Robot 6

How do four (or five) Robins squeeze into a condensed DCU timeline?

From "Justice League" #1

Cosmic Book News snagged a copy of the DC Comics: The New 52 preview a day early — street dates be damned! — and uploaded scans of the opening pages of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s Justice League #1, the vanguard of DC’s line-wide relaunch. It’s an entertaining enough sequence, with Gotham City’s finest pursuing Batman across rooftops as he, in turn, chases some sort of raggedy cyborg villain, only to come face to face with Green Lantern for the first time.

But it’s the first panel, above, that captured my attention, as it establishes the events as unfolding “five years ago,” “when the world didn’t know what a super-hero was.” That the first issue of Justice League takes place in the past isn’t a surprise, but the time frame may be. It could also prove tricky for Batman’s history.

Incoming Batman writer Scott Snyder, who’s wrapping up a stint on Detective Comics, told Comic Book Resources last month that, while not “every piece of continuity will be the same” come the September relaunch, most of “the things you love about Batman” will remain intact. Tim Drake, Dick Grayson and Jason Todd still exist, and Damian Wayne continues as the current Robin. And therein lies the tricky part: If “five years ago” takes us back to a Year One or Year Two-type scenario, where superheroes are largely unknown and the Dark Knight exists somewhere between urban legend and Gotham’s Most Wanted … where, and how, do four Robins fit in? (I can’t begin to fathom Stephanie Brown’s place at this point.) What’s more, where does a 10-year-old Damian, the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, enter the super-condensed timeline?

Sure, Snyder and other Batman Family writers can cover a multitude of sins by casually explaining that the Dark Knight operated in secret for some time. But that seems like one of those Crisis on Infinite Earths-style loose threads that can’t be picked at too much.

The DC Comics: The New 52 preview will be available Wednesday at Comic-Con International in San Diego and comic stores nationwide. Justice League #1 will be released on Aug. 31.

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Comments

24 Comments

Why, that’s not even one Robin per year, plenty of room for them all.

This is a problem only comic fans have, and it really doesn’t matter at all.

I don’t think Batman operating years before superheroes became common is so crazy. DC stuck by Bats being an urban legend until the War Games crossover, is years into his personal timeline.

This is more evidence that this reboot was not thought through very well.

That’s the kind of thing that should be filed squarely under the heading of “minimum required suspension of disbelief.” And the inevitable fact that most people can’t/won’t is a big part of the reason why comics have become so insular and inward looking over the past 20 years.

Easy: Batman and his sidekicks operated covertly and were considered urban legends for ten years before the “age of superheroes” started.

While continuity stuff like this makes my head hurt, as long as the books starring the former (and current) Robins are good, I can’t really complain.

Hmmm 5 years. 4 robins.Dick grayson for 3,Jason Todd for about 6 months or so,Time Drake for the rest of the time.Damian shows up later because bruce had him with talia while he was traveling the world to be batman.Stephanie operated as Robin without bruces permission as kinda like a super fangirl or as a way to cheese off her cluemaster father. Id go that route.

Feels kind of Marvelesque. Oh well, while it doesn’t sit well being a comic fan, I stopped reading regularly a while ago, so I won’t make it into a bigger issue for myself.

All that matters is that they won’t be selling me the same stories over and over again.

Ricardo Amaral

July 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm

It’s just not possible since Dick was never a 23-year-old Robin. Give me a break: there is no way that can be worked out. It’s just not well thought out. DC should have gone all in and restarted everything and move the old continuity to another Multiverse, whatever. It’s just blandly improvised.

Hugo Sleestak

July 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Hmmm … if the age of heroes only goes back five years, and supposing that Dick Grayson as Robin appeared somewhere at the beginning or slightly before that, then Nightwing has to be, what, 18? Or 20, tops?

I thought Damian was ALREADY artificially aged etc.

It’s pointless to pinpoint an age on ageless characters. They are fictional and time doesn’t pass the same way it does in the real world.

Well, Tim Drake was Robin well over a year, as he was Robin during the “One Year Later” off-year, and Dick Grayson was Robin from the time he was a little kid and went off to college, and he was Robin when other superheroes were around and in public, or he wouldn’t have been on the Teen Titans, which I assume he still was, and, uh, then there’s the bit with Damian’s age, and…um…uh…

No, I can’t make sense of it. Unless they meant “ten years ago” or “15 years ago”….

Y’know how you solve this? Just say “Several years ago.” You put on a number and you screw yourself.

I posted some similar thoughts this morning. I mean, if they want to keep DC’s modern history, that’s fine. If they want to have a 5-year timeline, that’s fine. But trying to do both, and cram the existing history into a 5-year timeline? I had trouble with the idea of cramming it into *10* after Zero Hour!

Mainly, though, I’m disappointed that they choose to keep limiting the rest of the modern age heroes to the short timeline they’ve given Superman. I’d been hoping they’d loosen that restriction with this reboot (or whatever you want to call it) – not tighten it.

*sigh* How is it that every time I try to post a link in these comments, I manage to screw it up?

My post on a similar subject, also looking at Superman, Flash and the JSA, is here:
http://speedforce.org/2011/07/supes-timeline/

personally, i think batman’s involvement with the justice league has always been problematic. batman’s gritty detective world just doesn’t make as much sense when you know that the guy is also going off to space with green lantern or fighting darkseid with superman. DC should have used this relaunch as an opportunity to give batman is own separate continuity– unhindered by whatever nonsense is happening in the other books. But then again, this whole 52 thing is a just big marketing ploy and the more books they shoehorn batman into, the more money they’ll rake in.

Where’s Superboy-Prime when you need him?

I don’t see why there’s going to be so many sleepless nights over this. And while I agree saying “five years ago” puts more of a date on something than “some years ago” does, it’s not like any of these people are suddenly going to become geriatric. Batman’s an adult, Nightwing is a new adult, Tim’s in his late teens, Jason’s in between Dick and Tim, and Damian’s a kid. Doesn’t seem too complex to me. I think worrying about it as much as people are WILL age them (the reader, from stress).

Do what I’m doing! Don’t think about it! And don’t obsess! As long as I enjoy a story – continuity be damned!

The bat-family is retarded, they should’ve retconned ALL of them.

Simple fix, already in place.

Much like the Action Comics book takes place in the past, the Justice League book takes place at a different point of time as well.

Who wanted Jason Todd? Mega lame.

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