Batman Vol.2 - Issue #5 | Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo
You can argue back and forth about Snyder’s use of, or lack thereof, other Bat-family characters in his Batman reboot, but I think it is in scenes like this that he shows that when he does use them, he does it well. (Though that may just explain why people are eager for missing Batgirls to show up in his writing as opposed to anyone else’s, a point I wouldn’t argue.)
The Damian we see here is entirely different from the one in Tomasi and Gleason’s Batman and Robin, but at the same time they don’t contradict each other. Damian in B&R is stifled, angry, and frustrated; he repeatedly comments on how much his father hasn’t lived up to his ideals, or how Bruce doesn’t trust or respect him. Because B&R is defined by the tension in Bruce and Damian’s relationship, there hasn’t been much time to reflect on Damian’s views of Batman, which are entirely different from his views of Bruce. Snyder, sliding in a last page to this issue and using Damian to close on a thematic note, highlights that latter viewpoint.
The Bat symbol has always been used, and never very subtly, as a marker for Batman-as-a-symbol, his relationship with Gotham, and to gauge the city’s reactions to him. So that it is broken in this scene indicates (or rather hits you over the head with the fact that) Batman is in trouble, and the city’s protector is vulnerable. Having Damian be the one to insist that it be repaired shows that no matter what his issues with Bruce are, the symbol of Batman will always be exceedingly important to him.
And that, I think, is the key to Bruce and Damian relationship, at least from Damian’s side. No matter how much he says Bruce disappoints him, or dislikes the shift from Dick to Bruce, or what have you, the icon of Batman is something imprinted on his brain. Batman being vulnerable not only shakes Damian’s faith for his father’s sake, but it also creates a hole in Damian’s personal identity—“Son of Batman” is how he defines himself, and in no small way.
In the end, it’s nice to see this more childlike and emotive part of Damian’s personality, which has been absent in B&R. Both Tomasi and Snyder have valid interpretations of the character, but since this vantage point has been scarce, it’s nice to have it back if only for a moment. And Commissioner Gordon’s support in that final panel is a nice nod at the dynamic he and Damian had pre-reboot (which was volatile and snarky, to be certain, but I’d like to think it was the type of snark that would be put aside in moments like this).