<b>***If you've somehow managed to avoid <i>Batman, Incorporated #8</i> spoilers up to this point and hope to continue to do so, turn around now.***</b> <p><i>by Vaneta Rogers, Newsarama Contributor</i> <p><i>Help Wanted. Third shift. Gotham City. Ideal for students looking for part-time night work. Focused and inquisitive "boy wonder" type needed to assist with... busy detective agency. Martial arts training and acrobatic skills a plus. Chiroptophobiacs need not apply.</i> <p>As readers found out this week, Damian Wayne, Batman's son and current Robin, died in the latest issue of <i>Batman, Incorporated</i>, #8. <p>That leaves an important job unfulfilled in the DC Universe one that DC will surely fill soon, if for no other reason than to maintain the high sales level of the <i>Batman and Robin</i> comic. <p>As <i>Batman and Robin</i> <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/comics/peter-tomasi-batman-and-robin-future.html">writer Peter Tomasi told Newsarama</a>, his comic will begin to feature co-stars, and will fittingly change its name to <i>Batman and Red Robin</i>, then <i>Batman and the Red Hood</i>, and so on. <p>But you can only feature so many guest stars before the gimmick gets old. <p>Sooner or later, DC fans are going to be introduced to a new Robin. So who will it be? Newsarama took the opportunity to speculate on who might show up to fill Damian's small shoes now that the Robin mantle is empty. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>
Young Kitrina used to serve as a sidekick to Catwoman (and technically, if most of <i>Batman Inc.</i> volume 1 remains in continuity, she showed up in that, alongside Selina Kyle). <p> We're thinking the New 52 might have eliminated most of her previous continuity. But it didn't eliminate her fans and her name recognition. As the niece to Mario Falcone, she's got a strong connection to the history and mythology of Gotham City (which seems to be all the rage in the Batman universe these days). Plus she's a "redeemed relative of a villain," which is also pretty common among Bat-family members lately.
If DC should take the opportunity to reboot a character, it should probably be former Batgirl, Cassandra Cain. The once mute and distant character had a pretty good run as Batgirl, but after her popularity waned, DC allowed some pretty awful things to happen to the character. Fans were up in arms when she suddenly showed up on the wrong side of the law after her Batgirl run ended although that story was later retconned to be a drug-controlled villainy. <p>And even though Cassie has more recently been shown to be part of the Batman, Inc. network, she's been absent long enough that DC could brush her off and give her a proper revamping for The New 52. As one of the deadliest fighters in the DCU, she could certainly help Bruce out around Gotham City. And her history is similar to Damian's, being a "child of a villain" who redeemed herself, so she could certainly offer similar solace to a troubled Bruce.
When Damian Wayne first became Robin under the tutelage of then-Batman Dick Grayson, Tim Drake made it clear he was <i>not happy</i> about being forced out of the mantle. Although Tim had his own agenda at the time and did a fine job fitting into the Red Robin costume his voiced reluctance to give the Robin job to Damian indicates he thinks he's better at it. <p>Even though the New 52 has him overseeing the Teen Titans, it's completely believable that the former Robin would be willing to also take over as Bruce Wayne's sidekick. He wouldn't even have to change his name, because in the New 52 continuity, Tim apparently wore the title "Red Robin" even when he was working with Bruce in the Batcave. <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/why-the-endure-tim-drake-110224.html>Readers have accepted Tim as a beloved sidekick to Bruce, even though he wasn't the original Robin</a>, so it would make sense for DC to make the move. And Bruce could use the family support.
How many times have we heard fans complaining that former Robin Stephanie Brown has been erased from Batman's history? Before The New 52 relaunch, the young heroine was not only hailed as the first in-continuity female to wear the mantle of Robin, but she also had a loyal following in her more recent role as Batgirl. <p>Now that DC rebooted its universe, it looks like Stephanie Brown doesn't even exist anymore. It's a bit of a slap in the face of her fans, as well as being discouraging to the growing audience of female comic readers who like the idea of a <i>Girl</i> Wonder. But hey although The New 52 reboot "erased" the character, the clean slate also provides DC the opportunity to re-introduce her. Might this be the perfect opportunity to bring back Steph?
The 13-year-old female Robin from <i>The Dark Knight Returns</i> may have been from an "alternate future" when she first appeared, but this is The New 52. And if Earth 2 can be turned into a place where Alan Scott and Jay Garrick are in their early 20s, why couldn't Carrie Kelly show up <i>here</i> and <i>now</i>? <p>After all, Damian Wayne's history came from an Elseworlds story. <i>Dark Knight Returns</i> remains one of DC's best-selling graphic novels (and the inspiration for a recent two-part animated feature), so the comics community (and even a mainstream audience) would be accepting and even knowledgeable about her existence. Her appearance was the first time anyone saw a female Robin, and her "return" in The New 52 would signal that DC recognizes her unique place in its universe.
Yeah, we know. The whole introduction to this list functioned as an argument that DC would <i>have</i> to replace Robin soon. <p>But the one thing that gives us pause from a rush to recruit a Robin is that it doesn't make sense for the <i>character</i> of Batman to rush to put another child in harm's way. It was something <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/comics/why-the-endure-tim-drake-110224.html">DC struggled with after Jason Todd died, as then-Batman editor Denny O'Neill told Newsarama</a>: Because stories were becoming more realistic, the editor felt like he had to come up with a reason why Batman would put another child in danger, something "they didn't think about in the early days, when they made the first Robin character," O'Neil said. "But we had to think about that, because of the realism we were using at the time in the industry. It was a different time. I even hired somebody to design a costume that would afford maximum protection, thinking it might be acceptable to put a child in harm's way if he was well protected. We used almost none of that design, but we did think about those things at the time." <p>So is DC thinking about that again? And this time, will they take their time before they induct another Robin?
First of all, this idea has <i>plenty</i> of precedent. There are already a few Talons running around the DC Universe, playing the part of hero (see <i>Birds of Prey</i> and <i>Talon</i>). Plus, it would be a good story for Batman to "steal" a talon from the Court of Owls, particularly since it ties into how he "stole" Dick Grayson from them once. (As readers know, Grayson was originally chosen to become a Talon, but became Robin before his indoctrination into the Court's army took place.) <p>We've seen children among the ranks of the Court, so there's every chance that one of the current Talons is a kid. And with the Talons' training, he or she would be Robin ready.
It's kind of creepy to think about, but Talia has already made <i>another</i> Damian Wayne. So it opens up the possibility that a grief-stricken Bruce might start over with a "Damian copy" as his Robin. There has already been speculation among fans that this week's <i>Batman Inc.</i> death of Damian will later be revealed as a hoax, since Damian is so clone-associated. <p>The dead Damian could be a clone, fans are saying. But if we take DC's confirmation at face value and the confirmation of creators like Chris Burnham, Grant Morrison and Peter Tomasi then the Damian we know and love <i>is</i> dead. But his clone? Not dead. Not dead at all.
If we're looking for an <i>existing</i> superhero who is young, smart and already has impressive martial arts skills, the current Squire fits the bill perfectly. It would make sense for Grant Morrison to have someone in mind as a replacement for the Robin he just offed, and it would probably be someone <i>Morrison himself</i> has been utilizing in the current Batman universe. <p>Beryl Hutchinson, the current hero known as Squire, has been a Morrison favorite ever since he first introduced her during his <i>JLA</i> run. She already knows most of the Bat-family well, and the man to whom she plays sidekick only <i>just</i> died, leaving her technically jobless... and ready to help out at the Batcave. Because of the tragedy of losing Knight, Beryl could share in Bruce's grief. Plus someone will finally appreciate Alfred's habit of suggesting an afternoon spot of tea.
Readers got their first introduction to Harper Row in The New 52's <i>Batman #7</i>, when she rescued the near-dead Batman from the icy waters of Gotham Bay, using a car battery and jumper cables to jump-start his heart. Then in August's <i>Batman #12</i> writer Scott Snyder set aside an <i>entire</i> issue to explore the girl's story. <p>She's certainly resourceful enough to be Robin, and she's got a mysterious origin that is fitting for a new Batman story. Plus, Snyder has been insinuating that she's an important character. "Harper Row is her name and she's a character I've been thinking about for some time," Snyder said <a href="http://www.comicvine.com/news/scott-snyder-on-new-batman-character-harper-row-minor-spoiler/144455/">in an interview with ComicVine</a>. "I don't want to give too much away, but you'll be seeing more of her in Gotham soon she has an important role to play in upcoming stories." <p>Perhaps the most telling clue, though, is that Harper Row shows up again in next month's <i>Batman #18</i>, with the conspicuous timing seemingly making her a leading candidate for Robin's replacement.