Batman and the Robins
You can’t save the world alone. Over the decades, Batman has had many sidekicks. Here’s a chronological list of all the characters that have owned the title of Robin and some of their most relevant stories.
Dick Grayson: The Boy Wonder
A boy from the circus whose family, The Flying Graysons, was murdered. He was adopted by Bruce Wayne, not as a son we could say, but as a protégé, a term quite common in comics from back in the day. The creation of Robin and the concept of the sidekick brought a tidal wave of new young characters who fought crime alongside the adult hero. These sidekicks were believed to be more relatable to kids than the adult heroes, although that is debatable. After all, who would you rather be: Batman or Robin? Even dick Grayson eventually wanted to move from the shadow of Batman and became a new hero: Nightwing. After the events of Final Crisis, with Batman’s disappearance, Gotham City fell to chaos. Knowing how much the citizens of Gotham rely on The Dark Knight to be their savior, Dick Grayson temporarily took the mantle of Batman.
Recommended reading: Robin: Year One, New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, Nightwing Vol. 1: Better Than Batman
Jason Todd: The Bad Boy of Comics
Orphan teenager Jason Todd was minding his own business, trying to steal a car wheel to make some cash, but there was one problem: It was no ordinary car, it was the Bat-Mobile. You have some nerve, Jason! Luckily for him, Batman was sympathetic. Maybe Bruce saw a kid the same age he was when his parents were murdered, because even in his tragedy, Bruce was somehow a privileged boy, he had a fortune and a loving tutor, the beloved Alfred. Jason, on the other hand, had nothing, maybe that’s why Bruce decided to give him a chance to turn his life around.
Under Batman’s guidance and training, Jason became the second Robin, one that not all readers approved because of his strong personality, his tendency to disobey Batman and general bad boy attitude. In an unprecedented move, DC Comics led a telephone poll to let fans decide Jason’s destiny in the A Death in the Family story arc. Unfortunately for Jason, there were more fans that voted against him. He died by the hand of the Joker leaving Batman sunk in sorrow and guilt. But later, in 2005, good news came for Jason Todd’s fans, during the Under the Hood story arc, Jason returned to life – because no one really dies in comics- looking for revenge, or at least an explanation, from Batman for not having prevented his death.
Recommended reading: Batman: A Death in the Family, Batman: Under the Red Hood, Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 1: Dark Trinity
Tim Drake: The Smart Boy
Tim Drake is one of the smartest sidekicks Batman ever had, with an intellect only comparable to Batgirl’s (Barbara Gordon). He was in the audience the night The Flying Graysons were killed and he eventually discovered the secret identities of Batman and the first Robin. After the death of Jason Todd, Tim could perceive Batman’s pain and guilt. Batman was getting tougher and tougher with criminals, regularly applying excessive violence. Tim knew Batman needed a Robin because a Robin is more than just a sidekick, a Robin is a beacon of hope for Batman, a connection to his humanity, a family. Endorsed by Dick Grayson, Tim started training to become the third Robin. Batman, not wanting to make the same mistakes he made with Jason, put Tim through an exhaustive process of training and preparation before accepting him as his protégé. To this day, Tim remains one of Batman’s closest friends and partners.
Recommended reading: Robin Vol. 1: Reborn, Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying, Detective Comics Vol. 5: A Lonely Place of Living
Batman needed a Robin because a Robin is more than just a sidekick, a Robin is a beacon of hope for Batman, a connection to his humanity, a family.
Stephanie Brown: AKA Spoiler, Robin, Batgirl and Spoiler again.
Stephanie Brown may have adopted many names, but one thing is for sure, no matter what cowl she puts on, her quest for justice is endless. Daughter of supervillain Cluemaster, Stephanie chose a life of good doing and became the hero known as Spoiler, a persona she created merely to spoil her dad’s evil plans. As Spoiler, she met Robin (Tim Drake) with whom she would develop a friendship and later on an on-off relationship. She became Robin despite Batman’s impression that she didn’t have what it takes to be a crimefighter. To prove her worth to Batman, she stole one of his plans to take on major criminal groups in Gotham. Her actions ignited a gang war that ended up with Stephanie being kidnapped, tortured and seemingly killed by crime lord Black Mask, although it was later revealed that her death was faked. After returning from death, she became the new Batgirl under the guidance of Barbara Gordon. In the pages of Batman Eternal, she appeared once again under the identity of Spoiler.
Recommended reading: Batgirl: Stephanie Brown Vol. 1, Batman: War Games, Detective Comics Vol. 1: Rise of the Batmen
Damian Wayne: Son of Batman
Damian is the son of Batman and Talia Al Ghul. Given his father didn’t know of his existence, Damian was raised by his mother and trained by the League of Assassins, so it’s fair to say he didn’t have a normal childhood. He became a martial arts expert by the age of ten. When Talia revealed to Batman that they had a child together, Damian moved in with his father and became the fifth Robin. Even though he doesn’t like taking orders from anyone, he completely trusts Batman’s methods and decisions.
When he isn’t patrolling with his father, he is leading the Teen Titans -or at least trying to- and teaming up with Jon Kent, Superboy, in the pages of Super Sons.
Recommended reading: Batman: Batman and Son, Super Sons, Teen Titans (2016)
Carrie Kelly: From the mind of Frank Miller
Even though she belongs to the non-canonical Dark Knight universe, Carrie has earned a spot in the long list of Robins. Carrie is a thirteen-year-old girl who is completely ignored by her parents and finds in Batman a mentor and a friend. She made herself a Robin costume and started helping Batman, who gladly welcomed her into his ranks. She remained Batman’s partner in the book’s sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
Recommended reading: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again
Who is your favorite Robin? Do you think you’ve got what it takes to be Batman’s sidekick? Leave a comment in the section below.