As the Bat-Family expands (and expands, and expands,) I can't help but look at all of Gotham's alter-egos as being ranks in a kind of promotion system. You know, almost like these heroes are going from white belts to a black belts in Karate. So maybe every vigilante starts off as a Robin, then he or she's promoted to Red Robin, Batgirl, Huntress, Red Hood and Nightwing before the highest-trained ones get to the top as a Batman or Batwoman. Who knows, this comparison might prove even more fitting as this BATMAN, INC. storyline plays out.
While the rank and order of "masks" on the "path to the Bat" isn't strictly defined, most of these capes start as Robins. And, since there've been at least five so far, I figured it'd be fun to compare and contrast these Boy Wonders (and the couple girl wonders.) Who was good at it? Who was bad? Who made it stylish?
The original. The standard by which every successor has been judged. While this flying Grayson is the originator of the mantle, I think most of you maniacs will agree that he's been more interesting as Nightwing and much more interesting as Batman. The "making your own identity" and "accepting your mentor's legacy" themes make for juicier drama than "proving yourself as a sidekick." It's also worth noting that few heroes have had as consistent and enthusiastic female followings as "pretty boy" Dick. == TEASER ==
The prodigal son. The bad seed. For most of his existence in print, he’s been better defined in his death than in his life, as a sign of Batman’s failures and tragedy. He was really only Robin for about five years and proved unpopular enough with the fans that they actually voted for him to be killed off in A DEATH IN THE FAMILY (although, that vote was decided by a slim margin.) Like Dick, he’s carved an identity outside this tradition and has proved to be more intriguing as the vengeful Red Hood.
The journeyman. Likely the most well-adjusted Robin out of this bunch. While Dick wore the "R" for many more years in actual history, the focus has been on Tim the longest. He’s the one who had the 16-year-long Robin solo title. While he's had his fair share of personal tragedies and lost loved ones, he's usually stayed out of the drama that's typified the Wayne household. He only just recently struck out on his own as Red Robin, but I feel it’s an appropriate transition for a guy who's done his time and paid his dues.
She's kind-of the redheaded stepchild of this family since she never really got a fair shake. Getting Bruce to validate her as a "real" Robin has been a concern that's continued even into her current career as the third Batgirl. While a lot of Robins have been troubled youths, there's something thematically appropriate about this former Spoiler turning from her supervillainous legacy to this superheroic one. We'll certainly have to evaluate her again if we ever do a "Who's the best Batgirl?" feature, too.
The usurper. The bad son. I’ll own up and admit it - - I think he’s coolest out of this bunch. You've got to love his petulant, stern-and-serious-beyond-his-years attitude and, considering how often Robin's been described as Batman's symbolic son, it's certainly appropriate that his actual son would take up the mantle. Also, given how ridiculous the mesh trunks and pixie shoes have looked, it's worth saying that his redesigned costume is the first Robin suit to actually look menacing, practical and even cool.
So maybe she's an "unofficial" Robin on account of her being from Earth 31 (that's THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS' designation, right?) but, c'mon, you know she deserves a mention here. With big 80s hair, the neon shades and the slingshot, she’s probably the most "punk rock" of this bunch. And, seeing as how she's an "orphan" only by the virtue of her parents being hideously-negligent stoners, you've got to appreciate her for being the one who's had the most fun wearing the red, green and gold.So there you have it. Do you maniacs agree with me about Damian? Do you disagree? Let's hear your breakdowns of this legacy. Would you include any of the other Robins from across the Multiverse? How about THRILLKILLER's stylish mod Robin? Maybe Robin, the Toy Wonder of the 853rd century? Let's get the discussion going and hear your picks.