"Batman and Robin" #1 hit shelves today, brought to you by the critically acclaimed team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (“All-Star Superman”). Not only does this series have the beginning of a new man under Batman’s ask, it also features a brand new Robin.
A while back, Batman had a fling with Talia, daughter of his arch-enemy Ra’s al Ghul. The product of that union was Damian, a boy who has been trained almost since birth to be a warrior and who has all the arrogance and impulsiveness of an undisciplined adolescent. This will no doubt make it an interesting new take on the Dynamic Duo, as the older, more seasoned Batman (Dick Grayson) must now keep the new Robin in check.
However, Damian is not the first new Robin or even the second. There have been several versions of the character over the years. Here's a roundup of which characters we think have made the best Robins over the years.
DICK GRAYSON: The first is the most memorable for a reason. Raised in a circus, Dick Grayson was a natural athlete and acrobat. When his parents were killed by mobsters, Bruce Wayne offered him a chance to bring the killers to justice. But Dick wasn’t satisfied with just putting away one small group of criminals and convinced Batman to train him as an apprentice, calling himself Robin (his mother’s nickname for him).
Wearing a costume that emulated his circus outfit, Dick Grayson became the staple that many other teenage heroes and sidekicks would follow. He helped found the original Teen Titans, which he led despite his lack of powers, and eventually he struck off on his own, becoming the hero Nightwing. Now, he’s come full circle as the new Batman. His one flaw? Not realizing how many jokes he'd encourage by not including pants in the original Robin costume.
THE TOY WONDER: In the 853rd century, a new Batman became the warden of the asylum/prison planet Pluto. Surrounded by psychotics and killers, this future Batman decided he needed a companion who was not only formidable but would help remind him of hope. He created a robot version of Robin, nicknamed the “Toy Wonder”, programmed with the personality he himself had possessed before his parents were murdered in front of him.
This robot Robin was thus forever innocent, untouched by the darkness around him. Along with this, the Toy Wonder had a variety of tools and weapons at his disposal and could directly interface with machines and computers.
STEPHANIE BROWN: Some people become heroes to avenge their parents. Stephanie Brown became “The Spoiler” in order to thwart her criminal father, the Cluemaster. Finding that she enjoyed crime-fighting, Steph continued a career as the Spoiler and became a trusted ally of Batman (as well as Robin’s on-again, off-again girlfriend).
When Tim Drake, the third Robin, was forced to retire for a while, Stephanie stepped in and became the first girl in official canon to be called Robin. Though disagreements with Batman later forced her to give up the costume and return to life as the Spoiler, Stephanie gained many fans during her career as the Girl Wonder.
TIM DRAKE: It is the opinion of many that Tim Drake was not merely the third Robin but the best. First, unlike his predecessors Jason Todd and Dick Grayson, Tim did not wish to fight crime because his parents had been murdered. They were, in fact, still alive. He wished to fight crime because he felt it was right. Rather than being recruited, Tim convinced Batman of his potential and impressed the hero with how good a detective he already was, despite his youth. Tim underwent longer and more rigorous training than the previous Robins, even learning under the guidance of international assassins. When he was finally ready, he was given a different, darker costume (which finally included pants).
From the beginning, Tim was no one’s sidekick. He was an apprentice and a partner and he had his own life to lead. Dick may have wanted to be Batman when he was young, but Tim was satisfied that one day he would simply choose to settle down and start a family and he would hang up the Robin costume without another thought. He proved to be popular very quickly, gaining three mini-series and even taking down the Joker all by himself in only his second solo story-arc. He then earned what no Robin had ever held before: his own ongoing series, separate from Batman. Tim had his own car, his own weapons, his own rogues gallery. He formed and led the team Young Justice and later became instrumental in the newly reformed Teen Titans.
With Damian taking on the mantle of “Robin”, Tim is going off to pursue his own agenda. But whatever happens, he is already proven that the name “Robin” can stand on its own rather than only being the second half of the phrase “Batman and.” And that’s quite an accomplishment.
Who have been your favorite characters to don the Robin uniform? Let us know in the comment section!