The past and present incarnations of Batman’s sidekick, Robin, in DC’s New 52:
The first Robin, Dick Grayson, grew up, became Nightwing, took over as Batman for a year while Bruce Wayne was… “away,” and is now back to being Nightwing. Writer Kyle Higgins and artists Eddy Barrows and J.P. Mayer present a confident young superhero who returns to visit his circus origins and meets a dangerous new foe. Nightwing appears to be a well-crafted, action-packed superhero comic. It isn’t likely to be revolutionary, and should be a nice, consistent mid-list book.
The second Robin, Jason Todd, was famously killed by reader request in 1988’s Batman: A Death in the Family, then brought back to life (when did a comic book character ever stay dead?) in 2005’s Under the Hood, eventually becoming the Red Hood, an antihero with a willingness to use lethal force and weapons. Now he is heading a new team composed of Roy Harper, AKA Arsenal, AKA Speedy, the former Green Arrow sidekick who was also a heroin addict, and Starfire, former long-time member of the Teen Titans, who happens to be an alien princess. The story written by Scott Lobdell is a confusing mess of references to previous characters and events—a mysterious woman named Essence warns Jason of something called The Untitled that is battling something else called The All Caste and stealing organs from living bodies… and there were no incisions—cue spooky music! Meanwhile, artist Kenneth Rocafort provides page after page of Starfire in beautiful near-naked pin-up poses as she has meaningless sex with Roy. Starfire is portrayed as a sexpot with a severe case of attention-deficit disorder who sees humans as little more than sights and smells—kind of like a dog. This pure male fantasy may sell subscriptions, but Starfire is not the female role model she was on the Teen Titans TV series, that’s for sure. I feel like I came into the middle of a continued story, and I’m not at all interested in this combination of sleaze and unrepentant violence.
The third Robin, Tim Drake, can be seen as Red Robin in the new Teen Titans book, which I previously reviewed.
The fourth and current Robin, Damian Wayne, is the 10-year-old son of Bruce Wayne and Talia, daughter of Batman’s arch foe Ra’s al Ghul (or, perhaps the clone of Bruce Wayne, depending on who you ask). Damian is impetuous, deadly, and disrespectful, but also amusingly sarcastic and committed to winning his father’s admiration. Writer Peter Tomasi emphasizes family relations as only the dysfunctional Wayne clan can be. Artists Pat Gleason and Mick Gray have a uniquely bold style that gorgeously suits the abundance of action set pieces. This should be a fun series.