Wednesday Comments – Ranking Robins

Robins are a big deal this year. First we had the death of Damian Wayne and rumor has it that something terrible will befall Dick Grayson this September. Not that it’s ever been a good time to be a Batman sidekick; Jason Todd famously died and Stephanie Brown met a horrible end, before it was revealed that her death was faked.

(Of course now she’s hanging out with Wally West, Donna Troy and Connor Hawke as characters with devoted fanbases that no longer exist in “The New 52.”)

I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Robin as a character. Like most people, I was introduced to Robin as a kid, because “BatmanandRobin” is pretty much a word when you’re a kid. Then you get older and realize that there are cooler characters, like Green Lantern and The Flash.

I was actively reading comics when Jason Todd met his end. And it was a big deal at the time. You’ve got to understand that it was sort of the beginning of the “event comic.” Yes it’s after Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths, but it’s also post Batman: Year One, Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. “Death In The Family” was the first “big deal” story to get media attention after comics began to be taken seriously as a medium.

I was fortunate enough to have been reading Batman before “Death In The Family,” so I’d seen the built up with Jason’s character. It was a pretty fun arc to chart.

Naturally, I’d kept reading Batman post “Death In The Family” so I go to see Tim Drake’s introduction in Batman: Year Three and his subsequent mentoring by Bruce Wayne. I really enjoyed seeing that character progression and honestly, it’s one of my favorite character evolutions in comics ever. (I definitely see echoes of that relationship in Bruce’s current relationship with Carrie Kelly.)

At this point I stopped short. I didn’t get any of the Robin miniseries or even the regular series until just a few years before it ended. I enjoyed Tim Drake in both Young Justice and Teen Titans, but I just never jumped on his book. By the same token, I pretty much missed Stephanie Brown’s entire tenure under the mask.

And of course Damien Wayne came in and stole everyone’s heart.

So, that’s basically my history with Robin. Given all that, I’m now decided to rank them.

Damian Wayne easily comes in first. He’s got the great combo of an interesting backstory and a great personality. Yeah, he’s not the first Robin, but he’s the first Robin who actually had a personality right out of the gate. He’s also, at least initially, a reluctant Robin.

His skill set is awesome and his arrogance creates amazing tension in stories. He worked great with Bruce, Dick and any of the other Robins. He also had that vulnerability…I’ve got to stop, I’m getting emotional.

My second favorite Robin is Dick Grayson. I’ll readily admit that I’ve not read too many of his adventures as Robin. But Robin: Year One is such a great story. And honestly in the 1990’s there were so many great glimpses at Dick’s time as Robin that I feel as though I’ve got a solid grasp on his tenure.

But those adventures of Dick as Robin are just overflowing with optimism. He really does provide a nice balance to Batman. Plus, this time as Nightwing has been pretty stellar.

Next up is a tough one; Jason Todd. I’m really going with Jason on this one because of how he went from being a jerky Robin to being a dead Robin. I liked when he dropped the rapist from the balcony. I liked how rebellious he was as a Robin. It was refreshing.

I even liked his return. The reason why he’s in the middle, is because in The New 52, he’s kind of bland. Red Hood was very compelling pre-Flashpoint. But now he’s such a generic character. Still, as a Robin he’s in third place.

If anyone were taking this seriously, here’s where it would completely tossed into the trash, because Stephanie Brown is my next favorite Robin. I’ve honestly only got a handful of her appearances, but I’ve enjoyed each and every one.

I loved her as The Spoiler, she was a such a unique character in that role. But I also liked how powerful Stephanie became in death. She really was a catalyst for a movement that still exists today. And that’s nothing to shake a stick at.

And lastly we’ve got Tim Drake. I’ve already mentioned how much I enjoyed watching his character grow into the role of Robin, but I really respected him as a character in Young Justice and Teen Titans. He was such a great character.

Then Flashpoint hit and he was ruined. Tim Drake is so bland now. Part of what made Tim Drake so great prior to The New 52 was that he wasn’t sure Robin was for him. He didn’t want to be Batman. But now he’s as motivated as Batman ever was and so much less interesting for it.

So there you have it, that is how I rank my Robins. Do you agree or disagree? Am I neglecting some aspects of the characters?

That does it this week. Before I go, I urge you to check out Horizon’s End. It’s Kickstarter project that’s certainly worth your time and money. Check it out.

But now it’s Wednesday, got out and get some comics.

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