"Next of Kin": While investigating a crime scene at Gotham's Tricorner Docks, Batman and Robin are disgusted to smell the pile of corpses and fish that lie piled there. Whoever killed all of these people - m
- The Batman lineage is a proud and honorable one that must be upheld. A link that cannot be broken. Fate, not chance, has brought this moment to you. You must take your place... as the next Batman.
Synopsis for "Next of Kin"
While investigating a crime scene at Gotham's Tricorner Docks, Batman and Robin are disgusted to smell the pile of corpses and fish that lie piled there. Whoever killed all of these people - mostly vagrants - was highly efficient, leaving few clues. Batman, though, discovers a very obvious clue - a fish with a horrifying rictal grin. This, though, is too obvious, and Robin realizes too late that it is a trap. Within moments of his noticing it, Batman is caught in an explosion caused by a device hidden within the fish.
Damian falls unconscious and wakes as it begins to rain. Struggling to stand, he wonders how Batman failed to hear the trigger mechanism that he heard. He spot's Batman's crumpled cape beneath the rubble, and desperately digs his father out, but he's too late. The Batman is dead.
Even at the burial, Damian can't help but feel responsible. He had heard the trigger. If he'd acted sooner, he might have been able to save Batman's life. He even begins to feel as though it should have been him who died.
Weeks later, Damian returns to the isle of Murjeno, his place of birth and one of several homes to the League of Assassins and his grandfather Ra's al Ghul. His arrival is unexpected, but he is greeted by his mother Talia and Ra's, though they have not seen him for some time. Damian announces that the Batman is dead, and he needs their help to catch the assassins who remain at large. However, his decision to join the Batman rather than lead the assassins as a warrior king displeased his mother and grandfather, and as such, they refuse to help. However, Ra's reminds that Damian is the heir to the legacy of Batman, and they will be severing his ties to the League. The legacy Damian inherits is a proud and honourable one that must be upheld. Damian must take his place as the next Batman.
In the hopes of avenging Batman, Damian spends the next several days using process of elimination to determine which of the hundreds of Gotham crooks claiming to have killed Batman might be making those claims legitimately. Whether their claims were legitimate or not, though - he didn't care. He would take all of them out. Permanently. Even so, he is at odds with himself, and enters a church confessional. The clergyman inside wonders if Damian has come out of guilt, warning that he knows the Wayne family, and Damian's methods are against the moral code Bruce Wayne stood by most strongly. Killing makes Damian just as bad as a criminal. The Batman didn't need to kill. Angrily, Damian responds that Batman's methods were not definitive enough. The criminals always returned. Frustrated, he leaves the confessional, leaving Father James Gordon to mourn the loss of his friend, and his friend's legacy of moral strength.
Likewise, when Alfred Pennyworth discovers Damian's actions, he warns that Batman would never have blamed Damian for his death. He knew the risks of being a vigilante. However, he would certainly condemn Damian for premeditated murder. Damian responds that the Batman is gone, and he will handle this his way, promising himself that he will find and kill the Joker. He is surprised, though, when Bruce Wayne - his father - demands to know just what the hell he is doing.
Appearing in "Next of Kin"
- Chipmunk (Only appearance; dies)
- Jackanapes (Apparent Death)
- Killer Croc (First appearance; dies)
- Mister Freeze (Dies)
- Alfred Pennyworth
- Alfred the Cat
- Barbara Gordon
- Bruce Wayne
- Sons of Batman (Damian's Clones)
- Tim Drake
- This issue is set in the possible future known as Batman in Bethlehem.
- This issue is reprinted in Damian: Son of Batman.