Aging teen sidekicks and teen heroes has been a hallmark of DC Comics for over 30 years.
On one hand, for a few generations of readers, the characters grew up with us. However, seeing Dick Grayson grow from teen sidekick Robin to a young adult hero Nightwing to the adult replacement of his mentor as Batman, has showed great progression for the character.
However, this has been a journey from the early 1980s that has robbed current generarations of readers of the “iconic” Robin and aged Bruce Wayne, the original Batman, at the same time. Not all is bad in the world though. While many today don’t know what Dick Grayson as Robin was like, current generations have benefited from seeing a very different Robin in Tim Drake grow up as well. In many ways, while Dick Grayson was the care-free acrobat while Tim Drake was the detective’s apprentice. One was brawny, the other brainy. (There was another Robin in between these two, Jason Todd, the black sheep of the runt. He was a rebel and loose canon who died by fans’ decree, but was revived, aged, and has become an anti-hero foil to all Robins and Batmen in the DC Universe.)
Anyhow, Tim Drake transformed Robin from sidekick to solo star in his own handful of successful mini-series that led to a few ongoing series. However, Tim also grew out of Robin and into the Red Robin persona, leaving Bruce Wayne’s son, Damian, to become yet another Robin.
So, aging sidekicks, and a child to boot, really makes the original Batman, Bruce Wayne, seem quite….. old. It was a suspension of disbelief that readers were tacitly asked to accept Batman and all of his “children”, by blood or bond, as a normal “young” family. However, “young” is relative, and the impression that Bruce was in his, perhaps, 40’s was difficult to overcome.
Wally West grew from Kid Flash to Flash in the 1980s and beyond, but it was a smoother transition as his mentor, the original Flash Barry Allen, was dead. So, while Wally aged, won and lost a fortune, got married and had kids, Barry wasn’t aged since he was buried and gone… and Wally was DC’s iconic Flash.
Wally also had his own sidekick. Barry Allen’s future grandson Bart Allen (A long story involving time travel) who eventually assumed the Kid Flash mantle. So, DC had its Flash and Kid Flash…. That all was complicated a few years ago with Barry Allen’s permanent return to the living. Now, Barry would appear an older man next to his grown former side kick and his, um, future grandson hero sidekick.
Many have speculated that with DC Comics’ Co-Publisher Dan DiDio and Jim Lee’s recent comments, that the new Justice League title, spinning out DC’s mega-event Flashpoint, will featue “younger” icons in the form of Batman, Flash and others, what does that do for DC’s original Teen Titans who have grown up and out and been replaced by characters equally as a strong in their own right.
Two clues were released recently about the DC Comics Relaunch / #1’s Reboot that may indicate that that there is a room for a younger Batman, with both Tim Drake and Dick Grayson running around the new DC Universe.
The first was the prominent placement of Cyborg, Victor Stone, of New Teen Titans fame as a core and key member of the new Justice League. Jim Lee and Geoff Johns, the artist and writer on Justice League respectively, even discribed him as THE 21rst Century hero. He will be DC’s everyman. Well, if Victor isn’t a teen anymore, his previous team mates can’t be either.
The second Teen Titans clue was on the cover on the new Justice League International book (see cover in the lower left). There is a character, in the bottom left of that cover image, that sure looks like an adult Donna Troy, DC’s original Wonder Girl (side kick to Wonder Woman), who has also had her teen mantle assumed by a younger heroine. Is that Donna, representing Greece, on the Justice League INTERNATIONAL team? Sure looks like it.
So, what’s next for the rest of the first generation (New) Teen Titans? It would appear that they will be younger in the new DC Universe too (they must be if their mentor / DC icons de-age a bit), but they won’t be teens. Can’t wait to see what happens to these inbetweener heroes and heroines.
Tags: Batman, Batman Inc, Batman Incorporated, Cyborg, Dan DiDio, DC Comics Relaunch, Flash (DC Comics / Barry Allen), Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, JLI, Justice League, Justice League International, Kid Flash (Bart Allen), New Teen Titans, Nightwing, Robin, Speed Force (Flash), Teen Titans, Titans, Wonder Girl, Wonder Woman