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Thoughts on Tim Drake’s Origin…

I was talking to my pal Jake the other day, and he was complaining about the relative treatment from online fans about Tim Drake and Damian Wayne. He noted that Tim Drake appears to be disproportionally popular on the internet, and he felt that Damian Wayne’s initial treatment of Tim (not to mention the fact that he effectively replaced Tim) is what made so many fans hostile towards Damian online (at least at first. Eventually the awesomeness of Damian Wayne has won over most people).

I have noticed the same thing, that Tim Drake does seem to be a bit of a “sacred cow” on the ‘net. Jake had an interesting theory about this in relation to Tim’s origin.

As we all know, the idea of a kid sidekick was done so that kids reading the comics would have someone to associate with in the comic. You know, sort of like audience insertion in the story. Of course, as (I want to say Mark Waid, but it might have been Marv Wolfman or I might have just imagined that I read it entirely) rightly noted, the kids probably didn’t need to have a kid to see themselves as, as they already were seeing themselves as Batman! But still, that was the idea, at least, give someone for the kids reading the books to identify with (and obviously it was a popular idea, as young sidekicks or groups of young boys soon became all the rage in comic books of the early 1940s).

So it hits Jake, and as he describes it to me, it hits me, as well (even beyond what Jake first had in mind).

Look at Tim’s origin. His attention to minutiae (some acrobatic move Dick Grayson did that Tim saw once) resulted in him solving a mystery that has befuddled many – the true identity of Batman and Robin.

That was what Jake had in mind, but as he described it to me, I also remembered what happened next. Tim then confronts Nightwing, to ask him to go back to the way things were in the past, when Tim was a kid and things were better.

Holy crap, rapt attention to minutiae and wanting things to go back to the way they were when they were a kid? Does that not describe, like, 3/4th of all comic book message board posters?

In creating Tim Drake, Marv Wolfman specifically intended to create a character that fans would accept in a way that they did not seem to accept Jason Todd. But it never occurred to me until now that it was, in many ways, by creating a NEW paradigm for comic book audience insertion – the “fanboy” as superhero.

202 Comments

Thank God this comic was published before the consumer internet, or else Tim would’ve been so busy ranting on forums that he’d never leave the house to do something about Batman’s problems.

Tim Drake is the worst. Wiccan has a similar superhero fanboy origin, and is similarly treacly, overly sincere and unbearable.

Eh, I can’t really agree or disagree. A fair point is made but that’s not why I like Tim Drake.

Of course, as (I want to say Mark Waid, but it might have been Marv Wolfman or I might have just imagined that I read it entirely) rightly noted, the kids probably didn’t need to have a kid to see themselves as, as they already were seeing themselves as Batman!

You’re thinking of Jules Feiffer. He wrote in his book The Great Comic Book Heroes that he loved Batman because it gave you hope that if you worked hard and got stronger and smarter you could be as perfect as Batman. He said that with Robin, he hated him because Robin made the reader feel inadequate. He was the same age as Batman but was ALREADY as perfect as Batman, a basic mini-me of Batman. When the kid reader saw Batman, he thought, that could be me. When the kid reader saw Robin, the same age as the reader but way more awesome, he became acutely aware that that could NEVER be him.

This is the reason why I think the fans-turned-pro who grew up as kids reading about the original first wave of kid sidekicks, when they became writers, were so eager to turn them into drug addicts, self-doubting losers with daddy issues, guys with inferiority complexes, etc. I think it was their unconscious way of taking the characters down a peg once they got a chance to write.

I think there’s a lot of truth to your theory by the way.

One thing I always found interesting was that when Jason Todd appeared, he pretty much had the exact same personality as Tim Drake, especially Tim Drake as first introduced by Marv Wolfman. Everyone hated him. After Crisis, he was rebooted as street kid, car thief bad attitude Jason Todd. Everyone REALLY hated him then. He was killed and replaced with Tim Drake, who had the identical personality and disposition as the original Jason Todd and everyone loved him this time around. I always wondered what made people like the same idea so much more only a few years later. I think your theory may have supplied the answer.

My hunch about Tim is this. He was introduced to many 6-12 year olds in the years after Burton’s Batman films–a whole new audience who have nostalgia about that time and doing the math indicates that they are the age of the average reader of comic books these days. I like the fanboy interpretation–but I think it is way too sophisticated for most readers.

I like the fanboy interpretation–but I think it is way too sophisticated for most readers.

I think people are making the mistake of thinking this is something deliberately worked out by the comic readers on a conscious level. By those standards I think you’re right. But on a subconscious level I think it’s totally plausible and likely. Our subconscious minds are capable of incredibly sophisticated rationalizations, even in children and unsophisticated people.

He was the same age as Batman but was ALREADY as perfect as Batman, a basic mini-me of Batman.

Oops, this sentence above from my first comment should have read “He was the same as as the child reader but was ALREADY as perfect as Batman, a basic mini-me of Batman.

These are all excellent points, but there’s an even more fundamental point: this Robin has been in some well-made comics by some excellent creators. Chuck Dixon in particular was doing remarkable stuff with the character. It could be as simple as this generation of fans like this character because he appeared in good comics.

Also, one thing I’m seeing a lot online from younger fans is how fed up they are with a buncha old guys saying “your comics and the versions of characters you know are worthless, the versions from when I was a kid were the best!” For today’s readers, Jason Todd as Robin might as well be as remote as Dan the Dyna-Mite or Mr. Scarlet and Pinky were for me.

Sure, Richard, but I was just looking at how he was introduced. As T notes, Tim was accepted pretty much instantly, before Dixon ever began writing him.

I never really knew Tim Drake’s background, other than the fact that he had sussed out the secret identities. I never read the character, and noticed the same kind of annoying “sacred cow” status he has online. This is a pretty intriguing assertion.

I’m pretty sure people appreciate Tim Drake because he’s a savvy, ambitious kid who is sincere and doesn’t bring with him any whiny baggage (at least, he didn’t initially). His “rapt attention to minutiae” establishes him as a born detective, making him a fine fit for the role of Batman’s sidekick. This is why characters in the DCU are continually disappointed in Damian’s detective skills; they’ve come to expect from Robin a level of sleuthing ability.

As for why people were hostile to Damian Wayne when he was introduced, that’s a no brainer – he was written as an incredibly unlikeable character. Here are some of Damian’s lines from his introduction in Batman 657: “Don’t tell me what I should do!” “Why can’t I get a laptop?!” “You don’t deserve any of this. You’re adopted!” It wasn’t until his later appearances in Batman and Robin that he was endowed with any depth of personality.

Tim Drake was a great Robin. I think they damaged the character with the whole “Red Robin’ crap. There can be multiple BatMen now. Why not multiple Robins?

Cass: And that was the plan all along, I’m pretty sure.

Metatextually it makes a lot of sense, given the perception that Jason was the Robin that “no one liked” (not true) and the editorial direction that Tim not be anything like Jason. And Jason was a big change from Dick: he talked back, questioned authority (Batman), didn’t come from privilege or a loving home, was a fifth grade dropout (although he attended school and excelled) etc. Tim was also a stark contrast to that.

Tim’s kind of the male Kitty Pryde.

Also, I don’t read Tim Drake’s dialogue as a desire for things to return to the way they were when he was a kid, but rather as a defense for the Robin character on symbolic grounds. Morrison, you’ll recall, did the same thing with Damian – remember “Batman and Robin can never die!” (in fact, that was part of the reason I was staunch in the notion that Tim would be the new Batman after Last Rites, and I still think it makes more sense, but anyway…). You almost have to use this argument when selling the Robin character to adult readers, because of course, in reality, endangering a teenager to advance a mad vendetta against crime is appalling. So you sort of wave over the issue and say “No, no, that’s okay because this is bigger than all that. Batman and Robin are mythic figures that NEED to exist!”

Tim Drake, to me, is an excellent character because he is intentionally different than Dick and Jason. He lacks their physicality and natural abilities, but he actually becomes a more suitable heir to the Batman legacy by way of his personality and deductive abilities.

I think a lot of people dislike Damian because he is a very obvious Mary Sue. A previously unknown relative, who is better and more talented than everyone else, immediately defeats a more established character, gets away with completely outrageous acts, suddenly becomes the main focus of the story, and has numerous mental and physical similarities to the writer.

Additionally, Damian’s usurping of Tim Drake happened with such obvious disinterest in Tim’s character by Grant Morisson, that many people who had even a mild appreciation for Tim were put off.

When people talk about the popularity of Morisson’s run on the Bat titles, I feel it is worth pointing out that sales on the Bat books in general are usually not much higher, and often times much lower, than they had been under previous writers.

funkygreenjerusalem

January 31, 2011 at 6:45 pm

As an occasional CBR Bat-Board poster, and massive Damian fan, I’ve definitely come across this bizarre love of Tim Drake some people have – hell, several fans of his write off anything I say about the character as I’m a Tim Drake Hater (they ignore my assertion that he’s an alright character, it’s just his fans that are the problem – not sure why).

The one that’s always got to me is that Damian’s haters, few though vocal, assert he is a fan-service/mary sue/’whatever they learned off of tv tropes that day’ character, where as Tim clearly has that origin – Batman’s son being Robin makes sense, kid off the street figuring it out for himself… not so much.
Sure, when Tim says the clues that way, it is obvious – but it only works because every other character is written to ignore the bleeding obvious when it comes to superhero identities.
It would be like a new character being considered smart because they figured out Superman is Clark Kent because the only difference is he wears glasses – all it’s doing is pointing out the flaws in logic we all have to accept (suspend disbelief if you will) to keep the story engine running.

Personally, I think Tim Drake WAS a great a character, but isn’t now.
In the Dixon era, when he was a happy side kick, he was great, and his own title was kind of ‘Batman Jr’, with him out in the suburbs and such.
Since they killed his father, made him moody, and put him in charge of the Teen Titans – where he rapidly became their Batman, and thus an equal to Batman – he doesn’t work at all.
With Ra’s Al Ghul calling him by the nickname he uses for Batman, it feels like the writers are just writing to please the hardcore net fanbase – his stories used to be about him messing up, and then getting out of a jam, now he’s more of a Bat-God than Batman.
(Red Robin was the only book to mention it, but apparently Tim became the CEO of Wayne Enterprises whilst Bruce was dead. Unsure whether that happened before or after the scene where Damian was yelling at the board for corruption.)
Of course, I’m now wishing things were like they were, not as they are – I truly think it’s because a bad direction was taken, but I’m sure everyone else thinks that way too!

Also, is it just me, or does Tim seem to advocate the intelligent design style of thinking with his ‘If you start with result X, it’s easy to prove it!’

One thing I always found interesting was that when Jason Todd appeared, he pretty much had the exact same personality as Tim Drake, especially Tim Drake as first introduced by Marv Wolfman. Everyone hated him. After Crisis, he was rebooted as street kid, car thief bad attitude Jason Todd. Everyone REALLY hated him then. He was killed and replaced with Tim Drake, who had the identical personality and disposition as the original Jason Todd and everyone loved him this time around. I always wondered what made people like the same idea so much more only a few years later. I think your theory may have supplied the answer.

Did everyone hate Jason?
I know he got killed off in a poll, but they thought he would survive, and it was death by a slim margin wasn’t it?

Cass: And that was the plan all along, I’m pretty sure.

I was about to agree with you, but something just occured to me and now I’m not sure. I think I remember reading somewhere that Morrison thought his run would end with Last Rites, and if that had happened, the Damian would’ve been left fairly undeveloped.

I hope you’ll forgive the shameless self-promotion here, but I just happen to be blogging my way through Tim Drake’s first few appearances in Batman comics and I wrote a lot of words (too many?) about precisely that dynamic (of Tim arguing that Batman needs a Robin and wanting to re-establish the status quo) in my latest post in the series. Thought you might be interested.

http://irrelevantcomics.blogspot.com/2011/01/tim-drake-from-beginning-part-3-lonely.html

The way I interpreted it was as a rather clumsy expression of DC’s editorial direction at the time, which was the need to re-establish the status quo but without undoing either Dick Grayson’s promotion to Nightwing or Jason Todd’s death. What’s interesting to me is that Marv Wolfman’s lack of subtly results in a kind of accidental meta commentary on the way these characters are all kind of trapped in these roles and condemned to keep repeating the same stories over and over again. Tim Drake doesn’t even want to be Robin, but he gets sucked into this whole thing anyway, because that’s the only way to please the fans who don’t really want anything to change. Tim Drake may be a new character, but oddly his purpose is to ensure that everything stays exactly as it was meant to be.

I agree with the good story theory. I don’t recall instantly liking Tim Drake. He was just used well and had a costume that looked cool for Robin. His origin had almost nothing to do with liking him except that it wasn’t overtly annoying. And after the first trade of BandR, which is as up to date as I am, I can still barely tolerate Damian. I still think Damian is the stupidest name for a character and is just used because there’s few other names synonymous with “evil, devil-child” in the English language. Why not just call him Lucifer Wayne and get it over with?

As talented as Tim may be, there’s something really uncomfortable about a boy who WANTS to be Robin (even if he wasn’t actively searching for it, as Basque noted). And the fact that Bruce ultimately allowed him to be Robin just fuels complaints that the role is Batman’s Child Soldier.

At least Dick and Jason had been touched by tragedy already, and Damian was programmed as an assassin (which makes his rehabilitation all the more impressive, even if his attitude remains).

Eh, don’t buy that. I disliked Jason because his post-Crisis persona was overly abrasive, and he was more than likely a murderer as well – heroes that kill don’t go over too well with me. Tim was smart, respectful, wanted to do the right thing, and such.

As one of the old ‘fanboys’, the whole ‘does not want things to change’ is just mistaken. It isn’t that ‘things change’, it’s that the tone and quality of the changes I’ve seen are distasteful. Many changes have been good and welcome, but many others have been hasty and ill-considered. Jason was one of them, from his post-Crisis re-imagining to his ignoble end. Heck, if I disliked change, I should hate Tim, right? (I’m old enough that both Jason AND Tim were huge changes to me; I didn’t grow up with them, so they’re certainly not the ‘Robin of my childhood’) No way; he’s as good or even a better Robin of all the ones we’ve had.

The one that’s always got to me is that Damian’s haters, few though vocal, assert he is a fan-service/mary sue/’whatever they learned off of tv tropes that day’ character, where as Tim clearly has that origin

Exactly.

And yet just before your post (it didn’t show up until now – it was stuck in the spam filter), another commenter made that same point, that Damian is bad because he was introduced as a “Mary Sue” but Tim, somehow, is not.

Nah, Damian was the opposite of “Mary Sue.” He was a jerk. That was why everyone hated him.

(Which is perfectly understandable.. I’d be surprised if Morrison didn’t DESIGN him so that everyone hated him at first.)

All Robins are Mary Sues by definition. As is Batman. As is Batgirl (all of them). As is Huntress. As are Green Arrow and his family of heroes. It is a necessary part of the street hero archetype.

I have never read a Damian story, but reading about him leads me to believe that he is not meant to be liked, but instead to have a sizeable story of character development. After all, he is a brat, a borderline sociopath, a barely-controlled killer, and _still_ ends up being a remarkably skilled and intelligent character – a Wesley if you will. Sorry if I am misjudging, but the bleed-over paints him as such.

Tim, by contrast, was essentially introduced as a much needed medicine for Batman’s mental health, and respectful to the legacy he ended up being part of to boot. And then came Chuck Dixon. Is it any surprise that he is a sacred cow? Was he ever not meant to be?

@ Da Fug- the name Damian, with all of its “devil child” connotations, was certainly intentional: he was conceived in the “Son of the Demon” book, is the grandson of R’as al Ghul, and all of Morrison’s run up until Batman, Inc., was basically “Batman vs. the Devil”, so it fits, thematically. I’m not really a fan of the name in general, but I think it works in this case.

” I have never read a Damian story, but reading about him leads me to believe that he is not meant to be liked, but instead to have a sizeable story of character development. After all, he is a brat, a borderline sociopath, a barely-controlled killer, and _still_ ends up being a remarkably skilled and intelligent character – a Wesley if you will. Sorry if I am misjudging, but the bleed-over paints him as such. ”

Damian is remarkably skilled and intelligent because his entire life up to meeting Batman was being trained as an uber-assassin. Even then, he’s still a ten-year-old boy, and he’s nowhere near as competent as he believes he is. When he first tried to challenge Batman in combat, his old man easily defeated him, and even commented that if he needed brass knuckles he wasn’t nearly good enough. And he gets the crap beaten out of him at several points in Batman and Robin, in ways that Dick does not.

Wow, the easily disproved statements some people make are so weird!

Morrison’s said on-record that his intention was for Damian to be hated at first, and then redeemed. You might have noticed that’s how he wrote the other characters to react to him.

He’s nothing like Grant Morrison, physically or personality-wise. Or are you under the impression that Grant Morrison is a ten-year old who spent most of his life oppressed by a crime lord mother and is now desperately trying to impress his absentee father and new father-figure?

He wasn’t previously unknown. He was created in another story by another writer. Which is just one of the things that shows that he’s categorically NOT a Mary-Sue.

T…I agree completely–I am training as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and often think about what the unconscious is bubbling up with next. I read the intro of Tim as a 13 or 14 year old–having no particular allegiance to any Robin, except maybe the Dick Grayson incarnation. I can say that what appealed to me about Tim Drake’s introduction is how clever he was to figure out the identities of the Dynamic Duo–which I think lends some, okay a lot, of credence to Brian’s interesting interpretation.

To wade into the waters of fanboy ire…I read Death in the Family as an adolescent–had no sentimental attachment to Jason Todd–kind of a “meh” experience. But I picked up the animated Under the Red Hood for my young son and came to think that there was/is/could be much more to this character. I never read Winnick’s run dealing with Todd/Red Hood…just saying.

He wasn’t previously unknown. He was created in another story by another writer. Which is just one of the things that shows that he’s categorically NOT a Mary-Sue.

People keep saying this. I thought both DC and Mr. Morrison had been very clear that Damian was NOT the child from the Barr/Bingham “Son of the Demon” story.

I don’t actually care other than in a shooting-the-breeze way, because it makes for some fun chronological fireside fan wrangles parsing it all out (Because if you allow “Son of the Demon,” why then, there’s “Bride of the Demon,” in which Tim is very clearly living in Wayne Manor and just as clearly NOT Robin… and now Damian’s, what, ten? And Tim’s…. well, whatever age Tim is now. Etc.)

The reason it’s tempting to get into it is because it really does almost work– the chronology makes perfect sense for everyone except Bruce. No matter how you work it out for the Robins, even compressing Dick Grayson’s and Tim Drake’s respective tenures way down, it always ends up with Bruce at around fifty years old.

I don’t expect DC to resolve it, of course. This is fan stuff. But it’s the sort of thing my brain worries at like a dog with a bone. Some day I’m going to sit down and work it all out and then do the Bat-Chronology column I keep thinking about.

I’m pretty sure people appreciate Tim Drake because he’s a savvy, ambitious kid who is sincere and doesn’t bring with him any whiny baggage (at least, he didn’t initially). His “rapt attention to minutiae” establishes him as a born detective, making him a fine fit for the role of Batman’s sidekick.

You point out all those things as reasons why the Tim Drake love should be obvious, but I think it more often works the other way…more often than not someone who is too obvious straight out the gate is more often going to be hated by the fans. Look at the Wesley Crusher character from Star Trek Next Generation. He fits your description of Tim Drake to a tee and people absolutely LOATHED him.

Also your description of him also fits the pre-Crisis Jason Todd to a tee as well. And he wasn’t as well-received as Tim Drake either.

So yes, he was presented right away as savvy, ambitious, super sincere, not whiny, a mental prodigy and a fine fit for a protege…but that alone doesn’t explain the love fandom has for him, given how people have rejected pre-Crisis Jason Todd and Star Trek’s Wesley Crusher in the past. That’s why I think Brian’s rationale makes a lot of sense: it’s the one thing that sets Drake apart from similar characters like pre-Crisis Jason Todd and Wesley Crusher.

Some people are stretching the definition of “Mary Sue” into shapelessness here.

A possible reason Tim’s introduction was well received at the time (i.e. late 1980s) is where and by whom he was introduced: in the New Teen Titans series, by Wolfman and Perez, crossing over with the Batman titles. NTT was a major fan favorite, nearly on a level with the X-Men, and I fans gave Wolfman and Perez the benefit of the doubt. That wouldn’t last forever, and in particular wouldn’t last long after Perez left — look at how fans reacted to Danny Chase.

Some people are stretching the definition of “Mary Sue” into shapelessness here.

I think it’s more that people are conflating Mary Sue with Pet Character. I can see the case for Damian being a pet character for sure, but when it comes to being a Mary Sue Tim definitely falls more into that category than Damian does.

A possible reason Tim’s introduction was well received at the time (i.e. late 1980s) is where and by whom he was introduced: in the New Teen Titans series, by Wolfman and Perez, crossing over with the Batman titles. NTT was a major fan favorite, nearly on a level with the X-Men, and I fans gave Wolfman and Perez the benefit of the doubt. That wouldn’t last forever, and in particular wouldn’t last long after Perez left — look at how fans reacted to Danny Chase.

No, that definitely wasn’t it. By that point it wasn’t New Teen Titans anymore, it was New Titans, Perez was no longer on the book and it was nowhere near on par with the X-Men anymore. All of it happened post-Perez and post Danny Chase.

Also, Jason Todd got some major favorable treatment in New Teen Titans back much earlier on and that didn’t seem to help him any in the popularity department.

I think it’s more that he was the first Robin to benefit from the more nuanced storytelling of the Modern Age, but was not a Dick Grayson clone (pre-Crisis Jason) or unlikeable snot (post-Crisis Jason). Any depth added to Dick in the modern age either took place in his present, when he was no longer Batman’s sidekick, or was a retcon. Readers got to see Tim grow as a unique and likable character from the very beginning.

Jason was nothing like Tim Drake. He was a Dick Grayson clone until the retcon.

It’s funny, but rereading those pages made me realize:

Tim Drake is a fan stand-in from back when fans-turned-pro liked the fan community. Superboy Prime is a fan stand-in from an era when fans-turned-pro seem to hate the fan community. They’re flip sides of the same coin.

How things have changed.

Jason was nothing like Tim Drake. He was a Dick Grayson clone until the retcon.

His origin was a Dick Grayson clone, sure, but personality-wise he read very similar to the early years of Tim Drake to me. At least IMO. Then again most of the pre-Crisis Jason I read was his stint in New Teen Titans (written by Marv Wolfman, the same guy who wrote Tim’s first appearances) and his appearances in the Legends miniseries. Maybe his appearances in the main Batbooks were different.

Apropos to nothing at all, but because a couple of people brought it up, the name Damian isn’t all that uncommon. I’ve known three Damians.
Also, while pop culture may lead us to associate the name with the Anti-Christ, most people on Earth are more likely to think of Father Damien, the missionary priest who ran the leper colony in Hawaii in the mid 1800s.

I think the “Robin as Fanboy” theory only works in hindsight. I don’t think most Tim Drake fans (who were kids at the time) saw themselves in the “return to the status quo” school. In fact, I’d probably argue that most 30-something readers now don’t see themselves as being in that camp (even if many are), so I don’t think they see Drake as an extension of themselves.

IMHO, what made Tim Drake work was mostly good timing (post-Burton, inclusion in the popular Animated Series, long enough after Grayson, etc.). Also, he hit as part of a wave of fans of a certain age embracing next generation “legacy” characters. I suspect a lot of the Tim Drake fans are also Wally as Flash, Kyle as Green Lantern, and Ben Reilly as Spider-Man fans. I think this was a combination of an influx of young comic fans (in part due to TV, movies, and an exploding comics market), and a particular strategy embraced by the publishers.

It’s possible that 20 years from now (if kids still read comics), there will be a camp declaring emphatically that Damien was the best Robin and hating on whoever they have devised to fill the role at that time.

Fuck the origin, Tim is bright, honest, hard-working and capable. He deserves the mantle of Robin as much, if not more, than any other Robin out there.

funkygreenjerusalem

January 31, 2011 at 9:26 pm

AJ Ryan:

Tim Drake, to me, is an excellent character because he is intentionally different than Dick and Jason.

And Damian is exactly the same as the other two?

A previously unknown relative, who is better and more talented than everyone else, immediately defeats a more established character, gets away with completely outrageous acts, suddenly becomes the main focus of the story, and has numerous mental and physical similarities to the writer.

This is just wrong.

He isn’t more talented than everyone else.
Maybe more talented than they were at his age, as he was genetically engineered and spent his life in training, but not currently more talented – nearly every story Morrison wrote with him in it as him making mistakes and learning lessons.

He beat Tim who wasn’t expecting a fight, and didn’t realise they were fighting for real until the very end of it.

What outrageous acts has Damian got away with, that no one else has?

Damian was the main focus of the original Batman And Son story, and then disappeared for a few arcs/stories – he showed up in the Return Of Ra’s Al Ghul storyline, and then didn’t appear again until after RIP.
He was in #666 as the future Batman, but considered himself a failure, who wasn’t as good as his father or The Batman (he refers to them separately, and I believe at this point he considered Dick to be Batman – and it’s strongly hinted he caused Dick’s death).

Damian has zero similarities to the writer, and is actually a rather new character type for Morrison to use.
Before anyone tries to misuse Morrison’s writing suit/avatar concept to explain Damian, Morrison originally was going to kill him off shortly after his first appearance.

I still think Damian is the stupidest name for a character and is just used because there’s few other names synonymous with “evil, devil-child” in the English language. Why not just call him Lucifer Wayne and get it over with?

Two reasons…

1. Damian still functions as a normal name, whilst Lucifer doesn’t.

2. Damian is the name of the devil’s son – Damian is the son of Batman and Talia.

Some people are stretching the definition of “Mary Sue” into shapelessness here.

If only someone with a blog we went to had done a ‘Comic Book Dictionary’ or something like that, defining the term.

I can see the case for Damian being a pet character for sure, but when it comes to being a Mary Sue Tim definitely falls more into that category than Damian does.

I don’t think there’s a case for pet character at all – Morrison developed his creation, sure, but plenty of other writers are using him in their stories – he’s rockin’ it in Teen Titans – and Morrison took him out of the book he is writing altogether.

That’s nothing like Claremont working Ms Marvel into all his 70’s books, Devin Grayson making Tarantula the one to turn to in a crisis, Winick’s use of Constantine Drakkon in Green Arrow, Robinson bringing back The Guardian and then sticking him everywhere etc.

Damian’s a good character, but I think that’s about it!

funkygreenjerusalem

January 31, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Tim Drake is a fan stand-in from back when fans-turned-pro liked the fan community. Superboy Prime is a fan stand-in from an era when fans-turned-pro seem to hate the fan community. They’re flip sides of the same coin.

How things have changed.

That’s what happens when the internet brings creators and fans close together – they get a better idea of what we’re like!

Apropos to nothing at all, but because a couple of people brought it up, the name Damian isn’t all that uncommon. I’ve known three Damians.

I think it’s spelling it with the a, not the e, that makes it devil-y.

I don’t care much about Tim or Damian one way or another (I would say Jason either, but I have to admit Jason really bugs me), but I do think this is a pretty good observation:

Tim Drake is a fan stand-in from back when fans-turned-pro liked the fan community. Superboy Prime is a fan stand-in from an era when fans-turned-pro seem to hate the fan community. They’re flip sides of the same coin.

I think it’s spelling it with the a, not the e, that makes it devil-y.

Damien in the Omen movies was spelled with an e, so it’s kind of the reverse.

@T: Tim’s not portrayed as excessively savvy in those issues, though. In his first battle as Robin, he comes up against Two-Face. If he were really the ultra Mary Sue he’s being made out to be in this thread, he would’ve won that battle. On the contrary, Two-Face beats him handily, and Tim has to be bailed out by no less a fighter than Alfred the butler.

Also, I’m not familiar with Star Trek, but I think fans can appreciate the same qualities in Tim Drake that they despise in Wesley Crusher because of different relationships among the characters. Tim Drake is savvy, but he’s not showing anybody up. Batman’s role as the superior crimefighter is never threatened. Tim is hopeful and sincere, which has the potential to be annoying, but as Luis Dantas points out, these lighter qualities were just what the doctor ordered for the Bat books of the time, which had grown increasingly dark following the death of Jason Todd.

What does “disproportionately popular” mean? “More popular than it should be?” That seems like an arbitrary, and completely biased assertion/claim from the start. As near as I can tell, the only thing “disproportionately popular” means that makes any sense is “more popular than I think is right,” which seems bogus. If it means something else, I’d really like to know

I like how Tim is disproportionately popular, but not Damian isn’t. He is under-appreciated, or exactly popular enough. Also interesting to note, how Tim is a Mary Sue, but Damian isn’t. Why? Because Grant Morrison isn’t really a 10 year old raised by the League of Assassins. Using this logic, I was surprised to see that Marv Wolfman was a 13 year old gymnastics enthusiast/amateur detective in 1989.

This is a stone brilliant theory and I think that both you and T. are exactly right.

Using this logic, I was surprised to see that Marv Wolfman was a 13 year old gymnastics enthusiast/amateur detective in 1989.

On the other hand, that logic would make a rather damning case against Terry Long.

If only someone with a blog we went to had done a ‘Comic Book Dictionary’ or something like that, defining the term.

I’ve long given up the hope of people using the term “Mary Sue” correctly, so I try to just avoid referring to it as best as I can. You’ll note that I didn’t use the term in my initial piece.

I like how Tim is disproportionately popular, but not Damian isn’t. He is under-appreciated, or exactly popular enough. Also interesting to note, how Tim is a Mary Sue, but Damian isn’t. Why? Because Grant Morrison isn’t really a 10 year old raised by the League of Assassins. Using this logic, I was surprised to see that Marv Wolfman was a 13 year old gymnastics enthusiast/amateur detective in 1989.

I don’t think either are Mary Sues, which is why I don’t refer to either as such.

One of them is an “audience insertion” character, though, and that’s Tim, which is why he’s referred to as such.

What does “disproportionately popular” mean? “

Being “a bit of a ‘sacred cow’ on the ‘net.” Wolverine, for instance, is a good deal more popular than Tim Drake in general, yet online, fans are far more protective of Tim Drake than they are of criticism of Wolverine.

If you dislike the term “disproportionately popular,” feel free to replace it with “a sacred cow.”

This was an origin that always stuck with me as the “wait, what?” type of story that was really forced on us as readers, even as a kid. In the larger DC scheme of “put on glasses and I can’t tell Clark is Superman” universe, there have been other characters who’ve talked their way out of larger debacles than this, especially in regards to be “uncovered.” Ultimately, I liked where Tim’s character went as Robin, but I think we need to look at why they felt another Robin was needed and, given the avenues they had already run with Dick and Jason, what better way would there have been to introduce another Boy Wonder? But “Fanboy as Super Hero?” An interesting thought, but I think it’s reaching a bit.

The circumstances surrounding Tim Drake’s introduction were favorable for creating a likable character. There was a solemnity and realism at Robin being killed, and a sense of legacy and moving forward by having him have ties to both Dick(from his 1st apearance in the Year 3 story) and Bruce. We were all rooting for him to fill the shoes (or little green booties) and re-establish the status quo, but also start a new chapter with a clear delineation in the ongoing saga as well.

And for the record I like Damian as well. He seems like a fun character to write, being such a little snot and playing him off other characters. Everybody in the DC superhero community seems too chummy, so having somebody ruffle feathers is a breath of fresh air.

And here’s another theory for why Tim Drake is a sacred cow: Dennis Miller made fun of the new Robin costume on Saturday Night Live. Thus Tim Drake instantly became someone for fans to defend/protect. Makes sense to me :P

“Also interesting to note, how Tim is a Mary Sue, but Damian isn’t. Why? Because Grant Morrison isn’t really a 10 year old raised by the League of Assassins. Using this logic, I was surprised to see that Marv Wolfman was a 13 year old gymnastics enthusiast/amateur detective in 1989.”

No, that’s a response to AJ Ryan claiming that Damian “has numerous mental and physical similarities to the writer.”

Greg, here’s what Morrison has said about the Son of the Demon connection.

“For a long time, [DC] said [Son of the Demon] was out of continuity. Now it’s just kind of out of continuity. I didn’t actually read it before I started writing this. I messed up a lot of details, like Batman wasn’t drugged when he was having sex with Talia and it didn’t take place in the desert. I was relying on shaky memories. But now we have this new “Superboy punch” continuity [after Superboy Prime attacked the fabric of the universe during Infinite Crisis]. People still don’t realize how important that single punch was to cover everyone’s ass.”

I think it’s one of those cases of Morrison “making it work”, like Zur-En-Arrh and Bat-Mite. It’s not necessarily a validation of past continuity, but an assimilation of it.

You’re right, but that doesn’t make me like Tim and hate Damian any less. I’m a fan of more intellectual, nerdy characters in general.

No, that’s a response to AJ Ryan claiming that Damian “has numerous mental and physical similarities to the writer.”

Well, it was more of a “if you want to erroneously say Damian is a Mary Sue character, then how could you not erroneously call Tim a Mary Sue, as well?” But that was more of an indictment on the misuse of the term than anything else.

I can’t really agree with this opinion regarding Tim vs. Damian. My opinion is this: Tim Drake was a likeable character. Damian is not.

Tim was good, morally strong, intellegent, and skilled sort of character who worked hard for what he got and who could be respected for his efforts. Damian however… he’s a jerk. Rude, sadistic, self-entitled, cruel and barely containing his hatred of everyone and everything that doesn’t meet his unknown and/or unreachable standards. That, I think is the biggest reason people like Tim over Damian.

One is likable, the other isn’t. It’s actually that simple.

And sure Damian has gotten more likable in recent time, but its been a slow and gradual process. Tim Drake however was more likable from the start. A little creepy in his hero stalking, but likable.

Also, some here have claimed Tim Drake to be a Mary Sue, which is an idealized, wish-fulfillment character. That’s pretty far from the truth from where I stand, and I really don’t see where anyone gets that opinion. Tim didn’t come in as perfect character. He wasn’t mr. perfect who was skilled at everything. He was smart kid who required the most training of all the Robin in every field except computers and detective skills. He had limited karate training when he was introduced, and hardly any gymnastic or survival skills. His first… like 5-8 years of stories were about him working desperately hard to meet the standards set by Dick Grayson and Jason Todd as Robin. People like Dick, Bruce and Alfred liked him because he worked hard at everything he did.

He had entire storylines to his training with Batman, Nightwing, Shiva and other characters. Batman refused to initially let him be Robin, after his mother died for fear his anger would mislead his actions like Jason Todd.

The fact Tim Drake is as skilled as he is NOW, is only after years of dedicated training, which is something most kids and even adults should strive for. Put in enough effort and you’ll get something out of it. Tim is the over-achiever kid who over the years and modeled himself more like Batman than Nightwing. We’ve watched him work to become what he is over the years. He didn’t just appear like that.

And the claim that Damian is a mary sue… No, I wouldn’t say that either. Yes, Damian is a highly skilled fighter, and a moderately smart character. But none of the other characters really like him, he makes a great deal of interpersonal mistakes, his ego works constantly against him, he has no friends aside from maybe Grayson and maybe Stephanie Brown. While people might wish to have Damian’s abilities, no one wishes to be him, and unlikable character who provokes everyone to dislike him.

“Well, it was more of a “if you want to erroneously say Damian is a Mary Sue character, then how could you not erroneously call Tim a Mary Sue, as well?” But that was more of an indictment on the misuse of the term than anything else.”

I was under the impression that he was responding to me, and I was explaining my initial statement. But I see now how I might have misread that.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 1, 2011 at 12:41 am

But “Fanboy as Super Hero?” An interesting thought, but I think it’s reaching a bit.

Depends.
If they were saying ‘this is what Wolfman set out to do’ it would be a reach, but just pointing out the irony of a fan fave character – fans of whom hate changes to that character – starting out because he wanted it to go back to the way things were, is pretty hilarious.

Tim was good, morally strong, intellegent, and skilled sort of character who worked hard for what he got and who could be respected for his efforts. Damian however… he’s a jerk. Rude, sadistic, self-entitled, cruel and barely containing his hatred of everyone and everything that doesn’t meet his unknown and/or unreachable standards.

I wouldn’t have said Damian is sadistic or cruel, or that he has hatred for those who don’t reach his standards – he’s a ten year old kid with the worst upbringing and instilled morals by his mother, who met his father for the first time, right before his death.

Not all writers have written Damian correctly, but if you follow the Morrison books, you’ll see a character who started out rotten, but has fought every step of the way to being a better person – as Alfred pointed out, Bruce showed him a better way of life, and he fought tooth and nail for the chance to live that life.

He’s going to be a bit meaner than the rich kid who lived down the road, but that’s true of most people with a bad upbringing.

What I don’t understand is how so many people seem to miss that Damian is the way he is because he’s really insecure, scared, and achingly desperate for approval – he’s whole attitude comes from how he wants people to view him.*
He talks himself up and acts brashly, because he wants to be his father – but due to his desperation to be him, hasn’t realised that he’s causing a lot of trouble in the process, and although he’s on his way, isn’t there yet.
For me that makes him an interesting character.

*And I really don’t understand it, as characters have had conversations about it – it’s right there in the comics.

That, I think is the biggest reason people like Tim over Damian.

Do they?

This is what Brian has been saying with Tim being disproportionately popular – for all the online love of him, he doesn’t sell the greatest.
Damian’s Batman books have been top sellers – even a fill in arc by Paul Cornell and Scott McDaniel cracked the top ten.
People talk that Tim is number one, but Damian is in more books and shifting more product – you might call foul as he only appears in books with Dick, but the Cornell issues with Dick and Damian sold more than the other Bat-books with just Dick in them.

And sure Damian has gotten more likable in recent time, but its been a slow and gradual process. Tim Drake however was more likable from the start. A little creepy in his hero stalking, but likable.

Maybe that’s why Tim is likable, but it’s also why Damian is more interesting!

But none of the other characters really like him, he makes a great deal of interpersonal mistakes, his ego works constantly against him, he has no friends aside from maybe Grayson and maybe Stephanie Brown.

Bruce likes him, Alfred likes him, Ravager likes him, and Supergirl had sexual tension with him!

While people might wish to have Damian’s abilities, no one wishes to be him, and unlikable character who provokes everyone to dislike him.

Are we supposed to want to be the characters?
I’m 28 – I don’t think ‘who I want to be’ should really play apart in liking characters.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 1, 2011 at 12:44 am

I was under the impression that he was responding to me, and I was explaining my initial statement. But I see now how I might have misread that.

That’s how I read it – fits in more with the rest of the post.

I think it just comes down to the fact that, to most twenty and thirty something readers, Dick Grayson is Nightwing, Jason Todd is the dead 900 number guy, and Tim Drake is Robin. Dixon’s minseries and ongoing title really cemented that.

Once Damian Wayne sticks around for twenty years, everyone will accept him. Of course as soon as that happens he’ll graduate and become Nightdrake and Commissioner Gordon’s nephew will become the next Robin. And everyone will hate him for twenty years.

Tim is boring and annoying; so, yeah, sounds right.

From Funkygreenjerusalem, way back in the thread:

Also, is it just me, or does Tim seem to advocate the intelligent design style of thinking with his ‘If you start with result X, it’s easy to prove it!’

So your contention would be that the theory of evolution was something OTHER than “I don’t think that there is a God who created all this, so I’ll try to figure out a way it could have happened on its own”?

Because I think that was exactly the line of thinking. The idea of a creator was the default for all of human history until Darwin. Not that there hadn’t been people who didn’t believe in a Judeo-Christian God, obviously, but until Darwin there was no framework to offer any alternate explanation for the origins of life. Evolution was embraced by those who were looking for a possible out to the the idea of God.

Now I’m not a young-earth creationist, and I’m completely non-committal on whether God specifically supervised the development of life on earth or simply allowed it to unfold. But I do believe God started the process and designed life itself with all its wonderful properties, including the ability to adapt to its environment. I can offer no scientific proof of that belief, of course, and I don’t believe any is needed. Such a concept of creation does not preclude using observation and evidence to predict future development and facilitate research, which is the point of science.

My issue here is the slander of ID proponents as using a thought process that is identical to that used by early evolutionists, and indeed most scientists today. Witness Hawking’s recent comment that he now believes that the universe does not require a God to exist. He has certainly not found any evidence to disprove God, but he’s saying that he can conceive of a universe coming into existence without God, and that was clearly a conception that he started with and tried to justify.

always thought that way about tim. that he was created as a way to return batman to the old batman and robin balance with out being another attempt at jason and dick not having to go back from being night wing.though never cared for tim figuring out dick was the first robin by seeing him do a flip and using his memory to figure out bruce is batman.

Shift, your description to me goes more toward proving Tim is the ultimate fan insertion character rather than disproving it.

It goes back to the Jules Feiffer analysis of Robin. Batman is a good character for the audience to identify with because he was not an especially gifted child. The origin says that he felt inadequate as a child and throughout his life strived for superiority and trained hard for it. A kid got to read Batman and feel that he could be that when he grew up, regardless of what he was now. You didn’t have to be born gifted (although Batman does arguably send the message that you at least need to be born rich though, but that’s another story…)

Dick Grayson however was in many ways SUPERIOR to Batman because he could be on the street fighting crime as a child, with little training. He came ready-made to be Batman, Jr. even as a kid. He was already one of the best acrobats in the world. He needed, what, a few weeks of training in the original origin story, if that? Ironically, he was horrible as an audience insertion, because what kid could identify with him? What kid felt like a peer to Robin, who at the same age as them or even younger was already so superior and obviously gifted? Like Feiffer said, Batman highlighted a kid reader’s future potential and inspire him, Robin highlighted a kid reader’s present inferiority and discouraged him.

At least the other kid sidekicks like Kid Flash and Wonder Girl had powers, so it didn’t make a kid feel that inferior. A kid could feel like if they happened to just have the right genetics or be the victim of the right accident like a lightning bolt and chemicals they could have been Kid Flash, Aqualad or Wonder Girl. Dick Grayson Robin on the other hand was a kid sidekick not because of a lab accident or being born to a race of Amazons or Atlanteans but because he was a totally nonpowered kid that just had incredible natural intellectual and physical genius and self-discipline.

Pre-Crisis Jason Todd had the same circus acrobat origin, so he too was above-average from a young age, just like Dick. Post-Crisis Jason Todd was a street-smart badass from the wrong side of the track, tough enough to take no crap from anyone and survive in the mean streets on his own. Given the profile of the average young comic fan, this incarnation to me would also make a kid feel inferiority. The comic fan feels like his soft, suburban existence, sitting in his cushy room obsessing over comics and eating hostess cakes, his avoidance of school bullies, whatever, all that is as far from badass street kid as you can get. If the average comic fan met Todd at the same age, he’d probably kick their ass and take their lunch money.

Which is where the genius of Tim Drake lies. He’s a new and improved audience insertion. Robins were always meant to be audience insertions, but they had flaws that kept readers from identifying, like I listed above. Dick Grayson and Pre-Crisis Todd were too gifted at too young an age to identify with. Post-Crisis Todd had too much of a badass, street cred vibe for young fans to identify with (I doubt many teen DC comic readers in 1988 had much in the way of street kids). Batman was a better audience insertion figure for kid readers than any of the Robins even, because he wasn’t extraordinary from a young age, he had to work for it, but he’s still ultimately flawed as audience insertion because he’s filthy rich. Few kids had the money and resources to travel the world and train the way he did.

Tim Drake has a stable two-family home, is a Batman fanboy, tracks first appearances, great pains are gone through to show that he is not especially physically gifted, and the few gifts he does have are gifts that comic fans can identify with: obsessive attention to discovering the backgrounds of his favorite heroes, tracking and reconciling the chronology and obscure details of their appearances. He even uses comic fanboy terms, like “first appearance.”

Bob Kane and Bill Finger have gone on record many times as saying that the original Robin was meant to be fan insertion, so it’s not far-fetched to think Marv Wolfman had the same idea with Tim Drake, only he realized how to “fix” the problems with the previous Robins that kept them from ever truly feeling like fan insertion.

Also Slick, you point out that Tim having no special intrinsic physical aptitude and gifts but rather advancing through setbacks via an insane work ethic and ridiculous amount of sincerity and good intentions is proof that he’s not a Mary Sue or idealized character. I feel differently. I think mundane person who rises to greatness through ridiculous work ethic that wins everyone over can easily be as good if not superior fan fantasy than the person to whom everything comes easily to.

Jason was nothing like Tim Drake. He was a Dick Grayson clone until the retcon.

Oh, another example that pre-Crisis Jason Todd was more like Tim Drake than he was like Dick Grayson: Alan Moore’s For the man Who Has Everything. That’s a total Tim Drake characterization, especially how much he contributes to Mongul’s defeat. Post-Marv Wolfman, Dick Grayson was now firmly characterized as someone who always lost fights with anyone except henchmen and suffered from inferiority complexes and daddy issues. He would not have contributed to Mongul’s defeat like that. That “aw shucks, did little ol’ humble rookie me just stumble into yet another totally awesome important moment?” shtick that Todd displays is SO Tim Drake.

@ David H.:

I hate to pull this thread further off topic, but you have made several assertions that are factually wrong.

First, there have always been alternate theories of the origin of the universe to monotheistic creationism. Even today, there are likely more adherents to various types of animism than there are Jews, Christians and Muslims combined. That is saying nothing about the extremely large populations of Buddhists and Hindus. Even in areas into which Christianity spread, there were pre-existing belief systems that were often co-opted.

If one was of a mind to reject Creationism, then there have always been much easier paths than pure secularism.

Secondly, Charles Darwin was himself a Bible believing Christian and a Natural Law theorist. He went out on the HMS Beagle under the belief that the best way to understand God was to study his works. That belief had been a feature of mainstream Christianity since it was proposed by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Like the good Protestant that he was, Darwin had his own personal revelation. That, in turn, caused him to be critical of the Bible as a historical record (or what you call “Young Earth creationism”).

The fact that some non-Catholic Christians consider this an “opposition view” says a great deal more about them and their faith than it does about Darwin.

What outrageous acts has Damian got away with, that no one else has?

Didn’t he decapitate someone?

Dean,

I never meant to imply that monotheism had anything to do with the default position. Merely that the concept of the earth “just happening” outside of some sort of deity or deities was foreign until Darwin provided a framework for an alternative explanation.

And I’m not sure it’s accurate to portray Darwin as though he were a fundamentalist believer until struck by his observations. The Natural Law theory you mentioned led him to search for answers in the natural rather than the supernatural, so there was already a tendency to look for explanations that did not involve divine intervention. Not that this is a bad thing – if all scientists explained everything they observed by saying “It’s good that God did that,” we wouldn’t get very far. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with a thought process that starts with a conclusion and looks for evidence to support it, as long as one is also looking for evidence to disprove it. I would contend that those on both sides of the ID debate are uninterested in evidence that would disprove their ideas, for two reasons: 1) because each finds the other position to be unworthy of consideration for ideological reasons, and 2) because each is ultimately unprovable. it is absolutely impossible, in my mind, to either prove or disprove the existence of God.

The biggest problem between religion and science is that religion doesn’t want science coming up with too many answers that might cause people to lose their faith. This is clearly wrong. You mentioned St. Thomas Aquinas – I agree that general revelation is one way to know God, and that special revelation must be interpreted in a way that does not conflict with general revelation. Anything more that we can learn about creation is more that we can learn about the Creator. Where I have a problem with science is when it states that it has eliminated the need for God. That, I find unworthy of discussion.

@ David H.:

Fair enough. I am happy to move back to comics.

@ T.:

I would go a step further.

Tim Drake does what he does in his origin entirely unaided. By doing nothing more than sitting alone in his room and carefully observing Batman & Robin, Tim Drake becomes superior to his peers. If that is not a giant piece of flattery directed the average comic fan, then I do not know what is.

Similar things can be said of that whole Young Justice group of characters. Bart Allen became the way he is partly through isolation with a video game. Cassie Sandsmark became the way she is by being a huge Wonder Woman fan-girl. Superboy has moved in with Superman’s family, plays with his dog and was given a Kryptonian name.

All of which is fan-ish to very high degree.

Maybe it is just me, but comic fandom is a smaller and smaller part of my identity as I get older. I love reading and/or watching superhero stories, but the stuff that surounds them is progressively less important. As a result, these fan projection characters have become progressively more irksome. They pull me completely out of story. I have chucked countless half-read DC Comics in the trash over the years for that very reason.

Until reading this piece, I never knew quite why.

Oh, another example that pre-Crisis Jason Todd was more like Tim Drake than he was like Dick Grayson: Alan Moore’s For the man Who Has Everything. That’s a total Tim Drake characterization, especially how much he contributes to Mongul’s defeat. Post-Marv Wolfman, Dick Grayson was now firmly characterized as someone who always lost fights with anyone except henchmen and suffered from inferiority complexes and daddy issues. He would not have contributed to Mongul’s defeat like that. That “aw shucks, did little ol’ humble rookie me just stumble into yet another totally awesome important moment?” shtick that Todd displays is SO Tim Drake.

……How is that like Tim when Tim hadn’t even been created yet? That doesn’t make any sense.

……How is that like Tim when Tim hadn’t even been created yet? That doesn’t make any sense.

*sigh*

George, saying two things are similar is not the same thing as saying that one is an imitation of the other. That seems to be the reading error that you’re making.

I think some of the reasons Damian isn’t liked is that he isn’t a good substitute for the readers, Tim Drake was just a kid who figured out who Batman was. Any kid could be that kid. Damien is Batman’s son, not every kid could be that(although they would want to be that) Then add in the cliche origin and personality of Damian that didn’t get fleshed out until Morrison started writing him and you have a pretty good reason why he isn’t liked.

until the last year or two Damian was heading down the path of Gambit, superficially a cool character but nothing worthwhile after you examine the character deeper. His growth as a character has been remarkable and I think is winning people over who have an open mind towards it. Heck a lot of Damians origins remind people of Bat-Azrael, with some of the same personality flaws. Robin isn’t supposed to be a disliked jerk of a character, he’s supposed to be closer to Hal Jordan (Vanilla) than Guy Gardner(Neopolitan). He’s still a jerk, but he’s now becoming our jerk because his motivations are in line with what “we” want out of Robin. When he was trying to steal the name, thinking it’s a birthright, fans didn’t like him as a hero, because he wasn’t a hero. Now he is, still a jerk but a more rounded jerk.

I like to think that most readers are a bit more sophisticated so as to not rely on a vegetable like Tim Drake as their p.o.v. to the Batman mythology.

So your contention would be that the theory of evolution was something OTHER than “I don’t think that there is a God who created all this, so I’ll try to figure out a way it could have happened on its own”?

…..this is a pet peeve of mine. Evolution at no point in time deals with the creation of life. Never has, never will. It deals with the evolution of life after the initial creation by whatever means that was.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 1, 2011 at 6:25 pm

This is on David H’s issues with Intelligent Design being ridiculed as the faulty logic it is.
Way off topic, with limited Tim Drakeness in it.

David H:

So your contention would be that the theory of evolution was something OTHER than “I don’t think that there is a God who created all this, so I’ll try to figure out a way it could have happened on its own”?

Very much so.

Don’t kid yourself – Darwin’s views and beliefs and how he noticed evolution is really well documented.
He started out studying animals, and built up the theory over the years.

To say otherwise either means 1) you’ve not looked into it 2) you have looked into it but are lying.

Evolution was embraced by those who were looking for a possible out to the the idea of God.

Nope – evolution is how everything got to the way it is today.

It’s a theory in the scientific sense, not the layman sense – meaning, unless new evidence comes to light, it’s true.
And there’s so much evidence pointing towards it, that it’s highly unlikely that’s not how it happened.
Don’t believe the hype – there’s no debate in the scientific community.

Believe in god all you want – but if he’s up there, he started the spark, and billions of years later we got here.

In fact I know many Christians who accept Evolution, as it’s clearly what happened – evolution doesn’t disprove god, it just means the bible isn’t entirely accurate on how things came to be.

He has certainly not found any evidence to disprove God, but he’s saying that he can conceive of a universe coming into existence without God, and that was clearly a conception that he started with and tried to justify.

That’s not how science works – this is where ID proponents go wrong.

You don’t set out to disprove anything, you work off the evidence that is there, and make speculations based on it.
Then, as new evidence comes to light, those speculations get swept away, and new one’s take the place, until you get a workable theory, supported by all the evidence you have – and a theory gets accepted once new facts/discoveries/evidence comes in that support, rather than disprove it (as usually happens).

Therefore, Hawkings wasn’t look for evidence of god – to prove or disprove.
He just works off of what people have found out and tested/proved about the universe, and goes from there.
What he’s saying is, he’s seen no evidence it was create – and doesn’t believe it needs to be based on the evidence that is here.

(Stephen Hawkings – I bet no one man has regretted a closing a book with a metaphor more than he does.)

My issue here is the slander of ID proponents as using a thought process that is identical to that used by early evolutionists, and indeed most scientists today.

The idea of a creator clicking his fingers and the world popping up and existing for 5000 years got thoroughly trounced by science – starting with Darwin, but really kicking off after him.

Intelligent Design came about because some Christians wanted a way to work God into the evolution theory.

That’s not slander, it’s what happened.

And ask a scientist of any stripe – that’s not how a scientific theory works, and with no actual evidence pointing towards it, is why you’ll never see ID in a peer reviewed science journal.

And that’s why I said Tim was kinda Intelligent Designing with that one – just his comment that once you know the answer, it’s easy to see clues.
(Works for the story, but in the real world, would make him a terrible detective).

In fact, there’s nothing wrong with a thought process that starts with a conclusion and looks for evidence to support it, as long as one is also looking for evidence to disprove it.

Well, there is actually.
Because people who start out with a conclusion in mind tend to ignore, or work in evidence that disproves it.

That’s why scientists don’t like to work that way, and as Asmiov said, the most common words heard after a new discovery aren’t ‘Eureka’ but ‘Hm. That’s funny….’

I would contend that those on both sides of the ID debate are uninterested in evidence that would disprove their ideas, for two reasons: 1) because each finds the other position to be unworthy of consideration for ideological reasons, and 2) because each is ultimately unprovable

There is no evidence that disproves evolution.

And Intelligent Design has no proof, so therefore, there is nothing to disprove.

Therefore, Intelligent Design isn’t a theory in the scientific sense, and has no weight with anyone other than those who have already decided to believe in it.

it is absolutely impossible, in my mind, to either prove or disprove the existence of God.

That’s where your mind is going wrong – there’s nothing to disprove.

The onus is on the person seeking to prove something – and all there is going for god is that a lot of people believe in a book, of which no original copies exist, and is often contradicted by proper historical evidence of the day.

The bible is somewhat on par with Herodotus – some bits line up, some bits don’t.
More useful for seeing what/how the people of the time it was written thought about things, rather than what was happening.

The biggest problem between religion and science is that religion doesn’t want science coming up with too many answers that might cause people to lose their faith.

And the biggest difference is that science is self-correcting – if a study is proven incorrect, differing evidence comes to light, or an experiment cannot be repeated, the theory is disproved, and everyone starts over.

Religion doesn’t have that mechanism in place, in fact, it has the opposite – anything that contradicts it is seen as the enemy.

Where I have a problem with science is when it states that it has eliminated the need for God.

In my opinion, that’s because you are seeing science as singular body, out to attack god.

It’s not – when they say that, they just mean we have so much knowledge and evidence about how our world and the universe works, that we don’t need there to be a creator to explain it all now.

Used to be we’d hit a wall, and a creator would fill that niche.

But with knowledge increasing all the time that wall kept getting pushed back further and further until it’s just not there now.
There’s things we don’t know, plenty of them, but we’re figuring them out at faster rates, that there’s just no need to say ‘that must have been god’.

That, I find unworthy of discussion.

Well, you’re not really engaging in a discussion – you’re standing by a set of beliefs, and running off half-heard truths about what ‘the other side’ is all about and trying to do.

In fact the discussion is only really happening with the layman – the people studying life, the universe and everything, aren’t having this discussion at all.
They moved on long ago.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 1, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I think some of the reasons Damian isn’t liked is that he isn’t a good substitute for the readers, Tim Drake was just a kid who figured out who Batman was. Any kid could be that kid.

Kids read Batman?

Then add in the cliche origin and personality of Damian that didn’t get fleshed out until Morrison started writing him and you have a pretty good reason why he isn’t liked.

Damian’s origin and personality are cliché?

How so?

And when was he around before Morrison started writing him?

until the last year or two Damian was heading down the path of Gambit, superficially a cool character but nothing worthwhile after you examine the character deeper. His growth as a character has been remarkable and I think is winning people over who have an open mind towards it.

Until the last year or two, Damian had appeared in one storyline, was a plot element for a minor crossover, and appeared in a single issue set in the future.

I think before B&R #1, he was in five issues penned by his creator – so saying he was heading in any direction until the last year or two is a really misleading statement.

Robin isn’t supposed to be a disliked jerk of a character, he’s supposed to be closer to Hal Jordan (Vanilla) than Guy Gardner(Neopolitan).

If Robin is meant to be the same every time, why bother changing the character at all?

He’s still a jerk, but he’s now becoming our jerk because his motivations are in line with what “we” want out of Robin. When he was trying to steal the name, thinking it’s a birthright, fans didn’t like him as a hero, because he wasn’t a hero. Now he is, still a jerk but a more rounded jerk.

So, you’re saying people pre-judged the character on the misguided belief that a character is going to be exactly the same throughout their life as they are on page one of the first story they appear in?

Or is it more that some comic readers can’t feel the shape of a story or where it’s going until it’s already gotten there?

Surely not that there are too many readers and poster on message boards who still want a character to identify with/pretend could be them, rather than an interesting character, even though they are much too old for that sort of thing?

I am a bit perplexed by this so called sacred cow designation. Looking at the comments alone, just as many people used this as an opportunity to bash the character if not more so than the people being “protective.”

Kids read Batman?

Not so much anymore, but around the time he was introduced over 20 years ago (wow it hurt to type that) there were.

FGJ,

I may have painted myself into a bit of a rhetorical corner, there, as I often do when I get my righteous indignation up. I really can’t argue with much of what you said. Evolution itself does not address the origin of the world, or the origins of life. However, it was used as a springboard for those who used its principles (generally demonstrably true) to speculate backward into the distant past to “prove” how the universe came to be, and how life started on earth. To the best of my knowledge (limited as it is), scientists have not yet been able to reproduce the combination of chemicals and energy that conspired to generate the first life on earth. That seems like a hurdle to be crossed. Please forgive me if I missed the announcement.

Also, I’m pretty sure that 80% of the mass in the universe and 73% of the mass-energy in the universe (yay for Wikipedia!), or at least of the amount that would need to be in the universe in order for it to operate the way we think it does, is completely undetectable. That also seems like a wall. Science, at any moment, is at a temporary level of understanding of the universe. That understanding will continue to (pardon the expression) evolve as we make new discoveries.

As for science being more “hmmm, that’s funny” than “Eureka!” I’d say that is certainly true in the classic sense. However, modern science seems to have become more and more politicized. I’m sure religion started it, but secular (or anti-religious) science has reacted to it by seeming to exclude opposing viewpoints, favoring a consensus-based approach. Either follow the crowd, or you’re excluded. This is not unusual in history, of course – the establishment never wants to admit it’s wrong. But we seem to have been reduced to shouting at each other across a void, and this happens in science, religion, politics…..there are very few open minds any more. I’d like to think I have one, but it could be that it used to be open, and then my brain fell out.

By the way….

Tim Drake sucks. The only true Robin is Carrie Kelly.

There, I’m not off-topic any more!

I preferred Stephanie Brown…

This is an interesting theory about why Tim is so beloved by a certain segment of fans. I think it works on the metacommentary angle that Brian seems to be discussing it at and the subconscious level that T discussed.

I’m wondering, though, if his original introduction was as much to placate the non-comics fans who came on board after the first Burton movie and said, where the heck is Robin? I’d guess that’s as much why the character was deemed necessary by editorial and/or Wolfman (didn’t realize he intro’d Tim, actually). Perhaps that’s where the metacommentary of Wolfman with the “he needs you as Robin” bit comes in?

Some of us, though, may have liked Tim when we were about 13, around when the Robin minis were coming out, and thought he had cool hair, and may have taken a picture of him and his cool hair to the salon to see if the lady could make our hair do that… *whistles hm-hm-hm-hmmm*

Perhaps the Tim books don’t sell as well because the Tim fans don’t like the direction of the character now?

Is it accurate that Damian had, pre-Final Crisis, only appeared in Morrison’s Batman and Son and briefly in Resurrection of Ra’s and RIP? Because when I finally read Ra’s, I was wondering if it was the same Damian I had read about prior to that, and wondered if I missed non-Morrison issues with him. It was obvious you weren’t SUPPOSED to like him, but he was still a @#@$#$%# pain in the ass. (What was odd to me is that Batman took in Damian, and Superman adopted that Kryptonian kid around the same time, I believe the same time that the Spider-Marriage was being dissolved. Interesting perspective from the big 2 as to what is relatable to the lives of fans. As a childless person, I didn’t care for the characters gaining children, but there are other fans who do have kids, so might “relate” as well to them.)

I will say I’ve enjoyed Damian more through the Batman and Robin book. I haven’t gotten too many of his other appearances, but what I have seen, his characterization seems to…waver, a bit, like the editorial direction is off. Maybe it’s just me. Also, even in Morrison’s B&R, Damian seemed to “mature” a little too quickly and conveniently for my tastes. Again, maybe just me. Funky’ll tell me how wrong I am :)

To address Hatcher’s point on the chronology, again, maybe just me, but is there the suggestion that given that Talia can “recreate” Damian, that perhaps he’s not REALLY 10? I’ve had the impression, although Bruce would have said, waitasec, if what I’m thinking is right, that Talia could have just cooked up Damian in the lab within the last year or 2. Really, when would she have had time to deal with him prior to that?

Ow, logic getting into brain, making comics story hurt!

And I don’t know about the whole ID/evolution debate, but I don’t want a theory where we CAN’T have a green cigarette smoking monkey. That’s not the world I want to live in :)

funkygreenjerusalem

February 2, 2011 at 7:14 am

To the best of my knowledge (limited as it is), scientists have not yet been able to reproduce the combination of chemicals and energy that conspired to generate the first life on earth. That seems like a hurdle to be crossed.

Why is it a hurdle to be crossed?

Evolution is rock solid without it – hell, evolution is rock solid without fossils, they’re just useful for demonstrating it.

That said, I don’t think it’s impossible that they’ll ever figure out, or be able to closely approximate, how it happened.
It demonstratively happened before – we’re here – so it can happen again.
But even if they did, the anti-evolution crowd would say ‘You’ve produced a single celled organism, but that’s not real life’.
Then what? Try and grow it in a lab for hundreds of millions of years?
Due to a differing environment, it wouldn’t evolve to be like anything we recognize, and then we’d just look like the mice searching for the meaning of life.

However, modern science seems to have become more and more politicized. I’m sure religion started it, but secular (or anti-religious) science has reacted to it by seeming to exclude opposing viewpoints, favoring a consensus-based approach. Either follow the crowd, or you’re excluded.

Discussions of science have been more polarized and politicized, but I don’t know the actual science has.

I’d like some examples to what you mean of actual science going that way – governments and corporations maybe pushing some fields in certain directions, but biology, physics and astrophysics are usually left out of all that, and they’re the one’s dealing with where we came from, where it all came from, and what’s going on out there.

Tim Drake sucks. The only true Robin is Carrie Kelly.

Not bad!

Thinking on it, I’m surprised at no point someone’s tried to bring her into the DCU.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 2, 2011 at 7:19 am

Is it accurate that Damian had, pre-Final Crisis, only appeared in Morrison’s Batman and Son and briefly in Resurrection of Ra’s and RIP? Because when I finally read Ra’s, I was wondering if it was the same Damian I had read about prior to that, and wondered if I missed non-Morrison issues with him.

I think so.

As no one seemed in character for Resurrection of Ra’s, I’d just try and ignore it – the writers did.

Dini wrote Ra’s back out in the first issue after the crossover!

I will say I’ve enjoyed Damian more through the Batman and Robin book. I haven’t gotten too many of his other appearances, but what I have seen, his characterization seems to…waver, a bit, like the editorial direction is off. Maybe it’s just me. Also, even in Morrison’s B&R, Damian seemed to “mature” a little too quickly and conveniently for my tastes. Again, maybe just me. Funky’ll tell me how wrong I am :)

I think Morrison wanted you to hate him up until he became Robin, and then he started writing the character as growing at a rapid rate.
That’s the power of the bat!

Superman/Batman #78 had a great Damian/Supergirl team up, where he was written top notch.

Teen Titans has a really good take on Damian as well – gets the perfect mix of brat/hero in making.
(And he seems to be getting cosy with the daughter of Dick’s nemesis Deathstroke.)

Me too, FGJ. To me, she really was the perfect Robin. First contact with Batman was him saving her life, she becomes fascinated and starts to follow him, he rejects her help, she won’t take no for an answer and eventually saves him, she’s fiercely loyal, talented (but not overly so), and usually scared out of her mind. With Carrie, you can see how Batman would be persuaded to keep a sidekick with him, you see how much he cares about her (the “Good Soldier” line kills me every time), and you see how she can be helpful and not just a convenient kidnap victim for Batman to go rescue. However, if they did incorporate her into the DCU, she’d probably end up in a refrigerator.

Actually, as I think back on it, he never actually rejected her help, but he didn’t recruit her either. That, to me, is an important distinction. We need to have a kid who wants to be Robin, but Batman rejects him. Then, years later, that rejection has molded him into a super-villain (see Syndrome). That would be a cool storyline.

Damian’s origin and personality are cliché?

How so?

what isn’t cliched about him. The son of the main character who doesn’t know about him who comes into his life to change his status quo, reminds me of half of the 80’s sitcoms.
The young privileged dickhead that needs guidance to become better… again half of the male characters in chick flicks.
The uber competent super trained assassin with an abrassive personality that might be on the side of good that doesn’t know how to be a person. C’mon this is origin 101 for most Liefield designed characters or heck most 90’s characters.

I compared him to gambit, because that is who he reminds me of.

and about the rest of my comment, it’s not an insult to Damian, just talking about the perception people have, I hated Damian because I’ve read this story a dozen times, He’s Azrael part Deux or Cassie Cain part three. The only difference is that Morrison has had him actually behave like a 10 year old and let him grow which is better than most of these type of stories where the bad guy taken in never truly changes, and may not even want to change. At least Damian is making an effort, for a while there it seemed he was never going to accept Dick as a mentor.

To act surprised that he isn’t like is what I find weird, of course he isn’t liked, he’s a dick. This is a guy who if he was your friend and you introduced him to other friends you would find yourself apologizing a lot for him.

Great points capt usa, especially the last sentence.

then we’d just look like the mice searching for the meaning of life.

Mice are pretty good at that, though. There’s a book about it and everything.

I can’t believe this post has so many replies, nor that it spiraled into an evolution vs creationism debate. Holy heresy, Batman.

Isn’t Holy Heresy a contradiction in terms? And does the meaning of life have to do with someone moving your cheese?

Maybe; no.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 2, 2011 at 4:25 pm

However, if they did incorporate her into the DCU, she’d probably end up in a refrigerator.

I don’t, in the slightest, think it would be a good idea, but I’m very, very surprised it never happened.

I can only assume it’s like with Sandman and Gaiman – they never tried it because they wanted to keep the door open for Miller to come back.

Mice are pretty good at that, though. There’s a book about it and everything.

They got an answer, but they fudged the question.

I can’t believe this post has so many replies, nor that it spiraled into an evolution vs creationism debate. Holy heresy, Batman.

Yeah, but we got ourselves out of it through a mutual love of comic characters.

Maybe the world just needs more comics.

Comics also pretty much answered that question. Giant hand, Krona, things we’re not meant to know, Source Wall, Galactus, Uncle Marvel, something something.

I was a fan of the pre-Crisis Jason Todd (and yes, I was 12 years old in 1984). OK, maybe his origin was too similiar to Dick Grayson’s, but other than that he was a pretty good successor to the legacy of Robin. Post-Crisis, Jason’s character got totally screwed by Jim Starlin, who made him into an unlikeable douchebag. If Jason had kept some of his pre-Crisis personality, I bet he wouldn’t have been killed off two years later.

Tim Drake it took me a long time to warm up to at all, mainly because he was created to be liked more than anything else. It was way too Sally Field “you like me, you really like me!” for a while there. Damian I haven’t read in enough stories to have much of an opinion on.

And for crying out loud, people, Marv Wolfman’s Mary Sue was Terry Long. Witty 30-something guy with writer’s block/deadline problems who gets to marry the 19-year old Donna Troy? C’mon.

I don’t think Terry and Donna’s relationship is as bad in of itself, having come too close to having a brother in law like him, but having Starfire remotely crush on Terry Long is what brought him into Mary Sue terrain IMO.

As for Tim, I think he does fit in the mold of Fanboy! from Freakazoid and Syndrome but I don’t know if that was necessarily the intention anymore than Damian being a blend of child assassin and Venture Brothers. Gotta say i I would have liked to see an Elseworlds with Alan Grant’s pitch for Robin.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 3, 2011 at 5:13 am

And for crying out loud, people, Marv Wolfman’s Mary Sue was Terry Long. Witty 30-something guy with writer’s block/deadline problems who gets to marry the 19-year old Donna Troy? C’mon.

You missed out ‘who looks like his creator’.

Well, I like Tim because he’s the Robin I grew up reading about. And by that time he was operating more as a solo hero than as “Batman’s child soldier” or whatever the cynical fanboys call Robin these days.

As for Damian, he is, as I understand it, a good character. However, many fans often ignore the fact that “good character” and “easy to like” are not necessarily the same thing. Tim was a good character and he was just easy to like. Damian is a good character, but is not a particularly easy character to like. He’s a prickly, arrogant little so-and-so despite what “hidden qualities” he might have. That’s why people don’t like him. It’s the same reason people don’t like Quicksilver or US Agent or King Chimera or even the cocky ’90s version of Superboy. Or, for that matter, why they just don’t like the Modern Age (Post-Year One and DKR) version of Batman. There are some personality types that turn off certain people.

Tim is popular because the current generation of comic readers grew up with him, he is their generation’s Robin.

Couldn’t Barry Allen by considered the first superhero fanboy since he was inspired by the golden age flash and read all his comics and then took his name?

I think there’s some truth to this, but I think it goes deeper than that I think Tim has just made a big impact as Robin. Even more than Dick Grayson, I think, Tim legitimized the Robin role. He made Robin more than just a brightly colored sidekick. (Well, the writers did, using Tim as their vehicle.) He was independent, intelligent and capable of having his own adventures and leading a team of teenage superheroes, and on more than one occasion groups of older heroes, too. What’s more, he wasn’t driven by darkness and tragedy like so many other Batman characters for a long time. Sure, his dad was paralyzed and his mom wound up dying, but it wasn’t initially what spurred him to be Robin. He wanted to be Robin to do the right thing. Tim’s attitude is just endearing (except that couple year period after Identity Crisis when writers shit all over his character) and he’s a fun character to read. He’s been Robin since the late 80s–my whole lifetime. Obviously people wouldn’t accept Damian immediately as Robin. Hell, I like Damian as a character (a lot) and Red Robin’s a good book and I’m still a little bitter that Tim isn’t Robin anymore.

Great article, guys! I remember reading Morrison stating his original thought was that Damien would die at the end of his run in some grand heroic act, redeeming the character. He figured people would hate him so much he’d never stick around long enough to actually be liked. I can’t remember for sure if the plan was to have him die at the end of “R.I.P”, before, or after in Batman & Robin.

And for crying out loud, people, Marv Wolfman’s Mary Sue was Terry Long. Witty 30-something guy with writer’s block/deadline problems who gets to marry the 19-year old Donna Troy? C’mon.

You missed out ‘who looks like his creator’.

Outside of the beard, there’s not really a likeness there. Marv Wolfman doesn’t have red hair, nor is it curly.

Patrick Lemaire

February 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm

There has already been an article on why Tim was accepted. It was a deliberate move by O’Neil. Noting that people blamed Jason for taking Dick’s place, he thought of the next Robin getting the agreement of Dick to be Robin. And it worked. He was written to be likable from the first. As a result there are those who liked him and those who don’t care (as the manipulation didn’t work). As a result, few hate the characters and those who do, it’s usually because they’re annoyed by the attempt to manipulate their feelings toward the character. So there is a small core who love him to death and defend him tooth and nail, a majority who doesn’t care and a very small minority who can’t stand him. The love/hate ration is enough to make a sacred cow

My respect for Tim Drake had nothing to do with his origin/background. In fact I didn’t learn any of that material until last year (oddly enough), and I had already liked the character well after “Knightfall”.

I agree he’s relatable and that’s his appeal to readers but your psycho analysis of it is a bit over the top I think.. Its really the same good characterization peter parker has, plus he’s a good underdog.. especially compared to Dick and Damien.. while they have natural skill all his is learned and he relies more so on his intellect.. and characters like that fanboys love anyways.. also Damien is a little prick (which works and is great and everything) but look at the obvious, the mystery of why fans like Tim better might not be as convoluted as you seem to think.

PS> first fanboy superhero was Spiderman

Jason was just a poor despair editorial decision that was killed needlessly, and then brought back after he’d been put out of his misery.
Sure his original history was a D.Grayson clone, remember when he had reddish blond hair?
Then dyes it black just like D. Graysons’ and never has his original color again,he even had the double spit-curls in front. After Grayson had stopped wearing it that way years earlier.
I remember issue 554 of Detective Comics Harvey Bullock is asking him the obvious questions about his changed appearance.
He answers all his questions with insults and put downs, but it’s funny and plays on Bullocks’ stumble-bum persona.
The whole story is a 1985 version of old school Batman and Robin, even the splash page has them leaping into the bat-mobile in classic fashion. Klaus Janson beautiful stuff.
But he was only created to fill in a need for the role, circus background and everything.
And after-wards the whole post crisis thing was just lame.
Kill him off.
Why?
Cause we never killed a character this important before.
I think a little more thought went into Tim Drake, but after they murdered his father needlessly he was giving pathos for more pathos, after already losing his mother.
It was interesting when he was trying to hide his identify from his father, it gave the story a different dynamic but now that had all changed.
Remember after “Infinite Crisis”, there was brief speculation that it might that Dick would become Batman and Tim would of course be Robin?
Then Damian happened to return from the “Son of the Demon” graphic novel and change all this.
I hated him at first but eventually I liked the arrogant little snot.
He’s a lot different from Jason and Tim, which is a good thing.
But Tim’s been basically throw away to me, he was a great Robin.
And should have been for years to come.
But Damian can’t be throw aside just to bring Tim back, so he’s stuck in a creative limbo till something happens.
And no I don’t like Red Robin, it was a Kingdom Come idea that worked for that story but just isn’t Tim Drake to me.
I loved his series from the recent years, of course there was Stephanie Brown as Robin.
And that was really handle wrong, less said the better.
But will he become the new Nightwing?
Probably.

PS> first fanboy superhero was Spiderman

You TOTALLY don’t get what Brian is talking about when he says fanboy superhero, do you? This is as about as wrong as wrong can be.

I actually don’t mind Tim being the Red Robin, technically when compared to the past Robin’s he can be differentiated by others in their universe as the “red” robin…I just don’t like that costume. It’s to retro for a modern character (this particular modern character).

I think the best thing about Tim Drake is just that they’ve managed to avoid doing anything too stupid with him yet. You can read all 200 issues of his Robin/Red Robin series and it all holds up pretty well. To me that seems like a pretty amazing accomplishment for a DC comic. No big retcons. No death and resurrection. Rare in a DC comic these days. Batman books are about the only DCU books I buy anymore because the rest of them just seem to want to insult my intelligence and bring back dead people. But that, my friends, is a different subject.

All that being said, the whole Red Robin change is pretty silly. Why would he name himself after a crappy restaurant that charges 20 dollars for an eight dollar burger? And everyone knows that Robin and Red Robin are the same guy. Except for the cowl, it’s pretty much the same costume. He’s not fooling anyone so why bother with the change? That’s only nit picking though. The Red Robin comic itself has really been great.

I would also like to add that if Jason Todd had died at the end of the Under the Hood storyline like they had originally intended to do, I would have no complaints about having brought him back. Now it’s just sad to see writers trying to find something to do with the guy.

Oh, and here’s something that’s been on my mind for a few months since Tim went to visit the newly resurrected Capt Boomerang in prison. I think Tim should kill that guy. Seriously, Tim should murder Capt Boomerang. And maybe I’m the only one, but I don’t think it would even be that out of character if he did. I’m certainly not suggesting that Tim should start killing people other than him. Just the opposite, being in the Batman crew and being an overall decent guy, Tim should really never kill at all. But man, I think Capt Boomerang should be the exception. I can see Tim saying, “you killed my father so no resurrection for you, you lame lame joke of a character.” I can even see him standing over the body with a crowd of superheroes standing around him and still standing by his actions. I can see him looking Bruce and Clark in the eyes and saying, “this guy killed my father, he doesn’t get to come back.” That would certainly get the drama rolling.

What do you guys think of my theory?

Still not that impressed, Damian’s not that awesome. A 10 year old who is good at everything he tries is not that interesting, and rude little jackass is not enough to base a character on. Even having Alfred announce that because he’s Bruce’s son, he’ll be a great guy is ridiculous. He’s a fun little character sometimes now but he wasn’t awesome right away and he’s still problematic.

Also I get tired of writers deciding that wards and adopted kids aren’t ‘real’ enough and must be one-upped by ‘true blooded’ kids. See also Green Arrow’s son.

Well, of course Tim Drake is a “fanboy”. He even admitted it. As a young(er) child his hero was… BLUE BEETLE (Ted Kord)!

How can you argue against someone with such impeccible taste in heroes?

;)

My two cents, The red robin comic has been amazing so far. I’d be concerned once editorial powers that be shift though. Tim is an amazing character. I do agree his introduction seemed forced the books that came afterwards were top notch.

@funkygreenjerusalem

You are underestimating the fans. All of us are aware that Damian had a hard and much more different life than everyone else. However, that doesn’t change the fact he’s a jerk. Yes, there is a reason for his behavior. It’s to hide his insecurities and blah, blah, blah… he a sad lonely kid, etc, etc… And that does make him sympathetic. No one is arguing that.

However, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a jerk. He’s rude, constantly threatening to kill people, HAS killed people and never shown any remorse for it, behaving unnecessarily rude to those who offer him support and kindness, and so on.

Damian is going to be looked at in a less popular light because he’s an unlikable character. Writers are trying to soften him, and make him more likable, yes. But when he’ll forever be compared to his predecessors, he’s going to be the less likable one. Dick was a likable character. Jason, was not. Tim is a likable character. Damian is not.

As for the claims of his book not selling the best, well one has to cite that Tim Drake has has a constant comic book series for a long time now. Books containing Damian are popular not just because of him. In fact, hes usually only an aspect of the books’ selling popularity. They’re popular because they contain Dick Grayson, or Stephanie Brown, or a Teen Titans group that is written to the fans expectations with an entire cast of character fans want to read about again. Damian is appearing in more books because he has the Robin title, and DC is trying to intergrate him into the broader DCU. Damian is a teen sidekick now, so they’re going to push for him to be doing the stuff Tim used to do. Tim meanwhile is an individual hero now, with his own identity, and his own mission, and they’re trying to separate him from who he used to be.

And yes, people can at time buy the book because Damian is in them, but not because they actually like Damian. In fact, I’d wager a lot of fans buy books with him because they DON’T like him. Fans like to read about him being the jerk, because they know he’s going to get karma backlash for his behavior. He insults Batgirl, and Supergirl smacks him around. He insults the Titans, and he screws up the mission.

And your claim that Bruce, Alfred and Rose like him is rather laughable right now. They tolerate him.

Bruce accepts him as his son, and does love him, but he can’t work with the boy and he shows obvious annoyance for his behavior like everyone else. He knows that he can’t mentor the boy, but accepts that Dick can. Alfred meanwhile, tolerates the boy as well. He sees potential in him and WANTS to like him. He really does, but in every book I’ve read, but Alfred also shows annoyance towards him. Damian shows him no true respect, though Alfred tries his best. Ravager meanwhile doesn’t like him. She sees HERSELF in him, and is trying to offer understanding to him, but her relationship with him, isn’t about friendship, its her trying to save him from becoming what she’s become more than once.

And Supergirl… you can’t actually think their’s romantic interest. Damian might have a crush on her, and there is grudging respect for each other’s skills, but neither of them trust each other enough to actually like each other.

As for Damian’s journey, YOU find his slow redemption to make him an interesting character. And that’s great. But it doesn’t necessarily make him more interesting than Tim. It’s interesting in a different manners.

And here’s the thing about literature of all kinds. Fans associate with them. They associate with the kids who’s too smart for his own good. They associate with the girl who feels like no one takes her seriously. The associate with the loner. And while Damian has traits that people can associate with, few people want to. Damian is the character who could easily be the next Red Hood like Jason, which works against him as a likable character.

@T: I didn’t say he wasn’t fan insertion. ALL characters are fan insertions. Batman, Nightwing, Superman, Superboy, Batgirl, Oracle… all of them in their own way.

No, what I said was that he wasn’t a MARY SUE. There’s a difference. Its one thing to associate yourself with the character and feel like “I wish I could do that”. A Mary Sue however is where the character is idealized in every manner. Everyone loves them, everyone wants to be them, they’re good at everything they do naturally, the only people who hate them are the ones who want to destroy them because they’re so awesome, etc…

Tim wasn’t that character.

He was a normal character. He had family, and relationship problems. He had to work hard to become who he was. He failed so many times. He didn’t have immediate respect or was even liked by everyone. He was a teenager. Of course, fans are going to associate with the character. He’s become the new Batman in terms of skills, yes, I suppose. But like Bruce, he worked for it. Bruce was naturally a smart kid, just like Tim. Comics have been stating that for years. They were regular kids, who were smart. That’s normal in a lot of children. And they both worked to become smarter.

I think everyone’s missing the real reason Tim Drake caught on, while Jason didn’t: Tim wore pants.

To me, Tim’s appeal was more than just the “fanboy” insertion (although I do see you point of reasoning. It was how smart the character was. HE, Tim, solved the mystery of the Batman’s identity. He then reasoned out what was going on. In the subsequent issues and limited series, he chose not to become violent and he showed his continued reliance on brains over brawn. At a time when characters were getting darker and darker, Tim was a character grounded in light. he chose to be Robin to stop darkness. He was a smart young man, not a tragic/flawed person. He choices made (within the comic book world) sense.

I HATE it when writers feel the need to “darken” Tim. He WAS the one character within the Batman family that hadn’t been “orphaned” in some way. Check that off the list. He had always looked for positive solutions, but the last 5 years or so- all that had to be taken from him. Why is it impossible to believe that someone would embrace the idea making the world better without it having to be about them addressing their own “issues”?

You mentioned readers not accepting Jason Todd? But how many of those readers know of the pre- Max Allan Collins Jason Todd? He was created by Gerry Conway and had an origin very similar to Dick Grayson’s. Great run on the book with Don Newton art. After Crisis, Max Allan Collins took over Batman and completely did away with Conway’s origin. Collins’ origin is cliched, underdeveloped and uninspired. Conway had a classic run on the book with an origin that took its time in developing a story an an important character in the DC Universe.
For those who aren’t familiar, go back and check those issues out. I believe Conway and Gene Colan were on Detective at the time too. How awesome. Batman, Detective and Brave and Bold. You only needed three Batman books back then.

AdamYJ wrote “Well, I like Tim because he’s the Robin I grew up reading about.”

Thank you, sir. That’s honest, and probably THE reason so many kids who grew up on early 90s comics love Tim so much. He’s THEIR Robin. The same way Dick Grayson was there for prior generations. Totally makes sense.

So Damien is hated for a simple reason: He’s upset that applecart by usurping Tim’s throne, moving in on his “turf”. It’s a childish reaction, but these sorts of agendas (against fictional characters, my lord!!!) usually boil down to nostalgia.

Thank you, sir. That’s honest, and probably THE reason so many kids who grew up on early 90s comics love Tim so much. He’s THEIR Robin. The same way Dick Grayson was there for prior generations. Totally makes sense.

If it’s as simple as “whatever Robin was introduced during someone’s childhood becomes their Robin,” can you explain why Jason Todd was so rejected.

People make it seem like kids automatically love any character they grow up with, but I can think of so many characters who kids rejected.

AJ Ryan wrote: “I think a lot of people dislike Damian because he is a very obvious Mary Sue. A previously unknown relative, who is better and more talented than everyone else, immediately defeats a more established character, gets away with completely outrageous acts, suddenly becomes the main focus of the story, and has numerous mental and physical similarities to the writer.

Additionally, Damian’s usurping of Tim Drake happened with such obvious disinterest in Tim’s character by Grant Morisson, that many people who had even a mild appreciation for Tim were put off.”

Agreed AJ. I don’t think it’s the character Damian as much as it is the concept of Damien and characters like him. I grew up with Tim, so I see him as my Robin. However, I also understand that there are trends that need to be followed along with characters that need to be developed. I was never comfortable with Tim in the Titans or taking part in Identity Crisis (the “creative liberty” taken with Jack Drake’s character in I.C. is a whole other story). But I did understand that it had to happen for whatever reason and it made sense.
Damian, especially in Morrison’ work, isn’t a character; he is a nihlistic force of nature. He displays no emotion. He is inserted akwardly into scenes. We readers barely know his origin let alone his motivation. But Morrison writes him as the main character in Batman and Robin. With Tim, there was a sense of wonder and a sense of him earning the Robin costume. Damian did not get to earn this sacred title like Tim had to; it was given to him. And much like Jr. coming home after 6 years at State College to run the Old Man’s business while the intern who worked his way up to VP is re-assigned an HR job, it leaves me with a little bit of apathy not only towards the decision, but those who made the decision. And Morrison, as much as I was looking forward to his run on Batman, has left me not caring about my favorite comic book character.
Damian is Poochie.

Dick Grayson debuted in Detective Comics #38 and became Robin in…Detective Comics #38.

Jason Todd debuted in Batman #357 and became Robin in Batman #368.

Tim Drake debuted in the equivalent to Batman #441 and became Robin in Batman #465 (and that is stretching “becoming” to an absurd degree, as he already had had a mini-series as Robin before that).

Damian Wayne debuted in Batman #655 and became Robin in the equivalent to Batman #687.

So he actually had the LONGEST stretch before becoming Robin out of any of the main Robins.

If it’s as simple as “whatever Robin was introduced during someone’s childhood becomes their Robin,” can you explain why Jason Todd was so rejected.

People make it seem like kids automatically love any character they grow up with, but I can think of so many characters who kids rejected.

Moreover, Jason Todd was Robin for five years that were hugely influential for Batman readers. 1983-88 was the period that saw the release of DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, BATMAN: YEAR ONE and etc. If the “whoever was Robin when you started reading” theory was valid, then Jason Todd should have been a hugely popular Robin.

I get what you’re saying, Brian, but Damian did wear a Robin-type outfit in the first few issues (part 3 or 4, can’t remember which, of Batman and Son) of his appearance, so even though you’re right about when he officially became Robin, it definitely seemed like he was being pushed to be Robin from the get-go.

Also, didn’t we see in 666 that Damian had become Robin at some point? (And was shown as the future Batman, with speculation at the time that Tim was the “Satan” anti-Batman of that issue, right?) Subtract the 4 Ostrander/Mandrake issues, and that’s only 8 issues in from Damian’s debut, and 3 of them he wasn’t even in (or was in just briefly).

So I get why Tim fans (again, I like Tim, but also, Damian’s grown on me) would be annoyed that he was getting pushed out the door, especially since right before GM’s run, Bruce officially adopted Tim in Face the Face. Damian WAS f—ing annoying from the start, AND killed the Spook, so then he STILL gets to be Robin later on? Again, I can totally see why Tim fans would be annoyed.

I get what you’re saying, Brian, but Damian did wear a Robin-type outfit in the first few issues

Tim wore the actual Robin costume a month after he debuted.

I get what you’re saying, Brian, but Damian did wear a Robin-type outfit in the first few issues

Tim wore the Robin costume a month after he debuted.

Yeah, but was it after Tim beat the crap out of the then current Robin? :)

Again, I get what you’re saying. Part of Tim’s instant acceptance might have been that there WAS no Robin at the time, so Tim wasn’t stepping on anyone’s (pointy, elfin shod) toes at that point. (and I honestly don’t know what Dick’s status quo was when Jason was introduced)

I agree with your original premise here, it was a fascinating piece. I suppose I’m just pointing out stuff to be contrary :) but I think that even though you’re saying that Damian took the longest to officially become Robin, it was obvious from nearly the start that Morrison and/or editorial wanted to make Damian Robin at some point. And I think that’s what some people here had a problem with concerning Damian.

Actually, some people have mentioned that Morrison was going to kill off Damian early, does anyone have any links to where he said that? Not that anything Morrison says in an interview is necessarily to be taken at face value. It’s not like RIP REALLY had the biggest/coolest revelation in 70 years of Bat stories. And I LIKE RIP.

but I think that even though you’re saying that Damian took the longest to officially become Robin, it was obvious from nearly the start that Morrison and/or editorial wanted to make Damian Robin at some point. And I think that’s what some people here had a problem with concerning Damian.

So there is a problem with introducing a character with the intent for them to become Robin, as opposed to the other three characters introduced with the intent for them to become Robin?

That’s weird, especially when this is the only Robin of the four that was not necessarily introduced with the intent of him becoming Robin. As you correctly noted, Morrison originally considered killing Damian off at the end of his initial storyline.

Here’s Morrison in response to whether it was planned for Robin to become the partner to Dick Grayson after RIP…

So no, it wasn’t planned. As I mentioned, we originally intended to kill Damian and do a poignant four-part storyline where he starts out as a really bad kid and ends up as a good kid but dies tragically. Then I realized it was a waste of a good character. I think it was a good idea that we didn’t kill him because he’s become very popular.

D’oh, done in by logic! Well played, sir!

Actually, from that quote, it seems Morrison changed his mind about not killing Damian pretty early on , so I wonder how quickly he decided to move towards having Damian as Robin. As I recall, Morrison originally wanted to do the RIP storyline, and (from what I read) Didio told him he needed to build up to it. Also, as I said, the 666 issue, with Damian as Future Batman, was only 8 issues into the GM run, so it seems like Damian went from “cannon fodder (with a purpose)” to “really important character” very quickly.

So now I’m not even sure what I was originally arguing, Brian.

Ah, I think what I’ll argue now is that Damian is the only Robin that has been introduced when there was already a Robin. Obviously none when Dick debuted, Dick was Nightwing when Jason came on the scene (right? like I said, I’m not sure of the status quo at that point), a main point of introducing Tim was that there was no Robin. But Damian comes on when not only is there a Robin, but he’s just been adopted by Bruce. Which was irrelevant to GM’s plans, it seems, even though it actually made for an interesting dynamic. (I seem to recall reading an interview where GM said he wasn’t told/wasn’t aware that Bruce would be adopting Tim when he was plotting his first arc).

Let’s tie it back to your original piece. Tim was introduced as “wicked cool fan boy”, who figures out who Batman and Robin are, when no one else could, and then BECOMES the new Robin. Fan service, if I understand that term correctly. Damian is that annoying poster on forums who comes in to nitpick every post by smarter people (um, like I’m trying to do), and outdoes the long term fanboys (um, NOT like I’m doing). So of course he pisses off the Tim fans, because he’s outdoing their hero.

Ok, now I think I’m babbling. (Now, you say?) Thank you for being gentle in pointing out the flaws in my argument, Brian.

@ Travis Pelkie:

If you want to be hyper-technical about it, then Damian Wayne to a long, long time to pay off. The basic idea of the character first showed up Mike W. Barr & Jerry Bingham’s SON OF THE DEMON from 1987. That is the story in which Bruce and Talia conceive a son. Mark Waid hauled a version of the character out in one of his KINGDOM COME follow-up minis. So, the Damian concept had been banging around for almost 20 years when Morrison started defining him.

Now, Morrison’s memory was sketchy and his research was limited, so the SONOF THE DEMON does not perfectly set up BATMAN & SON. However, Morrison has made it pretty clear that his intent was for them to be connected. In that way, Damian Wayne pre-dates Tim Drake by two years.

More importantly, Damian Wayne is the more organic character. He had a back-story and basic personality that both made sense in relation to one another and pre-dated Morrison. Once the God of All Comics started tinkering with the little bastard, he found him too wonderful a character to turn into cannon fodder. Isn’t that how we want things to work? No editorial dictum to feed him into the inferno to make FINAL CRISIS (or whatever) matter. Just a great writer finding more potential in a semi-forgotten doodle of a character than he expected.

Conversely, Tim Drake came out of nowhere. He was created out of whole cloth by the Bat Office to fill the vacant role of Robin. His entire personality was stitched together to maximize fan acceptance. It is hardly shocking that he comes across as “one of us”.

I’d argue that Vance Astrovik predates Tim Drake as the first fanboy superhero, though I’m not sure if Tim became Robin before Vance became Marvel Boy. I know Vance *did* don a costume before Tim was created when he traveled with the Thing, but that was only as a masked wrestler.

Cassandra Cain and Tim Drake complimented each other well in the books they were in together. Tim was Bruce’s heir in detective skills, whereas Cassandra was in pure fighting ability.
Damian does have a similar upbringing to Cass, as children of master assassins, but Cassandra clearly wants to be GOOD, even though she struggles with it. Damian seems to have a lot harder time choosing to be good, but that makes sense – he’s grown up as the heir to an evil empire. I think his character has a lot of potential if written well, just like most characters. It would be nice to see some interaction between the two of them, to compare and contrast their attitudes.

Also, whether the identities of Batman and Robin are obvious to the reader, or would be in the real world, is irrelevent – in the DC universe, people who can deduce their identities are relatively rare; that’s why Tim is so impressive. (Just as Bane being able to identify Bruce as Batman just from watching his movement is a clear indication that he’s not dumb muscle)

Apologies for double-posting, I thought of this after I’d already hit “publish”

Honestly, there isn’t supposed to be a Robin period. Robin is a kiddie gimmick that castrated Batman’s core roots ruining the character so much that Batman died. Classic Batman didn’t return until Editor Julius Schwartz brought him back in the 1970s. Some forget that Bruce Wayne had Alfred as his father, for the most part he did live a normal life and only became a vigilante because the police force wasn’t doing its job. The idea that Bruce Wayne, who just wants everyone to live a normal life would adopt a kid to abuse just to fill his own ego is ludicrous. Honestly Bruce Wayne written correctly would find the perfect family to adopt Richard Grayson and then give Grayson the happy normal life he wishes he could have had. Batman has his own conscience, Alfred, Gordon and a social life to keep him mentally healthy. He never needed Robin and having Robin around just makes his job even harder. This is why Christopher Nolan has said he won’t have Robin in his Batman films. Robin as a character in the comics didn’t become important until he left Batman to lead the New Teen Titans.

Oh. Well if Christopher Nolan says so, then it must be true.

Yes, because Nolan understands Batman better than most fanatical fanboys.

Yes, because Nolan understands Batman better than most fanatical fanboys.

Ummmm……no.

Dick Grayson debuted in Detective Comics #38 and became Robin in…Detective Comics #38.

Jason Todd debuted in Batman #357 and became Robin in Batman #368.

Tim Drake debuted in the equivalent to Batman #441 and became Robin in Batman #465 (and that is stretching “becoming” to an absurd degree, as he already had had a mini-series as Robin before that).

Damian Wayne debuted in Batman #655 and became Robin in the equivalent to Batman #687.

So he actually had the LONGEST stretch before becoming Robin out of any of the main Robins.

Although I see the point of your argument here, it’s important to point out that directly comparing passage of time in different eras without accounting for decompression is like directly comparing prices of a good in different eras without accounting for inflation. For example if you look at Detective Comics #38, take a look at all the things that happen in that story. Nowadays that story would take at least a dozen issues. For example look at how many issues of All Star Batman there were. Also, Tim Drake dressed up as Robin early on, in A Lonely Place of Dying, I believe about 7 issues after his first appearance.

@ Aeonstrife:

Robin was co-created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson. Bob Kane created Batman and (co-created with Finger and/or Robinson) The Joker, Two-Face and Scarecrow. That group came up with the Batcave, the Batmobie and just about everything else that Christopher Nolan has been adapting.

Moreover, those Golden Age stories were rather directly the inspiration for the work of Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, Steve Engelhert, Marshall Rogers and Frank Miller did on the character. That material, in turn, inspired the Burton film cycle and all the Year One-ish comics (LONG HALLOWEEN, THE MAN WHO LAUGHED, BATMAN AND THE MONSTER MEN). The Burton films and the Year One-ish comics are the the most clear and direct inspiration for Nolan’s films.

You can hate Robin as a premise all you want, but it is pretty well impossible to argue that Dick Grayson’s origin is an example of Batman being “improperly written”. It is a core Batman story written by the very people who thought up the franchise. Their work has been the touchstone for everything that has followed to a greater extent than any other superhero franchise.

And that goes double for Bob Kane’s Batwoman and Bat-Girl and Bill Finger’s Bat-Mite and Ace the Bat-Hound.

And that goes double for Bob Kane’s Batwoman and Bat-Girl and Bill Finger’s Bat-Mite and Ace the Bat-Hound.

By the standards of the times? Absolutely.

I agree with everything you just said Dean, except I want to add that Bill Finger co-created Batman himself as well.

The usual wisecracks aside, I agree with Dean too.

Also, I forgot to mention Bill Finger’s Batman Jones. That guy was awesome.

Actually by the standards of the time Robin like multiple other gimmicks was completely unnecessary and only thrown in because the editor suggested it in order to attract kids to read a comic about an adult character. The group that came up with Batman had to make compromises, many of them bad ones in order to keep working on the book. Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson all admitted they got stuck with some horrible gimmicks that didn’t belong in the comics, including Robin, which were mistakes they would gladly take back. The Golden Age comics before Robin’s debut and a few after but with Robin excluded since he didn’t belong in the first place were inspiration for Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers and Frank Miller bringing back the original Classic Batman. Classic Batman without Robin in turn influenced Nolan to make his Batman film trilogy.

Actually Robin is simply a kiddie gimmick, no more and no less. Furthermore he has nothing to do with the core of Batman as Batman’s core lies in pulp fiction excluding any sidekick, which is why the best Batman comics like Batman: Year One and Batman 423 don’t feature Robin. This is also why Nolan’s films don’t have Robin. Not to mention why Robin in the comics had zero significance until he left Batman to become the leader of the New Teen Titans. This also why Robin in the comics has been discarded and replaced four times because he isn’t, nor has ever been part of the core of Batman.

I appreciate the potential to make Robin into an actual character with a massive redesign as I think it can be done under the right circumstances with the right writer, but so far every attempt has ended in failure because they don’t revise the concept as necessary to make it work. This is why Robin remains nothing more than a kiddie gimmick sidekick that is cannon fodder as insignificant as the Redshirts on Star Trek.

Aeonstrife: You’re trolling, right? Every writer you mentioned has written tons of comics with Robin. Have you read any Frank Miller? One of the most significant parts of The Dark Knight Returns is his relationship with the Robins – Jason Todd’s death making him quit being Batman out of guilt, and Carrie Kelley supporting him just when a Robin was needed.

Yes, the idea of a child running around helping a man fight crime is preposterous. But so is the idea of a man dressing as a giant bat to fight crime. A city full of people who can’t tell that two of their most notable citizens are the same person. And a murderous clown who can’t seem to stay locked in prison.

You can choose to take some elements of the Batman mythos as more valid than others, but be aware that most Batman writers have realized that Robin can be used very well in a story.

This blogger made a pretty good summary of Robin’s value in Batman comics:

http://ozandends.blogspot.com/2008/09/reasons-for-robin-1-and-2.html
http://ozandends.blogspot.com/2008/10/reason-for-robin-3.html
http://ozandends.blogspot.com/2008/11/reason-for-robin-4-continued.html
http://ozandends.blogspot.com/2008/12/reason-for-robin-5.html
http://ozandends.blogspot.com/2009/02/reason-for-robin-6.html
http://ozandends.blogspot.com/2009/02/reason-for-robin-7.html
http://ozandends.blogspot.com/2009/06/reasons-for-robin-8.html
http://ozandends.blogspot.com/2009/10/reason-for-robin-9.html

For me, the main difference between Tim when he was introduced and Damian, now, is their use as a sidekick.

Tim as Robin was used as a literary device to keep Batman out of trouble, to keep him grounded and reserved. He was more careful, because he thought about Tim’s safety.

Let’s face it, Batman has never thought about his own safety.

Damian as Robin is used as a literary device to put Batman in trouble. He starts fights, causes strife, causes conflict that Dick as Batman has to defuse.

In my opinion, the role reversal can be done well. And, I’m surprised that I didn’t like Morrison’s take on it. But, that is why I liked Tim back in the day, and why I’m not liking Damian now.

Theno

funkygreenjerusalem

February 8, 2011 at 10:04 pm

If anyone doubted Tim Drake would bring his own rah-rah squad to the table…

You are underestimating the fans. All of us are aware that Damian had a hard and much more different life than everyone else. However, that doesn’t change the fact he’s a jerk. Yes, there is a reason for his behavior. It’s to hide his insecurities and blah, blah, blah… he a sad lonely kid, etc, etc… And that does make him sympathetic. No one is arguing that.

However, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a jerk.

I don’t think I’m underestimating anyone.

Writers are trying to soften him, and make him more likable, yes.

Not really – he seems to have been on this path entirely under the guidance of Morrison, who isn’t softening him or trying to make him more likable – he seems to be following the path for the character he laid out in his initial arc.

Once it was known Damian would return, probably even before, it’s easy to see where Morrison was going to go with him from that first arc alone.
If you couldn’t take a rough guess at what Damian’s arc was going to be from Son Of Batman… then you’ve not read enough comics!

But when he’ll forever be compared to his predecessors, he’s going to be the less likable one.

But by far the most interesting one – and what else matters?

And your claim that Bruce, Alfred and Rose like him is rather laughable right now. They tolerate him.

Unless you go by their portrayals in the books.

Bruce has been shown to be impressed by Damian, and has let him continue to work for him.

Alfred was voicing affection for Damian from the beginning of B&R, and if you read that book, you’d have seen his very real concerns about Damian’s health and well being.
(And that you think Damian still shows Alfred no respect… what books are you reading their interactions in?)

Ravager and he clearly like each other by the end of Teen Titans #91.

You seem to be mistaking characters initial reactions to him, ignoring these little things known as character growth and character progression.

You don’t see it enough in superhero comics, but that’s what’s going on here.

As for Damian’s journey, YOU find his slow redemption to make him an interesting character. And that’s great. But it doesn’t necessarily make him more interesting than Tim. It’s interesting in a different manners.

No, it really, truly does make him more interesting.

Tim was created to be, like Dick Grayson, a relateable character that readers like, and more importantly, can pretend they are.
That’s fine, unless you’ve got adult tastes, and want to see something a bit different.

Damian, especially in Morrison’ work, isn’t a character; he is a nihlistic force of nature. He displays no emotion.

He is all emotion.

Just because he’s not talking in exposition, and doesn’t have a thought bubble telling you he is, Damian is a very emotionally charged character.

Damian did not get to earn this sacred title like Tim had to; it was given to him

Sorry, what arduous tasks did Tim have to complete to get the job?

Didn’t he run a gauntlet of some sort… which took an issue?

Seriously, Damian broke free from the League Of Assassins, and made his own way around the world to get back to his fathers after he heard he was dead.
What more does one need to do to ‘earn’ the role?

Damian is Poochie.

Except a Poochie has to be fan bait that backfires – Damian was the opposite of that, and as much as you may not like him, is now really popular.

Honestly, there isn’t supposed to be a Robin period. Robin is a kiddie gimmick that castrated Batman’s core roots ruining the character so much that Batman died.

What are you talking about?
Robin debuted eleven issues in – not even a full year later – and was an instant smash hit.

That Batman used to kill people, so if that’s who your Batman is – he’s clearly different to the one today – go stick with those eleven issues.

Honestly Bruce Wayne written correctly would find the perfect family to adopt Richard Grayson and then give Grayson the happy normal life he wishes he could have had.

Which Bruce Wayne is this?
The one from those eleven perfect issues before the character died?

I think you need to watch the Bat-Mite episode of Batman: The Brave And The Bold.

Actually by the standards of the time Robin like multiple other gimmicks was completely unnecessary and only thrown in because the editor suggested it in order to attract kids to read a comic about an adult character.

And it did.
As they were creating the books to sell them, without large overarching plans, I’m not seeing where they did the wrong thing – they made the book more popular.

Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson all admitted they got stuck with some horrible gimmicks that didn’t belong in the comics, including Robin, which were mistakes they would gladly take back.

Got a link for that line of BS?

I don’t think Bob Kane admitted a mistake in his life, and Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson show nothing but love for the character in most interviews.

Actually Robin is simply a kiddie gimmick, no more and no less.

So was Superman, Batman, Spider-Man… ALL OF THEM.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 8, 2011 at 10:18 pm

What I actually find amazing with Tim Drake, is the versatility of the fan love for him.

He’s quite a different character to when he started, yet they seem to love him just as fiercely – in words, if not sales.

Not too many characters that can happen with.

Speaking of the mistaken belief about Robin being “forced” on the Bat-books…

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2010/11/12/comic-book-legends-revealed-286/

Thanks Cronin for confirming that Robin was just a fad and nothing more.

Actually Batman, Superman and Spider-Man were all made as revolutionary new characters. None of them were a fad like sidekicks that nobody cared about and could be disposed of at any time.

Yes, Classic Batman killed people by accident, like Batman did with Ra’s in Batman Begins and with Two-Face in TDK. It is called realism. Also yes Classic Batman written right would give Richard Grayson a normal life with the best possible parents because that would be the right thing to do and Batman isn’t a criminal that abuses children.

What I actually find amazing with Tim Drake, is the versatility of the fan love for him.

He’s quite a different character to when he started, yet they seem to love him just as fiercely – in words, if not sales.

Not too many characters that can happen with.

I’d actually argue that’s more the norm than the exception.

I have seen the Batman: Brave and the Bold Animated Series and in it the only way they make sidekicks work is by saying they are apprentices for the superheroes that have to work for them in order to earn the superhero title. Even then none of the sidekicks like being sidekicks. Once the sidekicks get enough training they all leave with each getting their own city. Robin is showcased on the show as an adult superhero that is glad he is no longer Batman’s sidekick, he patrols his own city wanting no help from anyone and he then goes on to become Nightwing. So even on the show that has a modern remake of Silver Age Batman, the sidekick is considered unnecessary and outdated. This tells you just how much sidekicks are worthless.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 9, 2011 at 12:19 am

Thanks Cronin for confirming that Robin was just a fad and nothing more.

That would suggest he has fallen out of favour, and there is nothing that points in that direction.

We don’t know how Robin would fare in Nolan’s films, but the films he appeared in of the last lot, made more money that Burtons films without him (and Burton was planning on adding Robin as well).

Damn near every other take that’s been successful has a Robin in it.

Yes, Classic Batman killed people by accident, like Batman did with Ra’s in Batman Begins and with Two-Face in TDK. It is called realism.

When he stood there laughing with Robin over the electrocuted corpse of the mad scientist who had been making bridges invisible, all I could think was ‘that’s fucking realism’.

Also yes Classic Batman written right would give Richard Grayson a normal life with the best possible parents because that would be the right thing to do and Batman isn’t a criminal that abuses children.

Which of the 11 pre-Robin issues gave you that idea?

I have seen the Batman: Brave and the Bold Animated Series and in it the only way they make sidekicks work is by saying they are apprentices for the superheroes that have to work for them in order to earn the superhero title.

I don’t think anyone would argue that that’s what a sidekick is, but I said you should see the Bat-Mite episode.

This tells you just how much sidekicks are worthless.

No, as it’s a show about Batman teaming up – the show is him and someone else, so a sidekick is unnecessary, as essentially, whoever he guest stars with that week is the side-kick.
You’ll note the characters prone to mistakes appear more than one’s who are perfect.

T:

I’d actually argue that’s more the norm than the exception.

I guess I’m assuming they are all the same fans.

But, I guess I find it odd as he’s had some big changes in a relatively short period of time, especially for a legacy character – and it feels to me, most of them happened relatively recently, since the death of his father.
He’s a totally different person to who he was in Young Justice, yet his fans still love him a lot.

The comic you refer to with Batman laughing alongside Robin is after Classic Batman or Golden Age Batman was discarded to be replaced by the kid friendly and wacky blue Silver Age Batman. Silver Age Batman is kid dreams and has nothing to do with the dark pulp Classic Batman.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series is about teaming up with a partner or partners, not teaming up with a sidekick or sidekicks. There is a difference between the two. Partners are legitimate characters, while sidekicks are disposable kiddie gimmicks.

A sidekick is not an apprentice nor is ever meant to be one. A sidekick is a disposable kiddie gimmick. This is why Bucky was killed off. Also why Robin 1 left to become Nightwing, Robin 2 died, Robin 3 got replaced, and Robin 4 eventually gives up being Robin. It is because sidekicks just don’t matter because any random person can be a sidekick. Sidekicks equal the Redshirts from Star Trek.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series gets rid of sidekicks by reforming them into apprentices and even then this act barely works because sidekicks are not meant to be apprentices.

I saw the episode you spoke of Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series called “Legends of the Dark Mite!” and while there certainly are various versions of Batman due to a lack of continuity from DC, there are several versions which are more legitimate than others. The episodes of B:TBATB “The Knights of Tomorrow!” and “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!” highlight the fact that some versions of Batman are more legitimate than others. Furthermore there is a definitive version of Batman without Robin as shown in Batman 423.

Yes, several Batman films with Robin were popular but that was because of the brand name, not necessarily because Robin works as a character. This is similar to how Michael Bay’s Transformers movies sell based on the brand name, despite the movies being horrible. The Dark Knight is the most popular, most critically acclaimed and highest selling film in the series with part of the reason being that it doesn’t have the sidekick Robin.

Don’t get me wrong I like Robin and I would to see him redesigned as an actual character instead of being a worthless kiddie gimmick that has so little signficance any baby may be him.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm

The comic you refer to with Batman laughing alongside Robin is after Classic Batman or Golden Age Batman was discarded to be replaced by the kid friendly and wacky blue Silver Age Batman. Silver Age Batman is kid dreams and has nothing to do with the dark pulp Classic Batman.

Well, it’s not in those first eleven issues that you hold up as the only one’s to contain ‘the real’ Batman.

It’s earlier than anyone else would call make him ‘kid-friendly’, but there you go.
I doubt anyone else would think it a crime that a character designed and marketed to kids would be kid friendly.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series is about teaming up with a partner or partners, not teaming up with a sidekick or sidekicks. There is a difference between the two. Partners are legitimate characters, while sidekicks are disposable kiddie gimmicks.

You’re missing the point.
All characters are his side-kick in that show – it’s Blue Beetle and Aquaman appear way more than Green Arrow as a partner, and why it’s mostly B and C list heroes – because every other character in it is his side kick.

And still, I was referring to the Bat-Mite episode.
Watch it – there’s a scene with you in it!

A sidekick is not an apprentice nor is ever meant to be one. A sidekick is a disposable kiddie gimmick.

Those aren’t mutually exclusive.

It is because sidekicks just don’t matter because any random person can be a sidekick.

This post and entire comments section show how wrong you are.

You don’t like them – that’s fine – but don’t try and twist reality to fit your viewpoint.

Sidekicks equal the Redshirts from Star Trek.

I can think of two who died.

One was Jason Todd, the other was Bucky, who was killed decades later, i na flash back.

Both are back from the dead.

I saw the episode you spoke of Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series called “Legends of the Dark Mite!” and while there certainly are various versions of Batman due to a lack of continuity from DC, there are several versions which are more legitimate than others.

No, the scene at the comic convention pretty much points out that one interpretation is not more valid than any other.

Also, see the comments from anyone who has worked on the character – all of them will say that there are many different valid interpretations of the character.

Don’t get me wrong I like Robin and I would to see him redesigned as an actual character instead of being a worthless kiddie gimmick that has so little signficance any baby may be him.

Maybe if you were to read some comics with him in it – beyond those eleven holy issues when Batman was ‘right’ – and you’ll see how far off base you are.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 9, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Also worth pointing out, that if Batman wasn’t ‘kiddified’ he wouldn’t be here today.

I think I agree with Stan Lee. There is too much of a pedo vibe in the whole idea of kid sidekicks for me to be completely comfortable with the idea. That is one of the reasons he killed Bucky and the only sidekick in his version of the MU was Rick Jones, a guy that almost never wore short shorts.

If Nolan ever incorporates Robin in the series, I hope it will not be a little kid, both for realism (yeah, I know, curse word) and for the above reasons. Dick Grayson could be 19 or something, more of younger brother to Christian Bale’s character than a son. They could use a buddy cop movie dynamic of the novice crimefighting partner learning the ropes without much cheese.

Batman wasn’t designed towards kids, neither was Captain America, this is part of the reason why sidekicks don’t work as they are often created as gimmicks to castrate a popular superhero that was originally designed for adults or young adults into a kid magnet. Notice Spider-Man doesn’t have a sidekick and adding one to him wouldn’t work nor be beneficial at all. Batman began to lose his core roots the moment Robin was introduced. You can tell because Batman’s costume literally went from a dark black to a light blue.

I disagree about every character in B:TBATB being Batman’s sidekick. Batman teams up on the show with fully legitimate characters, some which are his equal partners and some which are his apprentices, but none are his sidekicks or generally easily disposable stock kids which are kicked to the side.

Once more I saw the episode of B:TBATB called “Legends of the Dark Mite!” in which Bat-Mite was just making up an excuse to justify the legitimacy of the various different versions of Batman, but really Bat-Mite’s justification for this was just have fun. Subsequent episodes such as “Knights of Tomorrow!” and “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases!” contradict Bat-Mite’s speech by highlighting the fact that some versions of Batman are more legitimate than others.

Yes, Bucky and Jason Todd were brought back from the dead to be angry young men as another way of leeching off a popular character.

Yes, for DC/Marvel there are multiple versions of a character. A character may have a definitive version, a few good versions, several bad versions and many markerting gimmick stunts which are feces.

I have read several comics with Robin in them but when you already have more than four names attached to a kid gimmick that is periodically abandoned you know Robin doesn’t work as a character.

Robin needs to be updated and redesigned to work as a character. Being a marketing gimmick stunt of garbage doesn’t help him. Several writers in the comics have tried to fix Robin but often the toxic baggage of the character along with bad editorial decisions make fixing him unfeasible. This said the best comics with Robin I have ever read where under Marv Wolfman who tried to reform the gimmick into an actual character by making him leader of the New Teen Titans. Since then other writers have tried but all have failed in the end.

So far the best attempt at making Robin into a character outside of the comics has been the Young Justice animated TV series.

If I was doing Robin I would make him into a legitimate character with a different point of view. He would still have the tragedy, but unlike Batman, Grayson would have had a normal life by being adopted by good parents. In this way while similar to Batman he would also have a different perspective in which Grayson believes more in working within the system than Batman. Come around his eighteenth birthday Grayson would show up back in Gotham City to be a cop, but find himself seeking Batman’s help in order to become a vigilante to better be able to do his job. Getting training from a reluctant Batman, Grayson would get an incredible costume that looks like a bird and covers most of his face to become Robin. Robin would do his best to get Bruce Wayne to retire as a superhero. Eventually Bruce Wayne after defeating or rehabilitating all his super villains for good would retire which would allow Robin in a new time period in a changed city to become the new superhero of Nightwing (Only with a new costume that is different from the comics.) with his partner as Commissioner Barbara Gordon. Of course this will never happen because DC generally only cares about making money through gimmick filled crossover events, not about creating grand epic stories that have continuity with actual amazing characters.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 9, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Batman wasn’t designed towards kids, neither was Captain America

Wrong on both counts.

but none are his sidekicks or generally easily disposable stock kids which are kicked to the side.

No, they act as his sidekicks.

Remember, you’re definition of the concept isn’t the actual definition, or anyone else’s for that matter.

Once more I saw the episode of B:TBATB called “Legends of the Dark Mite!” in which Bat-Mite was just making up an excuse to justify the legitimacy of the various different versions of Batman, but really Bat-Mite’s justification for this was just have fun.

You must have missed that it was written by Paul Dini, and that the speech about the validity of different types of Batman was said by comic writers in a panel of bat fans – particularly to one who said he preferred a darker interpretation, thinking all others silly.

I have read several comics with Robin in them but when you already have more than four names attached to a kid gimmick that is periodically abandoned you know Robin doesn’t work as a character.

WOW.
That’s an odd thing to say when one stopped being Robin to become another character around today, and the third Robin stars in their own book – and is the basis of this blog entry because he has such a loud fan base.

Four different characters inhabiting the mask in 70 odd years isn’t that many.

You keep saying the idea gets abandoned – the amount of time Batman has spent without Robin pales in comparison to the amount of time he has spent with him.

Several writers in the comics have tried to fix Robin but often the toxic baggage of the character along with bad editorial decisions make fixing him unfeasible.

I’ve never read anywhere that a writer feels they need to ‘fix’ Robin, nor actually seen a push to do so.

Beyond Dick Grayson’s aging, have you any proof this systematically happens?

If I was doing Robin

Ugh.

Funky, you’re giving this person too much attention. They obviously won’t bend in their…odd…interpretation of what Robin is or should be.

Something that is interesting, though: is Robin the only sidekick currently active AS a sidekick still, in the big 2? Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other.

And Frank Miller must have really hated the concept of Robin, since Carrie Kelly is such an unimportant part of DKR (and DKSA, but we won’t get into that here). Oh, wait, she’s a HUGE part of that story.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 10, 2011 at 12:55 am

Funky, you’re giving this person too much attention. They obviously won’t bend in their…odd…interpretation of what Robin is or should be.

Yeah, and it became obvious a while ago they have no idea what they are talking about – from what early Batman comics were like, to superheroes not being created for kids – it’s just every now and again you get caught up thinking the other person will at least admit their opinion wasn’t as fact based as they believe, or at best, realize that super heroes work best with bright colours.

Something that is interesting, though: is Robin the only sidekick currently active AS a sidekick still, in the big 2? Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other.

Quite possibly, although writers regularly team Wolverine up with a younger female – and the X-Men regularly has a side-kick character – but other than that… there’s a new Aqualad, and there’s Knight And Squire.

I think it’s a shame – people seem to miss that it’s okay for comic book superheroes to have goofy elements.
The point that Robin wouldn’t work in Nolan’s Batman is utterly inane – his is on film, this is in comics.
Robin works great when he’s drawn, and if he works great there, other mediums don’t really affect it.

And Frank Miller must have really hated the concept of Robin, since Carrie Kelly is such an unimportant part of DKR (and DKSA, but we won’t get into that here). Oh, wait, she’s a HUGE part of that story.

Yup.
Not all writers use Robin all the time, but I bet only a few flat out hate him – he’s a good idea.

Funkygreenjerusalem you got no idea about superheroes in general. Batman like most superheroes weren’t created for kids but for adults and young adults. Batman was inspired by adult characters of pulp fiction such as the Shadow, Sherlock Holmes and Zorro, none of which were designed for kids. Now later on several superheroes were castrated to be made for kids, then they were brought back closer to their original forms, but in the last few decades superheroes have been perversed towards a rape mode where DC/Marvel literally ruin the superheroes with controversial gimmicks just to make a quick cash. Its true superheroes were not originally made to have destructive controversial gimmicks
(Rape, clones, crossover events and so on.) like they do today, but neither were they made to specifically cater to kids. The superheroes were made to be fair as well as balanced heroic characters without controversial gimmicks and without pandering to the kids. Batman originally accidently killed some criminals, but also had a social life. Clark Kent originally hit on Lois and also if there was no other way he would kill a super villain.

On the issue of Robin if he was a character as you say he is he would never get replaced by other people but be constant like Batman or Spider-Man. Since he does continually get replaced that means he doesn’t matter because he isn’t a character but more of a cypher any person can fill.

If you want to bring up Frank Miller, then how about you bring out his All Star Batman and Robin where Robin is verbally and physically abused by Batman? How about his best work on Batman called Batman: Year One which doesn’t feature Robin at all?

I have read Miller’s horrible The Dark Knight Returns. It is Batman in the vein of Death Wish’s Paul Kersey played by Charles Bronson, it has repeated contradictions, awful dialogue, is filled with illogical hate towards every aspect of society, a nonsensical story with no structure except beating up criminals, and the artwork consists mainly of grotesquely overly exegerrated muscle men. This is Miller’s original All Star Batman and Robin, an Elseworlds’ tale of an insane muscle man filled with venom at the world that goes nowhere. Might as well be written and drawn by an angry fifteen year old because this fan fiction is utter rubbish. On the issue of Robin in the TDKR, yes some boring teenage girl I never heard of shows up to be Robin to help out Batman once and then is quickly forgotten as nothing more than a background prop. The question is if Robin is so important where the hell is Dick Grayson? Oh wait, Robin isn ‘t important because he isn’t a character.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 10, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Funkygreenjerusalem you got no idea about superheroes in general.

Maybe when compared to Brian Cronin and Greg Hatcher, but against a guy who thinks superheroes were aimed at adults and switched to kids, I’m feeling pretty confident.

Batman like most superheroes weren’t created for kids but for adults and young adults.

Nope.

All were created for kids.

GI’s started reading them during the War, but stopped again soon after.

You specifically said that Captain America wasn’t created for kids – Jack Kirby never created a character not aimed at kids.
In fact, I know of one strip he didn’t do with kids in mind, an autobiographical strip – and even it was all ages.

The reason Crumb, Pekar and the other comix guys were so surprising, was that they made comics NOT aimed at kids.

Even the gruesome EC comics were made for kids to read.

I promise, you will not find any evidence or proof to link to that claims otherwise – if publishers could have showed they aimed at adults, or even thought they did, things would have gone very differently at a certain Senate Inquiry.

Batman was inspired by adult characters of pulp fiction such as the Shadow, Sherlock Holmes and Zorro, none of which were designed for kids.

Sure, that was his inspirations – but he was made for kids.

All comics were aimed at kids.

Now later on several superheroes were castrated to be made for kids, then they were brought back closer to their original forms,

Batman changed in the 50’s to be a more out and out adventurer, then in the 60’s was more in line with the TV show.
In the 70’s Adams and O’Neil made him darker again – but still, aimed at kids.

History just did not happen the way you want it to have happened.

On the issue of Robin if he was a character as you say he is he would never get replaced by other people but be constant like Batman or Spider-Man. Since he does continually get replaced that means he doesn’t matter because he isn’t a character but more of a cypher any person can fill.

Both Batman and Spider-Man have been replaced – Batman has twice had a different person under the mask, and as you mention, gone through so many different takes that it may as well have been a different character.

Spider-Man was replaced in the 90’s by Ben Riley – a change that was intended to be permanent – and recently went through a massive continuity re-boot to take him back to the character of the late 70’s.

Robin, although different faces under the mask, has been portrayed more consistently across the years than either Spider-Man or Batman.
The only major differences was the failed attempt to change his personality with Jason Todd (who was exactly the same as Dick until post-crisis) and with Damian.
Dick Grayson and Tim Drake may have been different names under the mask, but were both laughing side-kicks to brighten Batman up.

If you want to bring up Frank Miller, then how about you bring out his All Star Batman and Robin where Robin is verbally and physically abused by Batman? How about his best work on Batman called Batman: Year One which doesn’t feature Robin at all?

Are you this desperate?

All-Star Superman is out of continuity, and everyone is violent – It’s Miller doing Sin City starring Batman and Robin.

Year One was set before Robin joined up.

His most famous tale Dark Knight Returns features Robin heavily, as does it’s sequel Dark Knight Strikes Back.

Might as well be written and drawn by an angry fifteen year old because this fan fiction is utter rubbish

Most fans, writers, reviewers and critics tend to disagree.

Funkygreenjeruselam you are freaking mad.

Captain America went around killing Nazis and you say he was made for kids? Come on give me a break.

Batman was such a scary guy when he first appeared his costume was changed from a dark black to a light blue in order to make him kid friendly.

Comic book creators were making comics for adults from the start but over time started reforming their comics for kids. Once they ran into the Comics Code and some politician opposition they decided to be more careful, but even then they did from time to time adult material in their comics.

Jack Kirby admitted several times that much of what he made was for adults, but that he tweaked it enough so he could sell it to kids without it being for kids. In fact his Fourth World was extremely controversial, partially because Kirby wanted to kill all the characters to end it.

Your view is history is biased due to your fan love for Robin. Yes there have been several rape gimmicks aimed at Batman and Spider-Man to make money by ruining the character, but in the end they still remain actual characters.

Robin on the other hand has always been a blank slate any random guy can wear. You don’t see Dick Grayson still as Robin because DC tried to fix Robin by turning him into Nightwing. After that failure they tried to introduce a new Robin called Jason Todd, but it didn’t work so they killed him. Robin 3 known as Tim Drake got a new costume along with some of the best writers to try to make him work as Robin but it was such a failure he got changed into Red Robin. Even now Red Robin is struggling to work with DC not having a clue what to do with him. The new Robin isn’t even worth mentioning because everyone knows he is garbage. By this point it is obvious Robin is nothing more than a bad kiddie gimmick that should never have been introduced. Every attempt to make him work thus far has failed. Maybe it is time you understood that the concept of sidekicks just doesn’t work. This is why Nolan didn’t include Robin in his Batman films and why Robin doesn’t belong in the Batman comics.

Actually most fans, writers, reviewers and critics when The Dark Knight Returns first came out panned it calling it the worst piece of garbage of all time. It was only about a decade later that it started to gain some acceptance purely out if having a meaningless violent nature. This is Miller’s original All Star Batman and Robin.

Frank Miller’s most famous Batman tale is Batman: Year One which has always been given merit by the fans, writers, reviewers and critics because he wrote it as a modern update of Classic Batman, not his own ludicrously insane Death Wish Batman. Batman: Year One is even getting an animated film.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Captain America went around killing Nazis and you say he was made for kids? Come on give me a break.

Batman was such a scary guy when he first appeared his costume was changed from a dark black to a light blue in order to make him kid friendly.

Who are you? Fredric Wertham?

Watch the cartoons of the day – Bugs Bunny used to kill the Japanese soldiers in his cartoons.

Comic book creators were making comics for adults from the start but over time started reforming their comics for kids. Once they ran into the Comics Code and some politician opposition they decided to be more careful, but even then they did from time to time adult material in their comics.

No – all were aimed at kids.

That’s why the politicians got up in arms – they were thinking of the children.

Why would the comics code make everything kid safe, if the magazine weren’t aimed for kids?

Jack Kirby admitted several times that much of what he made was for adults, but that he tweaked it enough so he could sell it to kids without it being for kids. In fact his Fourth World was extremely controversial, partially because Kirby wanted to kill all the characters to end it.

Really?
I don’t think anyone knew what his plans for the ending were – certainly not when they started coming out.
According to Mark Evanier, Kirby never planned things in advance, and would often tell Mark and Steve Sherman the plot to an issue, and then sit down and draw something entirely different.

The fourth world has some interesting themes, but it’s definitely aimed at kids.

Your view is history is biased due to your fan love for Robin

God, that’s a piss weak, and untrue argument.

It’s from reading blogs, books and interviews about comic history.

Maybe it is time you understood that the concept of sidekicks just doesn’t work.

You’ve offered no proof that it’s flawed concept – hell, your arguments don’t even have logic let alone proof – for any side kick let alone Robin.

This is why Nolan didn’t include Robin in his Batman films and why Robin doesn’t belong in the Batman comics.

What is why Nolan didn’t do it?

All you’ve shown is that every time someone writes Robin out, he is quickly written back in – ignoring that there’s always a sales boost.

Nolan’s films aren’t proof of anything for the comic – it’s a different medium altogether.
Robin works in comics and animation – and that’s where Batman has always been at his best.

Actually most fans, writers, reviewers and critics when The Dark Knight Returns first came out panned it calling it the worst piece of garbage of all time.

Ha!
You actually made me laugh out loud.
No one in 1986 was seeing a revolution in comics based around DKR, Watchmen and Maus.
No one at all.
Oh hang on, everyone did!

Go read about that era – everyone was in love with DKR.
Year One came about because of the DKR success.

It was only about a decade later that it started to gain some acceptance purely out if having a meaningless violent nature.

Nope.
Instant sales success.
Instant critical success.
The success of Killing Joke and DKR was what made WB interested in a Batman film, and it’s also what got Burton interested in making it for them.

This is Miller’s original All Star Batman and Robin.

A satirical, ultra-violent take on the world?

Probably.

It’s when he got interested in using that as his style.

Frank Miller’s most famous Batman tale is Batman: Year One which has always been given merit by the fans, writers, reviewers and critics because he wrote it as a modern update of Classic Batman, not his own ludicrously insane Death Wish Batman.

No, it’s really not.
Not by a long shot in sales – not in any form of critical consensus.

This thread is soooo fun.

Yeah, DKR was DEFINITELY praised to high heaven from the first issue. It got write ups in Rolling Stone, there’s that Mickey Spillane quote that I believe they still use as a blurb on it, I think there’s a Stephen King blurb… maybe more recently have people tended to favor Year One due to the divide over DKSA, but DKR was the best loved Miller work for years and years. That’s why there was the 10th, 15th anniversary editions, and it’s still, I’d wager, one of DC’s best selling comics collections ever. It’s amazingly good.

Not only were comics and superheroes aimed at kids, if you believe Bob Kane’s story in the link Brian provided several posts back, they were created BY kids! (Kane claiming to be underage when he started work on Batman…). Siegel and Shuster were definitely young guys as well, so since they were aiming their stuff to be things THEY wanted to read, OF COURSE it was aimed at kids/young adults.

Although let me be a bit of a devil’s advocate, funky, and point out that, of all people, I believe it was Tom DeFalco that pointed out in an interview once that the original comic strips appeared in newspapers. Newspapers were, on the whole, bought by adults. While kids obviously were reading comic strips, DeFalco suggested that the strips were, at least in part, created to appeal to adults as well. And since early comic books were comic strip collections….

That said, it is outright ridiculous to think that superheroes weren’t aimed primarily at kids from the early origins (late 30s Superman/Batman into the 40s with Cap America, Captain Marvel, et al).

To get more off topic, there’s a Dick Giordano column from DC books from probably mid ’85 where he talks about his day, and part of his day was reading the scripts for the first issues of DKR and Watchmen. On the same day. Imagine how f—ing awesome that was!

@ Travis Pelkie:

I think that your general point about the comic strips being the major influence on Golden Age comics is both accurate and well-taken.

The better way to phrase it is that Golden Age superheroes were intended for a general audience. That is not even G-Rated in the modern sense. With the Hays Code in effect for films, R-Rated content did not even exist as meaningful contrast. Marketing was in its infancy and a novelty product (as comics were perceived to be) were not likely to be on the cutting edge of such things. Saying that comics were aimed at kids or adults or especially young adults is probably not how those creators thought about the matter.

And Dean, may I return your accurate, well-taken point about the idea of marketing and that the notion of “aiming” a creative work at a certain demographic being a relatively new concept.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Although let me be a bit of a devil’s advocate, funky, and point out that, of all people, I believe it was Tom DeFalco that pointed out in an interview once that the original comic strips appeared in newspapers. Newspapers were, on the whole, bought by adults. While kids obviously were reading comic strips, DeFalco suggested that the strips were, at least in part, created to appeal to adults as well. And since early comic books were comic strip collections….

That’s true, but comic BOOKS were aimed at kids, and even if they weren’t initially – which I very much doubt – it shifted very quickly as that’s who was buying them.

As you mention yourself, though – certain strips were aimed at adults, though G rated, but superheroes were kiddie fair right from the start.

To argue otherwise is like saying that Harry Potter was written for adults, or that Twilight wasn’t specifically written for teenage girls.
The fan base may have grown outwards from there, but it’s clear which audience was in mind when the author sat down to write them.

And Dean, may I return your accurate, well-taken point about the idea of marketing and that the notion of “aiming” a creative work at a certain demographic being a relatively new concept.

Marketing speak crossing over into the mainstream is new, as is focus group testing to perfect a product, but aiming a product at a particular group isn’t a new concept at all – it just wasn’t the fine art it is today.
(You can argue it being a fine art, but the fact we all know that products creations are often dictated by marketing, yet still buy them, is testament to how good they are at it).

Hell, even in comics, Simon & Kirby were aiming their books at particular groups – Romance Comics being brought by young girls wasn’t a happy accident.

Correct superhero comics originally were geared towards young adults and adults, but in the 50s started shifting towards being marketed exclusively towards kids. However when the 60s came around, Marvel Comics started to bring back the trend to make comics for young adults and adults. Once the 70s came around DC went back to their roots to make comics for young adults and adults.

On the issue of Robin, this quote from Batman: Gotham Knight is the final say on the matter.

http://www.traileraddict.com/trailer/batman-gotham-knight/trailer

Batman: “I am willing to put my life on the line to do what I have to, but it has to be mine, no one else’s.”

This goes to the core of what the character is all about. Taking responsbility when no one else is willing to or able to.

On the same note, I’d just like to say that Superman flying is a ridiculous corruption of the character. The whole deal with Superman is that he LEAPS tall buildings with a single bound. Once he started flying, the character was basically ruined.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 14, 2011 at 9:41 pm

On the issue of Robin, this quote from Batman: Gotham Knight is the final say on the matter.

http://www.traileraddict.com/trailer/batman-gotham-knight/trailer

Batman: “I am willing to put my life on the line to do what I have to, but it has to be mine, no one else’s.”

I was always find it’s a good idea to close my arguments by quoting from a poor example in a different medium as well.

Yes, once Superman started flying he started getting so many new powers, including time travel that he became a god difficult to write and a joke no one could relate to. This is why the most popular version of Superman ever is the Smallville TV series in which Clark Kent is still learning how to fly.

Yes, a different medium written by comic book writers that besides the Nolan films is closest to the definitive version of the Batman character from the comics.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 15, 2011 at 12:31 am

Yes, once Superman started flying he started getting so many new powers, including time travel that he became a god difficult to write and a joke no one could relate to.

I assume you’re talking about the Weisinger era – that was really popular, actually.

It was two decades later his sales were way down, and so they decided to relaunch and reduce his powers – and the sales drop had little to do with his powers, and more a drop in quality of writing.

For your sake, we’ll ignore the most successful and acclaimed Superman run of recent years was one firmly rooted in that era.

This is why the most popular version of Superman ever is the Smallville TV series in which Clark Kent is still learning how to fly.

I would have thought the comic, radio show or the 50’s TV show caught on with more of the public than Smallville ever has – those three had big impacts on pop-culture and culture as a whole, their reach was so wide.

Lois & Clark wasn’t on as long at all, but going by the Nielsen rankings, it’s lowest rated season beat Smallville’s highest.
(And the lowest rated season of L&C had half the viewers of the one before it).

Besides the comic, Smallville lasted the longest no doubt, but it’s never reached the heights the others did – and it now shows to a quarter of the audience the first season had.

So once again, the facts just don’t agree with you.

Yes, a different medium written by comic book writers that besides the Nolan films is closest to the definitive version of the Batman character from the comics.

Two of the six were comic writers, and seriously, the Nolan films aren’t much like 30’s Batman pre-Robin, which is the one you were loving on before.

The first film alone took the plot from Miller’s 80’s comic Year One, and gave it a villain from the early 70’s – two very different era’s of Batman altogether.
Makes it hard for it to be closest to the ‘definitive’ comics version, when it’s mixing and matching different takes on the character.

Also, and I know this will be a problem for you as you don’t seem particularly versed on them, but arguing that the comics have been wrong for seventy years, by using a film and cartoon as evidence, isn’t the greatest move – it’s just it’s pretty irrelevant to the comics.
By any measure, the ‘definitive’ Batman of the comics would have Robin by his side – waaaay more stories feature Robin than don’t.

Comic book sales across the board were high in that era, but then started to go down in the next era. During the Silver Age, Weisinger’s stories frequently featured stories in which Superman lost his powers and had to survive using his mind as a way to compensate for Superman being too powerful for the readers to relate to.

Superman in terms of popularity had been dead for many years, until Smallville brought him back. Smallville is more popular than you know because these days you need to account also for DVD/Blu-Ray sales, rentals, rerun ratings, and internet viewings. TV ratings due to various other ways to see the shows are down all across the board, but this doesn’t mean that every show is necessarily doing bad in TV ratings, but rather that for some shows the audience is moving to other ways of seeing the shows. TV studios are taking this into account, which is why Smallville has been around for ten seasons and is a global phenomenon.
Today, Smallville is the most popular version of the character of all time.

Batman: Year One is a remake of the Classic Batman comics. The 70s era brought back the Classic Batman. So no, these aren’t contradictions, but a full support of that era.

Yeah, I get that you don’t understand that in some ways mediums outside the comics for a variety of reasons can do some things better than the comics and at times be even more true to the source material than generally most comics are. Most of the best Batman comics do not feature Robin in any capacity. Robin appearing in several stories doesn’t make Robin something good as most Batman comics are garbage with part of the reason being they feature Robin. Robin as a concept for the creation of a character has merit, but as a kiddie gimmick sidekick that doesn’t belong at all in Batman’s world and contradicts the essence of the Batman character he is an outdated as well as an unnecessary fanciful cliche.

T wrote, “If it’s as simple as “whatever Robin was introduced during someone’s childhood becomes their Robin,” can you explain why Jason Todd was so rejected.”.

Sure, I was reading Batman at the time. It’s *exactly* the same as the Tim/Damian changeover, in fact. Todd became Robin in 1984. But for the prior 40+ years, Robin was Dick Grayson. Plus, this was before the whole “legacy” / “mantle” / replacement / illusion of change angle became so commonplace in the 90s.

Jason replaced a beloved icon – Dick as Robin; and events were coordinated so that Dick gave up the identity immediately before it being bestowed on Jason. And according to the letter columns he had commited the *worst* sin – he was “too much like the original”. Which was sorta true. So they later reinvented him as a punk, but by that point it was too late. Soon enough Jason was killed off. If Tim Drake had been that 2nd Robin, that would’ve been HIS fate too.

But flash forward to 1990: Todd was dead. But Dick? He was now firmly established as Nightwing, still headlining one of DC’s most popular books of the 1980s (Teen Titans) in that new identity. So when Tim was introduced, he represented no competition to Dick; most DC readers were fans of Nightwing by that point. In fact Batman editor Dennis O’Neil later said they made sure it was Nightwing’s suggestion that Tim become Robin, to ease readers into accepting it.

Another factor working to Tim’s benefit was the changeover in readership; Batman comics didn’t sell that well in the early/mid 80s, and in fact DC considered cancelling Detective in the early 80s. But by the time the Batman film hit in 1989, Batman went through the roof, claiming lots of new fans. Tim was there at the ground floor for that. He also appeared on the Batman TAS eventually, alongside Dick. He was Robin for 15+ years, which is longer than most comic fans have been…comic fans.

It’s easy to see why the kids who grew up on 90s comics are now resentful of someone new taking over for the only Robin they’ve ever known. Of course, Tim wasn’t the first Robin, and Damian probably won’t be the last, either.

Another factor working to Tim’s benefit was the changeover in readership; Batman comics didn’t sell that well in the early/mid 80s, and in fact DC considered cancelling Detective in the early 80s. But by the time the Batman film hit in 1989, Batman went through the roof, claiming lots of new fans. Tim was there at the ground floor for that. He also appeared on the Batman TAS eventually, alongside Dick. He was Robin for 15+ years, which is longer than most comic fans have been…comic fans.

Burton’s Batman brought in a lot of new readers, and Tim was the first Robin they were exposed to. You’re right about that.

But as Dean points out above, Dark Knight Returns, and Batman Year One, were all very popular and brought in lots of new readers to the Batman books. Jason was on the ground floor for that.

My point was simply that there was more to Tim’s popularity than the simple “He was the first Robin readers were exposed to,” because if that were enough Jason Todd would have been a success as well. Your explanation actually backs up my point, that there had to be more at play.

@ T.:

I hate to do this 190 comments in, but it seems useful to take a step back. It is a shame that I can’t cross-post, since it relates to the discussion of FF#1 as well. To me, there are five basic types of change to an existing creative work: revolutionary change, evolutionary change, adaptation, pastiche and satire.

I define revolutionary change is combining two (or more) apparently unrelated influences into something that bears a minimal resemblance to either. For example, Siegel-Shuster turned an eclectic mix of Douglas Fairbanks, Harold Lloyd, Phillip Wylie’s GLADIATOR, Alex Raymond’s FLASH GORDON, the biblical story of Moses and probably some second-hand Friedrich Nietzsche into Superman. It is a pretty safe bet that had Jerry Siegel never been born that no one would ever arrive at anything akin to that recipe. No one but Siegel would have thought to any of those things had anything to do with one another.

Revolutionary characters merit the maximum deference to the vision of the original creator, since the “secret sauce” is their unique perspective.

Evolutionary change is combining two (or maybe three) related “parent” influences to produce a logically derived “child”. To me, the earliest adventures of the Fantastic Four are examples of evolutionary change. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby took the existing DC superhero comic tradition added it to the Atlas-Marvel Kirby Monster comic tradition plus a splash of the Kirby romance comic tradition. Lee and Kirby were combining things that were in the same species in an innovative way.

Evolutionary creations merit slightly less deference, since a critic can argue that the creator misused one of the parent elements.

Adaptation is a new creator applying their perspective to an existing piece of material. The classic example would be taking something from one medium into another, but a lot of comic creators are really adapters. Grant Morrison is a master of that. He takes old comics and adapts them into something new by processing them through his POV.

Almost by definition, adaptation requires minimal deference by subsequent creators. Deferring to adaptation means that the highest a new creator can go is pastiche, since they are leaving their own perspective at the door.

Pastiche is like adaptation, but the new artist does not bother adding their perspective to the mix. Most “new” issues of long-running superhero franchises are really just bad pastiches of old superhero comics. The writer can’t quite do Frank Miller’s style and the artist can’t quite match Neal Adams’ line, but it is “new”. However, good pastiche can be perfectly entertaining.

However, pastiche requires literally no deference. It is just a copy of the original.

Satire is imitation with the intent to mock. Great satire is, of course, a pleasure onto itself. It is more a commentary on the original than anything.

Like Batman himself, Dick Grayson was a revolutionary character. Jason Todd was a pastiche of Dick Grayson. Tim Drake is an adaptation of Dick Grayson. Damian Wayne is an evolutionary combination of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul. Hence, the varied responses to the characters.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Comic book sales across the board were high in that era, but then started to go down in the next era. During the Silver Age, Weisinger’s stories frequently featured stories in which Superman lost his powers and had to survive using his mind as a way to compensate for Superman being too powerful for the readers to relate to.

That’s a pretty stock standard story for every superhero across every era of comics.
Superman’s popularity didn’t have a massive shift until into the 70’s, by which time the silver age had already ended.

Your argument also isn’t taking into account the mass success of Captain Marvel in the 50’s – his books made Superman seem grounded.

Superman in terms of popularity had been dead for many years, until Smallville brought him back. Smallville is more popular than you know because these days you need to account also for DVD/Blu-Ray sales, rentals, rerun ratings, and internet viewings.

Smallville brought Smallville popularity – it hasn’t affected Superman as a whole beyond that.
He’s not even called Superman in that show.

TV ratings due to various other ways to see the shows are down all across the board, but this doesn’t mean that every show is necessarily doing bad in TV ratings, but rather that for some shows the audience is moving to other ways of seeing the shows.

I was talking about Nielsen rankings, not ratings, when comparing to Lois And Clark – Nielsen Rankings rank the show compared to other shows on at the same time, so the total amount of people has no effect on the rankings – L&C, even on the series it got canceled, was a more popular show than Smallville ever has been,

TV studios are taking this into account, which is why Smallville has been around for ten seasons and is a global phenomenon.

Smallville is cheap, and rates alright – that’s why it’s still around.
X-Files, Lost and even Lois And Clark were global phenomenons – Smallville never reached that level.

Today, Smallville is the most popular version of the character of all time.

That makes no sense.

It’s the most popular – and only – version out at the moment, but it’s not the most popular of all time.

T:

My point was simply that there was more to Tim’s popularity than the simple “He was the first Robin readers were exposed to,” because if that were enough Jason Todd would have been a success as well.

Tim was a very well written character when introduced – a perfect side kick character.

I think he benefited greatly from DC trying different things with, and then killing, Jason Todd.
DC realized that straying too far from the formula wasn’t the smartest idea, and fans had the benefit of seeing why it works to have a happy Robin.

first, to T, while I agree that DKR and Year One brought in lots of readers, Jason Todd isn’t in either of them. He’s mentioned briefly in DKR, but Year One is before Dick appears, even. So I’d say that Jason didn’t benefit from those books because of that fact. I think Sandor is right that Jason wasn’t accepted because, in part, there hadn’t been any precedent for a “superhero suit” being taken over by another character. Especially such an icon as Robin.

Dean’s run down of the 5 types of change is stunningly good. Wow.

funky is of course right in what he’s arguing. Still trying to change troll minds, huh? I loved that one comment on the CBLR 300 about splash pages…

What I find funny is the idea that in the Weisinger Era, THAT’S when Superman got “unrelateable”. The whole proportionate leaping ability of a grasshopper, which turned to flying, super strength, heat vision, all that, THAT’S all relateable, but you add, say, Super-Ventriloquism, and THAT’S what makes Superman’s powers ridiculous.

To be another devil’s advocate, let me also point out that the biggest selling Batman GN, Arkham Asylum, doesn’t feature Robin at all either. As we see in the back matter of the 15th anniversary of that book, Morrison originally tried to put him in, but McKean didn’t want to draw him.

It’s also funny that someone trying to defend Smallville’s ratings doesn’t also realize that comics sales dropped across the board in the Weisinger Era, in part due to the Kefauver hearings and the Comics Code, and in part due to some new medium called television.

I am not a specialist on Silver Age Supeman, but it’s not the introduction of new powers that is supposed to make Superman unrelatable, but the extreme extension of powers he already have into omnipotency. Superman can’t only fly, he can fly at the speed of light. He isn’t just superstrong, he can move planets with ease. He isn’t just very resistant to harm, he can’t be hurt by anything outside of his short list of weaknesses.

I don’t feel confident to say exactly when this power inflation reached it’s limit.

But I don’t think the godlike abilities are a problem in themselves. They fit well in the DC Silver Age model of centering stories on clever puzzles instead of physical challenges. It’s only when Marvel introduced the brutal, painful, drawn-out, dramatic physical confrontation between hero and villain as the industry’s standard that Superman’s power level started to become a problem.

Good points, Rene

I guess my problem is more the idea of “relating” to characters with superpowers. It’s something that bugs me in talking about any literature. I don’t think I read books or comics in order to “relate” to the characters to the degree that I can’t enjoy something about a character that is completely different from myself.

I more just like the absurdity of “yeah, flying, superstrength, heat vision, all that’s TOTALLY relateable, but super-Ventriloquism? That’s ridiculous!”

You’re probably right in that the omnipotence of the powers was the issue. I’d say that the idea that this eliminates any drama is what makes Weisinger Era Supes a bit hard to enjoy for certain people.

@ Rene:

That is exactly right. The typical duration of a fight in a Silver Age DC Comic was one panel.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 15, 2011 at 8:02 pm

funky is of course right in what he’s arguing. Still trying to change troll minds, huh?

I dare to dream!

It doesn’t even take that much thought when the person is dead wrong.

If he just stopped trying to claim that what he personally likes is what everyone likes, or is considered the best, I’d let it go in a second – ‘I love Nolan’s Batman and think every other version is shit house’ is fine, it’s just the bizarre need to try and rework history (without actually knowing it) to make it seem like a particular personal taste is an objective measure.

It’s also funny that someone trying to defend Smallville’s ratings doesn’t also realize that comics sales dropped across the board in the Weisinger Era, in part due to the Kefauver hearings and the Comics Code, and in part due to some new medium called television.

But the Weisnger era wasn’t actually unpopular in terms of comics still selling, it just wasn’t reaching the heights comics as a whole had been reaching before.

But I don’t think the godlike abilities are a problem in themselves. They fit well in the DC Silver Age model of centering stories on clever puzzles instead of physical challenges. It’s only when Marvel introduced the brutal, painful, drawn-out, dramatic physical confrontation between hero and villain as the industry’s standard that Superman’s power level started to become a problem.

I’m no expert on his bronze age – and this is completely anecdotal – but I recently brought a bunch of Superman back issues from across his history – though as far back as I could afford was into the Maggin era stories, so it’s 70’s onwards – and I think he dipped into the need for the Byrne reboot just based on the quality of them, nothing to do with his power levels.

They were just some bog standard stories that really could have come from any point in his history.

I’d say he would have done a lot better if there had been better writers on the books, and also if they’d continued to innovate and find new things for the character to do, or new ways for him to operate.
These issues, at the time, would have seemed so dated if held up to a Marvel, or Batman, book from the same time period.

Yeah, that’s what I was trying to say, funky, that Weisinger Era comics sold less than the previous era because sales across the board were dropping. Not what was trying to be said by the other guy, that Weisinger comics sold less because they were unrelateable.

Tim was a very well written character when introduced – a perfect side kick character.

I think he benefited greatly from DC trying different things with, and then killing, Jason Todd.
DC realized that straying too far from the formula wasn’t the smartest idea, and fans had the benefit of seeing why it works to have a happy Robin.

I hear you, but I still like Brian’s theory the best.

Actually, Superman as a whole has been dated for a long time which is part of the reason why Smallville was a success as it brought Superman back to his roots as a super man (Not a god.) and updated Superman for the 21st century by focusing on Clark Kent with more depth than any single writer or even the collection of every writer from the comics was able to do. Sorry, funkygreenjerusalem but Clark Kent on Smallville is Superman and Smallville today is the definitive as well as the most popular version of the character whether you like or not. Smallville even has the best Lex Luthor.

Grant Morrison did his absolute best trying to update Silver Age Superman and the concept barely worked for twelve issues. Even then half of his maxiseries had so many problems that they had to be excluded to tell the animated film adaptation which actually improved on Morrison’s work.

Rework history? Robin was specifically created as a kiddie gimmick sidekick just to market the comic towards kids, but the concept had nothing to do with Batman and still doesn’t. It is a fact. Imagine if Spider-Man debuted with Roach-Boy, what the hell would Roach-Boy have to do with Spider-Man? Nothing, is the answer you are looking for. Multiple attempts have been made to make the concept of Robin work as a character and they have all failed. This is also a fact as evidenced by there having been five versions of Robin with all of them leaving the role behind. It doesn’t take a genius to see that a kid with a yellow cape in green shorts has nothing to do with a dark knight beating up criminals and that if DC tries five times with the best writers to make a concept work but fails every time then the concept just doesn’t work. It is all common sense. I get you love Robin and this completely clouds your judgement, but be practical here. It isn’t that Robin as a character doesn’t work, its just that he doesn’t work as a kiddie gimmick sidekick. Robin can work as a legitimate character, but that would take hard work from DC reforming it into something that isn’t a leech.

“Grant Morrison did his absolute best…”

Now you’re just being silly.

Yeah, that Morrison All Star Superman, that was horrible. Except that it was the most awesome Superman story to come out in years. Jeez.

I guess Smallville is so definitive, the Superman Returns movie that came out WHILE THE SHOW WAS ON THE AIR used concepts from it? Oh, wait, it updated from the original Reeve movies. Which many people will say are the definitive Superman works.

Have you read the original appearance of Robin? “Two grim figures take an undying oath!” That panel is chilling. It might be aimed at kids, but that’s some amazing stuff. Check out the link Brian provided in the comments, to the CBLR about Robin being “forced” on Kane and Co. A kid whose parents are killed, who swears vengeance on crime, who trains to become an athletic paragon to fight crime…that certainly sounds like a concept that has nothing to do with Batman, huh? No, it doesn’t, because THAT CONCEPT IS BATMAN!
There’s nothing in Robin’s first appearance that doesn’t parallel Batman’s life in some way, other than Dick is adopted by someone and actually gets vengeance on his parents’ killers.

Funky’s right, this is fun.

I’m trying to think, too, what other characters in comics have lasted longer than Robin. Batman, obviously, Superman. There are a few other Golden Age characters that predate Robin, but Robin is the third longest lasting Golden Age superhero. If that’s not a sign that it’s a concept with legs, I don’t know what is.

funkygreenjerusalem

February 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Actually, Superman as a whole has been dated for a long time which is part of the reason why Smallville was a success as it brought Superman back to his roots as a super man (Not a god.)

I thought it’s success was due to combining Dawson’s Creek style teen melodrama, with Buffy style villains.

and updated Superman for the 21st century by focusing on Clark Kent with more depth than any single writer or even the collection of every writer from the comics was able to do.

That’s because he’s Superman, not Clark Kent in the comics.

Other than that though, there’s nothing 21st Century about the show, except it was made in the 21st Century.
There’s no new flavour added that wasn’t in shows of the 80’s and 90’s – it’s basically Superboy crossed with Lois and Clark.

Sorry, funkygreenjerusalem but Clark Kent on Smallville is Superman and Smallville today is the definitive as well as the most popular version of the character whether you like or not. Smallville even has the best Lex Luthor.

Do you even realize you’ve failed to show how he’s the definitive take on the character, let alone the most popular?
The show never had the mass love the original tv show, the radio show, the movie or Lois And Clark had.

Also, just a tip – if you’re going to try argue, even incorrectly, that something is objectively the most deinitive, as well as the most popular, you totally under cut it by adding ‘and it even has the best Lex Luthor’?
I know you’re arguing at a teenagers level, but really, you’ve got to stop making yourself so transparent.

Grant Morrison did his absolute best trying to update Silver Age Superman and the concept barely worked for twelve issues. Even then half of his maxiseries had so many problems that they had to be excluded to tell the animated film adaptation which actually improved on Morrison’s work.

The animated adaptation dropped elements due to the 70min running time DC animated films have – the same reason every story has been cut down from the comics, be it Red Hood, New Frontier or Public Enemies.

As the animated adaptation hasn’t been released yet, comes out on 22/2 I’m not sure how you can know that it made the story better – just sounds to me you’re making shit up again.

Rework history? Robin was specifically created as a kiddie gimmick sidekick just to market the comic towards kids, but the concept had nothing to do with Batman and still doesn’t. It is a fact

It’s not a fact in the slightest.
He has plenty to do with Batman – his origin mirrors Batman.
He’s able to stay jolly whilst Batman went dark, because he had Batman – without Batman there could be no Robin.
Robin is living proof that the existence of Batman will change things for the better.

Imagine if Spider-Man debuted with Roach-Boy, what the hell would Roach-Boy have to do with Spider-Man? Nothing, is the answer you are looking for.

Totally different character, with a totally different style.

Making up a side kick for a character, as proof that side kicks don’t work, is intellectually dishonest.

Multiple attempts have been made to make the concept of Robin work as a character and they have all failed.

Which one’s have failed?

None is the answer you are looking for.

He’s a year younger than Batman – there’s more Batman comic stories with Robin than without, and the majority of adaptations, Robin has been there.

Claiming that a character who has been around almost continuously for seventy years a failure, is completely balmy.

This is also a fact as evidenced by there having been five versions of Robin with all of them leaving the role behind.

I’m not sure who you are counting as the five, or how they have all left the role behind when there is still a Robin – and one became Red Robin – but the fact there is bugger all time between a Robin leaving and a new one taking the place, kinda disproves your ‘fact’.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that a kid with a yellow cape in green shorts has nothing to do with a dark knight beating up criminals and that if DC tries five times with the best writers to make a concept work but fails every time then the concept just doesn’t work.

Batman isn’t just about beating up criminals.
I know you want to limit the character to that, but writers, and fans, who have better imaginations than you, see the character as much more versatile and interesting as that.

and that if DC tries five times with the best writers to make a concept work but fails every time then the concept just doesn’t work.

But they haven’t failed.
Dick Grayson was Robin for fifty years.
Jason Todd is the only one who was in anyway unpopular – although he’s now back, and has an animated movie – Tim has had an ongoing series since the 90’s, Damian is popping up in books left right and center.
Stephanie Brown was very popular in the storyline in which she was Robin, and is now in an ongoing series of her own.

If that’s considered a failure, then who’d want to succeed?

I get you love Robin and this completely clouds your judgement, but be practical here. It

My judgment isn’t clouded – I’m not arguing from personal taste, like yourself, I’m telling you how it is.

Robin has been around two decades longer than Spider-Man – that’s not a failure at all.

It isn’t that Robin as a character doesn’t work, its just that he doesn’t work as a kiddie gimmick sidekick. Robin can work as a legitimate character, but that would take hard work from DC reforming it into something that isn’t a leech.

Of course he works as a side-kick – that’s what Batman’s creators created him for.

DC have had four Robins – every Robin except the current one – spin off into characters who can sustain their own series.
I don’t think DC see’s the need to rework the concept of Robin at all – it’s a very popular character, who makes a lot of money for them.

Funky’s right, this is fun.

Yup.
It’s the completely see-through nature of someone arguing in definitive/objective terms about characters, when it’s just their own opinions re-worded.
Gives you a chance to use all the bizarre little facts about comics you’ve picked up over the years.

It’s starting to grind a bit now though – he’s flat out knowingly lying to boost his views at this point, which isn’t as fun as when it feels like they might actually believe it.

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