Know Your Robins: Celebrating the Boy Wonder’s 75th Anniversary

Saturday, 25 July 2015 - 8:29AM
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Saturday, 25 July 2015 - 8:29AM
Know Your Robins: Celebrating the Boy Wonder’s 75th Anniversary
2015 marks 75 years since the most iconic sidekick in the history of comics was created. That's right, it's been three quarters of a century since Robin, the Boy Wonder, first appeared in Detective Comics #38 in 1940. To celebrate, why not take a minute to learn a little bit more about all of the Robins to fight alongside the Dark Knight throughout the past 75 years?

Dick Grayson


Know Your Robins: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Boy Wonder

Dick Grayson was the first (and by far the most popular) Robin. A member of "the Flying Graysons," he was a trapeze artist alongside both his parents in Haly's Circus. But when Haly couldn't pay his "insurance" to Tony Zucco, the mobster sabotaged the Graysons' set, leading to the untimely death of John and Mary Grayson. Bruce Wayne, who happened to be in the audience that night, adopted Dick. 

Just like Wayne, however, Grayson swore vengeance on the criminal who killed his parents and began sneaking out at night to track him down. Of course, Bruce shadowed him, saved his life when he got in over his head, and took him back to the Bat Cave where he revealed his secret identity. Seeing his potential, Batman offered to train Dick and help him to become a superhero in his own right. 

Later, when trying to decide on a crime fighting persona, Dick spots a robin. Bruce says, "You know, in some cultures...the robin is a sign of hope. Of rebirth. A sort of...growing up." And Robin, the Boy Wonder, was born.

Since becoming Robin in 1940, Dick Grayson has held a number of titles and roles. He was the Robin who founded and lead the Teen Titans. He eventually ditched his role as sidekick, found a new town called Bludhaven to watch over, and became the superhero Nightwing. When Bruce Wayne was presumed dead, he temporarily donned the cape and cowl to become Gotham's new Dark Knight. Finally, after Dick's secret identity was revealed to the entire world by the Crime Syndicate in "Forever Evil," and he was thought to be dead, the secret organization Spyral recruited him as one of their special agents. 

So what's Dick up to today, 75 years later? You can read about his exploits as Agent 37 in the ongoing title "Grayson." You can also catch up with his Earth 2 counterpart who just took on the role of Batman after the Convergence event in the new series "Earth 2 Society."

Jason Todd


Know Your Robins: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Boy Wonder

Jason Todd became the second Robin in the 1983 Batman issue #368. The character has several variations to his origin story, but according to Secret Origins #5, he was a homeless kid, orphaned after his criminal father died in jail and his mother passed away due to a drug overdose. He, too, was a criminal, until Batman caught him on the streets and took him to Wayne Manor to become Batman's surrogate son and sidekick.

He clearly wasn't as popular as Dick Grayson, because in 1988 DC let the fans decide by telephone poll whether the character would live or die...and he died. In the "Death in the Family" arc, Batman and Robin travelled to the Middle East after hearing that Robin's mother was still alive and living there. Jason's mother turns out to be working with the Joker, and when Jason reveals to his mom that he's Robin, she hands him over to her boss. The Joker proceeds to brutally beat Jason half to death with a crowbar, and leave him in a warehouse that's rigged to explode. 

After Jason's death, Batman kept his Robin suit displayed in the Batcave as a memorial. Jason wasn't seen alive again until the 2005 arc "Under the Red Hood," in which it was revealed that he was resurrected by the Lazarus Pit. Donning a red hood (similar to the one his own killer wore when he fell into the vat of chemicals all those years ago), Jason came back to Gotham seeking vengeance from both the Joker and his surrogate father, who had let the Joker live despite the hundreds of people the madman had killed.

As the Red Hood, Jason Todd is certainly a lot more popular than he was as Robin thirty years ago - so popular that he was (spoiler!) featured as one of the Big Bads in the recent video game, Batman: Arkham Knight. Though he was a villain at first, he has officially become an antihero and even teams up with Batman from time to time (though his willingness to kill makes him...unpredictable). 

He had his own group, the Outsiders, which also featured former Teen Titans Starfire and Arsenal. Since they disbanded, he's continued to work alongside Arsenal in the new comic series "Red Hood/Arsenal," as they take down baddies with their own brand of justice.

Carrie Kelley


Know Your Robins: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Boy Wonder

Carrie Kelley was never Robin in the main continuity, but she does hold claim to the title in one of the many alternate universes that compose the DC multiverse. The red-headed crime fighter first appeared in Frank Miller's famous work, The Dark Knight Returns, in 1986. In this particular universe, Batman is older, and has just come out of a retirement that was provoked by the death of Jason Todd. Carrie Kelley becomes the third Robin to take on the role after Batman saves her life on his first night back on the job. 
 
Carrie was inspired by Batman's new stand against crime in a rapidly deteriorating Gotham City, and makes her own Robin costume. After a bit of self-training, she follows Batman to a showdown with one of the gang leaders causing trouble in town. She ultimately saves his life and helps him back to the Batcave. As a result, Batman sees her potential and makes her his partner. She eventually becomes Catgirl in The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and with the announcement of a third installment in Frank Miller's Dark Knight series, we can probably expect to see her again sometime in the near future. 

Sadly, Carrie isn't a very popular iteration of Robin (partly due to the fact that she was the first female to own the title). Nevertheless, it's rumored that Jena Malone is playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Since the film is drawing inspiration from The Dark Knight Returns, many fans speculate that this could be Carrie Kelley. However, without any confirmation from Warner Bros., it's just as likely that she could be playing Barbara Gordon or some other unknown role.

Tim Drake


Know Your Robins: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Boy Wonder

The third Robin, Tim Drake, first took on the title in the 1989 Batman issue #442. According to Secret Origins #3 (keep in mind, there are significant variations in his backstory - this is the one from the New 52), Timothy Drake Jackson, deduces the identity of Batman the old-fashioned way: hours and hours of research. He's an athlete, he's been training, and he wants to apply for the new job opening as Batman's sidekick. Batman refuses, so Tim, already a master of computers and gadgetry, wires millions from Penguin's bank account into different charitable organizations in order to attract Bruce Wayne's attention. Instead, he gets Cobblepot's. Batman shows up just in time to save Tim and his family, and Tim's parents go into witness protection. Tim goes into a different sort of witness protection of his own, living at Wayne Manor and taking his middle name as his last - he's now Tim Drake.
 
Tim eventually grows out of his role as sidekick and becomes his own hero, the Red Robin. In the post-Flashpoint New 52 continuity, he founds the Teen Titans and serves as their leader.

He's also the current Batman in the new Batman Beyond comic series. In this series, which is set in the future, Terry McGinnis traveled back in time in order to stop a tyrannical villain from coming to power. He failed in his mission, but before he died, he gave Tim Drake the Batsuit. Now, Tim is currently battling to save the world from the same villain Terry failed to defeat.

Stephanie Brown


Know Your Robins: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Boy Wonder

Though she has technically never held the title in the post-Flashpoint continuity, before the New 52 reboot took place, Stephanie Brown could certainly be called the fourth Robin. She took on the role in the 2004 Robin issue #126. Daughter of the Cluemaster, Brown was first known as the Spoiler - a hero whose mission was to thwart the many criminal schemes of her father. She became a love interest for Tim Drake, and briefly became Robin when Tim was forced to temporarily hang up his cape. She was later "killed" by the Black Mask, but was revealed to still be alive years later.

Stephanie also served as Batgirl for a time, but ever since the New 52 reboot, she's only appeared in certain comics as the Spoiler. Since the Robin who took her place is now the current Robin in the new continuity, it is doubtful that she will ever hold the title in the post-Flashpoint universe.

Damian Wayne


Know Your Robins: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Boy Wonder

Damian Wayne, the son of Batman and Talia al Ghul (and technically the fourth and current Robin in the new continuity), was the next to take on the title in the comics. Damian became Robin in Batman and Robin #1, which debuted in 2009. Alfred explained Damian's existence to Dick Grayson in Secret Origins #4: "...Due to a momentary lapse in judgment, Bruce and Talia Al Ghul found what they thought was love, but soon came to realize it was a simple truce in a long drawn out war that would merge the Wayne and Al Ghul bloodlines - producing quite an unexpected result that Master Bruce never suspected or detected." Later, Talia brought Damian to Bruce and eventually admitted that he had a son.

It took plenty of training and tutoring, but eventually Damian abandoned the philosophy he had learned from being raised in the League of Assassins. He became Robin, and continues to serve in that role to this day. Recently, he's been seeking redemption for all of the crimes he committed while being a part of the League of Assassins in the new title, "Robin: Son of Batman," which has actually turned out to be one of the greatest titles in DC's summer slate of new series.


Robin's been around for a long time - 75 years to be exact. The hero's popularity has risen and fallen over the years, depending mostly on which character held the title. But he (or she) is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic sidekicks ever created. Happy anniversary, Robin!
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Know Your Robins: Celebrating the Boy Wonder’s 75th Anniversary