If you’ve been keeping up with the Robin saga at DC Comics, you know that the Dark Knight recently lost his “sidekick” again.
I think Batman needs his Robin, and I’ll tell you why in this column! And I’m not even including the marketing aspects of the character!
Please keep in mind, though, that Robin isn’t glued to Batman’s side! He does NOT have to go with Batman on every adventure. It’s actually better that he’s an important part of the story when he does, I think.
THE HUMANIZING FACTOR
Batman as an adult in the last several decades has become the “Dark Knight,” a really obsessive, moody hero who fights the baddies with all he has, and he takes no prisoners.
Having a younger partner makes Batman take on his impressive rogues gallery with less abandon. After all, he’s not one to put children or young adults in peril. He’s out to protect them, and that makes us understand him a lot more. If he simply put the baddies off the streets without concern for those who might end up in the way, that’s not very heroic, seems to me.
Looking out for those who believe in his crusade yet are not that able to defend themselves makes Batman more human, more relatable.
ATTRACTING A YOUNGER AUDIENCE
Robin was originally created for younger readers, so they’d have someone they could imagine themselves being. Younger kids might want to grow up to be Batman someday, but if they played their cards right, they could be Robin now.
It’s no coincidence that Robin’s costume was so much brighter and more colorful than Batman’s. That’s to make him compete visually with Batman, who is much taller and darker by comparison. Over the year’s Robin’s duds have become darker as well, making him visually more like the Dark Knight, and I’m all for that.
Kids have long viewed Robin as a role model. I know of several people who, when they were growing up, got into athletics as a result of relating to one of the Robins. And that’s a real accomplishment!
Personally, I don’t buy the sexual angle for sidekicks with their mentors. I think our society has oversexed things, and that includes the notion that every relationship is based on sex.
I’ve always compared superhero sidekicks to the companions on the BBC drama Doctor Who. It took decades before one of the people who travelled with the Doctor actually developed a sexual relationship with him. And I still don’t care for that.
I also think of sidekicks as heroes in training, learning from the person they’re working with. It’s like craftsmen of old, teaching their apprentices how to do things. It’s often the most effective way of teaching someone how to make things happen correctly.
THE MULTIPLE ROBINS
I’m sure my favorite Robin will always be Dick Grayson, who has gone from being Robin to being Nightwing to now working as a secret agent of sorts. I want to start a pool to see who can guess how long it will be before Mr. Grayson returns to the rolls of the costumed heroes.
The one I liked the least was Jason Todd. Stealing the wheels off the Batmobile was not the way I think you’d impress Batman. When Jim Starlin had him laugh at this, I was soooooo disappointed! Now that he’s the Red Hood, I like him better, but he’s still the lowest Robin I’ve ever read.
Carrie from The Dark Knight Returns was a cool Robin, and also the first girl in the costume. She gave Batman the street smarts he needed to take on the Mutant Gang, among other villains.
There have been other Robins, of course, including Stephanie Brown and Tim Drake. And they each have had a role to play at Batman’s side.
DAMIAN WAYNE AS ROBIN
I remember reading that Damian Wayne, Bruce’s son, was going to take on the mantle of Robin. I was intrigued. Then when I realized what personality he had, I was unhappy. A nasty, fowl kid who had visions of grandeur didn’t appeal to me at first.
But as time went along, I grew to like Damian more and more. After all, it takes some powerful chutzpah to think you can go toe-to-toe with the Joker, Catwoman and the like.
Of course, the story goes that Grant Morrison, who had set up Damian as Robin, intended to kill him not long after he came on the scene. But he had become so popular that he didn’t do it. Instead, when Batman, Inc., ended its run, that’s when Morrison decided to kill off Bruce’s son.
Now, we’re getting a Robin back at Batman’s side. If you’ve been on the Internet at all, you know just which one it’s going to be. I’m glad there’s an interesting twist involved with it, something that will challenge Batman. Well done!
Well, I do wonder just how long this Robin will be back. A few years? For the foreseeable future? I hope it’s the latter because I like how all this is being set up by Peter J. Tomasi and company.
Oh, and because Batman needs Robin.