Robot 6

Grumpy Old Fan | ‘Grayson,’ Robin and fates worse than death

Through the years

Through the years

This has turned out to be an eventful week for fans of the first Robin (and of the role in general), thanks to a Robin Rises one-shot, leading into the unveiling of … well, whoever’s going to wear the red vest for the foreseeable future, and Dick Grayson’s latest relaunch, a July-debuting ongoing series called simply Grayson, wherein the former Boy Wonder will start a new life as a super-spy.

With each of ‘em about three months away, obviously I’m not equipped to pass judgment on the merits of either. However, I can tell you what I think about Dick and Robin, how those impressions affect my snap judgments, and why you should — and shouldn’t — listen to someone like me.

* * *

Created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, Dick Grayson debuted in Detective Comics Vol. 1 #38 (April 1940). As we all know, he and his parents were circus performers, but John and Mary Grayson were murdered by gangsters because the owner of the circus refused to pay protection money. (When my 5-year-old daughter learned about Robin’s origin, she wanted to know how exactly the Graysons were killed. She may never get to go to the circus.) Because Bruce “Batman” Wayne happened to be in the audience when the elder Graysons fell to their deaths, the adolescent Dick soon became the crime-fighter’s young partner, Robin the Boy Wonder.

Over the next few decades, superhero comics came and went, but Batman and Robin were among a select few that rolled on, stylistically unaltered despite all manner of adventures, societal upheavals and assorted innuendos. That started to change in May 1964’s Detective #327, when artist Carmine Infantino’s redesign involved drawing Dick/Robin as being slightly, but appreciably, older. Indeed, younger writers began writing Dick/Robin as a more conflicted teenager, especially as the 1960s wound down. The first Batman story, May 1939’s “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” started off with a young man finding his businessman-father dead. When writer Mike Friedrich reworked the tale for its 30th anniversary, in May 1969’s “The Cry of the Night Is Sudden Death” (’Tec #387), the son became an angry young man to whom Robin was sympathetic.

Not long afterward, Dick left Wayne Manor to go to college (in December 1969’s Batman #217), which kicked off an occasional series of Robin solo stories — although he continued to team up with Batman from time to time, and was a regular member of the Teen Titans. More importantly, however, that milestone aged Dick irrevocably. He might stay in school well into the 1980s, but he’d never be that apple-cheeked kid again. Indeed, the opening pages of New Teen Titans Vol. 1 #1 (November 1980) revealed that Dick had dropped out of Hudson University after only a few semesters. Over the next three-plus years, that seed grew into Dick’s eventual “graduation” to Nightwing, which happened in August 1984’s Tales of the Teen Titans #44. I’ve written before (and at length, of course) about how this made “Robin” into a legacy identity.

However, over the past 20 years, the character of Dick Grayson has sometimes struggled to find direction apart from either Batman or the Titans. Nightwing stayed with the Titans for 10 more years, until New Titans shuffled its lineup in summer 1994. That allowed him to return to the Bat-books for a couple of extended internecine crossovers before getting his own series in 1996. While Nightwing ran for more than 12 years — stopping only when Dick became Batman semi-permanently — it endured a handful of relaunches. Under writer Chuck Dixon, Dick was a policeman, but writer Marv Wolfman made him a gymnastics instructor and writer Peter Tomasi made him a museum curator. Upon becoming Batman, Dick stepped into his mentor’s civilian shoes as the face of Wayne Enterprises; but when Nightwing was relaunched in September 2011 as part of the New 52, Dick (under writer Kyle Higgins) was once again in the circus business. Accordingly, throughout its creative-team changes, Nightwing was perpetually trying to establish the character’s independence while simultaneously reminding readers that he was once Batman’s best pal.

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Now, whether you read all of that or just skimmed it — because let’s be honest, most of you know the history pretty well already — at some point you have to take a step back and think, what, really, is Dick Grayson supposed to do? He was Robin for just about 44 years. He’s been Nightwing for almost 30 years, which in terms of today’s fandom is practically longer. That sets up a real distinction between the Dick who was Batman’s sidekick — the kid who lost his parents and gained a world-beating big-brother mentor who made him his heir — and the Dick who’s struck out on his own.

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See, for most of his existence, “on his own” has been a relative term. Until 1994, Dick was in some sort of well-defined relationship, whether it was giving Batman someone to talk to or leading the Titans. Tomasi expanded on this during his Nightwing run by establishing that Dick knew just about all the superheroes, from Titans and Justice Leaguers to various Green Lanterns and the members of the Justice Society. It was something of a counterpoint to the misanthropic Batman, who also knew everybody but didn’t necessarily invite them over for museum-warming parties. Maybe Grayson’s globetrotting setup will echo that, as Nightwing distanced itself from Dick’s superhero connections at its peril.

Indeed, DC has already undercut Dick’s grounding by fiddling with its overall superhero timeline. By pruning his Robin career (and the corresponding emotional attachment) dramatically, and possibly throwing out all of his Titans adventures, DC has left Dick with a set of skills and not a lot more. No wonder he’s turning to espionage. At this point, for the first time in 30 years, Dick is a character in search of a definitive identity. He’s Hal Jordan as The Spectre — because in 1999 there was absolutely no guarantee Hal would ever be a Green Lantern again, just like DC has next-to-no incentive to make Dick Nightwing again. It arguably has too many Robins, and it can’t kill Dick; but it can ship him off to various out-of-the-way corners of the DCU.

And the question remains: Who is Dick Grayson? Sadly, the answer seems not to matter. After 1969, the role of “Batman’s best pal” was divided between Alfred Pennyworth and James Gordon; and today we consider both to be indispensable. The reverse was true when Dick/Robin was a regular part of the Bat-books.

The problem is that Dick’s history can be split pretty neatly in two. Before New Teen Titans, Dick was on track to grow old as Robin. (The imaginary future of June 1978’s Batman #300 predicted this, and it was already the case in the alternate universe of Earth-Two.) There was no real issue with Dick growing uncomfortable in Batman’s shadow, because the two had been separated rather amicably for more than a decade. However, the NTT subplot changed all of that, and nowadays we might well compress all of that pre-Nightwing history into simply being “trained by Batman.”

These days it also means Dick is only one of many crimefighters trained by Batman. In the New 52, that includes Helena “Robin/Huntress” Wayne, daughter of Earth-2’s original Batman, who might have more of an emotional connection to her own father/mentor than any of her counterparts did with theirs. For a long time Dick’s relationship to Bruce was a unique combination of friendship, companionship and familial love, forged in tragedy and able to endure the trials of pain and loss. If he no longer has that, or if it’s been surpassed, Dick is starting to look more superfluous all the time. He’s getting a spotlight in the first issue of the newest Secret Origins series, coming out next month. I hope that’ll shed some light on his (revised) time as Robin, because after all of this he sure could use it.

* * *

As for the next Robin, we might find some clues in this week’s issues of Batman (hey, what’s that Duke kid doing today?) and the once-and-future Batman and Robin. At this point the odds probably favor Damian returning, despite Tomasi’s attempts at deflection. It’s also possible that Damian could come back, albeit not as Robin, and live out his life peacefully, away from any endangering influences. That would honor his place in Bat-history (i.e., as a character conceived largely as part of Grant Morrison’s mega-story) while allowing everyone to move on from the violent end of his Robin career.

Still, part of me wonders if Grayson is just a feint, like the “Bart Allen Flash” smokescreen of 2007 that abruptly became the return of Wally West. After all, why put Batman through the five stages of grief if Damian’s just going to be revived? Instead, DC could actually make Dick Robin again, returning him to Batman’s side full-time. It’s a million-to-one shot, but I’m not discounting it entirely. It would definitely plug whatever Bat-sized hole the character’s had to deal with over the past 30 years — and there’s a New 52 precedent already, with Barbara Gordon going back to Batgirl after 20-plus years as Oracle.

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Of the existing candidates, it’s more likely that Tim Drake would come back to the role. We know Harper Row is going to be Bluebird in Batman Eternal, but the New 52 version of Carrie Kelley is still out there, and I’d enjoy seeing a female Robin. Here are the odds I’d lay (for entertainment purposes only, of course):

  • Damian Wayne: 2-1
  • Tim Drake: 10-1
  • Carrie Kelley: 12-1
  • Harper Row: 20-1
  • Stephanie Brown: 25-1
  • Dick Grayson: 1,000-1
  • Someone entirely new: 50-1

Whoever it is, though, let’s hope this is the last round of Robin-recruiting. The Robin identity is special, thanks in no small part to the character who made it famous. For most of his existence, Dick Grayson was the guy who helped humanize the Batman; and as he grew up, Robin/Nightwing became one of the people who knew Batman best. Taking him away from all of that requires replacing it with something equally compelling, and I’m not sure Grayson’s setup will be sufficient.

Still, I come to this discussion as someone who’s seen a lot of that development firsthand, and therefore may be prejudiced by that experience. Younger fans no doubt have their own preferences about Nightwing and Robin, and they may be just as happy with DC moving Dick out of the immediate Bat-orbit. (In that regard it’s funny to think that with Nightwing and Teen Titans canceled and relaunched, and Damian killed, Jason’s been the most stable ex-Robin of the New 52.) Heck, there’s probably a significant portion of fans who think Batman works best without a Robin, and are content to ignore this whole process. If it were up to me — and this is the point I mentioned earlier, where you don’t have to listen to me — I’d have rolled everything back forty-some years, to a point where Dick was still years away from even considering a Nightwing identity, and no one had even heard of Jason Todd or Tim Drake.

Again, because Robin’s going to be coming back, whoever he or she is needs to be considered pretty carefully, because I’m not sure fans are going to put up with another death-and-revival cycle. Specifically, the next Robin needs to be around for the long haul, and needs the sort of close relationship with Batman that will enrich both characters. (Before the New 52 relaunch, Dick could call Batman out on his foolishness and have the experience to back it up. In the current Batman Beyond comics, the Dick of the future acts similarly.) The next Robin also needs to demonstrate the potential to grow into the next Batman — but the attitude to recognize that Batman’s going to be around for a while, and will need the support of a dedicated partner. Notwithstanding Tim Drake’s solo series (launched after Azrael/Batman kicked him out of the Batcave), “Robin” is by nature a supporting character who works best in conjunction with Batman. That was the default setup from 1940 to 1969, it informed the 1984 Robin-to-Nightwing transition, and it’s undoubtedly part of the upcoming Robin revival.

Finally, the next Robin needs to be someone who can grow old in the role. This is probably implicit in all of the above, but it’s worth repeating. Sure, Batman can trade pointed quips with Alfred in the Batcave, and can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Jim Gordon against the evils of Gotham — but only the youngster in the red-and-yellow costume personifies the fun of being Batman. Without Robin, Batman might be a grim, gothic avenger, meting out two-fisted justice in various shades of gray and black, scaring the bejeezus out of criminals, and looking very cool indeed; but with Robin, Batman is unquestionably a hero. That’s what Dick Grayson did for Batman for all those years; that’s what DC would do well to remember when it considers Dick’s future; and that’s what the next Robin needs to live up to, for as long as he or she needs to.



Batman Eternal also made it clear that Stephanie would be Spoiler. I’m guessing most of the girls are out of the running. If they would go with Carrie, I think they would need to do a bit of work with her. But I doubt it will be any young lady to become Robin. You already have Bluebird filling in that role somewhat.
Maybe an outside chance of reintroducing Cassandra to us, though it’s hard for me to imagine her as a Robin. Though with her connections to the League of Assassins and Ras being such a big part of the current story, who knows?

totally agree that when the reboot happened Dick should ‘ve gone back to being Robin.
to me its all a mess
Batman books utter mess
Superman…between the romance with wonder woman, bringing back doomsday, its been fun but again a mess
god knows how wonder woman is going to turn out after Azzerallo leaves
GL is contantly preparing for a cross-over
geoff johns not a fan of cyborg a founding member of the league (cant let that go) how he writes the team like they’re mark millar”s ultimates or that he has been writting justice league like someone told him to copy everything marvel has done
the superman and batman invasion of earth-2
there are some good dc books. of course but there seems to be more bad then good
not even crying for the old universe because the last few years before the reboot it wasnt doing to hot either

I’ve reached the point where I just don’t care, anymore, what DC does. I won’t read the new Grayson book. The only New 52 titles I’ll keep reading are Red Hood and the Outlaws (because of Arsenal), Harley Quinn, and, uh, there must be something else. Nope, nothing’s coming to mind. Before the reboot, I was reading 30 DC titles a month and soon it will be just two. And that’s really sad.

Simon DelMonte

April 17, 2014 at 5:50 pm

I still rank the Dixon era of Nightwing as one of my favorite comics. I think Dick fully escaped from the shadow of the Bat at that time, coming into his own for good. And that character is still with us, to some degree, in the now-ending series. I will miss him.

As for Dick Grayson, Agent of Not-SHIELD, I will wait and see. Hiring a former CIA agent as writer could be a real mess, but I am hopeful that the same Dick we all know and love will be there somewhere.

All this just really makes me miss the old DCU the DCNU just has not done it for me at all. I miss the characters I started reading comics with.

I have defended The New 52. I have defended when critics conplain, I have praised it when things look promising. But the “Grayson” news, was, without a doubt, the most upset I have ever gotten. By far, the only complain and displeasure.

You pretty much hit everything about Dick, @Tom. There’s nothing more I can add other than why. Just why a spy? To me, I still see Dick as pre-New 52 continuity. His history, his relationships and his maturity is what makes him special as a character and as a hero. You just can’t ignore that. There’s a reason why when the relaunch debutted, they did a Nightwing solo title. How’s that saying goes? Don’t fix what’s not broken? Tell me at what point in time did Dick’s history altered? Don’t you think with a title like “Nightwing”, you were familiar with Dick just like you are familiar with McDonalds. As a kid, you didn’t need a history lesson or an educational class. You rembrr Dick’s background as much as you remember your first kiss. That important memory was enough to be hardwired in your gene that when you have kids, they will know Dick’s history as much as you did. And that’s how I feel about this “Grayson” book. I feel like I was lied to for 28 years. I grew up with Batman: The Animated Series, comics didn’t come to me until the early 2000’s. But that menory of Dick getting exposed by Scarecrows fear toxin in the cartoon stayed with me forever. That’s the Dick I know. I feel like I don’t know him anymore.

To be fair, I am unfairly judging DC’s vision to these character. I will admit that I may be being too harsh. Forever Evil did change things. But however, it hit me more than the crushes I have had as a kid and got turned down. Is one thing if you want to tweak or change things up. After all, in The New 52, Dick was selected to be a member of The Court of Owls. Tweaks like that, or changes, don’t bother me, because I still feel the character I remember is still there. Meaning he is still Nightwing and his background is still intact. But this new direction, turning him into a spy, makes me feel like I don’t know him one bit. And I bet you there will be some ‘logical’ explanation. And you can bet that history and mutual connection with Batman will make it look like is the right thing to do, because Bats saw Dick in himself when his parents got murdered, and therefore, gave him what Bruce failed to have as a child: guidance. It makes perfect psychological sense. Bats see Dick as his child so now he wants him to pretend he’s dead in order to start a new life and identity. Which BTW, is even too radical for Batman to suggest. The relationship is real, but the explanation? BS. Call it like it is. BS.

Is an insult. I feel DC is only looking for an excuse to change Dick’s personal and social status, and Forever Evil was it. Is a social experiment that I see going nowhere. But is clear the blond dude on the Batsgiving teaser is not Dick, which I’m not surprised. I did give out my theory and analysis a while ago. But in regards to Dick Grayson, might as well start all over with him. If he’s going to be working with the NSA(is only a figure of expression), then change his name. Because Dick woud never bcome a spy. Never.

I love the Nightwing identity and am sure plenty of others do too. It develops a unique place in the DC Universe, no matter where it is at the moment. I would love to see Damian back, but am not sure how it would fit with Tim Drake as Robin. As he is the most well developed and I can see him on track to become the next Batman story wise as that wouldn’t happen for real.

I like this new take on Grayson, but miss the Nightwing persona already. They do have too many Robins and using Tim Drake again makes the most sense.

I agree with Shelly and Sam too. I was reading at ton of DC books before the reboot. Probably 10+ and now, not a single one. I did watch Justice League War today and you are absolutely correct in the Mark Millar’s Ultimates comparison. I was oft put by the movie. Did not like the swearing, or personality of people I thought I knew.

People complain about comics never taking chances and when they do they get slapped down. If they just relaunched with nothing that different people would complain what the point was. This concept actually is very outside the box for this character. I’m going to buy the series because I think is intriguing.

Note: sorry for some misspells. Wish there was an “edit” feature, but this system, usually with e-mail identification, works as a one time thing. The least I can do is get my spelling right. Please don’t hold it against me. Lol

After reading all the comments about Dick Grayson being a spy….there is one thing that sticks out in my mind……The Crime Syndicate plastered his name, address and birthdate all across the known world. If they put out enough info out there that you can’t be a masked vigilante anymore, they sure put enough out there to prevent you from being a good spy. At least a spy that doesn’t change his looks in any way which it seems to be based on the Grayson cover.

The one thing that stuck out to me was the mention of Robin as a “legacy” character… and how it made me think that the identity of Batman SHOULD (and oh so nearly was) a legacy to be passed on. Dick’s time as Batman was one of my favourite periods in Dark Knight history. It really was. And the problem with rebooting the universe is that people in general are aware of Bruce, Dick, et al, but the reboot treats it all like it’s new… and there’s a disconnect there that means characters like Dick (caught at an awkward age during the reboot) suffer the worst of both worlds – they want to rush Dick to a new place (separating/individuating him) WITHOUT the existence of a backstory/history with the readers. That, in many ways, is why the New 52 has often felt quite flat/shallow – characters existing as sort of empty archetypes of what they were before. These new versions haven’t grown with us, so all their backstory is having to be retroactively fitted in when/where possible.

It got me thinking about the Superior Spiderman saga (which I fully enjoyed) and how, for certain people, Otto will in many ways be THEIR Spiderman – they may be new readers who are just getting into comics, or existing readers who never got int Spiderman, but their DISCOVERY of Spiderman with Otto as the man under the mask is pivotal. For some people that will be THEIR version. Not to say they won’t (or didn’t already) love Peter, but the legacy of the name carries different weight for different people depending on who’s under the mask. The same for Batman. I know a lot of people for whom Dick is THE Batman for a new time/generation. And I agree that perhaps it should have stayed like that. At some point, instead of ANOTHER inevitable reboot (and resultant confusion) DC need to consider passing on the mantle permanently. It won’t necessarily be a bad thing – in fact it could allow them to publish many more backstories and such of previous men/women to wear each mask, while allowing a new generation to embrace THEIR version of the hero.

Also, as an aside, Flashpoint could have been a fantastic way to integrate Old AND New 52 and keep both valid, but they f’ed that up good and proper.

Howabout using this new-new direction as the seed for a relaunch of the ‘original’ Titans, yet inspired by ad agency culture? Imagine it, “Grayson, West & Prince: Above the Law, Below the Line!”

Surely, it’s as plausible as the world’s most famous victim becoming a . . . . . a . . . . a SPY?

Too late now, but even as far back as when Dick became Batman, Tim became Red Robin, and Damian became Robin, I thought Tim should’ve become the new Nightwing. It would’ve worked on a number of levels. Nightwing had been indirectly established by Dick as a sort of Robin-grad school, Tim could’ve tweaked Dick for replacing him by taking his previous identity, and most importantly there would’ve been one less character with “Robin” in their name. Then when Damian was killed, Dick could’ve quit being a Batman and become Red Robin in Damian’s honor. It’s a little point, but this works better with Dick being Red Robin is the possible Kingdom Come future. So, right now we’d be left with Bruce as the only Batman, Tim still as Nightwing (in Alex Ross’ killer unused costume design?), and Dick as Red Robin.

@Joe- another issue comes to mind when I read your comment and it involves the aftermath of Grayson’s reveal. Bruce adopted not just Grayson but Tim as well. In the DC world, you have Bruce funding Batman inc and Grayson being a vigilante. The news media would be searching out Bruce’s other “kids” like crazy. How hard would it be for a Vicky Vale to figure out Tim is Red Robin or that Damian was Robin. To be honest, the whole secret identity plans for Batman and his allies should fall like a house of cards now.

I always thought they screwed Dick up by making him Batman and then calling him off. Twice. Being a “former Batman” Nightwing is like having been a major company’s CEO and then be demoted to lead a small subsidiary for some reason. You still have a job, a good one and can make a good living, but your carreer is pretty much at a dead end: you had your chance.
Dick Grayson is a casualty of that faded out idea of a next generation DCU that was started with Wally West: he as The Flash, Kyle Rayner as GL, Connor Hawke as GA, I would have welcome a Kara Zor-El Superwoman and, yes, Dick as a great Batman. Then they abandoned it all for the “let’s change everything so everything stays the same” new 52.

And we got a former Batman unmasked and holding a gun in his first cover. Looks a bit like Dan Akroyd in “Trading Places” Santa scene… ;-)

All we have is a cover. Would people really prefer that Dick Grayson was killed off? Really? I’ll take a look at the book first.

I’m hoping Tim becomes either Robin or Nightwing, if only because I can’t legitimately recognize “Red Robin” as a superhero name. You can’t be a superhero if everyone wants to say “Yum!” after they hear your introduction or ask you for a refill on their fries.

Well… Kathy Kane became the head of SPIRAL in Batman Inc. Maybe Dick will be working for her!
I pretty much hated Batman Inc after issue 2 of the first volume, even though I am a huge Grant-fan. It would be in keeping with my low opinion of nuDC to think that they would be anxious to recycle Grant’s worst ideas in clumsy fashion.

Dick Grayson is perhaps my All-Time Favorite DC Character. As Robin, as Nightwing, as Batman and as Himself.
I was a child of the 70s & a teen of the 80s.
Dick & I literally grew up together. Having a young person in the Superfriends along with the earlier Filmation cartoons made an impact on me. Burt Ward made an impact on me.
I was a kid. And when Robin started out, so was he. My uncle Brian & I would play Batman & Robin on our drives together when I was knee-high to him.
Then Dick became Nightwing and Robin passed to Jason Todd. I liked the post-CRISIS Robin. Rebellious, dangerous. And he was only a few years older than me.
When A Lonely Place of Dying came out in 1988, I was just a little older than Robin, for the first time! I was a freshman in High School and Tim was a little younger than me. I hated the new outfit. I despised the stylized “R” sigil as well. Yet, time passes on and we have to keep the look “modern”, right? Sigh…I accept that but still don’t have to like it. And truth be told, I’d take Tim’s Robin III look over the New52 historical looks of Dick & Jason.
When Damian became Robin, I cheered. Finally, a kid. And looking the part too; one part hero, other Ninja.
I love a good handling of the Robin role & legacy. Wanna see a great treatment of that? Try the animated BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD. Respects shortpants & pixie boots as a kid…then as an older teen, gives way to the mid-00’s “Gatchaman” look Tim had going on post-INFINITE CRISIS/OYL.
What this new direction holds for my favorite DC Character, I dunno, yet I wish him well. Perhaps I’ll check in after a while. I’m pretty disappointed with the New52 handling of Robin yet believe in a Multiverse Gotham where a 10-year old kid in shortpants & pixie boots still keeps his Mentor in check, nightly.
Rev Sully

Just adding to the pile here. I’ve been a Batman fan for as long as I’ve been exposed to him, and I’ve really enjoyed the evolution of Dick Grayson. Unfortunately everything I cared about has been chucked out, and I’m just no longer interested in these characters anymore. They’re as “good” as brand new, while I pine for the continuing adventures of my old favorites. The secret agent stuff is too much of a wild departure, and it seems now that I have more of a problem with Batman’s companions wielding guns than he does. Scott Snyder can’t float this franchise. I’m done.

I’ve been a fan of Batman & Robin since I could read. The first thing I ever read was an issue of Detective Comics back in 1969 (I was 5). I’ve loved the TV show with West and Ward and everything that’s come since. That is until the “New 52.” I agree with one of the other responders that these characters aren’t the same as the ones I knew and loved. I’ve stopped reading comic books because of this, even though I keep up with what’s going on thru websites such as this. I find Dick Grayson using a gun to be against EVERYTHING Bruce taught him growing up. Of course this was “Old DC” Bruce. It wouldn’t surprise me if “New 52″ Bruce doesn’t have a problem with guns. I think this is a MAJOR mistake on DC’s part. Not only have their characters lost their way but so has DC.

You guys in the comments always make me laugh, Batman is the number one book every month, how is he a mess?

People complain that they want change, when they get it they want it to go back to what it was…Fact is DC has consistently sold more comics then it was just before the New 52 reboot, you guys are just a tiny insignificant minority.

Amen Rev Sully.

I’ve got a way of dealing with my frustration with the New 52, and while it has no grounding in anything published by DC, it’s how I “cope,” if you will.

I firmly believe DC should have established its new line of comics under “Earth+” banners, meaning that no old stories or their fans were alienated by the “reboot.” The New 52 stuff would be instead called “Ground Zero,” and would take place on a new Earth Zero. The pre-Flashpoint continuity would continue on another Earth, let’s say Earth Four (or Earth Thirty Eight if you want to honor DC’s history).

This way, the rich history of Dick Grayson (and similarly, Wally West) would still exist and continue.

I would have also, like Tom said, used the New 52 as a full-reboot. Everyone is at ground zero in terms of suiting up and beginning their heroic careers. The Batman still has no Robin and wouldn’t for a while, and when we do meet Dick Grayson, it would be a storyline that rebuilds that classic relationship from the ground up. I personally dislike the idea of Batman having a child sidekick, but if he has to have one, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake will always be my favorites.

I gave up on caring about the New 52 Batman books after the only one I really enjoyed, The Dark Knight, was cancelled. I’ve read the first two issues of Batman: Eternal, and I like that it’s accessible to people who haven’t followed the new continuity religiously. Hopefully, it will remain that way.

But I still dream of a place, another Earth, that sees the continuation of the post-COIE/ZH/IC/FC timeline. The Adventures of Superman and Legends of the Dark Knight are set their, at least in my own continuity. I imagine what those versions, MY versions, of our beloved heroes are up to, and find those dreams better than the reality of the New 52.

The Batman’s idea is just great. I’m one of the apparently few people who’d rather see the people under Batman’s cowl change with time. It may have to do with the fact that Dick was Batman when I started reading DC.

Nice read.
I would have welcomed a re boot back to Dick as a young Robin; but that ship has sailed.
I would be interested in Dick re assuming the role, if it could be done credibly.
But I wish dc had had faith in its soft re boot of its characters, and let Dick, Wally, Kyle, and Connor carry on…

To be 100 percent honest, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee are jokes. Ruining DC and I’m not even a DC fan but to completely disregard a character like Dick Grayson/Robin/Nightwing is ridiculous. So much back stories and potential with the character and you D list him. I’ve been reading Nightwings New 52 run and it was actually consistent until issue 18+. Now you’re dismissing the characters history and significance to the Bat-Verse for what? This is why DC sales are horrid compared to Marvel and Image/Dark Horse. Bring back Damian and give Dick the Nightwing mantle back, give it to someone who will do the character justice. It’s gotten to the point where I just don’t care for DC anymore thanks to this crap. DC has been a let down since New 52 began. Make mine Marvel.

I said it before & I keep saying it. If DC was going to do a reboot, Dick should have gone back to being Robin. This idea of him being a James Bond type person in the New 52 SUCKS. Dick is a hero not James Bond. Better he be Nightwing or better Flamebird (which I think if they had to do a change pre-52 that would’ve have fit him better because of his circus roots). I can even agree with the idea of Dick not yet becoming Robin but just being adopted by Bruce. Then he begins a year or two of training before becoming Robin. Then the second year of the new 52 would’ve have Dick getting his own book as Robin & a second book leading the New 52 Teen Titans.

I hate it when people defend characters like Dick in the Nu52 by saying his personality is still the same. No its not the same he was the nexus of the DC universe. He knew everyone, everyone respected him, he was a better leader than Batman. But now he is a complete loner with none of his friends from his generation, and most of them don’t even exist except for Roy which I don’t even know if they know each other in the Nu52. The big thing I miss most was the sense of legacy and progression in the Pre-52 books. Most of the old Titans grew into the new Justice League, Dick becoming Batman, Wally West starting to settle down with his family. I wish they would’ve rebooted back to when Dick was Robin and things would’ve actually made sense.

The Bat books have been excellent. It’s the Bat TIMELINE that’s been screwed over.

You think Dick got it bad? Just look at Tim Drake! Look at him!

(Short) I can role with dick as nightwing not to sure how I feel about he new series. The time line is rough cause batman has been batman how many years in new 52? It’s been 5 years of justice league. Some how dick grew up and Damian was born . We need at least ten years then jason as robin. Tim got the short end as never having been Robin just Red Robin.. So my thought if Damian is not brought back I think it needs to be not Stephanie brown. She will most likely do her own thing in eternal. Carrie would be really Interesting, it was Interesting enough she’s now in canon. Jason and Tim have their own identities. It gets to be to many people as robin. By new 52 we have only had 3. So I don’t know how I feel yet but batman does need a Robin the right robin

I understand Batman is the money making machine at DC & in the current comic industry. But am I the only one who thinks the Batman Family is way too big now a days? In the past ten years you have had 3 Robin’s. You have Jason Todd running around. Batgirl, Batwoman, Huntress, Nightwing (off & on), Oracle, the stupid Batman INC that has like thousands of Batman’s. It is ridiculous to have that many Batman family character’s running around. Now we have Talon & Bluebird running around. The Bat family is way too big. And come on everyone knows Damian isn’t dead. The Bat books have been a mess since Grant screwed everything up in 2006 after leaving Marvel..We know how he screwed up the X-Men in the early 2000s.

I personally don’t have a problem with the size of the Bat family, but I can’t get over how silly it is for it to be that big in the condensed New 52 timeline.

and if there is to be a “new” Robin?
Then why not Tim Drake?
as Batman’s Robin. There is room for that too. Some people call that hope yet I would be crappy at wielding a Blue Power Ring ;)

I’m beyond caring about all of this. DC has ruined its universe and its characters.

Anyway, I liked this part of the article:

“Without Robin, Batman might be a grim, gothic avenger, meting out two-fisted justice in various shades of gray and black, scaring the bejeezus out of criminals, and looking very cool indeed; but with Robin, Batman is unquestionably a hero.”

With fables ending they needed a replacement for cinderella.

@ Unit99 – My sentiments exactly!

Brian from Canada

April 21, 2014 at 7:30 am

The problem is stated right at the beginning: Dick graduated. The others didn’t. Jason’s graduation was done elsewhere off panel, Tim was expelled, and Damian still in school when the reboot occurred.

As a result, we have a character that’s an adult with no childhood because the condensed timeline — a problem UNIQUE to Batman — has stolen it away from him. Dick will always be popular as an individual hero; he just can’t justify how he became that hero.

Batman Incorporated magnifies the problem as well, because it implies a much larger army and opposition for Batman to focus on than just the Robins and Batgirl. Turning Dick into an agent against Spyral may not seem the best answer to long-time fans, but it IS logical: not only will we be able to see Dick use his charms and skills outside of the costume that defined him in the past (much like Nightwing redefined him after Robin) but it also can be used to neutralize some of the ideas Morrison flooded Batman’s narrative with.

It’s two birds with one stone. Much like Marvel used “House Of M” to clean up Morrison’s X-Men ideas AND redefine the X-Men’s place in the Marvel Universe.

Personally, I think it was a mistake to keep Damian. I know he’s popular and well written, but a reset of the timeline that took out other legacy characters like Connor, Donna and Wally amongst others could have easily removed a character started in the last few years in order to keep a longer Robin — one who needed to finish — in the logical window of just 5 years.

I mean, how hard would it have been to say no to Morrison on the grounds that: year one, Bruce gets Dick; year three starts and Dick quits as he moves out and becomes Nightwing; year three has Bruce replace Dick with Jason, who is older than Dick was when he started and harder to train; end of year three has Jason die; Tim comes in four/five months later; Jason just returned last month — that’s five years at the most condensable point.

(The Lanterns are even easier, since Hal’s “death” and time as Spectre have been erased, meaning there can always be two Lanterns for Earth while one is in space.)

The whole thing is a mess and Dick isn’t even the character he once was. I listened to Kyle Higgins on Kevin Smith’s show and he professes his love for Grayson, but either he was dictated to or he really didn’t understand the character. As soon as N52 started, Grayson – IMHO – was nowhere to be seen. This is just progressing him even further away from who he is.

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