Despite that immediately noticeable faux paux, I picked this up because I am an Andy Kubert fan. His style isn't for everyone, but it's for almost everyone who grew up reading comic books in the 90s, and I fall directly into that category.
This book is written out of continuity, as is obvious by the fact that Damian Wayne has been dead for months now, and the story would fall into what many older readers still refer to as an 'Elseworlds' story.
Here in Damian: Son of Batman we are introduced to an older Damian Wayne than the one we have known for the last few years; a Damian that is even colder and more brutal than the 10 year old who fought/learned alongside Dick Grayson, and later, his father, Bruce Wayne.
The story begins with Batman and Robin investigating a crime scene at the Gotham docks, where after finding a laughing fish (that's such a classic story, if you haven't read it, you need to), Batman is killed in an explosion. The rest of the story basically follows Damian's quest for revenge, including a visit to his mother, Talia, and his grandfather, Ra's Al Ghul. Also, the requisite shaming scene from Alfred is included here.
Though this book is written out of continuity, it has all of the familiar trappings of the character that Damian was, and the way in which his interactions were written. The writing alternates between contrived and silly, never finding any real depth, despite the serious tone of the book. I hate to jump on Andy Kubert's writing so early in, but we often see this when artists are given the keys to drive in terms of writing. Visual storytelling is vastly different from the written word, and we often see that in comics where artists decide that they would like to write as well.
Also of note, Kubert shows his length of tenure in the business by employing the old 'talking head' during narrative scenes with Talia, which looks ridiculously out of place in modern comic book storytelling, and really breaks up the pacing at that point in the story. It creates an awkward disconnect between the panels and the narrative to have word balloons employed where now days we as readers are conditioned to seeing narration boxes. It's awkward in the same way that seeing a thought bubble now is strange, but to an even greater degree.
Being a fan of Andy Kubert though, the art is (for me), typically fantastic. He drew my favorite version of Tim Drake's Robin in the old DCU, and he draws a similar version of an older Damian. It was nice that he got his Batman in during the first few pages as well, as it's unsure if we'll be seeing more of Batman throughout this miniseries.
Of particular note here is the quality of not only the cover of this book, but also of the matte interior pages, which help lend a darkness to this book that suits the content well. While Kubert is handling both penciling and inking duties, his colorist for this series is Brad Anderson, and his work compliments Kuberts sublimely. The contrast of blues and yellows in particular stand out on the matte pages by adding an almost dated feel that lets you know this book is not in continuity, it just looks too different from the other Batman books on the shelf to be in the same timeline. Really a nice touch.
Overall, I'll keep reading this because it's the only way I'm going to get more Damian stories for now, and because I love Andy Kubert as an artist. As far as story goes though, this first issue left me unimpressed. Even the 'cliffhanger' at the end was unsurprising and tired.