Who's turn is it to fly?

<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>For a year now, the title formerly known as <b>Batman and Robin</b> has featured a rotating cast-member in the second half of that equation following the untimely death for young Damian Wayne, the last character to hold the mantle of Robin. <p>But you can only feature so many guest stars before the gimmick gets old. <p>So come July 2014, there will be a one-shot called <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/20850-batman-gets-a-robin-in-july-s-robin-rises-omega.html><b>Robin Rises: Omega</b></a> that ends the story of Bruce Wayne’s quest of Damian Wayne’s body, and leads to “<i>a</i> Robin” joining Batman once again. Following that, <b>Batman and Robin #33</b> returns the title to its original moniker, with the new (or possibly old?) Robin in tow. <p>Assuming it <i>isn’t</i> Damian returning from the dead - which is only an assumption and could very well wind up being wrong - we thought we’d revisit the characters who could take the mantle up and give Bruce a partner once more.


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.


It's kind of creepy to think about, but Talia has already made <i>another</i> Damian Wayne, not to mention the multiple failures her father, Damian’s grandfather Ra’s rushed into production. Never the less, it opens up the possibility that a grief-stricken Bruce might start over with a "Damian copy" as his Robin. You <i>could</i> even have the out of the dead Damian being a clone in the first place… <p>The dead Damian could be a clone, fans are saying. But if we take DC's confirmation at face value not to mention the confirmation of creators like Chris Burnham, Grant Morrison and Peter Tomasi and a year of stories, then the Damian we know and love <i>is</i> dead. But clones have to be in the conversation, even if they’re not our favorite option. <p>And this isn't discounting the idea that they could even just bring Damian back full-cloth, somehow reviving the dead boy and bringing him back to life. Where's a Superboy-Prime punch to the walls of reality when you need one?


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> utilized 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.


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 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.


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.


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, the character is finally making her way into the New 52, albeit apparently back in her first crime-fighting role as "Spoiler." Introduced in the pages of <b>Batman: Eternal</b>, it looks from the flash-forward issue of <b>Batman</b> that she'll be a tertiary member of the Bat-family for the foreseeable future, but what a twist it would be to have her jump into the role most polarizing for her.


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. Now that she’s been established as being in the present day, and as having known Damian Wayne personally, maybe it’s finally time to let her back into the batcave of our hearts? <p>So far, Carrie appears to have a lot of things going for her in the New 52 as a potential Robin — she's apparently a trained fighter, she's got a connection to Damian, and she seems to be liked by Alfred (who has hired her to help with Damian's dog). But after a few appearances in the <b>Batman and…</b> title, she seems to have gone by the wayside, at least for now.


Anna Aguila has literally only one appearance to her name thus far, but that first appearance, in <b>Detective Comics #30</b> just this month (April 2014 for those reading in the future) was loaded. <p>She's a teenager. A risk-taker. A natural athlete who is very comfortable soaring high above regular folks. Her mother is a philanthropist raising her to want to help the downtrodden people of Gotham City. <p>Heck, if that wasn't enough to at least make her a candidate, DC Comics even described her motorbike tricks as being "like she has wings to help her fly." Sure sounds like a Robin to us. <p>Also of note, Scott Snyder told us that the female figure who was in the batcave in that flash-forward issue of <b>Batman #28</b> was someone brand new that had "not yet appeared" - and that was two months before Anna showed up...


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>Of course, we now know that Harper Row will eventually don a blue and black costume, calling herself Bluebird and working as a member of the bat-family (but don’t call her a sidekick). As seen in <b>Batman #28</b>, the oft-mentioned “flash-forward” issue of the series, Harper takes up an identity all her own and works alongside Batman whether he likes it or not - and judging by the brief flash of a grin, he actually enjoys having her around quite a bit. <p>But that’s a story that takes place early 2015, so it doesn’t actually take Harper out of the running for the next Robin. Who says the next Robin has to be in place for years? Maybe Harper takes up the role for a few months, and decides she can better serve the cause as her own hero, helping to usher in the <i>next</i> new Robin.


Yes, with all these ready candidates, many of whom have been pushed to the fore because of their prominent roles in Batman's recent life, it would seem somewhat crazy, somewhat shocking, and truly out-of-nowhere to introduce someone brand new at the eleventh hour and make them not just the leading candidate, but the actual new Robin. <p>And that's exactly why DC should do it. <p>Look, we love the characters on this list, and they've given us a year of fun speculation, of debates as to their merit and likelihood, but wouldn't something unexpected - much like the death of Damian was in the first place - be just so much fun? <p>And who knows who it could be, then - another Assassin? Someone from Apokolips, a place that's meant to play a major role starting with <i>Robin Rising: Omega</i>? After all, Omega, in the context of Apokolips, means something other than "the end." Darkseid wears the Omega symbol, after all, and his major attacks are things like "Omega Beams" and "Omega Sanction." <p>So, if an Apokoliptian with direct ties to Darkseid became Batman's new sidekick, it would certainly change the conversation a lot. Knowing that Darkseid is a multiversal threat, having someone on the side of the angels that knows directly how he works, would make for a whole new Batman.

Help Wanted: 11 Applicants for the New ROBIN

Date: 16 April 2014 Time: 11:45 AM ET