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Robin (comics)

From Academic Kids

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A classic image of Batman and Robin reinterpreted by painter Alex Ross. Note the sharp color contrast between the two

Robin is a DC Comics superhero, a teenaged sidekick to Batman. Since 1940, several different characters have stepped into the role of Robin. In each incarnation, Robin's brightly colored visual appearance and youthful energy have served as a contrast to Batman's dark look and manner.

The character has been a fixture in the Batman franchise, appearing in most incarnations of the comic book series and most television and film adaptations.

Although Robin is best known for his adventures with Batman, three Robins have also been members of the superhero group The Teen Titans with the original being the charter leader.

Robin is also the title of a comic book series, first published in 1993, featuring the Tim Drake version of the character.

Contents

Robins

The following fictional characters don the Robin costume at various times in the regular Batman continuity:

Dick Grayson

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In Detective Comics #38 (1940), Batman creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane introduced the first Robin, Dick Grayson, the character still best known as Robin. The sidekick debuted only a year after Batman and was part of an effort to soften the character of his mentor, originally a dubious, nightstalking vigilante. DC Comics also thought a teenaged superhero would appeal to young readers.

The name "Robin the Boy Wonder" and the medieval look of the original costume were inspired by the legendary hero Robin Hood, as well as the red-breasted American Robin, which continued the "flying animal" motif of Batman.

Grayson was a circus acrobat, the youngest of a family act called The Flying Graysons. A gangster named Boss Zucco had been extorting money from the circus and killed Grayson's parents by sabotaging their trapeze equipment as a warning against defiance. Batman investigated the crime and – as his alter ego millionaire Bruce Wayne – had Dick put under his custody as a legal ward, and rigorously trained the boy in physical, fighting and investigation skills to be his assistant. Together they investigated Zucco and collected the evidence needed to bring him to justice.

Robin's origin had a typological connection to Batman's in that both witnessed the crime-related deaths of their parents, creating an urge to battle the criminal underworld. This provided a bond and understanding between the two.

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, DC Comics portrayed Batman and Robin as a team, deeming them the Dynamic Duo, and rarely published a Batman story without Robin, although stories entirely devoted to Robin appeared in Star-Spangled Comics from 1947 through 1952.

Actor Burt Ward played Robin in the 1960s Batman television series, which further made Robin an inseparable part of the Batman mythos.

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Detective Comics #38 (May 1940), the first appearance of Robin. Art by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson.

In 1964, The Brave and the Bold #60 introduced The Teen Titans, a junior version of the Justice League of America, an all-star superhero team of which Batman was a part. The Titans were led by Robin and included other teenaged sidekicks, such as Aqualad (sidekick of Aquaman) and Kid Flash (sidekick of The Flash).

In 1969, writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Neal Adams returned Batman to his darker roots. One part of this effort was writing Robin out of the series by sending Dick Grayson to college and into a separate strip in the back of Detective Comics. Robin appeared only sporadically in Batman stories of the 1970s.

In 1980, Grayson once again took up the mantle of Robin as the leader of the Teen Titans, now featured in the monthly series The New Teen Titans, which became one of DC Comics' most beloved series of the era.

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Dick Grayson reborn as Nightwing. Art by George Perez

Four years later, Grayson took on the identity of Nightwing, a move that symbolized his increasingly strained relationship with Batman and his desire to take more control of his life as a crimefighter. The name Nightwing had come from an alias used by Superman. The Post-Crisis version Grayson had him become the first and only Nightwing with his costume partially inspired by his father who at one time wore a circus costume that was a variant of colleague Boston Brand's Deadman costume.

For several years, Nightwing led various incarnations of the Titans and became the most respected former sidekick in the DC Universe. He was even chosen by Batman to lead the Justice League when it once appeared that the Leaguers had died in battle. In 2003, after a disastrous battle in which teammate Donna Troy died, Nightwing left the Titans.

In 1996, DC launched a monthly solo series featuring Nightwing, in which he patrols Gotham City's neighboring municipality of Bludhaven. The series continues, as of 2005.

Nightwing is also presently a member of the loosely-knit group of heroes, The Outsiders.

Bruce Wayne

A Batman story from the 1950s featured the young Bruce Wayne assuming the identity of Robin, complete with the original costume, in order to learn the basics of detective work from a famous detective named Harvey Harris. This story was later revised in the 1980s to edit out any reference to Bruce Wayne having ever called himself "Robin" or worn any costume before he finally donned his Batman costume as an adult.

Jason Todd

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The recently resurrected Jason Todd as the Red Hood. Art by Matt Wagner.

DC was initially hesitant to turn Grayson into Nightwing and to replace him with a new Robin. To minimize the change, they made the new Robin, Jason Todd, who first appeared in Batman #357 (1983), almost indistinguishable from a young Grayson. Jason Todd was also the son of circus acrobats killed by a criminal (this time the Batman adversary Killer Croc), adopted by Bruce Wayne. In this incarnation, he was fair-haired and unfailingly cheerful, and wore his circus costume to fight crime until Dick Grayson presented him with a Robin suit of his own. At that point, he dyed his hair black.

After the mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths, much of DC Comics continuity was rebooted. Dick Grayson's origin, years with Batman and growth into Nightwing remained essentially unchanged, but Todd's character was completely revised. He was now a street orphan who first encountered Batman when he attempted to steal tires from the Batmobile. Batman saw that he was placed in a school for troubled youths.

Weeks later, after Dick Grayson became Nightwing and Todd proved his crimefighting worth by helping Batman catch a gang of thieves, Batman offered Todd the position as Robin.

Unlike Grayson, the post-Crisis Todd never blossomed under Batman's tutelage. He was impulsive, reckless and full of rage. This would sometimes provide him with great strength and courage, but would more often lead him to take unfounded chances and risks. One story implied that Todd actually murdered a criminal.

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The scene from Batman #428 (1988), in which Batman discovers Jason Todd dead

Readers never truly bonded with Todd and, in 1988, DC made the controversial decision to poll readers using a 1-900 number as to whether or not Todd should be killed. The event received more attention in the mainstream media than any other comic book event before it. Some outside the comic book community thought that DC was considering killing the original Robin. Readers voted "yes" by a small margin (5,343 to 5,271) and Todd was subsequently murdered by The Joker (See also: Batman: A Death in the Family).

Jason Todd's death still haunts the Batman, who keeps his costume under glass in the Batcave as a reminder of his greatest failures: he did not save the boy from the Joker (due in part to Todd not following Batman's advice beforehand) nor properly prepare him for his role as Robin.

Todd's corpse, buried at a secret location, was recently stolen by The Riddler in an effort to trick Batman into thinking Todd had been resurrected and was behind recent misfortunes. While this proved untrue, Todd's body remained missing. (See also: Batman: Hush). A short time later Jason Todd was brought back to life, going under the alias of the Red Hood and causing trouble for both Batman and Black Mask. Batman is still trying to find out how Todd was resurrected, but has been unsuccessful so far.

Tim Drake

Template:Superherobox DC Comics was left uncertain about readers' decision to kill Todd, wondering if they felt Batman should be a lone vigilante, disliked Todd specifically, or just wanted to see if DC would actually kill the character. In addition, the 1989 Batman film did not feature Robin, giving DC a reason to keep him out of the comic book series for marketing purposes. Regardless, Batman editor Denny O'Neil introduced a new Robin.

The third Robin, Timothy Drake, first appeared in a flashback in Batman #436 (1989). Drake was a young boy who had followed the adventures of Batman and Robin ever since witnessing the murder of the Flying Graysons. This served to connect Drake to Grayson, establishing a link that DC hoped would help readers accept this new Robin. Drake surmised their secret identities with his amateur but instinctive detective skills and followed their careers closely.

Years later, Drake noted that the Batman's grief and rage over Todd's death was causing him to use increasingly brutal and clumsy methods. Drake revealed himself to Grayson and Batman's butler, Alfred Pennyworth. They frantically convinced Batman to train Drake as the third Robin.

While Dick Grayson was primarily an acrobat and Jason Todd a fighter, Tim Drake is chiefly a detective and has been a more cerebral sidekick while still being quite physically adept. To prepare his newest Robin for duty, Batman sent him abroad to learn fighting skills from master martial artists, most notably the world class assassin Lady Shiva.

Drake's costume is slightly different from that of Grayson and Todd as supplied by Batman to give him a measure of increased protection. The current Robin wears an armored tunic, a cape that is black on the outside though still yellow on the inside, and green leggings. Other details include an armored gorget, better footwear than either of the previous Robins, "R" shuriken in place of the more traditional batarangs and generally more strongly "Robin"-flavored equipment.

In addition to accompanying Batman on his missions, Drake is also the first Robin to star in an eponymous monthly series without Batman. This series, launched in 1993, has created a mythos independent of that of the main Batman story. Robin was given an archenemy, the bumbling but cruel Cluemaster and a romantic interest, Stephanie Brown, the Cluemaster's daughter, who rejected her father's lifestyle and adopted the superhero identity, The Spoiler.

For much of his career, Drake was also further differentiated from the previous Robins in that his father was alive and did not know of Drake's secret identity. His mother was murdered before Drake officially became Robin.

He was also one of the founding members of Young Justice, and was the group's leader for the first half of its existence, before briefly quitting in the aftermath of the Imperiex War, during which the group was tortured on Apokolips. While he rejoined, he lost the election for leadership, which Wonder Girl won.

In 2004, Drake's father discovered his secret life and convinced his son to retire. Batman then began training the Spoiler as the fourth Robin. However, soon after Brown's death, Drake resumed the role of Robin. Drake's father was later killed by Captain Boomerang in Identity Crisis.

Drake is currently a member of the newly reformed Teen Titans.

Tim Drake appears in the universe of the officially non-canon Batman Beyond animated series, in the Return of the Joker movie. In it, it was revealed that Joker had planted a bug on him that turned him into a fake Joker years later that wreaked havoc on Gotham City and ran afoul of Bruce and then-Batman Terry McGinnis. They were able to remove the bug, though, and Drake recovered.

Cover to Robin #126. Art by Damion Scott.
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Cover to Robin #126. Art by Damion Scott.

Stephanie Brown

Main article: Spoiler (comics)

Stephanie Brown, Tim's girlfriend and the costumed adventurer previously known as The Spoiler, volunteered for the role of Robin upon Tim's resignation. Brown had always been reckless and impulsive and, after only a few weeks, Batman fired her for not obeying his orders to the letter.

In a misguided attempt to prove her worthiness, Brown snuck back into the Batcave and discovered a plan conscripted by Batman to unite the Gotham underworld under a single leader, "Matches" Malone, to make it easier to control. Unbeknownst to Stephanie, Malone is actually one of Batman's aliases, and the plan was to be used only in a dire emergency in which Batman's only option would be to seize control of the underworld himself and weaken it from the inside. Brown attempted to implement the plan, but without Batman/Malone's involvement, it backfired, causing a brutal gang war.

While trying to help end the war, Brown was captured and tortured by the criminal Black Mask. She managed to escape, but died of her injuries a short time later.

Carrie Kelly

The famous 1986 mini-series The Dark Knight Returns introduced Carrie Kelly as the first female Robin in the Batman franchise's history. In that series, which takes place in an alternate future, Kelly was a Batman fanatic who instantly took it upon herself to become Robin after Batman returned from retirement. In this series, Todd's death led to Batman's retirement, but Batman still accepted Kelly.

By the time of the 2001 sequel The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Kelly had taken the identity Catgirl but continued to accompany Batman and his allies.

Both of these stories take place in a future that has not come to pass in current DC continuity, and so neither is considered canonical.

In an interesting note, in the Teen Titans Volume 3 Issue 18, when the Titans were transported 10 years into the future, we are shown a graveyard full of deceased Batman allies and villains. One tombstone reads "Carrie Kelly".

Also in the Batman: Gotham Knights episode, "Legends of the Dark Knight", a girl that closely resembles Carrie Kelly is one of the kids telling Batman stories. The story she tells is from "The Dark Knight Returns" graphic novel.

Robin in other media

Burt Ward as Robin and Adam West as Batman from the 1960s television series
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Burt Ward as Robin and Adam West as Batman from the 1960s television series
  • Robin did not appear in the Tim Burton movies Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). This was the first time in which Batman and Robin were not presented as an inseparable pair to those who did not follow the comics. In Joel Schumacher's much lighter sequels Batman Forever (1995) and Batman and Robin (1997), Robin/Dick Grayson was played by Chris O'Donnell. In those films, the tension between Batman and Robin was greater than in most adaptations. In Batman Forever, his costume closely resembles the Robin uniform worn by Tim Drake--a costume which, rumor has it, Tim Burton helped design for the comics. In the latter of the two films, O'Donnell was portrayed wearing a costume that resembled the Nightwing outfit from the comics, however, the character was still refered to as Robin.
  • The first two seasons of Batman: The Animated Series, which debuted in 1992, featured Robin/Dick Grayson, voiced by Loren Lester, only occasionally because he was attending college. In its third and final season (19941995), the show was retitled The Adventures of Batman and Robin as Robin appeared regularly. In the reinvention of the series, Batman: Gotham Knights (19971999), Dick Grayson became Nightwing, and his place as Robin was taken by Tim Drake, voiced by Mathew Valencia. The animated series continuity does not include Jason Todd, although the cartoon Drake's origin is almost identical to Todd's and bears little resemblance to the comic book version of Tim Drake's. A version of the Carrie Kelly Robin also makes a short appearance in Batman: Gotham Knights, in a dream sequence in the episode "Legends of the Dark Knight".
  • Robin, voiced by Scott Menville, appears in the Cartoon Network adaptation of the Teen Titans but he has not been referred to by given name (none of the Titans in this series are), and it is unclear whether he is meant to be Dick Grayson or Tim Drake; although several clues have indicated it is Dick Grayson. A time-travel themed episode portrayed a future where this Robin has taken on the role of Nightwing, and in another episode an alternate universe Robin shows up named 'Nosyarg Kcid' (Dick Grayson spelled backwards). Another episode also showed an image of two acrobats falling from a trapeze when Raven melded with Robin's mind. The show's producers have stated that this Robin is meant to be a composite of Grayson and Drake.
  • Amateur filmaker John Fiorella released in 2004 a professional quality trailer for a fictional movie, Grayson (http://theforce.net/fanfilms/nonsw/grayson/) [1] (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0430154/) about Dick Grayson.de:Robin (Batman)

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