PART 2 ROBIN: Who Was Meant to Wear the Red, Yellow & Green?
For Part One of this article, please click HERE.
In this excerpt from the second and final installment of his look at the different Robins who have teamed up with Batman, writer Vic Frederick focuses on the evolution of Jason Todd and Tim Drake, and the introduction of Damian Wayne.
Looking at each Robin’s career, it’s interesting to consider how they work as a “family,” since by law they are indeed brothers. The eldest son didn’t want to live in his father’s shadow his whole life and moved out in a fit of defiance. The middle child was reckless and desperate to be unique from his big brother, which led to his ultimate failure. The youngest is set apart from the other two enough to learn from their mistakes and succeed where the others failed. This is not unlike a typical household, but which is was the “best” Robin? At first glance, it may seem obvious, but the analogy becomes even more interesting when considering their careers after losing the golden “R.”
Jason Todd was killed, but did have a post-mortem career. Through a series of events that has been retold a few times in DC canon, Jason was resurrected. A common story is that Talia al Ghul and her father Ra’s used the mystical Lazarus Pit to restore his body to life. After reentering the world, Jason learned that Batman had not only failed to avenge his death (by killing the Joker), but has replaced him with a new young ward. Torn up inside by grief and anger, Jason receives even more training in the arts of marksmanship, combat, and assassination, and decides that Batman is not the hero Jason once believed him to be. Jason sets out to become Gotham’s true reckoning as The Red Hood.
Jason failed his mission and became somewhat of a lost soul in the DC Universe, while Nightwing was a huge success in his newfound home Blüdhaven as was Tim as Robin. In a short matter of time, this all changed. A terrible villain, Deathstroke, instigated a terroristic attack on Blüdhaven that led to its complete annihilation, leaving a devastated Nightwing without a city to protect and nowhere to go but back home. Then, after the cataclysmic events of Final Crisis, the unimaginable happened: Batman was killed in action. With the Caped Crusader gone, Gotham City was left to whatever heroes remained loyal to the Bat Family. There was no shortage, but it wasn’t long before the Wayne sons had to make a drastic adjustment.
In the events of Battle for the Cowl, Jason Todd took this opportunity to do what he always wanted to do: take Batman’s place. Dick was advised by Batman never to take up the cape and cowl after his eventual death, making this possible for Jason. Dick and Tim fought this new, brutal, and deadly Batman as Nightwing and Robin, but Tim saw a need for change. He insisted that one of them take up the mantle and that Dick should be the one to do it. In the end, Jason was defeated by Nightwing, who then realized that if he didn’t take up the mantle, people like Jason would. The shocking detail of this outcome, however, was who he chose to be his Robin.
The Spawn of Satan
In the not-so-distant past leading up to this time in Batman’s history, a new character entered Wayne Manor. Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul had a child, but Talia kept this from Bruce until the boy was ten years old. Raised as a master assassin by the League of Shadows, the grandson of Ra’s al Ghul, Damian Wayne, came into the life of Bruce and his sons. Wanting to become like his father someday, Damian is anxious to learn about this Bat Family, but the family learns in a short time how much guidance this boy will need. He was raised by killers and therefore believed that killing was the best solution to wrongdoing - obviously a huge problem, as any Batman fan knows. So, he was put on the bench until he learned the right path and could perhaps one day follow in his father’s footsteps.
Once Bruce was gone, Damian became a responsibility that fell upon the shoulders of the oldest son, Dick Grayson. If Bruce wouldn’t be there to teach him the ways of truth and justice, Dick would have to do so himself. In order to do this, Dick saw the most proper solution to be a bestowal of the red, green, and yellow. As much of a chore as he knew it would be, Dick decided to take on the responsibility of raising Damian and showing him how to follow in their father’s footsteps. Dick Grayson was Batman now, and Damian Wayne was Robin. Thus the fourth official Robin came into being.
In a world where the dynamic duo must go on no matter what, it is fascinating to consider the relationship of these two; the original Robin as Batman and Batman’s son as Robin. The result was a witty, upbeat, and graceful Batman working with a dark, brooding, and brutal Robin. The reversal sounds uncomfortable, but worked in a big way, to the surprise of not only the fans, but the whole universe of characters. Even those who were skeptical toward this new team would soon look up to see them tumbling through the air and feel foolish for doubting them. They impressed almost everyone with their presence and efficiency.
One character still saw this as bastardization, however. Tim Drake never did anything to deserve being fired. He was Batman’s most loyal soldier; his closest ally. He wouldn’t even accept the fact that Batman was dead and insisted that his allies continue to investigate, which only led to him being cast out and thought to be crazy. His ties to his family were severed after seeing his beloved colors worn by the “demon child” of the League of Shadows. He went off on his own and became his own vigilante, although it was the last thing on Earth he wanted to do. He didn’t even bother to name himself. The common name that people came to use for him was Red Robin.
For the rest of this article, please click HERE.
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