did with the story.

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TheDandyMan

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Good character development, good villain, good battles, this is definitely a top Damian-based story.

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SilverPool

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Yeah this is probably up there in my top 5 fav Batman trades

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AbdullahZubair

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Hey K4tzman, can you create an article like the Face's of Gotham ones showcasing new new 52 villains stating whether you liked them or hated them with reasons

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Lvenger

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My only real complaint with this arc was them killing off Nobody...such a great, new Bat-villain. :( But overall it was an epic story and really defines the relationship between Bruce and Damian as not only partners, but more so as father and son.

For me, that's why killing Nobody worked so well. As many people on here might know, I'm a big defender of the 'no killing rule' some superheroes adhere to (even less nowadays) so I didn't like this twist in the sense of 'just deserts.' Rather, it marked a crisis for Damian's between respecting his father's rules and ensuring the same thing didn't happen again. Nobody was such a good villain and did so much damage to Batman & Robin that the outcome of his actions will be felt for a long time.

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mak13131313

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Simply an amazing story. This story is the reason why I like Damian as much as I do.

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asjmooney

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Loved morgan ducard's character. The new 52 needs more stories that this one.

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RustyRoy

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One of the best story arcs of New 52. Loved it.

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Anjales_II

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Edited By Anjales_II

I feel like Tomasi's run is much stronger than Morrison's. And this arc is one of the biggest reasons. Tomasi built on elements established before by Morrison and then took to a whole deeper level. And while Morrisson liked to contrast the dark nature of Damian with Grayson's more light-hearted nature, Tomasi instead contrasted Nature (the way Talia raised Damian as a ruthless Assassin) and Nurture (Batman teaching his son morals and how to truly be a hero), while also relating this to Bruce himself, showing that Bruce wants Damian to overcome his past the same he did, while Damian simply wants to prove himself to his father and also wanting him to love him for he is, not just what he wants him to be.

And then of course, there's the art. I won't ramble on about Gleason's strong art, I'll simply post this.

Yeah... I know.
Yeah... I know.

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Brione

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Born to Kill is not only one of the best Damian stories, it's one of the best Batman stories ever written in his 75 years. I rank it as the 12th best Batman story ever.

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redwingx

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I'm not gonna read a story about a character who should never have existed. Damian is a bad fan fiction coming true.

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DrellAssassin

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Edited By DrellAssassin

@redwingx said:

I'm not gonna read a story about a character who should never have existed. Damian is a bad fan fiction coming true.

What a closed-minded statement.

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TheBlueAngel93

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Edited By TheBlueAngel93

@lvenger said:

@war_killer said:

My only real complaint with this arc was them killing off Nobody...such a great, new Bat-villain. :( But overall it was an epic story and really defines the relationship between Bruce and Damian as not only partners, but more so as father and son.

For me, that's why killing Nobody worked so well. As many people on here might know, I'm a big defender of the 'no killing rule' some superheroes adhere to (even less nowadays) so I didn't like this twist in the sense of 'just deserts.' Rather, it marked a crisis for Damian's between respecting his father's rules and ensuring the same thing didn't happen again. Nobody was such a good villain and did so much damage to Batman & Robin that the outcome of his actions will be felt for a long time.

Oh I agree, but if they ever found out a way to bring him back it would be one of the rare times I'd actually like them to bring a character back from the dead, simply because he did so much damage to Batman and Robin.

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Anjales_II

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@war_killer: Tomasi implied in a recent interview here with CV that Nobody may end up coming back. I seem to recall the interviewer saying something along the lines of "since you're bringing back Damian, why don't you also bring back Nobody while you're at", and Tomasi replied with something like "We think alike" or "I like the way you think".

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Lvenger

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@war_killer: I could agree with that tbh so long as Nobody's presence and threat levels remain as high, if not higher, than they were in Born to Kill.

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k4tzm4n

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k4tzm4n  Moderator
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Lvenger

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ComicStooge

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Man, I wouldn't stop at 'Born to Kill' either. I teared up while reading 'The Pearl'.

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mak13131313

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Man, I wouldn't stop at 'Born to Kill' either. I teared up while reading 'The Pearl'.

So did I. I mean there was something in my eye.

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ComicStooge

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@comicstooge said:

Man, I wouldn't stop at 'Born to Kill' either. I teared up while reading 'The Pearl'.

So did I. I mean there was something in my eye.

Of course. I think they ship the last page of the trade with chopped onions in it.

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mak13131313

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Boynerdgeek

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@redwingx: it is not fan fiction. Have you read stuff of Denny O'neill Batman in 1970's where Batman meet Ra's Al Ghul. Damian is connected with that stuff.

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Vulshock

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This story was just as good as the Owls story.

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deactivated-57dd84d2af8d3

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I'll definitely get around to reading Born to Kill, but I have a lot on my backlog and I'm not reading much atm.

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fil123

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@anjales said:

I feel like Tomasi's run is much stronger than Morrison's. And this arc is one of the biggest reasons. Tomasi built on elements established before by Morrison and then took to a whole deeper level. And while Morrisson liked to contrast the dark nature of Damian with Grayson's more light-hearted nature, Tomasi instead contrasted Nature (the way Talia raised Damian as a ruthless Assassin) and Nurture (Batman teaching his son morals and how to truly be a hero), while also relating this to Bruce himself, showing that Bruce wants Damian to overcome his past the same he did, while Damian simply wants to prove himself to his father and also wanting him to love him for he is, not just what he wants him to be.

And then of course, there's the art. I won't ramble on about Gleason's strong art, I'll simply post this.

Yeah... I know.
Yeah... I know.

better than morrisons?? LOL had a rough day needed a good laugh

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Anjales_II

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@fil123 said:

@anjales said:

I feel like Tomasi's run is much stronger than Morrison's. And this arc is one of the biggest reasons. Tomasi built on elements established before by Morrison and then took to a whole deeper level. And while Morrisson liked to contrast the dark nature of Damian with Grayson's more light-hearted nature, Tomasi instead contrasted Nature (the way Talia raised Damian as a ruthless Assassin) and Nurture (Batman teaching his son morals and how to truly be a hero), while also relating this to Bruce himself, showing that Bruce wants Damian to overcome his past the same he did, while Damian simply wants to prove himself to his father and also wanting him to love him for he is, not just what he wants him to be.

And then of course, there's the art. I won't ramble on about Gleason's strong art, I'll simply post this.

Yeah... I know.
Yeah... I know.

better than morrisons?? LOL had a rough day needed a good laugh

My opinion. No need to be a jerk about it.

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Roninreviews

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Best series of the New 52, hands down.

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BaneStrokeLoboGrundyBatArrow

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Damian you little shit listen to your father and act commendable dammit.

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