In Defense of The Boy Wonder: Prelude to an Epic
Editors Note: I wrote this piece originally in 2011. It is something that has always stuck with me throughout that time as something that was a tad special to me. I use it here as a prelude to something entirely bigger. A multi-part series on Robin. I hope everyone can enjoy.
It should come as no shock to those that know me that I love Robin. Every incarnation. Maybe it’s because I have an appreciation for the under appreciated. I always like what most people shun. If it’s too popular, count me out. But I have always loved the Bat-Family and no matter the popularity (especially now with Bat-mania) I have always come back to the stories.
Yet my problem remains with the pop notion of Robin. I grew up with Batman. The old Adam West Batman was on everyday after school, and due to my mother influence of ramming anything cultured down my childlike throat (which made me a better person and am indebted to her forever) I would watch the episodes with her. I liked them so much that she bought me maybe the greatest gift ever. She found for me, at a church picnic, a book that was a collection of the old Batman newspaper comic strips from the 40’s and 50’s. I read that book until the binding fell apart and I lost most of the pages. It was there that my Bat-love started, but more importantly my love for Robin.
As a kid you gravitate towards the sidekick because it feels like it could be you. But for me Dick Grayson became cooler as he got older. He was fearless, high flying, and funny. What drew most to guys like Spider-man and The Human Torch is what really drew me to Dick. He talked and wise cracked and beat the snot out of gangsters. When Dick left to become Nightwing, I stayed with him. And while my love for Tim Drake and Jason Todd and even Stephanie was there, it wasn’t the same (though I am growing to love Damien Wayne much the same).
The important factor here is what Robin (any of them) brings to the story. Batman is a rage filled man, and his vow often brings him to the brink of his own self destruction. Batman has always been portrayed as a man, emotionally fragile as any man. Though strong willed (check out the Elseworlds In Darkest Knight to see him wield the willpower of the Green Lantern ring, awesome) he can have the same flaws. When he approaches the line, it is the innocence and stability that Robin brings that keeps his head level. Without Robin, Batman may cross the line and kill. The vow that can not be broken, the most important of any hero, one he is criticized for by modern readers who don’t understand the moral implications of that vow.
What Robin brings is perspective to Bruce’s dark world. Robin is the light that counteracts the dark rage inside Bruce. What Robin brings is more than a partner, he is the symbol of hope brought on by youth. He has the vulnerability that Batman does not. Dick Grayson made Bruce see the world in a new way. The are father and son.
The end of Nightwing was a sad day for me. He was a great character, and what Chuck Dixon did to start off in Volume 2 in Bludhaven was magical. When Grayson returned to be Batman and take on Damien Wayne as the new Robin, I bought in. I always buy in to Grant Morrison’s work, and I wasn’t disappointed again. The new Batman & Robin comic has been fantastic, and Dick has emerged as one of DC’s best heroes. Damien has become a new darker Robin to counter Dick’s new lighter Batman (he even smiles) and the dynamic is perfect.
While most think of him as hokey kid, Robin is more than that. Robin is the light barer of hope for Gotham City. He is the small glimmer of fun and brevity inside Batman’s heart. Robin is what we all want to be.