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Robin (comics)

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Robin

Batman and Robin reinterpreted by painter Alex Ross. Based on the cover to Batman #9 by Bob Kane.
Publisher = DC Comics
Debut = Detective Comics #38
creators = Bob Kane
Jerry Robinson
Bill Finger
Characters = Dick Grayson
Jason Todd
Tim Drake
Stephanie Brown

Robin (also referred to as The Boy Wonder) is the name of several fictional characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, originally created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson, as a junior counterpart to DC Comics superhero Batman. The team of Batman and Robin is commonly referred to as the Dynamic Duo or the Caped Crusaders. The first incarnation of the character—Dick Grayson—debuted in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940). Conceived as a vehicle to attract young readership, Robin garnered overwhelmingly positive critical reception, doubling the sales of the Batman related comic books. The early adventures of Robin included Star Spangled Comics #65-130 (1947-1952), which was the character's first solo feature. As Robin, Dick Grayson made regular appearances in Batman related comic books and other DC Comics publications from 1940 through the early 1980s until the character was reinvented as the independent superhero Nightwing.

Following the retirement of Dick Grayson as Robin, a new version of the character—Jason Todd—debuted in Batman #357 (1983). The new character made regular appearances in Batman related comic books until 1988, when the character is murdered by the Joker in A Death in the Family (1989). The premiere Robin limited series was published in 1991, featuring the third incarnation of the character—Tim Drake—training to earn the role of Batman's junior partner. Following two successful sequels, the monthly Robin ongoing series began in 1993 and is still published to this day. After the retirement of Tim Drake as Robin, an established DC Comics character named Stephanie Brown—alternatively known as the Spoiler—became the fourth incarnation of Robin and the first in-continuity female version of the character. However, shortly after her acquisition of the mantle of Robin, Stephanie Brown was stripped of the identity by Batman and was apparently killed by the supervillain Black Mask in the maxiseries Batman: War Games (2004). It has since been revealed her death was a ruse. Following the "death" of Stephanie Brown, the Tim Drake character reclaimed his former role as Robin the Boy Wonder.

Character history

Cover to Detective Comics #38 (1940), art by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson.

About a year after Batman's debut, Batman creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger introduced Robin the Boy Wonder in Detective Comics #38 (1940). The name "Robin the Boy Wonder" and the medieval look of the original costume were inspired by The Adventures of Robin Hood. Robinson noted he "came up with Robin because The Adventures of Robin Hood were boyhood favorites of mine. I had been given a Robin Hood book illustrated by N. C. Wyeth... and that's what I quickly sketched out when I suggested the name Robin, which they seemed to like, and then showed them the costume. And if you look at it, it's Wyeth's costume, from my memory, because I didn't have the book to look at." Frank Miller's All Star Batman and Robin being a notable exception.) Although Robin is best known as Batman's sidekick, three Robins have also been members of the superhero group the Teen Titans and Outsiders with the original Robin, Dick Grayson, being a founding member and the group's leader and with Tim Drake being the current team leader.

In Batman stories the character of Robin was intended to be the Batman's Watson as, Jerry Robinson, writer for many early Batman adventures, once wrote: “Robin was an outgrowth of a conversation I had with Bob. As I said, Batman was a combination of Douglas and Sherlock Holmes. Holmes had his Watson. The thing that bothered me was that Batman didn't have anyone to talk to, and it got a little tiresome always having him thinking. I found that as I went along Batman needed a Watson to talk to. That's how Robin came to be. Bob called me over and said he was going to put a boy in the strip to identify with Batman. I thought it was a great idea.” However, in later stories, the character Alfred Pennyworth fills the role better, being the Dark Knight's doctor, friend and confidant. He also has a British military background where he practiced medicine on the battlefield.

The following fictional characters have donned the Robin costume at various times in the main DC Comics universe continuity:

Dick Grayson

Dick Grayson was an 8-year-old acrobat, the youngest of a family act called the "Flying Graysons". A gangster named Boss Zucco (loosely based on actor Edward G. Robinson's Little Caesar character) had been extorting money from the circus and killed Grayson's parents, John and Mary, by sabotaging their trapeze equipment as a warning against defiance. Batman investigated the crime and, as his alter ego billionaire Bruce Wayne, had Dick put under his custody as a legal ward. Batman rigorously trained the boy, teaching him physical fighting and detective skills. During this time he came to love Batman as a second father. Together they investigated Zucco and collected the evidence needed to bring him to justice. From his debut appearance in 1940 through 1969, Robin was known as the Boy Wonder. However, as he grew up, graduated from high school and enrolled in Hudson University, Robin continued his career as the Teen Wonder, from 1970 into the early 1980s. The character was re-discovered by a new generation of fans during the 1980s because of the success of The New Teen Titans, in which he left Batman's shadow entirely to assume the identity of Nightwing.

Jason Todd

Cover to Batman #424 (October 1988), pencils by Mark Bright.

DC was initially hesitant to turn Grayson into Nightwing and to replace him with a new Robin. To minimize the change, they made the new Robin, Jason Peter Todd, who first appeared in Batman #357 (1983), similar to a young Grayson. Like Dick Grayson, Jason Todd was the son of circus acrobats murdered by a criminal (this time the Batman adversary Killer Croc), and then adopted by Bruce Wayne. In this incarnation, he was red-haired and unfailingly cheerful, and wore his circus costume to fight crime until Dick Grayson presented him with a Robin suit of his own. At that point, he dyed his hair black. After the mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths, much of DC Comics continuity was redone. Dick Grayson's origin, years with Batman and growth into Nightwing remained mostly unchanged, but Todd's character was completely revised. He was now a black-haired street orphan who first encountered Batman when he attempted to steal tires from the Batmobile. Batman saw to it that he was placed in a school for troubled youths. Weeks later, after Dick Grayson became Nightwing and Todd proved his crime-fighting worth by helping Batman catch a gang of robbers, Batman offered Todd the position as Robin. Readers never truly bonded with Todd and, in 1988, DC made the controversial decision to poll readers using a 1-900 number as to whether or not Todd should be killed. The event received more attention in the mainstream media than any other comic book event before it. Some outside the comic book community mistakenly thought that DC was considering killing Dick Grayson, not realizing he had been replaced. Readers voted "yes" by a very small margin (5,343 to 5,271) and Todd was subsequently murdered by the Joker in the A Death in the Family storyline, in which the psychopath beat the youngster severely with a crowbar, and left him in a warehouse rigged with a bomb. Jason Todd later returned as the new Red Hood (the original alias of the Joker) when he was brought back to life due to reality being altered. A year after the events of Infinite Crisis, Todd appeared posing as Nightwing, but subsequently returned to his Red Hood persona. On the Countdown to Final Crisis series, he briefly returned to his Robin persona as the Red Robin after meeting an Earth 51 version of Batman during his journey throughout the multiverse with Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner, and a Monitor. After returning to his own dimension, he abandoned the Red Robin mantle and returned to his role as a ruthless vigilante.

Tim Drake

Jul, 2006, Art by Patrick Gleason and Prentis Rollins.

DC Comics was left uncertain about readers' decision to kill Todd, wondering if they felt Batman should be a lone vigilante, disliked Todd specifically, or just wanted to see if DC would actually kill the character. In addition, the 1989 in film Batman film did not feature Robin, giving DC a reason to keep him out of the comic book series for marketing purposes. Regardless, Batman editor Denny O'Neil introduced a new Robin. The third Robin, Timothy Drake, first appeared in a flashback in Batman #436 (1989). Drake was a young boy who had followed the adventures of Batman and Robin ever since witnessing the murder of the Flying Graysons. This served to connect Drake to Grayson, establishing a link that DC hoped would help readers accept this new Robin. Drake surmised their secret identities with his amateur but instinctive detective skills and followed their careers closely. Tim has stated on numerous occasions that he wishes to become "The World's Greatest Detective," a title currently belonging to the Dark Knight. Batman himself has stated that one day Drake will surpass him as a detective. Despite his combat skills not being the match of Grayson's (although there are some similarity in that they are far superior to Todd's when he was Robin), his detective skills more than make up for this. In addition, Batman supplied him with a new armored costume which included full leggings to give Drake improved protection. Tim was introduced as a happy medium between the first two Robins in that, from the readers' point of view, he is neither overly well behaved like Dick Grayson nor overly impudent like Jason Todd. Drake is the first Robin to have his own comic book series, where he fought crime on his own. Tim Drake, as Robin, co-founded the superhero team Young Justice in the absence of the Teen Titans of Dick Grayson's generation, but would then later re-form the Teen Titans after Young Justice disbanded following a massive sidekick crossover during which Donna Troy was killed. Tim served as leader of this version of the Titans until 2009, at which point he quit due to the events of Batman R.I.P. Following the events of Infinite Crisis and 52 Tim altered the colors of his Robin coustume to simply red and black in tribute to his best friend, Superboy (Kon-El), who died fighting Earth-Prime Superboy.

Stephanie Brown

Promotional art for Robin vol. 2, #126 (Jul 2004) cover, art by Damion Scott.

Stephanie Brown, Tim Drake's girlfriend and the costumed adventurer previously known as the Spoiler, volunteered for the role of Robin upon Tim's resignation. Batman fired the Girl Wonder for not obeying his orders to the letter. While trying to prove her worthiness, Brown inadvertently set off a gang war on the streets of Gotham. While trying to help end the war, Brown was captured and tortured by the lunatic crime boss Black Mask. She managed to escape but died shortly after due to the severity of her injuries. Tim Drake keeps a memorial for her in his cave hideout underneath Titans Tower in San Francisco. She recently appears alive, stalking Tim since his return from traveling around the globe with his mentor, which led into the question of whether she truly died in the first place. It is later revealed that Dr. Leslie Thompkins has faked her death after the gang war in an effort to protect her.

Alternate versions

Bruce Wayne

A Batman story from the 1950s featured the young Bruce Wayne assuming the identity of Robin, complete with the original costume, in order to learn the basics of detective work from a famous detective named Harvey Harris. The purpose of the secret identity was to prevent Harris from learning Wayne's true motivation for approaching him, which could have led to the detective attempting to discourage the boy from pursuing his obsession. This story was later revised in the 1980s to edit out any reference to Bruce Wayne having ever called himself "Robin" or worn any costume before he finally donned his Batman costume as an adult. John Byrne later worked this aspect into his non-canonical story Superman & Batman: Generations.

Post-Crisis, there was one instance in continuity when Bruce Wayne adopted the Robin persona. In Batboy & Robin, a tie-in special to the DC Comics storyline Sins of Youth, Bruce and Tim Drake, the third Robin, had their ages magically switched. In an effort to keep up the illusion of Batman, Bruce had Tim adopt the Batman identity while he is forced to be Robin.

Earth-Two Dick Grayson

Pre-Crisis Earth-Two Robin.

On Earth-Two, home of the Golden Age version of DC's superheroes, Grayson continued to be Robin even as an adult, having no successors, and even after Batman's death. His allies included the All-Star Squadron along with Batwoman and Flamebird. He eventually became a member of the Justice Society of America.

During his later years, he adopted a more Batman-like look for a time, and by the 1960s had become a lawyer and the ambassador to South Africa. Although in semi-retirement, he was called back to active duty when he rejoined the Justice Society during the period when Power Girl and Star-Spangled Kid also assisted them.

He appeared to have died during the 1985 miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths, in which the DC Multiverse was reduced to one Universe, and this version of Grayson, as well as the Earth-Two Batman, were deemed never to have existed. However, after the events of 52, (in which 52 new Universes were introduced) there appears to be an Earth-2 in which Robin survived, raising theories as to whether or not Earth-2 was really destroyed, or was perhaps replaced by a new Earth-2. In the Justice Society of America Annual #1, published in the summer of 2008, Silver Scarab explains that the events of the Crisis are remembered by the people of this Earth-2, and from their perspective, Earth-2 seemed to be the only Earth to have survived the Crisis. Certainly Robin, The Huntress, and their fellow Justice Society members are all alive and appear to be exactly the same as those pre-Crisis, (see 52 below).

Indeed, in Justice Society of America #20, (December 2008), Starman explains that during the re-expansion of the DC Multiverse, Earth-2 was reborn "... along with everyone on it", including Robin.

Carrie Kelly

In Frank Miller's non-canonical The Dark Knight Returns, the role of Robin is filled by Carrie Kelly, a thirteen year old girl. She becomes Robin, and is accepted by the Batman after saving his life. Unlike the previous Robins, Carrie is not an orphan, but she appears to have rather neglectful parents who are never actually depicted (one of them mutters "Didn't we have a kid?" while their daughter is watching the fierce battle between Batman and the Mutants). It is hinted through their dialogue that they were once activists and possibly hippies during the 1960s, but have since become apathetic stoners. She was the first female Robin and the first Robin with living parents.

52

The New Earth-2 Robin from 52 Week 52.

In the final issue of 52, a new Multiverse is revealed, originally consisting of 52 identical realities. Among the parallel realities shown is one designated "Earth-2." As a result of Mister Mind "eating" aspects of this reality, it takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-Crisis Earth-2, including Robin among other Justice Society of America characters. The names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the panel in which they appear, but the Robin is visually similar to the Dick Grayson Robin of the pre-Crisis Earth-2. Because Grayson, Todd, Drake and even Bruce Wayne are all black-haired Caucasians, it is not possible to assign an alter ego based on the single image.

Based on comments by Grant Morrison, this alternate universe is not the pre-Crisis Earth-2. However, in the Justice Society of America Annual #1, published in the summer of 2008, Silver Scarab explains that the events of the Crisis are remembered by the people of this Earth-2, and from their perspective, Earth-2 seemed to be the only Earth to have survived the Crisis, raising theories as to whether or not Earth-2 was really destroyed, or was perhaps replaced by a new Earth-2. Certainly Robin, the Huntress, and their fellow Justice Society members are all alive and appear to be exactly the same as those pre-Crisis.

Indeed, in Justice Society of America #20, (December 2008), Starman explains that during the re-expansion of the DC Multiverse, Earth-2 was reborn "... along with everyone on it", including Robin. Template:-

Robin monthlies

The first Robin miniseries was printed in 1992 following Tim Drake's debut as Robin. The series centered around Tim's continued training and set up villains linked to the character. It was followed up by another series Robin II: Joker's Wild which pitted Tim against his predecessor's murderer the Joker. With Batman out of town, it was up to Tim and Alfred to end the Joker's latest crime spree. A final miniseries, Robin III: Cry of Huntress wrapped up the trilogy, teaming Tim with the Huntress. In 1993, the success of the three miniseries led to the ongoing Robin series which ran 183 issues until 2009. The title will be replaced by a new one 'Batman and Robin' following the 'Battle For the Cowl' mini-series.

The ongoing Robin series has taken part in a number of crossovers with other comics, especially Batman and related series. These include:

  • Robin #1: Knightquest: The Crusade.
  • Robin #7: Knightquest: The Search.
  • Robin #8: Knightsend
  • Robin #9: Knightfall: Aftermath.
  • Robin #10 - 13: Prodigal.
  • Robin #14: Trokia.
  • Robin #27 - 28: Batman: Contagion.
  • Robin #32 - 33: Batman: Legacy.
  • Robin #52 - 53: Batman: Cataclysm.
  • Robin #67 - 73: Batman: No Man's Land.
  • Robin #86: Batman: Officer Down.
  • Robin #95: Joker: The Last Laugh
  • Robin #98 - 99: Bruce Wayne: Murderer?
  • Robin #129 - 131: Batman: War Games
  • Robin #168 - 169: Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul
  • Robin #175 - 176: Batman R.I.P.

Reception

According to Entertainment Weekly he is one of the "greatest sidekicks."

References

External links