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My "history" with Robin and dead sidekicks

ghostrobinMy earliest experiences with “current” Batman comics was back in Spring 1989, and involved the end of Batman: Year 3 and the start of Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying, as well as The Mud Pack that ran in Detective Comics.

I remember being surprised to learn that Robin had DIED. Here on the cover of Detective #606, we see Batman before the grave, Robin’s ghost pointing accusingly at him.

In the issue itself, it turns out that Batman’s facing a shape-shifter, momentarily rocked by seeing Robin “alive” before the realization of a shape-shifter kicked in.

For me, as an 8-year-old, this was Big Stuff, though. I knew there was a gap between my grandfather’s comics and these…and the fact that Robin had died since Grandpa’s comics really illustrated (to me) that this was an older Batman. I didn’t know much about “continuity” at the time, but I “got” the passage of time and “knew” characters had grown/changed/etc.

I gradually pieced things together from Continuity (yeah, even an 8-11 year old could do that, back in ’89-’92!) and learned that 1. this was a SECOND Robin, that had died–the original had gotten older and became Nightwing; and 2. he’d been beaten to death by the Joker.


Thanks to the local library system, I was eventually able to access and read the tpb of A Death in the Family, witnessing the death of Jason Todd for myself.

Meanwhile, though extremely sporadic, I was around for Tim Drake’s introduction as Robin–first in A Lonely Place of Dying, and then in 1992 where he was still fairly inexperienced, shortly before Knightfall and his rapid growing up and graduation to his own solo book, etc. (I’d missed much of his training and officially taking the name Robin in the DCU, though.)

II got the Robin III: Cry of the Huntress mini-series, and the first couple issues of the ongoing series, and had picked up the Eclipso: The Darkness Within annual.

I got back into the series a few years later around #50; backtracked immediately to #46 or 47 and kept up with the title; a couple years later I bought a set of the first 40 issues, and tracked down the intervening specific issues, such that by the time the series hit #100 I had the full run to that point. I fell away from the title for a couple years, but again tracked down the back issues to fill in the gap, and kept up for several years.


I was there for the all-too-short span of time that Stephanie Brown was the “first” female Robin, and her apparent demise in the War Games event. I read Identity Crisis as the issues came out, and was horrified and moved at the death of Tim’s father.

I used One Year Later as a jumping-off point, but got sucked back in around the Batman: RIP story, and yet again filled in the gap. I then continued into the first year or so of the Red Robin series, when Damian Wayne was made the new Robin for Batman and Robin, when Dick had taken over in Bruce’s absence. I’ve yet to track down the latter half of the Red Robin series, though it’s on my to-do list.

I picked up the first several issues of the New 52 Teen Titans run specifically for Tim Drake/Red Robin, but for a number of reasons basically gave up on the New 52 as a whole.

And now, this week, I picked up Batman, Inc. #8, and witnessed the death of another Robin.


It’s been a long run. I started out 4 years younger than Tim Drake, and now I’m 2 1/2 times the age he was in Lonely Place of Dying. I’ve seen him grow into the role, and learned of Jason’s past, and saw the interaction/brotherly relationship develop between Dick and Tim. Saw Tim leave the role for a bit, with Stephanie Brown stepping in; then her “death” and Tim returned to the role.

batman676After the supposed “death” of Batman in Final Crisis when Dick took over as Batman, it seemed like Tim was kinda shoved out of the way so that the then-still-fairly-new character Damian could officially be Robin.

And now Damian’s dead, and I’m curious about where the Bat-books will go from here, how Batman will be portrayed in light of this new loss.

While we didn’t know at the time that Stephanie Brown wasn’t dead, not much was really done in light of her death; not the way there was with Jason Todd died. No Robin suit in the Batcave, and not much seemed to be done showing Batman without a Robin (Dick and Tim were still around).

But this seems likely to be more on the scale of Jason’s death.

batmaninc(vol2)008In the “meta” sense–interviews, rumors, hearsay–it seems likely this character death may be pretty final. At the least, this is rather sudden–seems just a couple weeks ago Death of the Family ended, we saw that Damian (and the others) were (physically) ok, and it seemed a bullet had been dodged–no major character in the Bat-family had been killed.

Then the “news” broke the other day, Batman, Inc. #8 spoiled quite handily DAYS before the issue went on sale.

So there’s the marketing, the hype, the spoilers, the speculation (I emailed my LCS Monday morning, so a copy of the issue was waiting for me at my convenience Wednesday).

Yet, there’s that Death’s Revolving Door in comics…a character dies only to be back within a few months or a couple of years.

Shamefully…I’m finding myself with a rekindled interest in Robin; in all the Robins…and especially in the idea of catching up on both iterations of the Batman and Robin title; possibly other Bat-books in general.

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