Day two of Bat-weeks comic articles on the Dark Knight will focus on his sidekick Robin. I will take what I currently considered canon in the DC universe.
Batman is a force of nature that strikes fear into the heart of evil doers. He is more than a man and will never stop his crusade. Not a very relatable character for anyone reading the comics, especially to kids who were the focus of the comic book industry for a long time. So the Batman writers decide that Batman needs a sidekick. Someone that the younger readers will be able to fantasize about being. Thus Robin was introduced into the Batman mythos and would go from simply a marketing tool to one of the most important aspects of Batman’s character.
Dick Grayson experienced the same loss that Bruce did as a boy. He was part of a circus trapeze act with his parents. Gangsters, trying to get their money from the circus, sabotaged their trapeze wires. Again, a young boy’s life was transformed by greed and crime as Dick’s parents fell to their deaths. Dick Grayson wanted revenge and tried to go to the police. Luckily Bruce was there to tell him that the gangsters who murdered his parents had power over the Gotham Police. Bruce saw that Dick Grayson was on the same path that Bruce himself was on as a boy. Bruce decided that this young kid would not take up the cause alone. Bruce took Dick under his wing (haha) and, after months of training to add to Grayson’s already impressive gymnastic skills, Batman had a sidekick, Robin.
Grayson had Bruce’s intense desire to help rid Gotham of crime, but did not lose his humanity and personality. Grayson refused to let his tragedy take his humor and love for life away from him. As Batman fought his enemies in terrifing silence, Dick Grayson would talk and joke as he kicked ass. As he grew he did not develope the extreme level of distrust and paranoia that Batman had. Batman trained Dick to be as masterful a crimefighter as himself. It was this training that let Dick quickly become the leader of the Teen Titans, a teen version of the Justice Leauge. It was that training that let Dick get his revenge on the people that killed his parents, and the many other criminals like them. But Dick would never turn into Bruce or Bruce’s Batman. As Dick grew he stepped out of Batman’s shadow to become his own man. His relationship with Bruce became turbulent and he eventually left the Batcave, Gotham, and Robin behind. He took the name Nightwing, but that would not be the last name change he would have…
Dick’s move away from Robin did not mean the Robin was dead. According to current canon, a young man named Jason Todd would soon take on the mantel. An orphan, living on the streets, Bruce and Todd met in a very interesting way. Batman came back to the Batmobile after being on patrol in Gotham to find Jason stealing his tire. This was the one night that the Batmobile’s alarm was not working and the one time his tires would be vulnerable. Bruce saw this as a sign and decided that Jason could be saved from a future of crime. Batman took in Jason like he did Dick, but the two Robins could not have been more different. Dick was fun loving and knew the moral compass Batman followed. Jason was fueled by rage and was more violent then he needed to be. Batman hated guns and would never lower himself to killing criminals, but Jason did not care about these lines that Batman would not cross. This rage and violence eventually caused Bruce to strip him of the Robin name and position. This led to Jason’s brutal fate and Batman’s great failure. I will discuss that story later in the week.
Jason would not be the last person to fight along side Batman. The next holder of the Robin name was the most proactive of all. Tim Drake saw Batman again fighting crime on his own and decided that Batman needed Robin. He used his own excellent detective skills to find out the true identity of the world’s greatest detective. When he found out that Bruce Wayne was Batman he went to him and asked to be the new Robin. Bruce, though impressed by Tim’s detective skills, refused to let someone else don the Robin costume until the original, Dick Grayson, swayed Bruce to let him train. Tim was Batman’s side kick for many years until recent events forced him out of the role…
Robin is one of Batman’s very few outlets to the regular world. Dick Grayson and Tim Drake were beems of light into Batman’s small and secluded life. Jason Todd was a different approach to stopping Gotham’s crime, changing and focusing it to do good. They became more than just trainees. They became part of Batman’s family. Although Bruce’s relationship with them has greatly varied, the fact that they are family will never change. Robin will always be a part of Batman’s legacy and has proven to be much more than just a marketing gimmick.