Road to Rises: Adventures in the DC Universe #6: Robin

Nietzsche once said, “Gaze long enough into the abyss, and the abyss starts starring back at you.” This is the case for any one who is consumed by anger, rage, and pain, and thus strikes out on a path of vengeance. Many times such a person will work alone, not just because they don’t want to be attached to any one, but know one wants to be around them. Consider if you will the bounty hunters of the old West like the characters Clint Eastwood’s portrayed in The Man With No Name trilogy, or Unforgiven. Very often these brooding loan avengers, ride into town alone, administer justice, and leave town alone.

Robin

Robin: The Boy Wonder

Sometimes, there will be at least one person nearby trying to pull the avenger back from the brink and bring him back to the light. After all even Hamlet, the tortured prince of Denmark had Horatio, and despite his name, The Lone Ranger had Tonto riding right by his side as he fought for justice in the old  west.  Famed adventurer and archaeologist Indiana Jones had Sallah, Mutt Ravenwood-Williams and Short Round with him on some of his hair-raising adventures. This is also the case for the Dark Knight Detective, Batman. Catwoman observed once that for some one who is such a loaner he has a lot of strings pulling him back, and this includes his faith full butler Alfred, Police Commissioner Gordon and of course his partner in his war on crime, Robin: The Boy Wonder.

Robin has been around in comics almost as long as Batman. He first saw his debut in the spring of 1940, a full year after Batman entered the scene. Writer Bill Finger admitted that he had grown tired of writing thought balloons and needed another way to get inside Batman’s head. Robin could function as a Dr. Watson to Batman’s Sherlock Holmes, some one with whom he could confer about his case with, and explain to the reader what was happening.  This allowed the reader to see inside the world of the Batman, and put themselves into Robin’s place, thus providing a necessary audience surrogate. In many ways readers could see just how amazing Batman was through Robin’s eyes, just as readers  saw how amazing the mind of Sherlock Holmes was through Dr. Watson.

He could also pull Batman back from the brink of darkness. Writer Marv Wolfman pointed out that a Batman with no Robin can all too often forget about the victims of the crime and  direct his focus only one suspects and, thus, ends up getting lost in his quest for vengeance. Psychologist Travis Langley notes when Batman works with Robin, he is more cautious, even going so far as to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of the case. His injuries are also much less frequent and severe when the kid is around as he has to take the boy’s safety into consideration. It has even been observed by many writers that it is perhaps when Batman is in the cave, unmasked, surrounded by Alfred and Robin that he is his true self.  Even Frank Miller, who at first hated the character, admitted that Robin gives Batman some kind of human context. So often Batman appears imposing and largely than life. Not only is he the world’s Greatest Detective, with his athletic skills that make an Olympic athlete look like a scrawny wimp, he’s on a first name basis with the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Green Lantern.  Robin is a reminder that deep down, Batman, is just a man, albeit a man on a very important mission.

As Robin reminds him in the film Batman Forever when he considers retiring,

“There’s monsters and bad guys out there, and Batman has to be there to protect the innocent!”

Much like Horatio trying to pull back Hamlet on his quest for revenge, Robin does the same for Batman. It is a comparison that Robin himself makes when their trusty butler, Alfred, has Robin read the play. Robin shares his analysis with the Dark Knight asking, “ can you imagine if Hamlet dressed as Batman?” Both Hamlet and Batman come from wealthy families and loose someone they love. In both circumstances because of the political environment they live in, the murders go unpunished (the murderer of Hamlet’s father isn’t punished because the murder, his brother Claudius has usurped the throne, and the killer of Thomas and Martha Wayne is never caught in, most of the Batman media because the city is so corrupt that even a judge or two is on the pay roll of the mob.) Both Hamlet and Batman go to extraordinary measures to try and extract a confession, and as their story progresses they can become so obsessed with revenge that they overlook everything else. However for all Horatio’s good efforts, Hamlet’s quest leads to his death, whereas Robin, like kid-sidekick Short Round with Indiana Jones, is able to help our hero “live to fight another day.”

He also proved to be a valuable asset in his war on crime. When a group of gangsters set up a school for boys to teach them the way of crime, Robin could go in under cover and find out was happening. In the days before wire tapping and bugs, Robin could pose as a shoe shine boy and listen in on conversations. Edward Nygma, better known as the Riddler, is well known for committing rimes that involve complicated Riddles and Puzzles. Robin can usually help Batman figure them out by his computer skills, or by simply offering a fresh perspective.

Langley notes that Robin functions almost like a partner for a police officer, increasing the odds of a successful case against a criminal. Batman also realizes in the graphic novel New Frontier that his Bat-like visage can actually frighten the very people he is trying to protect, such as a kid he is trying to rescue from a burning building.  This young kid can help assuage their fears. Further, Batman’s own son, Damian, would observe that Robin would supply his own personal version psychological torment to the thugs they were taking on as they got beaten up by a kid. After all, if word got out in prison that some criminal got beaten up by a kid, the other inmates would see that criminal as an easy target.

To many readers, Robin comes off as an annoying pest, and is often seen as a useless character. After all why is this grim dark character running around with this brightly colored teenager? And let’s not forget the horrible puns he was known for making in the TV series, like “Holy Rusted Metal, Batman!” He does almost defeat the purpose of Batman, at least upon a casual glance at the character. However Robin does indeed serve a purpose to Batman, and it is much more then a tool in the war on crime.  In Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Batman refers to Robin as his “little monkey wrench” that indispensible tool crucial to winning his war.

As writer Marv Wolfman pointed out its “Batman and Robin, not Batman and some kid named Joey”. Robin is just as much of an iconic character as the Batman and just a casual glance at forums and chat rooms relating to the Chris Nolan Batman movies and you can see several posts relating to the question of “Where is Robin?” and “When will Robin be added to the movies?” A student even asked me this question when I guest lectured on the topic. People know Batman and Robin, the dynamic duo.

In fact, the original Robin, or as he is also known as Dick Grayson, came from an equally tragic past as he to lost his parents to a violent crime.  He was part of family of circus acrobats known as the Flying Graysons. Even at a young age he was capable of doing incredible feats, such as a quadruple summersault in the air without the aid of a net.  He even remarks that he learned to walk on a tight rope before he could actually walk. Some may see it as an arrogant boast, but for some one from a family of professionally trained acrobats, its common place. Consider if you will, Nik Wallenda, the man who recently became the first person to walk across Niagara Falls on a tight rope. Wallenda was a seventh generation acrobat who had learned to walk a tight rope at the age of two. Writer Mark Cotta Vas notes that Dick’s time as a circus acrobat almost makes him a better athlete then Batman as he has already been properly trained.

Night after night, the Flying Graysons performed incredible aerial feats that thrilled young and old alike with Haley’s Circus. Then one night tragedy struck. A mobster by the name of tony Zucco was leaning on their boss, Mr. Haley, trying to squeeze out money for “protection”. Haley was an honest man and refused to get caught up in any mob ring. In order to show him how much he “needed” their help, Zucco sabotaged the act. The young boy was forced to watch helplessly as his parents fell to their death.  Just as Batman would loose his parents to an all to a mugging, Robin would loose his parents to a racketeering act, another form of mob related crime that was all too common in the 1930’s and 40’s.

As luck, or perhaps fate would have it, Bruce Wayne was in  the audience that night .It was the rare occasion that he decided, mainly by Alfred’s encouragement to take it easy and do something fun, especially since it was a charity event in his late mother’s name. Bruce couldn’t help but feel sorry for the boy, seeing himself in that very place not to long ago. He offered to help the boy, who had no living relatives, by taking him in.

However, Alfred would readily admit that Bruce had barely even been a child himself, and that Mr. Wayne had hard time relating to the boy. Alfred would urge, and plead with Batman to reach out to the boy and be a father to him. Batman insisted that he was busy for a reason. He wanted to catch Zucco for the boy so Dick wouldn’t have to live with the same burden. As such Bruce was often gone late, and sometimes he was hardly even at the mansion. Dick couldn’t understand why he was gone, and missed his parents. Soon, Dick would stumble upon a secret. Bruce Wayne was the Batman.

Dick wanted to help him, but Batman was at first reluctant to accept his help. He did not want to risk the boys life by taking him under his wing. He also didn’t wish to see the boy lead the same life he has led. But for that to happen, it requires more then just some homily speeches. As Alfred tells Bruce in the film Batman Forever, “Young men with a passion for vengeance need little encouragement. They need guidance.”

It doesn’t take long however, in both the comics, the films and the cartoons, for Dick to prove himself to be an invaluable help. In the graphic novel Dark Victory, he is able to take a look at a mystery that Batman is trying to solve and see it from another angle, thus helping Batman crack the case. Later when a number of villains break into the Batcave he is able to help defend the cave and take them down.  In Batman Forever he is able to help him out of a pile of ruble, and assist him in taking on The Riddler and Two-Face. If a villain tries to get the jump on Batman, Robin will come up behind the and take them out.

As he says in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series when a ninja has a vendetta on both Batman and Bruce Wayne, “ Hey, Batman may be a jerk sometimes, but you gotta love him. And nobody is going to filet him while I’m around.”

Seeing all this, Batman agrees to have him serve as his partner in the war on crime. Dick chooses the name Robin, usually based on a nick-name his parents gave him, based on what they saw when he was performing his stunts. Dick had skill, speed, grace, and could fly in like a robin. He also chooses the bright red, yellow and green costume we are all too familiar with. Batman disapproves of the look as it is so bright, but Dick is adamant as they are the colors his parents wore in the circus and he fights in honor of their memory.

Batman helps Robin track down Zucco and together they bring him in. He gives the Boy Wonder the offer to quit and lead a normal life. But Dick refuses as he feels it is what his parents would want for him, and as he even admits it’s kind of fun. Then, Batman made the boy wonder swear a candlelight oath to protect the innocent. During this solemn moment The Dark Knight reflected:

“Now I see in Dick a chance to help him cope with his loss, and guide him into becoming a better man for it. I made a promise to my parents that I would rid the city of the evil that took their lives. That remains unchanged. Only now, I am no longer alone.”

Robin found himself taking on villains much bigger and scarier then him, and all doing it with a sense of excitement. In Robin’s first appearance in the pages of Detective Comics, Bob Kane likened him to, “David taking on Goliath.” His a small person doing something only few dream of, and he doesn’t let it get to him or consume him. It’s  this very outcome that Batman will admit that he even agreed to take him as his sidekick in the first place. When the age of a league member is called into question and Batman supports him, Wonder Woman calls him out saying it’s understandable why he would take his side since he had Robin start so young. She asks him point blank why he would allow Dick to become Robin, asking if it was to make him just like him. Batman responds, “No, it was so he doesn’t turn out like me.”

Because Boss Zucco was apprehended Dick doesn’t end up as hard bitten and tortured as Batman, and in fact remains a lighthearted, upbeat, swashbuckler, the very thing Batman hoped for him. Writer Len Wein points out that while Batman may still have vengeance on his mind, Robin is focused more on simply stopping the bad guys, not punishing them. Writer Judd Winick notes that Dick is also able to cope with the loss of his parents for a different reason. The possibility that they could fall to their deaths was part of the reality of their job as circus acrobats. While the act of sabotage was unexpected, it was always a probability. Batman had no such possibility in his mind when he and his parents walked down that dark alley.

As is the case for most boys, though certainly an oddity for comic books which are known for their stationary ages for characters, Dick grew up. Writer Denny O’Neil remarked that he felt “Dick had spent enough time in high school. How long is it going to take for him to get through? Who is he, Peter Parker?” Dick could not be the Boy Wonder forever. He started working with other teenage heroes in the team known as the Teen Titan. He ventured out on his own more often, and as it is with any child, started to question the authority of his teacher in this case Batman.

Nightwing

Dick Grayson as Nightwing

Dick began to feel like Batman was only using him as one of many tools in his arsenal on the War on Crime, and not treating him as an equal. He resented how Batman seemed to manipulate things and pull strings to his advantage. He wanted o be his own person and forge his own path. He also received an injury that force Batman to even reconsider having a side-kick in the first place. As such Dick retired the mantle of Robin and became his own hero, Nightwing.

The name was inspired by a Kryptonian hero he had heard about in tales from Superman, and adopted a look reminiscent of Batman. For a while a rift grew between them, so much so that when Batman’s back was broken by Bane and he chose a cruel and ruthless vigilante named Azrael as his successor instead of Dick, Dick was furious .Bruce explained that he felt Dick had outgrow not only being Robin, but being the next Batman. He saw Dick as a son who had grown to be his own person and respected him to much to ask it of him. He even saw that Dick, ever the showman, was born to be in the center ring, not to be a supporting attraction. However, Dick respected Bruce and was always willing to help him. He even took up the mantle of the Bat twice during his adult life, the first time being while  Bruce was re-training following the ending of the Knightfall saga, and the second time when Bruce was lost in time after being feared dead at the hands of the villain Darkseid.

With Dick becoming his own hero, it meant the position of Robin was vacant. In comic book time Batman went roughly two years with out a Robin, working solo for the first time since he began his career. That is until one night in crime alley, he encountered a young boy named Jason Todd trying to steal the wheels from the Batmobile. From that first meeting, Batman saw a fire in Jason, and thought that perhaps the fire could be controlled.

Batman’s choice proved to be fatal. Jason was a bold, brash and reckless youth with a chip on his shoulder half the size of Gotham City. When The Phantom Stranger assembles all the Robins to help a critical wounded Batman, Dick observes that Jason fights hard and fast like he’s angry at the whole world. Batman felt that Jason had so much power and potential that if he didn’t train the boy, then Jason would go on to become a dangerous criminal. However, because of the boys troubled past he was unstable as Robin. He refused to listen to Batman’s orders, and even ended up hospitalizing a suspect. When Batman called him out for his actions Jason responded with a snotty remark.  He also allegedly had been responsible for the death of the son of an ambassador, as this son had gotten diplomatic immunity for the rape of a young girl. As such Jason felt he had to be punished.

It was because of his attitude that Jason would meat an untimely demise. Readers hated him and so in the Death in the Family Story Arc, the final chapter was left up to the readers . Joker had beaten the boy with a crowbar and blew up the building. This story was part of a revolutionary idea, the writers were going to leave the fate of a character to the readers. Unlike when Spider-Man’s first girl friend, Gwen Stacy who died at the hands of the Green Goblin because the narrative demanded it, the readers could decide if Jason lived or died by one simple phone call. Like a Roman Emperor in a coliseum giving thumbs up or thumbs down to a gladiator to determine the fate of the combatant, fans were given the same power.  The votes were tallied and Jason died, giving the Joker his second greatest victory over the Dark Knight.

It was an act that creator Bob Kane hated and even Frank Miller, known for writing grim and gritty tails, found it gross and disgusting. In Miller’s own words, “An actual toll-free number where fans call in to put the axe to a little boys head… to me the whole killing of Robin was probably the ugliest thing I’ve seen in comics, and the most cynical.” Despite the back-lash, it remained a best-selling story arc, and had serious ramifications on the characters in the Batman mythos.

For a long time Jason’s death stuck, but through strange supernatural means, Jason returned from the grave. Upon his return Jason discovered he went unavenged. Adopting the moniker of The Red Hood, a former alias used by the Joker, Jason concocted an elaborate plan. First he took control of a gang in an attempt to help clean up the city. Unlike Dick who believed in catching criminals, Jason believed that the best way to stop the criminals was to seize control of their underworld empire.

Red Hood

Jason Todd as Red Hood

Once he had enough power, a rival gang lord, Black Mask, was intimidated by him. In order to defeat the Red Hood, Black Mask enlisted the help of The Joker. This too was part of his plan, during a hostage situation involving the Joker, Jason took The Joker captive in an attempt to lure Batman to an old apartment. He intended to inflict as much pain on the Joker as Joker had on him, but also get Batman to break his “one rule.” It was there he reveled himself to Batman and demanded to know the answered to the question that has plagued Batman fans for decades. Why doesn’t the Batman kill Joker?

Jason says:

“Ignoring what he’s done in the past. Blindly, stupid, disregarding the entire graveyards he’s filled, the thousands of who have suffered, the friends he’s crippled. You know, I thought… I thought I’d be the last person you’d ever let him hurt. If it had been you that he beat to a bloody pulp, if he had taken you from this world, I would’ve done nothing but search the planet for this pathetic pile of evil death-worshiping garbage and sent him off to Hell…. What, your moral code just won’t allow for that? It’s too hard to cross that line?”

Batman reluctantly had to admit that it would actually be very for him to kill the Joker. Batman knows the pain Joker has caused to others and knows it would be justified. But deep in his heart Batman knows it’s not an option as he tells his fallen Robin:

“For years a day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t envisioned taking him and spending an entire month putting him through the most horrendous, mind boggling form of torture, but if I do that, if I allow myself to go down into that place, I’ll never come back.”

It’s like what he tells Dick in Batman Forever:

“Then it will end like this: You make the kill, but the pain doesn’t end… it grows. So you run out into the other night to try and find another face, and another. Until one morning you wake up and vengeance has become your whole life.”

He knows that at one point, he would be so consumed by anger and vengeance that it would no longer be a choice and then no one, not even Alfred could pull him back from that self-imposed Inferno. The man he is would be destroyed and everything he fought for, his soul and his sanity, and even Gotham itself, would be lost to his rage. He would be an unstoppable killing force, an Angel of vengeance and death not unlike Azrael, his temporary substitute during the Knightfall saga.

In fact following Jason’s death Batman was consumed by anger and rage, and was at risk for getting himself killed. That was when a young boy named Tim Drake sought out Dick Grayson. Tim had been in the audience the night Dick’s parents died, and had never forgotten a single moment of that day. His only good memory being when his parents got him a picture with Dick just before the show. Everything else about the circus frightened him, but Dick was a kid, just like him.

He had seen Batman and Robin in action and noticed Robin performed a stunt just like Dick had, and put the two together, latter connecting it to Bruce being Batman. Then he had noticed a new Robin that had suddenly vanished, rumors surfaced, perhaps circulated by the Joker, that Robin was dead. He knew Batman needed some one with him and wanted to rebuilt the Dynamic Duo.  More importantly, he wanted it to be the original Batman and Robin.

He tells Dick,

“Look, I know you’re Nightwing. You use to be Robin. Then Jason Todd became Robin and when he died, Bruce Wayne went to pieces. Dick, don’t you see, he needs Robin. He needs him to remember what he used to be. Before his parents died.”

Dick was reluctant to take up the mantle, but he was at least willing to go help Batman, and even took Tim to the Batcave. While Dick felt the subject of Robin was touchy at best following Jason he was willing to help. Two-Face had returned to town and was bent on getting revenge on Batman. He had trapped Batman and Nightwing in an old tenement and collapsed it on them.

Urged by Alfred, Tim donned the Robin Costume and went to help them. Batman was less then pleased. After all, another boy had died wearing that costume and he was not about to let that happening again. He ripped the mask off the boys face and told him there was no more Robin, Alfred and Nightwing gave Tim a glowing recommendation, even pointing out he was a good acrobat and a brilliant detective. To Batman there was no more Robin and there didn’t need to be one.

That was when Tim pointed out,

                “B-Batman, it’s hard for me to say this to you, but ever since Jason died, everyone’s noticed how you’ve changed. You need someone to make you slow down just a bit and think what could happen. ..If not for you, for those criminals you hunt down. You want them to think they can get away with murder? Batman if they think they can kill someone like Robin, whoa re they going to hunt down next? I don’t know why you wear that costume, but it makes you a symbol. Just as Robin was a symbol. Or Superman, or Nightwing, or the policeman who wears his uniform. And this isn’t just a symbol of the law, it’s a symbol of justice.”

After seeing for himself how the boy held his own against Two-Face, Batman reluctantly agreed to take Tim under his wing as Batman. It would however be on a trial run, and only that. After several outings, Tim passed the test. To officially welcome him in, Batman gave him a brand new costume. Gone were the shorts and pixie boots, and in it’s place was something that Batman: The Animated Series creators described as being more like an “urban ninja”, and provided him with the same protection as Batman and Nightwing.

Tim was afraid at first to take the roll, knowing that he was given an awesome legacy. He didn’t feel he was street smart enough, but Batman, in the short time they were together saw something else. Tim was calm, cool, and level headed. That was what he needed from his sidekick, the kind of guy who even Dick Grayson could count on to look after The Dark Knight because he would look at the situation carefully and analytically, not rushing head long until he had gotten all the facts.

Tim proved to be a popular character with the fans. Writer Chuck Dixon notes that while Dick was practically perfect in every way, and Jason was reckless, Tim was the most ordinary and human of all of them. He seemed like a real teenager. Unlike Dick or Jason who were orphans, Tim still had a living parent. He also had to balance his school and social obligations. In many ways Tim was like the kids who grew up reading the Batman comics and dreamed that they too could be Robin.

Dixon also notes that unlike Dick, or Jason he had no aspirations to be Batman. He only wanted to be Robin, and actually enjoyed the roll. Not to say that his life was easy. Another guy got his girl friend pregnant, Gotham was devastated by an earthquake, and his school was the sight of a major gang war, and one of his friends died buy gunfire.  His father even learned his secret and forced him to quit for a while.

After returning to active duty as Robin, Tim’s father was murdered by Captain Boomerang in the events of the Identity Crisis, and his step mother went insane and was committed, and his friend Connor Kent, better known as Superboy the clone of Superman, died during the Infinite Crisis. Batman adopted him as his son. This too was short lived, as Batman was soon believed dead at the hands of Darkseid.

Red Robin

Tim Drake as Red Robin

Tim refused to believe Bruce was really gone and went in search of him, adopting the name “Red Robin”. It was more then just to find Bruce, Tim had also been pushed out of the nest by Damian Wayne, the biological son of Bruce Wayne, and the adopted half-brother of Tim, Jason and Dick.  Damian’s story goes back to one of Batman’s oldest rivalries.

The Dark Knight had managed to attract the attention of international terrorist Ra’s Al Ghul, a man obsessed with cleansing the Earth. He saw Batman as a worthy heir to his empire as they both wished to rid the world of evil. He staged the abduction of Dick Grayson and his own daughter, Talia. Talia was also impressed, and enamored,  with the Batman.

During one of his many struggles with Ghul, Batman was married to Talia in the customs of her country. It was a marriage that ultimately didn’t last because of the differing goals of Batman and Ra’s. However, this union produced a child, Damian. Damian was kept hidden from Bruce, nourished in a giant test tube, and then latter trained by the League of Assassins. Once he reached the age of 10, Talia and Damian sought Batman out, in hopes of having the boy one day take Batman’s place

Damian, though not as reckless as Jason, was still dangerous . He had beheaded a villain named Spook, and nearly killed Tim. He was arrogant, rude, and just plain obnoxious. However in terms of his fighting ability, Dick observes that Damian fights just as hard as Jason, but strikes with precision like a surgeon at an operating table. When Dick took the mantle of Batman and made Damian his Robin, Tim was furious.  He didn’t want this punk tarnishing the names of Batman and Robin. Damian sought to prove that he was the greatest of all Robins, even going so far as to stage a contest that pits him against his brothers.

Dick and Damian as Batman and Robin put an interesting spin on the Batman and Robin mythos. Batman was now the upbeat-lighthearted swashbuckler, while Robin was the brooding, angry avenger. As Dick held Batman back during his time as Robin,  Dick held back Damian when they were Batman and Robin. He knew how dangerous Damian was and knew he had to be taught self control. Dick didn’t want his “baby-brother” ending up like Jason, as being brash, reckless, and impulsive is a guaranteed way for a Robin to get a crow-bar spanking from the Joker. He also provided the boy with an actual frame work about his father. All Damian heard were stories from his grandfather and mother, but Dick actually knew him. Among the many things he was able to share with him, Dick was able to tell Damian that Batman actually did have a heart.

Despite his attitude, Damian is still just a kid at heart. He gets visibly sick when he sees children tortured, and will often sadly admit that he never really played games as a kid. He can’t understand other 10 year olds, as he came from a different culture, and was treated like a spoiled little prince. He also deeply wants to be accepted and approved. He actually cries when he discovers that Tim developed plans of his own to take down other superheroes should they go rouge, plans that included Damian. When his stint with the Teen Titans proves unsuccessful, hand Dick attempts to apologize, Damian tells him its fine. He has one friend in Gotham, Dick, and that is enough.

Along with someone to share his adventures, all the Robins give Batman two other important things. The first thing that Robin helps give him is a family. When the icy cold villain, Dr. Victor Friese, better known as Mr. Freeze vows to take the things most precious to the wealthiest people in Gotham, as he had lost his wife, he doesn’t go for Bruce’s money or possessions. He threatens Alfred and Tim, or as he calls them his surrogate father and surrogate son, the two people who have help fill an incredible void in his life that was created when his parents died. In fact following his return from time the first thing he did was sit down with Alfred, Dick, Tim and Damian to watch The Mark of Zorro. It was the same movie he watched with his parents the night they died, and he admitted he hadn’t watched it with any one since then.  He figured after everything they’d been through, it was time they watched it as a family.

The second thing they offer him is a legacy. Harvey Dent even hints at this in the film, The Dark Knight. Batman can’t continue on his quest forever, and he would need some one to take up the mantle. After all, according to Dent the people of Gotham had “elected” Batman into power when they had turned a blind eye to the crime and corruption creating the need for him. As long as Gotham continued that course, some one would need to stand that gap and fight for the city.

The Four Robins

The Four Robins. From Left to Right:
Richard John “Dick” Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne

Batman knows that long after he’s gone, he can count on some one else to take up the  mantle, whether that person is Dick, Tim, Damian or, someone else entirely, there will always be a Batman to protect Gotham City. Batman realizes that as long as Gotham needs them, Batman and Robin can never die.

“The war goes on,” Batman tells Alfred in the Dark Knight Returns. As soon as that Batsignal shines, Batman will run to answer that call to war. More often then not, Robin will be by his side .As Dick tells him in Batman Forever, “Whenever the call comes, I’ll know. Whenever you go out at night, I’ll be watching. And wherever there’s a Batman, I’ll be right behind him.”

Robin

Poster of Robin from Batman Forever. Starring Val Kilmer as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Jim Carrey as the Riddler, Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent/Two Face, Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian and Chris O’Donnell as Dick Grayson / Robin

And just who is this silent guardian, this watchful protector, this Dark Knight that defends the streets of Gotham City? Is he Man? Is he legend? Is he both? Find out the exciting answers next week, in Road to Rises: Adventures in the DC Universe #7: Batman!  Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Chanel, Same Bat-Blog!

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Morrison, Grant, Tony Daniel, David Finch, Andy Kubert, and Frank Quitley. “Time and the Batman.” Batman, v. 1 #700. August 2010.

Morrison, Grant, and Frank Quitley. Batman& Robin: The Domino Effect. 2009. DC Comics.

Nicieza, Fabian, and Cliff Richards. “The Great Escape” Batman v1, #704. November 2010. DC Comics.

Nicieza, Fabian, Steve Scott, Daniel Sampere, and Andrei Bressan “Storybook Endings” Batman, v1, #713. August, 2011. DC Comics

Nicieza, Fabian, Marcus To, and Ray McCarthy. Red Robin: The Hit List. 2010. DC Comics

O’Neil, Dennis, Alan Grant, Dick Giordano, et. all Nightwing: Ties That Bind. 1995-1996 DC Comics.

O’Neil, Dennis, Chuck Dixon et all. Batman: Knightfall 1993-1994

( Episode) Perry, Steve ( Dir.) “Night of the Ninja”Batman: The Animated Series. ( TV Show) Original airdate: October, 26,1992.

Peterson, Scott, Tim Levins, Rick Burchett and Terry Beatty “Actions” Batman: Gotham Adventures. May 2002.

( Episode) Riba, Dan ( Dir.) “Cold Comfort” The New Batman Adventures. ( TV Show.) Hilary J. Bader (Writer.) Original Airdate: October 11, 1997

( Episode) Rogel, Randy ( Dir.) “Robin’s Reckoning: Pt.1” Batman: The Animated Series. ( TV Show.) Dick Sebast ( Writer). Original Airdate February, 7, 1993

( Episode) Rogel, Randy ( Dir.) “Robin’s Reckoning: Pt.2” Batman: The Animated Series. ( TV Show.) Dick Sebast ( Writer). Original Airdate February, 14, 1993

( Episode) Seabast, Dick ( Dir.) “What is Reality? ” Batman: The Animated Series. ( TV Show). Marty Isenberg, Robert N. Skir. ( Writers.) Original Airdate: October, 24, 1992.

Sharrett, Christopher. “Batman and the Twilight of the Idols. An Interview with Frank Miller” The Many Lives of The Batman: Critical Approaches to the Superhero. Routledge: London. 1991

( film) Schumacher, Joel ( Dir.)Batman Forever. Starring Val Kilmer, Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell, Drew Berrymore, Debbie Mazar, Pat Hingle and Michael Cough. Lee Batchler,  Janet Scott Batchler, and Akiva Goldsman ( writers.) 1995. Warner Bros. Studios.

Starlin, Jim, Jim Aparo, and Mike DeCarlo. Batman: A Death in the Family. 1988. DC Comics

( Episode) Vietti, Brandon ( Dir.) “A Matter of Family” The Batman.  Greg Weisman. ( Writer). Original Airdate: September, 23, 2006.

( Animated Film). Vietti, Brandon ( Dir.)  Batman: Under The Red Hood. Judd Winick( Writer). 2010 DC Comics/ Warner Premier/Warner Bros. Animation.

( featurette) Timm, Bruce, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett Et. all “Robin’s Rising: How the Boy Wonder’s Character Evolved” Batman: The Animated Series Volume 2. 2004 DC Comics.

Winick, Judd, Doug Mahnke, Eric Battle, and Shane Davis. Under the Hood. 2005 DC Comics

( Episode.) Wise, David ( Dir.) “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?” Batman: The Animated Series. Eric Radomski. ( Writer.) original Airdate: October, 17, 1992.

Wolfman, Marv, George Perez, and Jim Aparo. Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying.1989 DC Comics

Yost, Chris, and Ramon Bachs.  Red Robin: The Grail. 2009. DC Comics

Creator Credit:

Robin I( Dick Grayson) Created by Bob Kane,  Jerry Robinson and Bill Finger.

Robin II ( Jason Todd) created by Gerry Conway and Don Newton.

Robin III ( Tim Drake) created by Marv Wlfman and Pat Broderick

Robin V* (Damian Wayne) created by Mike W. Barr, Grant Morrison, and Andy Kubert.

*First Appearance of Robin

* During Tim Drake’s temporary hiatus from the roll of Robin, a girl, Stephanie Brown, filled in for him. Her tenure only lasted a hand full of issues.

Photo Credits:

1989 DC Comics, 1996 DC Comics, 2003 DC Comics,  2010 DC Comics, 1940 DC Comics, 1988 DC Comics, 1993 DC Comics, 2009 DC Comics, 1995 DC Comics/Warner Bros. Studios.

DISCLAIMER:

This blog is not authorized, endorsed, approved or affiliated with any persons or entities involved in the creation or ownership of the Robin characters. The views and opinions in this blog are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the views or opinions of Warner Bros, Studios, DC Comics, or DC Entertainment.

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About jonathondsvendsen

Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Somehow you stumbled upon it. Whatever brought you around, I'm glad you're here. I am a free-lance writer and independent scholar of pop-cultural mythology, living and working in Minnesota. An aspiring mythmaker, I dream of voyages through space, fantastic worlds, and even my own superhero or two. I am also an established public speaker and have guest-lectured for college classes on the topic of comic book superheroes. I graduated from Bethel University in 2007 with a degree in Literature and Creative writing. I also write for the website NarniaFans.com. Head on over and you can check out my book reviews , a few fun interviews and even my April Fools Day jokes.
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One Response to Road to Rises: Adventures in the DC Universe #6: Robin

  1. wwayne says:

    You wrote an excellent post. I confess I didn’t read every single word, but I was impressed by how passionate and accurated it is. Jason Todd coming back from the grave started a long series of soap opera situations in the Batman world. Then we discovered Bruce has a son – I still wonder why they made him so objectively unbearable, and, most of all, why Damian still hasn’t become a good guy, since it is so evident that it will go like this. Now we have Bruce’s brother. At this point, all that’s missing is Dick and Barbara’s wedding (how many times they talked about it?), and then we’ll have the DC version of “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Anyway, I’m so in love with almost every single component of the Batman family that I will appreciate their stories whatever happens. And a lot of the Batman titles are wonderful anyway, especially Nightwing: in my opinion, this one, Animal Man and Grifter are the best New 52 series.

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