Batman has always been, well, Batman. Robin, however, hasn’t always been Robin. Or, at least, the person responsible for being Robin hasn’t always been the same. Whether it be Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Jason Todd, or some other person, Robin has had a carousel of men and women wearing his tights.
But who is the best? Is there one person who has stood out as the best Robin to ever sit in the passenger seat of the Batmobile? Is this a label that we should even be giving? Of course, it is!
Here are our thoughts.
1986…The Dark Knight Returns…THE seminal comic from Frank Miller in Batman’s long history. This book single handily changed everything that the world knew about Batman. Gone were the days of nice and pleasant Batman replaced by a more brutal and less tolerant Batman.
While it introduced us to a new Robin, she proved to be a little on the lackluster side. First of all, she’s not an orphan. I’m not saying that this is a prerequisite for becoming Robin but it doesn’t hurt. Second, she’s not related to him. Third, she doesn’t have any sort of formal training.
Barring all that, she isn’t as bad as I make her out to be. What she lacks in all the above, she more than makes up for in her desire to learn, keep at it, and do what’s right. Sure, if confronted by Killer Croc, she’d probably end up on his dinner plate but that’s not the point. IF she encountered him and by the grace of her own luck, managed to escape, she would go back to the proverbial drawing board, reassess what happened and correct it for next time.
What makes Carrie unique, as compared to the other Robin’s, is her deep-rooted desire to live up to everything that Batman stands for and do what’s right.
Jason Todd, the world’s most hated and in need of a change character. Not only did the fans detest Jason Todd more than character before or after him, they voted to have him killed. Yes, you read that right. In an attempt to drum up business, DC created and successfully launched a campaign that would allow the readers to decide the fate of Jason Todd.
They were able to phone into a hotline number and decide if he were to live or die after an extremely violent beating at the hands of the Joker. Sadly for Jason Todd, the readers spoke loud and clear…they wanted him dead.
And dead he was.
Not only did the Joker brutally assault him with a crowbar, he also exploded the warehouse Todd and his newly found (and reunited with) mother were in. Batman could only watch in horror as his friend, companion, and Robin suffered a fate unlike any before him.
And what made the readers hate him so?
He wasn’t Dick Grayson.
Jason Todd, like Dick Grayson, was orphaned but that’s where the similarities end. Contrary to Grayson, Jason Todd was brash, violent, and had a blatant disrespect for authority. Whereas Batman walks a very fine line in the confines of the law, Jason Todd launches himself over that line without remorse for his actions.
Perhaps Tim Drake should be higher on this list. After all, if we examine the Robin’s on a pure sidekick basis, surely he would rank number one. He is the milk to Batman’s coffee, the ketchup to his french fries, and the jelly to his peanut butter. Tim Drake, for all intents and purposes, is the perfect sidekick. He exists only to be Bruce Wayne’s go-to friend and trusted family member.
Batman, by definition, is a lone wolf in his personal brigade against the evil that lives within Gotham. Outside of Alfred, Dick Grayson, and very few others, he has no one to rely on. Without drawing on it too much, he lives a very lonely life. Tim Drake understands this and gives Batman the outlet he desires. By his own definition, he is a capable of handling his own, incredibly smart, and not likely to get in the way. He is astute and soaks in information like a dry sponge.
Like Spider-Man before him, Tim Drake was a typical teenager with typical teenage problems. He spent his time trying to figure out ways in which to balance his superhero sidekick gig, all-the-while balancing the rest of life’s little intricacies.
Similar to Carrie Kelley of the Dark Knight Returns era, Tim Drake did have any special powers, training or superhero know-how. All he had was ambition, spunk, pizzazz, and a real go-getter attitude. And it is exactly this that makes hin the exact remedy to what ails Batman.
If anybody not named Dick Grayson should be the number one Robin, shouldn’t it be Damian Wayne? Not only does he conveniently share his last name but he is also the birth child of Bruce Wayne.
The offspring of Talia al Ghul and Bruce Wayne, Damian Wayne took the long and hard road to becoming Robin. Damian was born without Bruce actually knowing of his existence. Months before she was set to give birth, Talia convinced Bruce that their child that she had miscarried their child that she was carrying.
After giving birth, Damian was raised by his mother and Grandfather, Ras al Ghul and trained to be a deadly assassin. He grew up learning and mimicking everything that his Grandfather taught…and then found out his father was Bruce Wayne.
Now living with his father, Damian represented all that comic book fans come to hate. He was arrogant, rude, talked back, and thought that the world should bow down to him. To say, that the readers wanted to “Jason Todd” him is an understatement.
What he lacked in respect, however, he more than made up for in ability. For the first time in decades, Batman finally had a sidekick that could handle himself in battle. No longer would he spend his time worrying and wondering whether or not he needed to help whatever incarnation of Robin was at his side.
The dynamic between the two is unrivaled in the Batman lore. Not only did Batman have to learn how to handle this version of Robin, he also had to learn how to be a father. What makes Damian so unique is that for this first time in his history, Bruce Wayne was unable to put down his mentor hat.
Are you at all surprised? Surely as you went through the list you noticed that Dick Grayson had not been mentioned?
Dick Grayson is to Robin what Bruce Wayne is to Batman. He started the yellow, red, and green fashion trend and made being a sidekick cool for generations to come. While Stan Lee was busy telling the world that sidekicks aren’t cool, Dick Grayson was busy proving him wrong.
Orphaned as the result of a circus accident, Dick Grayson was taken in by a much older Bruce Wayne. It wouldn’t take long before Dick found out Bruce’s secret and the relationship changed from that of a “father/son” to a “mentor/mentee”.
Marvel spent their time killing off their sidekicks and DC spent theirs showing the world the value of them. Not only would Dick eventually form the Teen Titans (which by the way you should check out our YouTube Video on), he also successfully transformed into the non-sidekick version of himself, Nightwing (also on YouTube).
Dick is the obvious choice for the best Robin of all time and if you thought it’d be something different, I’d love to know below.