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Holy 75 Years! Robin – The Boy Wonders

Red, yellow & green.

Domino mask.

‘R’ insignia.

robins

When it comes to superhero sidekicks (or “Hero Support”), really, who is more iconic than Robin?

Making his debut in Detective Comics #38 on April 1940, Robin was created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson in a bid to appeal to younger readers. And it worked, as readership for Batman-related titles at that time increased since the character’s introduction. Since then, many youths have been part of the Robin legacy, be it in the main continuity* or alternate universes (Elseworlds). Robin has also been adapted into mediums that range from animation, TV serials, films, video games, and even a musical.

With DC Comics releasing Robin, The Boy Wonder: A Celebration of 75 Years this month, here’s a look at three of the Boy Wonders who have donned the signature R.

(*DC and continuity have a weird relationship, so just roll with it.)

 

Dick Grayson #1 Richard “Dick” Grayson
(First appearance as Robin:  Detective Comics #38 – 1940)

The original Robin made a splash—er, leap through the cover of Detective Comics as a young circus acrobat of Romani descent whose parents were killed by a mafia boss. After which, he became the legal ward and eventual adopted son of Bruce Wayne. Orphaned by tragedy = perfect crimefighting partner for The Dark Knight.

[Nightwing #101 | DC Comics]
[Nightwing #101 | DC Comics]
Dick is arguably the most well-known Robin of all, having carried the mantle the longest (more than 40 years) and having the most adaptations outside of comics. As Robin, he was also one of the founders of the Teen Titans, a group made up of sidekicks – Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Aqualad, and Speedy – who were created following the success of Robin with readers.

Dick as Robin has been in:

Five films,

Film Dicks
[From L to R: Douglas Croft in the Batman film serial (1943), Johnny Duncan in Batman and Robin (1949), Burt Ward in Batman (1966) *Not pictured. See below.*, Chris O’Donnell in Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1998)]

a (live action) TV series,

[Burt Ward in Batman (1966-68)]
[Burt Ward in Batman (1966-68)]

ten animated adaptations,

[From L to R: The Adventures of Batman (1968-69), Super Friends (1973-86), The New Adventures of Batman (1977), Batman: The Animated Series (1992-95), Teen Titans (2003-06), The Batman (2006-08), Justice League: The New Frontier (2008), Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2009), Young Justice (2010-12), Teen Titans Go! (2013-present)]
[From L to R: The Adventures of Batman (1968-69), Super Friends (1973-86), The New Adventures of Batman (1977), Batman: The Animated Series (1992-95), Teen Titans (2003-06), The Batman (2006-08), Justice League: The New Frontier (2008), Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2009), Young Justice (2010-12), Teen Titans Go! (2013-present)]

and various video games, some of which are based on his film and animated adaptions above.

[Batman: Arkham Origins (2013)]
[Batman: Arkham Origins (2013)]

Eventually, every bird has to leave the nest (or, in this case, Batcave) which leads to Dick’s successor…

 

 

Jason Todd #2 Jason Todd
(First appearance as Robin:  Detective Comics #526 – 1983)

Jason has two different origins, due to DC’s storyline known as Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, which is basically a rebooting of all its series. (You’ll get used to it. Reboots, I mean.)

Pre-Crisis Jason (1983-85), like Dick, was the son of circus acrobats who were killed by a criminal. Also like Dick, he was later on adopted by Bruce Wayne. (Sensing a pattern here…) Unlike Dick, he was a redhead, and dyed his hair black to match his predecessor.

Post-Crisis Jason (1986 onwards) is an orphan from the streets who encountered Batman while attempting to steal the tyres of the Batmobile. Talk about a first impression. Nonetheless, Jason eventually earned the Robin mantle by helping Batman apprehend a band of thieves.

 

Legends 5
[Legends #5 | DC Comics]
In 1988, Jason was infamously killed off by the Joker, but would eventually be resurrected in 2005. (Because ~comics~. You’ll get used to that too.)

Jason as Robin has been in two animated adaptations:

[From L to R: Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010), and Young Justice: Invasion (2012)]
[From L to R: Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010), and Young Justice: Invasion (2012)]

Batman goes almost a year without a birdie by his side, until…

 

Tim Drake #3 Timothy “Tim” Drake
(First appearance as Robin:  Batman #442 – 1989)

Tim differed from Jason and Dick in which he was from the same social class as Bruce Wayne, and wasn’t an orphan upon becoming Robin. (Shocking, I know. Although, this would change in years to come.) As a young boy, he witnessed the deaths of Dick’s parents in the circus, and later on deduced the identities of Dick and Bruce’s superhero alter egos with his detective skills (plus lots of stalking involved, actually).

Tim noticed that Batman, while still grieving over the death of Jason Todd, had become more reckless and dangerous without a Robin by his side. Realising that the Caped Crusader needed his trusted sidekick, Tim waited for the right opportunity, and, along with Alfred the butler, managed to rescue Batman on one occasion.

 

[Batman #442 | DC Comics]
[Batman #442 | DC Comics]
He may not be the first Robin ever, but he is the first to have his own monthly ongoing series, Robin, which ran for 183 issues (3 of which starred Stephanie Brown as Robin – we’ll get to her in another post!).

Tim as Robin has been in:

Four animated adaptations,

[From L to R: The New Batman Adventures (1997-99)*, Young Justice: Invasion (2012-13), Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite (2013), Teen Titans Go! (2014)]
[From L to R:
The New Batman Adventures (1997-99)*, Young Justice: Invasion (2012-13), Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite (2013), Teen Titans Go! (2014)]
 *It should be noted, however, that Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, creators behind The New Batman Adventures, developed this Robin as an amalgamation of Tim and Jason. Aspects from both characters were used.

 

And various video games, some of which include:

[From L to R: Lego Batman: The Videogame (2008), DC Universe Online (2011), Batman: Arkham City (2011), Infinite Crisis(2015), Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)]
[From L to R:
Lego Batman: The Videogame (2008), DC Universe Online (2011), Batman: Arkham City (2011), Infinite Crisis(2015), Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)]
(We’re just going to ignore that Tim was declared to never have taken up the Robin mantle in the New 52, a companywide rebooting of all its titles. Look, another reboot!)

 

So, three boys in a row. Coming soon, a Girl Wonder!

Sarah Lee

Her appreciations in life include puns and fictional ladies. Also, Lois Lane is her Supreme Queen of Everything.

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