The iconic Batman of the DC universe needs to have the almost, just as iconic Robin talked about. Both have a long history in the stories of DC and they have not always been the same person. Some going on to form their own teams and all but one going on to create an identity beyond the Robin.
The first Robin and the one who created the imagery of him was Dick Grayson. His early pantless outfit was designed to help him stay super mobile and dodge gunfire. Grayson being at the time and still is, one of the greatest acrobats in the world. To the point of him and his parents are one of the few who were able to do certain tricks.
The flamboyant colors have even been admitted that Robin was supposed to dodge at a distance and distract while Batman made his move. Though not all Robins kept to that rule. Though in reality that may be them making an explanation for a decision that was made so long ago that it made no real sense anyway.
Dick Grayson went on to become Nightwing in the sister city of Gotham called Bludhaven. It sits right across the harbor of Gotham, not like Metropolis as depicted in Batman v Superman. Nightwing now daylights as a detective and works mostly independent. Only teaming up when he thinks Bruce needs his help or if the Titans need him.
After Dick left being Robin and Gotham, Batman ran solo for a while. Until one day a homeless teenager stole the wheels off of the Batmobile. It was pure luck the kid was able to do that, as this had been the one time some super special security measure had been disabled for maintenance. That kid became the second Robin, Jason Todd.
Where Dick was the acrobat, Jason was the fighter. He didn’t have to keep at a distance and dodge approach. He got in the face of any threat and even taunted them to try and hit him. Still provided the distraction, but putting himself at greater risk. Though worth admitting his skills were well-founded.
The only problem Batman had with him was that he was sometimes too aggressive. Hurting people more than they needed to be or sending them into shock when they needed to be interrogated. Eventually, he was picked up the Joker and beaten to near death with a crowbar. When Batman went to save him, the warehouse blew up.
The writers were not going to be just dark to a character that fans had criticized. So they gave readers a chance. There were two phone numbers to call. One to save Jason, the other to let him die. The dark-hearted fans killed him off. For a time.
Relatively recently he was brought back. In the comics it was because Superboy Prime was banging on the walls of reality which ‘corrected’ certain things. Leaving his grave he went to return to the Batman, only to find that he had been ‘replaced’. In the animated movies, it was Ra’s Al Ghul tossing him into the Lazarus pit. In any case, he came back and wasn’t happy with Bruce Wayne.
He went on to act around Gotham as a vigilante in Gotham that had no problem killing. Something Batman was not happy about. After some back and forth between the two the final fight ended with Batman edging out a victory in their fistfight. Red Hood’s final straw was Bruce’s choice, save Joker by shooting him, or let Jason kill Joker.
Bruce was able to stop Jason without killing him, but the Clown Prince of Crime decided blowing up the building was much more interesting. This left it in the air of who survived the encounter. Of course, Jason later returned and after some time did make amends. Now being more of a hero, but still rather violent.
After Jason Todd’s death, Batman got a lot darker and more violent in his behavior. Breaking his opponents and hurting them a lot more than he did previously. Enough so that even Jim Gordon commented on it. Tim Drake, the third Robin, decided that Batman needs a Robin to balance his own darkness. This led him to confront Bruce Wayne about this.
Tim Drake is one of the few people to figure out the secret behind Batman’s identity. He did it by observing an old video of Dick Grayson as Robin doing an acrobatic trick that only the Flying Graysons had been able to do previously. It took some effort but he convinced Bruce to allow him to become the new Robin. Causing Batman to break his vow of no more sidekicks.
Tim Drake out of all the Robins is the best Detective. Bruce even commenting that he had the potential to be a greater one then even him. That being high praise. Although in combat he relied on more stealth and less direct attacks, a change from his predecessors. That is not to say he was not a skilled fighter. Even receiving training from Lady Shiva (who is considered one of the top three best martial artists in DC and the most dangerous nonsuperpower females.) Combat wise though, he is still one of the weaker Robins.
He no longer is called Robin. When the next one appeared, and the reason will be obvious, he left the name and went by Red Robin. The name itself is a call back to one of the greatest alternate future comics called Kingdom Come. Even that has been left behind now, with Tim Drake just going by Drake.
The fourth Robin is a character that has been suggested for a long time. In Kingdom Come, a ‘representative’ of Ra’s Al Ghul whose name translated to Son of the Bat, was really a double agent for the Batman of the story. Later even acting as a doctor with Bruce Wayne. The newest Robin’s name is Damian Wayne. The son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul. Though Bruce did not consent to that night together.
Damian Wayne was trained since birth to fight by the hand. From people like Deathstroke, Ra’s Al Ghul and his mother. Of all the Robins he has the best abilities as a ninja. Able to appear and disappear. His ability to fight unseen or without the ability to see allowed him to be the first to wear a hood on the Robin costume. Although unlike Drake, he carries a katana.
Damian has one real flaw with who he is. He has the drive and passion like his father. He has even dedicated himself to not killing, which did take some effort by Bruce. It’s that he is just as dark as Bruce can be. With a side of entitlement as he is heir to a very deep legacy. Which I am not going to lie, I like that in some versions him and Raven of Teen Titans are dating. Both are trapped in the shadows of their father.
In the main universe, these are the Robins that you would see. They are not the only ones who have worn it or used that name. I could go into detail, but their times are usually so short they are not worth talking about. The one Robin who was never a Robin is Terry McGinnis.
He never wore the Robin outfit or used that name. In fact, he is Batman in a possible future. Honestly, he shouldn’t even be in this article but it is worth mentioning. He has taken his time being mentored like a Robin but thrust into the fight as a Batman. Wearing a futuristic suit to aid him.
Next up I will talk about the different Batgirls.
Shorter list, but a lot more interesting.
Stay tuned Dreamers and Schemers.