Comments in the last post about Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin debut reminded me that I really didn't like Damian when I first saw him during Morrison's first Batman story arc ("Batman and Son", Batman #655 - 658, 2006), and I didn't think much of his run at the time (to the point my wife and I didn't pick it up again until "RIP"). I mean, suddenly Bruce and Talia have a kid, this arrogant, egocentric, annoying little pissant of a bastard who thought he had some entitlement to participating in the legacy without earning his place in it. Man, he's worse than Jason Todd.
And now that same over-emotional, snotty kid IS Batman's sidekick, he's Robin as of Batman and Robin #1. But suddenly he no longer annoys me. His character has mellowed (if only slightly) in the 3 years since first appearing, and he's got a place in the legacy now that Bruce Wayne is "dead", as the "real" son amidst Bruce's adopted orphans. Typically Batman's the serious one and Robin's the lighter half, but the tables are switched, and it's Batman who has to teach his Robin to lighten up a little. I'm sure people don't like Damian and I don't think we were supposed to at first, or even now (his treatment of "Pennyworth" raising more than a few hackles, I'm sure), but it would appear that Morrison likes this character he invented (writers love difficult characters because they're fun to write, even if fans don't respond to them well) and is going to spend some time building him into someone stronger, less selfish, more heroic. If the "preview" images of the upcoming year in B&R are any indication, Damian's going to be humbled after a severe gang beatdown, and be at odds with Dick on more than one occasion. So even if Damian is the annoying prat right now, will he still be a few years down the road?
Although, I think the question that really needs to be asked is:
Who is the most annoying character in the DC Universe?
While we're at it: Who is the most annoying character in the Marvel U?
This isn't those characters you love to hate, but rather characters who are so poorly conceived or so poorly written that you can't stand the very sight of them. Every word balloon pointing to their lips makes you wince in pain, their very presence makes you want to either tear out the pages in the comic or your hair.
In the DCU, it's hands down "Superboy Prime". Geoff Johns seems to love him, but he's a whiny little bitch with nearly unlimited power, which I can see would make for a good one-off super-villain, except that he's already had his one story line (Infinite Crisis) and his schtick has gotten kind of tired since then ("Sinestro Corps War", "Legion of 3 Worlds": good stories with one big flaw). His motivation for his actions always seem suspect, as if Johns himself has a hard time justifying the character. I think every really good villain you're supposed to like a little, and there's absolutely nothing likable about him.
I've never been a big Marvel reader so I don't wind up hanging around a series if its characters annoy me (whereas as a lifelong DC fan I'm willing to give a little latitude to annoying characters). But I'd have to say that it's probably Jean Grey who annoys me the most whenever I see her around (as long as she's not played by Famke Janssen that is) back from the dead once more, trying to control the Phoenix inside her, ruining emo Scott Sommers' pathetic little life with her yo-yo dead/not-dead routine.
Who is the most annoying character in comics?