MTV's Steven Smith On Batman's Sidekick: 'A Robin By Any Other Name...'

Screen_Shot_2013-03-01_at_10_43_15_AMBy Steven Smith

I kind of liked Damian Wayne. The fact his character lay in the wastelands of continuity for so many years always mystified me. "Son of the Demon" was a great graphic novel (legitimate graphic novel, none of this serialized nonsense use the term for – it’s a comic people, get over yourselves), and "Bride of the Demon" was okay but though paths were laid in the story, they were seldom trodden.The first Jason Todd was kind of intriguing to me, not the tire stealing street urchin, but the acrobat who went by Jay. I remember the ret-conning as if it were yesterday. Nightwing was rocking and rolling in his 80’s flip collar, Bruce had a new protégé who wasn’t making any waves -- then all of a sudden BAM, Jay goes away, Dick Grayson Robin is back briefly, almost killed, and subsequently fired. We all know the story from there and it ended with a telephone call.

The idea of a sidekick has always been a weird one, especially the teen sidekick. As a father, the idea of putting a child in harms way now far outweighs the fantastical notion I had as a kid of swooping over rooftops with the Caped Crusader. The best thing that ever happened to any sidekick was the creation of the Teen Titans, subsequent NEW Teen Titans, then Titans and finally James Cameron’s "Titanic." One of those I hate, but what I don’t hate is when a sidekick’s story gets flipped on its ear --  e.g. the Red Hood or Winter Soldier -- and adds a whole new element to the standard “Caped Hero and…” tale.

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Jason Todd never did much for me until he came back as the Red Hood but I really did like Tim Drake. The fact he still lived with family plus figured out the Dark Knight’s identity all on his own was a smartly woven tale. His mini-series were exceptional and even his monthly had moments. I didn’t so much go for the whole Red Robin switch as it I felt it was trying too hard to connect to Mark Waid’s "Kingdom Come" but applauded the initiative. Coming ip with new twists is hard people, that’s why so many books just start over.

Damian Wayne’s Robin alongside Dick Grayson’s Batman was a phenomenal achievement in my book (which will be out this fall). A dark Robin alongside a Batman who knew his father (stepfather at any rate),brought a much needed breath of fresh air to the brooding intensity Bruce Wayne was known for plus this Batman could lead a team. Hell, I even enjoyed the storyline Prodigal following the whole Knightfall fiasco but I sincerely felt the almost brotherly dynamic of Dick and Damian could have been a great jumping-off point for a whole separate series. Alas, that was not to be.

Which leads me to Stephanie Brown. I liked Spoiler -- I really did and thought she was good Robin, not great, but one who could indeed be great AND SHE WAS A GIRL. The whole reason Carrie Kelly struck a chord with readers way back in the 80’s was because she was an empowered young woman striking off to do something meaningful. Stephanie Brown, the daughter of a super villain, was an amazing underrated idea which the Batman stories have been begging for. I sincerely hope she finds her way back from whatever lost computer file some writer placed her in when the New 52 launched and works her way back to Batman’s side. It’s 2013 peeps, do we really need another young white kid as Bat’s ace in the hole? I think not.

Cassandra Cain rules.

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You can watch Steven Smith every Sunday -- and right now! -- on his new MTV Geek program Cooking With Thrones .

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