Robin: The Boy Wonder
Hello fellow Batman enthusiasts! I have been getting a lot of requests lately to give a little insight and back story to Batman’s trusted sidekick, Robin. However, there have been many Robins and unlike the Supervillain of the Week, there is so much more to understand about the Boy Wonder that one post simply will not cut it. So, I have dedicated a page of the Batcave solely to Robin’s evolution and incarnations. I hope you all enjoy.
Brief History of Robin: The Boy Wonder –
To make a long story short, Robin was created as an attempt to draw younger audience members to the Batman Universe. More importantly, he was created to bring younger readers into the comic book scene. Robin made his first comic book appearance in 1940 alongside Batman (dubbing the two heroes “the dynamic duo”). His sole purpose was to provide a sort of comic relief and childish mischief to the stubborn and straight-laced Bat. His design was based off the actual Robin Hood (Robin’s name also reflects this as well), the purpose behind this was to create a friendlier hero that more children could relate too. Yet at the same time the idea of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor…I mean fighting injustice and bad guys is something that all heroic children strive to do (I know I did), so the vigilante references behind Robin’s creation seemed to strike a chord with the masses.
Robin I: Dick Grayson –
The very first Robin in 1940. Dick was and probably still is the most iconic Robin of them all. Losing his parents as a young boy in carnival accident (Dick andhis family where professional trapeze artists), Dick was quickly adopted and taken care of by Bruce Wayne who happened to be at the carnival at the time. Most likely due to his experiences with death at an early age, Bruce quickly raised the boy as his own and it was only a matter of time before Dick would come to find Bruce’s secret identity. After discovering that Bruce Wayne is Batman, Dick urged and pleaded to join him on his crusade against crime. Reluctantly, Bruce accepted and trained Dick to become Robin: the Boy Wonder. The two would share an inseparable bond and together fight crime in the city of Gotham for many years. Of course everyone grows up eventually. Dick eventually outgrew the Robin role and moved on to become Nightwing. Nightwing would eventually cause some tension between Bruce and Dick and ultimately cause the two to separate. Dick would later on come back to Gotham to assume the mantle of Batman after Bruce Wayne passes away (comic book story arc).
Robin II: Jason Todd –
This leads us to our second Boy Wonder, Jason Todd. After Dick left the mantle of Robin behind, Batman was once again flying solo through the streets of Gotham. This is where he comes across Jason Todd, a poor boy raised on the streets by his father who works as a petty criminal. Jason’s father ends up serving time in prison for his crimes, and Jason is left to support his drug addicted mother. Jason would bring home money through stolen car parts which he would sell. This is how Jason meets the Dark Knight. Batman would leave the Batmobile parked in an alleyway and Jason Todd would be the only person brave enough and clever enough to steal the tires right of the vehicle. This instantly sparked something within the mind of Batman. Ultimately this would lead to Bruce taking Jason Todd on as his new ward. Unlike Dick, Jason was much more ill tempered. He was brash and would rush into combat without hesitation, he would sometimes exceed Batman’s commands when attacking and fighting his enemies. This leads to Jason’s downfall. After discovering that his mother was not truly the drug addicted woman he thought, but someone else entirely, Jason set out to look for her. Ignoring Batman’s orders, Jason found his biological mother, but hadn’t realized that he was being blackmailed by the Joker. Joker gets the jump on Jason and beats him to death with a crowbar. Batman has lost another Robin, and this time he blamed himself entirely. Batman swore to never take on another Robin again (but obviously he does). Jason ends up surviving the crowbar onslaught with the help of Talia Al Ghul who puts Jason in a mythical Lazurus Pit. Jason then dons the identity of the Red Hood and becomes one of Gotham’s largest underworld drug dealers.
Robin III: Tim Drake –
Tim Drake, a young boy at the age of 9, deduced the identities of Batman and the original Robin (Dick) by watching the similarities of Robins acrobatic moves to Dick’s when he was at the circus. Dick was living with Bruce at the time so obviously they had to be the dynamic duo. Tim followed his heroes vigilantly, hewould watch and read every news release involving Batman and Robin. Following the death of Jason (Robin II), Batman again fly’s solo. This time however, Batman begins to lose his edge, and Tim notices. Tim becomes worried about Batman. He seeks out Nightwing (Dick) and urges him to return to his role as Robin. Shocked that this young boy had figured out who he was, Nightwing agreed to help out Batman, but not as Robin. This bothered Tim deeply. Tim believed that Batman needed a Robin, not just a partner, but his young trusty ward. Tim kept close to Nightwing and Batman, following their every moves. This is how Tim notices Bruce and Dick get caught by Two-Face. Realizing the immediate danger, Tim dons the Robin costume (at the age 0f 13) and manages to save Batman and Nightwing. Bruce, however, was still not convinced by Tim and it took a few more tests but ultimately Tim became the next Robin. Tim was a much more intuitive and clever Robin. He was probably the smartest Robin of them all. Instead of relying on acrobatics, or combat tactics, Tim relied on his skills as a detective to solve most of his problems. He even managed to subdue the Joker using wit, when his predecessor (Jason) failed to do so before. Before becoming Robin Tim’s parents were always supportive of their son and had loved him very much. After becoming Robin, his parents had a run in with Two-Face who killed Tim’s mother and put his Father into a coma. Batman feared this was going to lead Tim down a path of vengeance (similar to Jason), however this caused Tim to become even more dedicated to his cause and fight crime to save innocence. When his father woke from a coma, however, he discovered that Tim was in fact the new Boy Wonder, this did not sit well with him at all and he forced his son to resign from the title. Tim will later return to fighting crime as Red Robin, an independent crime fighter.
Robin IV: Stephanie Brown –
Stephanie Brown was the daughter of Gotham City third rate criminal Cluemaster, and she despised it. Cluemaster was always in jail or out on the streets committing crime, he never spent time with his daughter or wife and this deeply troubled Stephanie. Stephanie then came up with the guise of the Spoiler, whose sole purpose was to sabotage Cluemaster and leave a trail of evidence for the police and Batman to follow. This is how Stephanie met Tim Drake (RobinIII at the time). Robin was in pursuit of the Cluemaster and Spoiler insisted on helping Robin capture him. Stephanie instantly fell for Robin. She had become infatuated, and the two began to date. While Stephanie was dating Robin (Tim would not let her know his true identity at the time), her father was murdered in service of the U.S. Government. This immediately caused Stephanie to don her Spoiler costume again and she went in search of the Riddler (a former associate of her father’s) to get answers about what had happened. She would later come to terms with his death and would finally hang up her Spoiler costume for good. This, however, was when Batman had come to her to offer her training and told Stephanie Tim’s true identity. Batman wanted to see how serious Stephanie was about fighting crime. After vigorous training, Batman deemed Stephanie unworthy of crime fighting and told her to drop the charade. Around this time Tim’s father had forced him to retire from being Robin and forced Tim to leave Gotham to live an ordinary life. Stephanie followed Tim and attempted to surprise her boyfriend on the road, however, before she could talk to him, she saw girls at Tim’s new school flirting with him. Believing Tim is cheating, Stephanie returns to Gotham and demands Batman take her on as his next ward. Batman reluctantly accepts and trains Stephanie to become the next Robin. Stephanie only holds the title for 2 months though, Batman boots her out again telling her to quit crime fighting. Enraged, Stephanie attempts to prove Bruce wrong by attempting to put a stop to the Gotham Drug Wars. This plan backfires though, causing Stephanie to become captured by Black Mask, who proceeds to torture her for information regarding Batman. Stephanie narrowly escapes death by the hands of Black Mask only to die in the hospital with grave wounds (Stephanie ends up surviving, just like Jason Todd did, she moves to Africa and works as a medical aid for a few years and then returns to Gotham to take up the mantle of Batgirl).
Robin V: Damian Wayne –
Damian Wayne is the genetic son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul. He was conceived in a laboratory by his mother who had hoped to use him to finally convince Bruce Wayne to join Talia’s League of Assassins. Talia had brought Damian (who at the time was 10) to Wayne Manor to introduce Bruce to his biological son. Right off the bat, Damian wreaks havoc on the Bat family. Almost immediately after arriving, Damian gets into a fist fight with Tim Drake overreplacing him as Robin. Tim and Damian fight until Bruce stops them. Damian enraged, steals a Robin costume from the Batcave and leaves to fight crime his own way. Since Damian was raised as an assassin, he is already used to killing at a very young age. He decapitates the third rate Batman villain Spook almost directly after leaving Wayne Manor. His intentions are seen as violent, malicious, and even cruel at times, making him very similar to Jason Todd if not more so. Damian (and his mother) is confronted by Batman at this point, and told to leave Gotham. Following his father’s commands, Damian leaves. Damian soon returns however, but this time in need of Batman’s assistance. Damian’s Grandfather (Ras Al Ghul) wants to use Damian’s body to become young again and proceeds to hunt the boy until he can harvest Damian’s body. Damian seeks Batman’s help to stop Ras and Batman agrees. From this point forward, Damian begins to stick around Wayne Manor and becomes a member of the current Bat family (though he is still not Robin). It is not until Bruce Wayne’s death that Damian gets his shot at the Robin title. Batman (in the comic books) is killed in a battle with Darkseid (Superman enemy) and somebody has to take up the mantle of Batman. This somebody turns out to be Dick Grayson, the very first Boy Wonder. Dick’s first mandate as the new Batman is that Damian Wayne shall be the new Robin under Dick’s guidance. Damian’s nature still continues to be very violent and brash under Dick, but he earnestly wants nothing more than to be Robin. Damian continues to be Robin to this day under Dick Grayson as Batman. Side Note: Bruce Wayne returns from the grave in the comics and starts a new Batman group called Batman Inc. (Nobody dies in the Batman house do they?)