Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Well, There Goes Another One

Earlier this week, the New York Post published an article that kind of spoiled a long running story in the DC Comics universe. Yeah, I'm going there. Putting on my geek hat. The spoiler that the Post spoiled? The latest character to serve as Batman's protege, Robin, would die in this week's issue of Batman, Incorporated.

I haven't read the issue yet, so I don't know the extreme details of the current Robin's demise. I know it has something to do with him dying a heroic death, which is a long way from where the character began when he was introduced to the world several years ago.

Writer Grant Morrison brought Damian Wayne into the Batman family when he first started writing the Batman title in 2006. Damian, as it turns out, is the biological son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul. Talia, you may know from being recently portrayed by Marion Cotillard in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. Since he was raised in secret, far away from his heroic father, he grew up in the care of the League of Assassins. He spent his formidable years learning how to kill without remorse. Thus, he had a lot to atone for once he decided to be a part of Batman's life.

Damian didn't don Robin's tights right away. He needed to prove himself. And over the years, he's done that. Comic book fans have come to (mostly) enjoy reading Damian's story as he's learned to follow his father's rules. He's had some trouble with the "no killing" policy that's posted on the wall of the Batcave. But, overall, he's grown a lot and has found a great deal of redemption.

This isn't the first time DC Comics has killed off Batman's sidekick. In 1989, at the conclusion of a Batman storyline "A Death in the Family," the Joker beat Robin to death with a crowbar. At the time, Robin was a street kid named Jason Todd. Fans didn't like Jason so much. In fact, DC decided to let the fans decide whether or not Robin would survive the beating. Fans were willing to dial into a 900-number. In the end, the votes were tallied and the populous gave the thumbs down. Robin would die, all because the majority didn't like him.

Jason Todd, as it turns out, got better. Due to some somewhat creative storytelling, he came back to life and now runs around as a vigilante calling himself the Red Hood. Could the same thing happen with Damian? From what I understand, he was killed by a clone of himself. If there's one clone, there could be others, right? Then there are the mythical Lazarus Pits, which are under the control of Damian's mother, Talia. What's a Lazarus Pit? It's this thing that has regenerative powers that can bring the dead to life. Pretty convenient plot twist in a comic book world.

So we have another Robin dead. Rumor has it, this death is gonna stick. For a long time, Jason Todd's "death" took a huge toll on Batman. For a while, he vowed not to take on another Robin. That was until a kid named Timothy Drake deduced Batman's secret identity and took it upon himself to convince the Dark Knight that he was better off with a Robin by his side. Drake could see that Batman was darker and less in control of himself without his sidekick around. It took a while for Bruce to warm up to the kid, but eventually, Tim made for a brilliant Robin.

How much harder will the Batman take Robin's death now that the kid behind the mask is his own flesh and blood? Will he decide to take another Robin under his wing? It seems like a pretty dangerous job to apply for. I mean, sure, you get to hang out with Batman every day. But, you have to wear a bright red and yellow costume. Batman can hide in the shadows wearing all black. Meanwhile, you're like a bright neon sign that screams SHOOT AT ME! I'M AN EASY TARGET! Any kids out there really want to volunteer?

For the record, the job has been an equal opportunity position in the past. In 2011, DC rebooted its universe, so some of the previous continuity has been wiped out. But it should be noted that there have been two female Robins. One, Carrie Kelly, is a Robin that never really existed in the regular continuity. She's a character that showed up in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. The second girl to be called Robin was Stephanie Brown. She actually existed in the DC universe, that is until she was erased from existence by the ginormous reboot. She also served as Batgirl for an all too short period of time.

So Batman has a job opening. The question is, how quickly will he want to fill it? I can't imagine there will be a vacancy for very long. After all, one of the popular Batman series' just happens to be titled Batman and Robin. Not much of a title without the Robin. So, I have a feeling we haven't seen the last kid wearing an R over his (or her) heart.

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