Brought onto the pages alongside the Caped Crusader to dub the heroes “The Dynamic Duo”. Robin has recently celebrated his 80th anniversary in April, along with Batman, Joker, Catwoman and various other characters from the pages of Detective Comics. However, not everyone is aware of the many incarnations of Robin. While in canon there has only really ever been one definitive Batman with Bruce Wayne, there has been many versions of Robin that have come and gone. But every single one of them have played their part in the DC Universe, either as current Robins or as an evolution to another hero in their own right. We will be taking a look at the core Robin’s, other variations from elseworld stories like Carrie Kelly from The Dark Knight Returns or currently the Robin King from Dark Nights: Death Metal will not be making an appearance for this list.
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First Appearance: Detective Comics #38 (April 1940)
The first Robin, Dick Grayson was the youngest of a family of acrobats at Haley’s Circus. But when the circus refused to be extorted for money by Tony Zucco, Zucco took business into his own hands and murdered Graysons family. Left orphaned, Bruce Wayne felt sympathy and understanding to Grayson and took him in to be his ward. Once moved into Wayne Manor, Dick manages to find the entry into the batcave and discover Batman’s secret identity. Now involved with Waynes secret, he decides to train Dick into becoming a crime fighter and his partner as Robin The Boy Wonder.
In 1964’s The Brave and the Bold #54, the first iteration of the Teen Titans is born with Robin, Aqualad and Kid Flash as the unite to defeat Mr. Twister. However, they were not officially introduced as the Teen Titans until The Brave and the Bold #60 which introduced Wonder Girl and Speedy. Until finally receiving their own publication in 1966 with Teen Titans #1. After a short disbanding of the team though, they were revitalized in 1980 with The New Teen Titans #1 featuring a team of Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Starfire and Raven. After the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Dick Grayson took on the mantle of Nightwing in 1984 Tales of the Teen Titans #44. Later leading into his own comic series with Nightwing #1 in 1995, but it wasn’t until his rebooted series in 1996 that he had established himself in the city of Blüdhaven.
Although he will always be the first Robin, he has established himself since as his own hero with Nightwing. While some might argue that Grayson is the true heir to the cowl, how could he be when he is already such an icon as Nightwing. However, Dick Grayson has taken on many other iterations in comic books. In 1994 Robin #0, he took on the mantel as Batman and many more times after. And in 2014 Grayson #1, he appeared as Agent 37. Recently in the main storyline, Dick is struggling to regain his identity after suffering amnesia from a gunshot to the head by the KGB Beast. For a more visual depiction of Dick Grayson’s story, check out Batman The Animated Series Season 1, Episode 32 and 33 Robins Reckoning. His story continues in The New Batman Adventures with episode 18 Old Wounds.
First Appearance: Batman #357 (March 1983)
Jason Todd’s origin was similar to Grayson’s in 1983 as part of acrobatic family in the circus, who were killed by the hands of a criminal. However, the origin was remade following Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1987 Batman #408. Instead, Todd was written as a street orphan who was attempted to steal the wheels off the Batmobile. Batman saw potential in him and took him in to become his ward, the second Robin. However, many people were not happy with this portrayal of Robin. Claiming he was more violent and hard headed than Grayson, leading to a wide spread fan vote where the readers would call a number and vote on if Jason Todd should live or die. Then finally in 1988 between Batman #426 and #429, the Joker committed an unspeakable act of beating Jason to death with a crowbar.
Later in 2003, Todd made a brief appearance in Batman #617 during the Hush story arc which was later revealed to be a ruse created by Clayface. However, in 2005 the story Under the Hood took place between Batman #635-641, 645-650 which finally brought back Jason Todd as the vigilante Red Hood. In Batman Annual #25 it is revealed Todd was brought back to life after a reality altering event that changed much of the DC Universe. Trying to heal and survive on his own, he is eventually picked up by Talia Al Ghul where he fully recovers before making his way back to Gotham to confront Batman and put an end to the Joker for killing him. The writers managed to take majority of reader’s issues with Jason and turn it into a strength, as a major trait to his persona as the Red Hood. A ruthless and brutal vigilante, but has since made a mends with Batman worked side by side along the Dark Knight.
Since his appearance as Robin, Jason has never looked back at being the Boy Wonder again and has kept the identity of the Red Hood. While also having a brief time as his own variation of Batman, Nightwing and Red Robin, Jason has always kept his current status. A character once disliked, then changed into an icon of the Bat-Family as a fan favorite. Currently Jason has gone from having a comic line titled Red Hood and the Outlaws, which has seen him team up with Arsenal, Bizarro, Artemis and Starfire before it changed to a solo series titled Red Hood: Outlaw. For a simple way to explore Jason’s background, you can see the Under the Hood arch unravel in the animated features Batman: Under the Red Hood or Batman: Death in the Family. Jason’s origin has also been explored throughout the series Titans Season 2 and will be future explained as he ascends into the Red Hood in Season 3.
First Appearance: Batman #436 (August 1989)
As a child Tim Drake was a fan of Haley’s Circus and actually had a photograph taken with Dick Grayson, unfortunately that was also the night that lead to the death of Grayson’s parents. However, because of his love for the Grayson’s and Batman. Drake managed to figure out the identity of Batman and Robin after watching Robin preform an acrobatic maneuver done the exact same way as Dick Grayson. Training himself in marital arts, aerobics and detective skills, when he reached thirteen was when he began pursuing his career as Robin. Watching Batman become more relentless towards his enemies and lose a portion of his moral code, Drake realized that Batman needed a Robin and set out to prove himself worthy. Batman refused to let Tim become Robin, after the death of Jason. But Tim pushed further until he managed to assist in battle twice against Two-Face and Scarecrow. Finally convincing Batman and making Tim the third Robin, however Bruce put Tim through even more intense and disciplined training compared to what Dick or Jason endured, to assure that Tim wouldn’t end up like Jason.
During the storyline which unfolded in Batman #676–681 called Batman R.I.P. which saw the death of Bruce Wayne and led to Dick Grayson taking on the mantel as Batman. Grayson made the decision to make Damian Wayne the new Robin, forcing Tim out of the role and making him take on a new persona. Tim then becomes Red Robin and receives his own comic series exploring the death of Bruce to prove he is still alive.
In the current continuity, Tim continues to take on the persona of Red Robin. He has been working alongside the Bat-Family but was killed during a battle against a military group known as The Colonist in Detective Comics #940. But later returned in Detective Comics #968 and revealed that he wasn’t killed but rather transported to another reality. When he returned to Gotham, he made the decision to take on a different name as Drake. He is also with the teenage team Young Justice which features him fighting alongside Wonder Girl, Impulse, Teen Lantern, Ginny Hex, Superboy and Princess Amethyst. Tim Drakes origin is also explored through The New Batman Adventures episode two, Sins of the Father and was also featured throughout the whole series. But has yet to make a live-action appearance.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #647 (June 1992)
Originally created by Chuck Dixon after the revitalized the villain Cluemaster, which introduced Stephanie as his daughter the folly to his plans. The character was liked by fans, leading into her placement future comics as Spoiler and the love interest of Tim Drake. However, their relationship hit a crossroads in 2004 leading to a break up and Stephanie creating a make shift Robin suit, demanding Batman to train her as the new Robin. After months of training and given a new suit, she finally made her appearance as Robin in 2004 Robin #126. But after being captured and tortured by Black Mask, her injuries are too much for her, concluding to her death.
During the Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul story arc, it is revealed Stephanie is still alive and returns as Spoiler. But then decides to become the new Batgirl, carrying through a 24 issue series between 2009 and 2011. Regardless, she has since gone back to the persona of Spoiler and continues to be part of the Bat-Family as the next generation in crime fighters. She has not had much on screen appearances other than in the renewed animated series Young Justice: Outsiders.
First Appearance: Batman #655 (September 2006)
The genetically engineered son of Talia al Ghul and Bruce Wayne, as well as the grandson of Ra’s Al Ghul. After a night of passion between Bruce and Talia, Damian was then placed in an artificial womb until his birth. Once born, he was trained by the League of Assassins to either replace his father in taking over Gotham or to be as a host’s body for his grandfather. Damian was kept hidden from his father until his first appearance in issue 655, when Talia believed it was the proper time for Damian to meet his father.
Violent, hard headed and with a craving to kill. Bruce did not see Damian fit to be Robin, he required Damian to first gain his trust that he would not kill his enemies. Never actually proving himself, Damian did not becoming Robin until after his father was pronounced dead. During the events of Batman R.I.P. and Batman: Battle for the Cowl, Dick Grayson became the new Batman and what is Batman without a Robin. After Bruce’s return, he continues to allow Damian be the new Robin until Damian’s death in 2013’s Batman, Inc. #8 by the hands of a genetically altered clone of Damian known as the Heretic. In 2014’s Batman and Robin vol. 2, #37 Batman resurrects Damian where he returns to the role as Robin.
Since then Damian has formed his own Teen Titans when he needed help to defeat Ra’s Al Ghul which brought together Starfire, Beast Boy, Raven and Kid Flash as the new team. He also featured in two comic series with Superman’s son Jon Kent as Superboy in Super Sons and The Adventures of the Super Sons. The Titans was once again revamped with another team featuring Kid Flash, Roundhouse, Red Arrow, Crush, and Djinn. However, recently in Teen Titans Annual #2 Damian has removed himself from the role as Robin after taking blame for the death of Alfred Pennyworth. Damian’s story can be explored throughout the DC Animated Movie Universe with Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin, Batman: Bad Blood, Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.