Throughout the years Batman has adopted, raised and even borne a remarkable bunch of apprentices. The most recognisable being those that took on and earned the title of Robin. For those that don’t know, though I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it once or twice, Robin was introduced to the DC Universe to both attract a younger audience and increase sales. This decision proved effective and the ‘Dynamic Duo’ became one of the most recognisable duos of comic book history. Although Batman has had many team-ups over the years, such as his encounters with Batwoman, Catwoman and Superman, (we’ll get back to that one another time) none are as poignant or as memorable as those he’s had with the few who have earned the right to wear the crest of Robin.
Now, with the range and amount of Robins over the years a few questions always arise when a new one comes to the fore. Who is the best Robin? Who has developed most and had the most memorable transformation and who, if any, have earned the right to inherit the cowl if (God forbid) the Batman can no longer continue the legend himself? Of course, a lot of this comes down to personal opinion and, what will be offered up, is my own. So, don’t worry, I’m prepared for any debate or tirade of abuse that may ensue in the comment box below.
So, first of all; who was the best Robin? Now this is probably the most difficult to measure. Performance, like many things, is subjective. If we look at performance in the way of combat it can be argued that the original Robin, Dick Grayson, has the upper hand. Dick has his origins in the circus business. He’s athletic, intelligent and can execute a mean back flip. He was approached by Batman himself, after the death of his parents and, due to the similar circumstances between the two it can be argued that, besides Alfred, he is closer to Batman than anyone else in his life. In more recent years it has transpired that Dick Grayson was handpicked by the ‘Court of Owls’, a group who only selected those that showed a promise of excellence, even at a very young age. Thankfully though, unbeknownst to Batman himself, the mantle of Robin and the safe shadow of the Batman, saved Dick from this evil fate.
Now, some may argue that that Batman’s son, Damien, has shown a real penchant for combat (having kicked Tim Drake’s behind on one of their first encounters) but, personally, I feel he is more inclined towards the lethal kind that, although effective, is not becoming of a Robin, or any member of Batman Incorporated (though I will admit I’m a little more forgiving of some of the members of the Birds of Prey).
Now, although combat is a key trait of any Robin, an ability to be one step ahead of the villain is also key, and this involves a good level of detective skills. Batman is widely known as the greatest detective, (despite him admitting that that the original ‘Question’s’ abilities surpassed his) and thus to be his true sidekick, an ability to do the same is truly necessary. To me, there is a sure winner in this regard and that’s no other than Tim Drake. Tim, unlike Dick, approached Batman himself, having deduced that Bruce Wayne was Batman. This was deduced at a young age, whilst others, like Jim Gordon or many the Super Villain are still blindly unaware. In more recent times, before the launch of the New52, Tim Drake once again proved his ability to detect, following the events surrounding the death of Batman. Whilst everyone else panicked, grieved or tried to assert themselves, Tim Drake looked for and found evidence to support his belief that Batman would return. This resoluteness also perhaps illustrates a different level of belief in the Batman legend than the rest of his counter parts.
However, to me, a lot can be said for originality, loyalty and perseverance. To me the best and most memorable Robin will always be Dick Grayson. Although Damien is Batman’s son and was thus ‘born to be Robin’, Dick has always, (and due to Damien’s untimely death (?!)) will probably always be more of a son to Batman than anyone else. He was handpicked as a companion for Batman and thus set the bar for all that followed, which some, like Jason Todd and Stephanie Brown, just couldn’t meet (though that’s for another day and another article).
So guys, round one (in my book) goes to Dick Grayson. In Part Two we’ll have a look into which character had the best journey both during and after their time as Robin, So, until next time, let the debate commence!
Categories: Comics/Graphic Novels