‘Dark Knight Rises’ Reading: Exploring John Blake’s Comic Book Contemporaries

by Ryan Rigley

Like yesterday’s round of “Dark Knight Rises” reading, today’s edition dives heavily into spoiler territory — specifically about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, Detective John Blake. Proceed with extreme caution!

So, the rumors of Gordon-Levitt’s character in “Rises” being Robin have finally proven themselves to be true! More or less. But John Blake was far from the first Robin to aid the Dark Knight in his time of need. In fact, in the comic books, there have already been five Robins to date since the Boy Wonder’s first appearance in 1940.

Starting with Dick Grayson, an 8 year old acrobat, and then passing on to Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown, and Damian Wayne (in that order — and that’s not even mentioning out-of-continuity Robins like Carrie Kelley), each Robin has acted as a loyal partner, apprentice, and friend to Batman throughout the years. One could even argue that if it weren’t for his trusty sidekick, Batman would be even more dark and depressing than he normally is. Read on for our list of the five best Robin stories!

“Dark Victory”
This critically-acclaimed sequel to “The Long Halloween” features a re-telling of Dick Grayson’s origins as Robin and his adoption by Bruce Wayne. After his family is killed during an attack perpetrated by the mob, Batman takes in the young boy as his own and begins training him to become his partner. Eventually, Dick is able to put together a series of clues leading to the Falcone Crime Family and later saves Batman’s life for the first time.

“A Lonely Place of Dying”
Taking place after the events of “A Death in the Family,” Batman blames himself for Jason Todd’s death and begins acting very recklessly whilst on patrol. Tim Drake, a young boy who has deduced Batman and Nightwing’s secret identities, begins following Dick around trying to convince him to become Robin again in order to help Batman. But when Bruce and Dick get captured by Two-Face, Tim puts on Jason’s old costume and proves to them just how important Robin truly is.

“Robin II: The Joker’s Wild”
While Batman is on a case out of the country, Tim Drake is left to protect Gotham City all by himself for the first time. Seeing this as an ample opportunity to make the Boy Wonder’s acquaintance, The Joker finally comes face to face with the new Robin. The stakes in this story are incredibly high, due in large part to the absence of Batman and the fact that The Joker beat the previous Robin to death with a crowbar.

“Detective Comics: War Crimes”
When Tim Drake gives up the title of Robin, his girlfriend Stephanie Brown (formerly known as The Spoiler) decides to step in. However, this new Girl Wonder doesn’t take direction very well and Batman fires her on two separate occasions. In an attempt to prove her worthiness, Stephanie steals Batman’s incomplete plans to control all crime in Gotham and inadvertently starts a gang war. To make matters worse, she gets herself kidnapped by the psychotic crime boss Black Mask.

“Batman and Robin: Batman Reborn”
With Bruce Wayne seemingly deceased, Dick Grayson puts on the cowl and becomes the new Batman with Damian Wayne (son of Bruce and Talia al Ghul) as his Robin. Damian proves to be the most ruthlessly efficient Robin by far, with an attitude as cold as his father’s and training stemming from his mother’s League of Assassins. He even offers to become the Batman in Dick’s stead on several occasions.

Which Robin stories are your favorites? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter!