Composite Robins

The Origin and Inheritance of Robin

Most people, and even those who have no real interest in comics, know that the first Robin was Dick Grayson. For non-fans, he may be the only Robin they know, and it's his image and exploits that still define Robin today. Introduced as a lighter element to the Batman comics, his initial characterization has been described as "the laughing boy daredevil" — a talented, fearless acrobat who provided Batman with both the youthful friend he himself never had again after his parents' death, and a ward that forced him to grow and mature to act as a protective adult.

As stories moved on, Bruce eventually cut ties with Dick in a severely jerkwad manner, unable to deal with the inevitable separation of Dick growing up. Fairly quickly, he acquired a new Robin — Jason Todd, a street kid who had the balls to try and steal the Batmobile's tires. With the passing on of the Robin uniform, which was a part of Dick's personal identity and a nod to his past in the circus, Batman began a strange sort of legacy. But Jason was not a "laughing daredevil", and his anger and harsher vigilante instincts garnered complaints from fans. Eventually, the dial-in voting decided his fate, and Jason Todd was brutally killed by the Joker.

Tim Drake, the third and current Robin, finally provides enough distance from Robin's origin to examine the concept fully. In the comics, he is shown to be intelligent and investigative, aware that there were two different Robins and able to figure out their identities. Unlike the previous two, Tim is more or less a normal kid, albeit one with a privileged life. He could have hardly failed to notice that like Dick and Jason, he had black hair and blue eyes; and though he did not initially seek to take on the Robin uniform, he was willing to do so when there were no other options. Dick created the role, Jason used it, but Tim is the only one with enough distance to consciously assume it as another identity. A persona. He felt the legacy strongly, not only in his contribution to the illusion of Robin's youthful immortality, but in his responsibilities toward both Bruce and Batman. Stephanie's brief stint as Robin showed that she too felt that importance; her last words were about how she was glad she hadn't imagined it all, that she had really been a part of it. And when Tim resumed the role, it was her legacy he carried now too.

The Role and Characterization of Robin in Modern Media

In this context, "modern media" really refers to the various animated versions of DC titles, such as:

If you ask teenagers and adults about Robin, they're most likely going to tell you about how Dick Grayson's parents fell from the trapeze. They may mention the camp ("holy ___, Batman!"), the homoeroticism-that-will-not-die, the spanky pants, or the Unspeakable Movie. But you ask a kid, they might talk to you about the Teen Titans cartoon.

Robin is changing. Although to most people he will probably forever be the kid whose history tragically echoes Batman's, there are other details that are no longer acceptable to modern society: the "ward" relationship, the shorts, and to some degree, the child endangerment. Thus, the blending begins.

Dick Wearing Tim's Clothes

If you start a story from the beginning like BtAS and The Batman did, it only makes sense that you'll use the proper characters. However, every modern incarnation of Dick (the earliest of whom was created in 1992 — three years after the comics introduced Tim) wears Tim's uniform, or something a lot like it. In TT!Go, he also wields Tim's signature bo staff, arguably has Tim's hairstyle, uses customized projectiles (as opposed to batarangs) like Tim does (though the designs are different), and furthermore takes some cues from Tim's personality. It is also worth noting that in BtAS, Dick spends the majority of the series much older than he is traditionally depicted in comics. In the movies as well, (though I really don't want to talk about them ._.), it is unacceptable to see Robin involved with violence as a child; the newer Batman Begins franchise won't be including him at all.

Jason Using Tim's Name

The New Batman Adventures follows the original BtAS series. Dick has taken on his own uniform as Nightwing, and Batman has, like his comic counterpart, acquired another Robin. Though this Robin is named "Tim Drake", his backstory and personality pretty much align with Jason's, except less angry. Like he did with Jason, Batman allows this Robin to get away with a heck of a lot more than he ever allowed Dick. Interestingly, the comics version of Tim Drake eventually changed his uniform to resemble the costume that DCAU!Tim wears. It's only one of many influences from the DCAU, others being the integration of characters like Harley Quinn, Renee Montoya, and Mercy Graves.

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