February 20, 2015

Robin: Batman's Unforgettable Sidekick

I'm pretty sure when you think of Batman, you immediately picture him alongside his sidekick Robin. But, do you know how many people were entrusted the Robin position? Did you know girls were allowed to be a Robin? Is it true one of them died tragically? 

Here I have a list with the official Robins and a few curiosity about them:

___ Dick Grayson ___
Robin I / Nightwing / Batman
First appearance: Detective Comics 38 (April, 1940)

Dick Grayson, an orphan and acrobat, became Batman's first partner. Robin was created as a way to attract young readers to comic books. The strategy was so successful it led to the creation of other superheroes sidekicks, such as Aqualad, Speedy and Wonder Girl (Later, those characters would become the Teen Titans, a younger version of the Justice League). 

Dick is considered the best Robin according to the fans and the one Batman cares the most. In the very beginning, the relationship between Dick and Bruce was considered controversial and even homossexual. The controversy gained followers after the novel 'Seduction of the innocent' by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham was published and comic books became targets for censorship. To silence the rumors, DC created Batwoman and Bat-girl (Betty Kane, not Barbara Gordon) as love interests for Batman and Robin.

As he grows up, Dick decides to retire as Robin to dedicate himself to the leadership of the Teen Titans and takes his own superhero identity: Nightwing.

___ Jason Todd ___
Robin II / Red Hood
First appearance: Batman 357 (March, 1983)

Jason Todd suffered the hate of readers because he came straight after Dick in the role of Robin. The public was still coming to accept Dick was never going to be Batman's sidekick again. Jason was revamped and became a little popular, although his behavior and attitude problems proved he wasn't worth the Robin position. 

In a last attempt to test Jason's popularity, DC Comics editors created 'A Death in the Family' storyline where Batman's fans could call a 1-900 number to vote if Robin would die tragically of if he would survive after all. By a slim margin of votes it was decided Jason's fate as he is beaten up by the Joker and left to die on a warehouse explosion. Batman gets there too late to save Jason and his death haunts the Dark Knight for years to come.

Years later, due to an absurd editorial decision, Jason is brought back to life and becomes the new Red Hood. He was revived thanks to an event involving Superboy-Prime that changed many facts in the DC Universe. However, I think this decision was as stupid as Spider-man's 'One more day' saga that erases Peter and Mary Jane's wedding from continuity. 

___ Tim Drake ___
Robin III / Red Robin
First appearance: Batman 436 (August, 1989)

When I started reading comics, Tim was the Robin in action. For me, he was the best sidekick ever! Clever, good at fighting and with a family to care for, unlike the other two Robins. Tim Drake was also the most explored Robin and the only one to get a monthly title of his own.

Not to make the same mistake and bring a new Robin too soon, it took a while before DC decided it was time for Batman to have a new sidekick. Tim was introduced little by little as a boy who deducts Batman secret identity and decides to prove himself worthy of the Robin suit. Although Batman doesn't like the idea in the beginning, Tim becomes indispensable as a partner.

Before the relaunch of the DC titles, the New 52, Tim leaves Gotham for a while and becomes Red Robin, acting by himself while trying to find Bruce Wayne's whereabouts. After a while, however, Tim returns as the boy wonder.

___ Stephanie Brown ___
Spoiler / Robin IV / Batgirl
First appearance: Detective Comics 647 (August, 1992)

This lucky character, Stephanie Brown, is the daughter of the villain Cluemaster. She becomes the vigilant Spoiler to frustrate his father's plans and ends up helping Batman and Robin. Batman is not sure if she's ready to fight crime, but Stephanie doesn't really care and starts working by herself. For several times she teams up with Robin, who became a love interest for her.

When Tim leaves the Robin position, Stephanie convinces Batman that she is his best option as  a sidekick and becomes the new Robin. However, she dies in action a few issues later.

Spoiler is seen back in Gotham City and Tim thinks he's crazy. But, for his surprise, Stephanie was never dead. She was actually living in Africa with Dr. Leslie Tompkins, who faked her death for the girl to have a better life. For a short period of time, before DC's relaunch, Stephanie acted as Batgirl helped by original Batgirl Barbara Gordon. I call her a lucky b***h for she's the only one to be a vigilant, then a Robin, then a Batgirl. Cool, right?

___ Damian Wayne ___
Robin V
First appearance: Batman 655 (September, 2006)

Damian is the son of Bruce Wayne and Thalia Al Ghul. He just came to know his father when he was already a pre-adolescent and was raised to be a violent assassin in his grandfather's league. Fearing for his son's future, Thalia leaves Damian in Bruce's care. Father and son, however, don't enjoy each other's methods in the beginning. Simply because Batman doesn't kill and Damian was raised to do so.

After Bruce supposedly dies and Dick Grayson takes over the Batman cowl, Damian is chosen as the new Robin. When Bruce returns to his role as the protector of Gotham City he's happy to see Damian's changes and accepts his son as his sidekick.

___ Carrie Kelley ___
Robin in The Dark Knight Returns
First appearance: The Dark Knight returns 1 (February, 1986)

Although not a canonic storyline, 'The Dark Knight Returns' introduces the first girl to ever be a Robin. An ingenious decision by Frank Miller. In this alternate reality, Carrie is a 13-year-old girl who saves a tired and old Batman from a gang and manages to become his "last" sidekick.

Carrie is essencial in Batman's confrontation with the Joker and later on, as the series develops, she becomes a new vigilant known as Catgirl.

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