Robin will fly no more after this Wednesday — the current incarnation of Robin the Boy Wonder is biting the dust.
In case you're not up on your Bat-lore these days, be advised that this Robin is not bazillionaire Bruce Wayne's ward Dick Grayson, familiar from the 1960s Batman TV show and the 1990s films "Batman Forever" and "Batman & Robin." No, this Boy Wonder is Damian Wayne — Bruce Wayne's son with Talia al Ghul, the daughter of archvillain Ra's al Ghul and a character in last year's blockbuster "The Dark Knight Rises," in which she was portrayed by Marion Cotillard.
The grim news was revealed in the New York Post on Monday, two days in advance of the publication of "Batman Incorporated" No. 8, the comic in which the death occurs. And that timing has some Bat-fans hot around the cowl. "Really disappointed in a comics industry where I learn this Monday morning instead of Wednesday afternoon," one posted to DC Comics' blog.
"Many fans dislike spoilers, and for that reason I'm not happy that this was leaked to the press," Gerry Gladston, co-owner of Midtown Comics, a major comic book retailer in New York City, told TODAY.com. "It will definitely boost sales, though."
In releasing the news to the Post, DC was likely trying to get ahead of spoilers that were already out and about. Comics retailers get their issues ahead of the dates of sale, and news of Damian Wayne's death had already begun leaking online two weeks ago from someone with an advance copy of the comic. Who released the spoiler is not known, but reportedly it was the same source that revealed details about a major plot point in Marvel Comics' "Superior Spider-Man" several weeks earlier.
As chronicled by writer Grant Morrison in recent Batman stories, Damian Wayne is no goody-goody hero; he is a 10-year old terror raised as an assassin by his mom, and Batman has had to work hard to curb his killer instincts. But in the end, this version of Robin "saves the world," Morrison told the Post. "He dies an absolute hero."
"I don't think fans will be happy about this, as Damian has become a very popular character," Gladston said. "After starting out as a little monster, Damian has grown and worked his way into fans' hearts in big way. I'll really miss that little Bat-brat."
Damian is not the first Boy Wonder to die in the line of duty. In an infamous 1988 stunt, Jason Todd, the second Robin, was brutally killed by the Joker after fans who voted in a telephone poll turned their thumbs down by a margin of 5,343 to 5,271.
But the character was eventually resurrected and assumed a new guise, and some cynics think that will happen with Damian as well. "Oh, c'mon, he won't be dead for real," reader Andrey Vasilich Gorbunov posted to the DC Comics blog.
The topic also came up for discussion among the TODAY anchors on Tuesday, with Al explaining to Savannah and Willie Geist the difference between the current Robin and other Boy Wonders of yore.
But while Batman won't have a Robin anymore (at least for a while), he will team up with the Man of Steel in a new comic book, DC has announced. "Batman/Superman" will debut in June -- and below is a preview of the artwork by South Korea-born artist Jae Lee.
Editor/writer Rick Schindler voted to kill Jason Todd, and has been carrying a burden of guilt around with him ever since.