SHOWCASE PRESENTS: Who Are The Robins?

(Editors Note: All editorials are solely the opinion of the author, and do not necessarily reflect  the views or opinions of DC Comics News or its staff.)

We are reflections of our parents. Mostly, it’s the way we look. Sometimes, it’s how we act. Our innocuous mannerisms. Our families are a part of us just as we are a part of them. There is no escape.

Nowhere is that more evident in the comic book world than with Batman and his Kony-level child army Robins.

You ever start talking about something without any real regard for what you’re saying? You’re just riffing, musing, or otherwise bullshitting your way through a conversation. And then, suddenly, you say something you didn’t expect. Like you’ve stumbled on some greater truth. Normally, you chastise your subconscious for constantly thinking about boobs because, come on, that’s not always productive. Sometimes you’ve got to think about other stuff, like math or outer space, so you have to be all like “two plus two does not equal hard nips! Go do something useful, like crafting nightmares or making zombie contingency plans.” But then it comes through with some brilliant thought you didn’t even know you could think and now you want to team up with it to go deduce the crap out of some kick ass mysteries.

I feel like there was a point to that paragraph at some point… Right. Epiphanies. I had one. I was just talking about why Tim Drake is terrible in the New 52 one day and I realized something kind of cool.

The Robins are all logical extensions of Batman.

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A freedom only afforded to little boys who live in an antisocial man’s basement and never wear pants.

Dick Grayson: Batman The Superhero

Dick Grayson was raised by superheroes. I mean, sure, he was actually the son of two circus acrobats so painfully human that they were killed by gravity, but he spent his formative years in the world of spandex-clad gods. He even got the name “Nightwing” from Superman, who was telling him about a hero on ancient Krypton. Grayson is fun-loving, incredibly skilled, and he works well with cops. He doesn’t rely so much on instilling fear in his enemies. Instead he uses his abilities as an acrobat, fighter, and detective to take them down. The superhero community at large loves him and he views most of them as aunts and uncles, having helped raise him and guide him over the years.

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And that’s why you don’t try to steal tires off the Batmobile.

Jason Todd: Batman The Pragmatist

Jason Todd died at the hands of a super villain. So, as people who die often do, he became a pragmatist. He decided that crime can’t ever really be completely eradicated, but that it can be controlled to an extent. He believes that the bad guys who can never truly be rehabilitated, like the Joker, should be killed before they have a chance to do more damage. And the drug trade should be contained and only exposed to consenting adults, never children. His most telling difference from dear old Bruce is that Jason sees guns as tools to be used for the greater good.

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What if he’d been thinkin’ Arby’s?

Tim Drake: Batman The Detective

Tim Drake is highly intelligent, an excellent strategist, and a natural leader. But he doesn’t have that same indomitable will that Bruce has, and it holds him back. He’s smart enough to know that he doesn’t want to grow up to be a loner like Batman. He’s been a leader of both Young Justice and the Teen Titans. He even forged ahead and crafted his own superhero identity named after a fast food restaurant. Of course, he sort of sucks in the New 52, but so does everything else Scott Lobdell touches, which is why I imagine his house is full of vacuum cleaners and prostitutes.

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Once again, Damian misunderstands how slumber parties work…

Damian Wayne: Batman The Warrior

Bruce is a soldier in the war against crime. So it only makes sense that Damian is the ultimate combatant. He’s smart, fast, and isn’t as tied to down to Bruce’s sense of morality, which enables him to fight villains more effectively but also alienates him from the police as well as the superhero community. In a lot of ways, he’s like Jason 2.0. Both are full of rage and tend towards antisocial. And both ended up dying in the never-ending battle against evil.

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Do you think a supervillain has ever just screwed up and been like “Oh no, it’s Batman & Robert?”

The Next Robin

You’re probably wondering what the hell the point of this article is. Simply put, once you identify a pattern, it’s easier to see what the next part of the pattern will be. That said, there is one aspect of Batman I haven’t quite seen reflected in a Robin just yet. Batman the Urban Legend. Imagine a Robin who stays in the shadows. A logical step because Bruce doesn’t want to see another child get hurt. When criminals think they’re safe and alone, they hear the sound of laughter. And then something in the darkness takes them and hurts them. It would be a Robin not just concerned with theatricality, but also the art of instilling fear.

Now, of course, the options on the table for who will become the next Robin (Carrie Kelley and Harper Row) don’t necessarily fit this mold. In the Dark Knight Returns, Carrie represented Bruce’s youth and optimism. But, with those extensions of Bruce’s personality sufficiently covered of in the mainstream DCU by Dick and Tim, I don’t think a retread is likely or necessary. And fate has not been kind to those who stray from this formula (aka Stephanie Brown: Batman The Unprepared Young Hero With Something To Prove). Harper Row seems poised to take on more of a Batman The Tech-Support role (likely taking the Oracle position down the road).

So, who’s going to be the next Robin? I have no idea. Maybe the pattern broke. Maybe there won’t be another Robin for a long time. And maybe the New 52 is finally doing what I always hoped it would do: something I never saw coming.

  • Daren Taveras

    Awesome article man! What do you think will happen to the Batman & Robin comic two months from now when Batman has finished through the 5 stages of grief? Do you think they’ll decide on a Robin then? Or is that too soon (even though it would be 6 months following Batman Inc #8)

    • Ash Mahtani

      Honestly? I don’t think we’ll get another Robin until after Year Zero. They’ll give the big story to Snyder.

      • Daren Taveras

        Now if that’s the case, what do you think will happen to the Batman & Robin comic until then? They have been hitting the ball out of the park with their after Damian arc.

        • Ash Mahtani

          I think it will either end up as a team-up book for Batman (sort of a Brave & The Bold thing) or a showcase for other members of the Bat Family. Let’s face it, Tim needs a book not written by Lobdell.

          • Daren Taveras

            I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more Tim. But I’m absolutely loving Lobdell on Superman.

          • Ash Mahtani

            Really? I have to ask, were you a Superman fan before the reboot?

          • Daren Taveras

            Yeah a big Superman fan actually, still am. I just really like the direction they’ve been taking it. It’s so much better than the heavily convoluted and insane Morrison run on New 52 Action Comics after Braniac.

          • Ash Mahtani

            Wow… You and I are like polar opposites in that regard. I loved Morrison’s whole run. Issue 13 is far and away my favorite one-shot of the entire relaunch. If Man of Steel had been modeled after the first arc I would’ve been perfectly content. I find Lobdell’s writing to be alarmingly dull and cliched, lacking any subtext whatsoever

          • Daren Taveras

            Yeah Lobdell does fall into that, but the Superman series has gotten a lot better over time. I feel that Action Comics did the same. How did you like Diggle’s 3-issue arc?

          • Ash Mahtani

            I read the first issue and it had some potential but the second issue killed any hope I had pretty quickly. I enjoyed the first issue of Unchained though. Hopefully Snyder keeps it up.

          • Daren Taveras

            Yeah that was a really great start. Check out Batman/Superman when you get the chance too, the artwork really stands out.