The Batman Family of comic books are some of the most successful titles in the DC Comics Relaunch dubbed the New 52.
Many of the characters in the New 52 were de-aged in this new universe. The challenge has been for Batman whose universe was largerly unchanged between the pre-New 52 environment and today. That editorial decision was due to the enduring success of the Batman books. However while a lot is the same for the Bats, the New 52 does include a younger Batman with several former teen Robin sidekicks. Certainly that causes some headaches for readers, but with confirmation that Batman has had only 4 Robins in the last 5 years and that this fraternity no longer includes the female Robin Stephanie Brown who is DC Comics’ Spoiler. I’m not sure if DC has acknowledged Stephanie Brown’s previous tenure as Batgirl let a long Cassandra’s Cain’s spin at the Batgirl mantle.
In the first 10 months of the DC New 52, the relationship between 3 of the 4 Robins has been unveiled namely Nightwing (Dick Grayson, Batman’s first Robin, featured in his own ongoing title), Red Hood (Jason Todd, Batman’s second Robin, featured in the Red Hood & the Outlaws title) and Red Robin (Tim Drake, Batman’s third Robin, featured in the Teen Titans). The wild card has been Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne / Batman’s son and fourth and current Robin, who along with the Batman anchors the Batman & Robin ongoing title. The expectation was that this month’s Batman & Robin #10 would do a lot to show how Damian relates to his predecessor Robins. And, boy, did it.
Before I got into that, it is understandable that the Batman solo title written by Scott Snyder and rendered by Greg Capullo has sucked up a lot of the attention in the Batverse due to their super-engaging Court of Owls 11 month arc and the subsequent debut of an Owlman and an ongoing Talon series. In fact, Greg Capullo’s Batman #1 art that included all the Robins, minus black sheep Jason Todd, led to some interesting questions about Dick Grayson’s age due his height in the panel art.
For a character that was supposed to be a Batman, Dick really did seem short. However, that was likely growing pains by Capullo who has delivered one beautiful issue after another of Batman. What was the same in both panels from Batman #1 and Batman & Robin #10? Well, Jason Todd appears to still be the Batman Family’s black sheep, which Jason comments on later in the issue.
So, artist Patrick Gleason in Batman & Robin #10 takes another shot at Batman’s Robins by having them with Bruce for a family portrait that also includes father figure Alfred Pennyworth who, with Bruce Wayne, has mentored all the Batman’s boys (Alfred even having mentored a young Bruce Wayne which we may learn more about in Batman #0 and other Batman zero books in September according to Scott Snyder). Gleason avoids the pitfalls Capullo did by having Bruce seated in Batman & Robin #10, but Dick does seem a few apples taller since Batman #1. 🙂
What is more intriguing is writer Peter Tomasi’s portrayal of Robin, Red Robin, Red Hood and Nightwing (see pages on your left and right). It seems like it is / will be Damian vs. every other ex-Robin where even Jason Todd looks more mature. Damian feels inferior to the other Robins and he naturally projects that onto all of them even including Batman. He threatens to some day soon beat each of the ex-Robins individually so that he and they will know that Damian is the best Robin. Now THAT is an ambitious 10 year old! I wonder if this lends to credibility to that Bleeding Cool news about a Robins ongoing series that may be part of the fourt wave of DC New 52 new titles? Yes, Jeff Lemire has denied he is on The Robins project, but I don’t recall any official at DC Entertainment denying that such a book may be coming.
The ex-Robins have been some of the strongest characters in the New 52 and it was nice seeing their spotlight in Batman & Robin #10. Over at the Robin Appreciation Group on Facebook, someone has merged some of the above pics from the issue so you can see all of the Robins, as rendered by Patrick Gleason, in one panel.
Nice Facebook wallpaper “cover”, no?
I am a huge fan of Peter Tomasi’s writing and Patrick Gleason remains one of DC Comics’ best artists. Maybe we’ll learn more about Damian and the Robins, and how he acts on his threat, in the pages of Batman & Robin? If so, count me in!
Lastly, if there are any Robins fans out there, I’d recommend you check out Batman: The Brave and the Bold #13. It was a fun read that includes the 4 Robins we’ve discussed as well as Stephanie Brown as Robin as well as Carrie Kelly, the Robin of Frank Miller’s classic Dark Knight Returns. So, 4 boy and 2 girl Robins abound in that issue. Granted, that book is not set in the New 52, but it was still a superbly fun read. Check out a panel cobbled together from that issue over at I am #1 Robin fan over on facebook:
Join us next week, Bat-fans. Same bat-time. Same-bat channel, um, website. 🙂
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Tags: Barbara Gordon, Barbara Gordon (Batgirl II / Oracle), Batman, Batman and Robin, Batman The Brave & The Bold, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Cassandra Cain (Batgirl III / Orphan / Black Bat), Court of Owls, DC Comics, DC Comics Relaunch, Demythify, Dick Grayson (Robin I / Nightwing), eddy barrows, Frank Miller, Greg Capullo, Guillem March, James Tynion IV, Jason Todd (Robin II / Red Hood / Peacekeeper Red), Jeff Lemire, Kenneth Rocafort, Kyle Higgins, Night of the Owls, Owlman, Patrick Gleason, Peter Tomasi, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Robin, Scott Lobdell, Scott Snyder, Sholly Fisch, Spoiler (Batman Family), Stephanie Brown (Robin IV / Spoiler / Batgirl IV), Talon, Teen Titans, The Night of The Owls, The Robins, The Talon, Tim Drake (Robin III / Red Robin)