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The Wednesday Club’s Comic Picks: Holy Robin, Batman!
The Wednesday ClubThe Wednesday Club

The Wednesday Club’s Comic Picks: Holy Robin, Batman!

The Wednesday Club is Geek & Sundry’s weekly talk show in which hosts Matt Key, Amy Dallen, and Taliesin Jaffe talk all things comic books. This week, they chatted about all of the sidekicks and wards of Batman that have carried the name Robin, even if it didn’t technically count as continuity.

With so many characters wearing the mantle of Robin, the hosts decided to start at the easiest place: The beginning.

Detective Comics #38

In 1940, young Dick Grayson made his debut in Detective Comics. Batman went through a lot of changes over time, said Taliesin, from changing his stance on the use of guns to fighting supervillains instead of petty criminals. “One of the things we bring in is the idea of a child sidekick as sort of a character for the readers to identify with,” he said.

Bruce Wayne is in the audience at a circus, watching the Flying Graysons, a couple and their son, on the trapeze. When the rope breaks and his parents are killed, their son Dick is taken in by Bruce to live with him and Alfred. Enter the Boy Wonder.

(DC Comics, Bill Finger and Bob Kane)

A Death in the Family

Jason Todd was the next young man to become Robin, although he was the opposite of Dick Grayson. “Jason Todd was an actual juvenile delinquent,” said Taliesin. “He was trying to steal the hub caps off the Batmobile.”

Jason is well-known for meeting a grisly fate at the hand of both The Joker and the readers, who voted by phone to seal his doom in A Death in the Family. It’s essential DC Comics reading, said Matt. “Definitely read it.”

But be warned, this isn’t a lighthearted Robin story. “It is a very tough read,” said Taliesin. “It is violent. It is mean.”

(DC Comics, George Perez, Jim Starlin, Marv Wolfman, Jim Aparo, Tom Grummet)

Robin II: Joker’s Wild

Next up under the Robin mask is Tim Drake, a young boy unlike the others who have worn the R before him. He’s a thinker and a tactician, said Matt. “Tim Drake is apprenticing under the World’s Greatest Detective,” not the superhero, said Amy, focusing on his crime-solving and investigation rather than combat and martial arts.

In Joker’s Wild, Bruce Wayne is out of town and essentially leaves Tim in charge. “And what happens?” asked Matt. “The Joker breaks loose… I love the art in this series.”

“This is a fun character to watch because he understands exactly what he’s doing,” said Taliesin. “His job is to keep Batman on the straight and narrow.”

(DC Comics, Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle)

Battle for the Cowl

Batman: Battle for the Cowl

Stephanie Brown was the next Robin chronologically, even though her history and status in the DC universe has been murky since the New 52. The hosts highly recommended her run as Batgirl, written by Bryan Q. Miller, if you’re looking to get to know more about her.

After Stephanie, the current Robin entered the fray: Damian Wayne. Damian is the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, but nothing about him is a typical boy. “He’s raised to be a little killing machine,” said Amy, training from birth practically to be an assassin.

In Battle for the Cowl, Batman is dead-but-not-really (again), and the Bat Family deciding who should take up the mantle of the Dark Knight. Dick Grayson becomes Batman, and Damian his Robin. “Grayson’s Batman was having fun, and you had a dark and brooding Robin,” said Taliesin. “It did the role reversal.”

(DC Comics, Tony Daniel)

The Dark Knight Returns

Frank Miller’s landmark version of Batman in the future introduced Carrie Kelley as Robin. “She is the most influential Robin outside of continuity,” said Taliesin. (Robin in the LEGO Batman movie appears to be based on her appearance.)

In The Dark Knight Returns, Bruce Wayne’s grim future established a similar atmosphere for the character for years to come. “It’s one of the most influential comics ever written,” said Amy.

(DC Comics, Frank Miller)

Super Sons

Super Sons

In Rebirth, Damian Wayne and Superman’s son Jonathan Kent have teamed up in the Super Sons series now on comic book store shelves. “This book is amazing,” said Taliesin. “Superman has a son, little Jonathan, who’s having trouble with his superpowers and he’s not that responsible… And Batman’s got Damian, and Damian is a ball of violence and trouble. Batman and Superman are like, we got to get our kids to start working together because they’re going to be in each other’s lives and they need to be friends.”

While Damian doesn’t like Jonathan and torments him, the two eventually come together… Mostly.

(DC Comics, Peter J. Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez)

The hosts also talked about other titles like Batman: War GamesWe Are Robin, Batgirl: Year One, Batgirl: Stephanie Brown, and Detective Comics: Rebirth if you’re looking for even more Bat-books starring Robin(s) to add to your reading list.

Hang out on the Geek & Sundry Twitch channel every Wednesday night to catch the next amazing episode of The Wednesday Club.

Featured Image: Geek & Sundry

Other Images: DC Comics

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