Distracted by DC's news of all things evil and villainy the last week, it's easy to forget its been only a couple of months since the shocking death of Damian Wayne in the pages of <em>Batman, Incorporated #8</em> ... enough time to reflect on the fact that the role of Batman's sidekick is one that's been filled by many different people over the years, from circus-boy-made-good Dick Grayson to the somewhat more troubled tenure of Bruce Wayne's biological son. <p>But which Robin was the <em>best</em> Robin? Now with some distance from Damian's tenure, here's a run-down and ranking of the best Boy (and Girl) Wonders of them all.
Controversial, perhaps, but let's be honest: Jason was never a particularly good Robin, was he? In his pre-<em>Crisis on Infinite Earths</em> incarnation, he was essentially an over-eager, nervous clone of Dick Grayson, and in his post-<em>Crisis</em> incarnations, he was just a jerk with a temper. <p>We're not saying that the Joker was justified in what he did, but at the same time, if there was ever a Robin who didn't seem to be worthy of the name, it was young Mr. Todd.
What's that, you say? You don't remember <a href=http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Robin_%28DC_One_Million%29>the cybernetic sidekick of the 853rd century</a> from <em>DC One Million</em>? <p>Shame on you not only does the character have a great pun for a name, but he's also had a pretty great origin story, being a robot programmed with the personality of the 853rd century Batman as a 10 year old boy. If it wasn't for the fact that he only made a handful of appearances, this Robin would be far higher up this list.
Decades before Damian Wayne was a glint in his mother's test tube, Batman's son was fighting crime as Robin in a series of "imaginary stories" set in the future starting in <em>Batman #131</em>, back in 1960, where, yes, he teamed up with a Batman who was actually Dick Grayson, taking over for his own mentor. <p>After four years, the character disappeared only to reappear in 1997's <em>JLA</em> #9, resurrected by none other than Damian Wayne co-creator Grant Morrison, in a dream sequence. Damian's secret origin revealed!
And speaking of Dark Knight offspring, in The New 52 universe, the Huntress started her career as the Robin of <em>Earth-2</em>. This was revealed in the early issues of both James Robinson and Nicola Scott's series of the same name as well as Paul Levitz, Kevin Maguire and George Perez' <em>Worlds' Finest</em>, even though we didn't really get to see her in action as the Girl Wonder of an alternate world for too long before Darkseid's invasion brought her to our world. Still, we can always hope for flashbacks.
Yes, I know that Stephanie has a massive following online that, in large part, stems from her short tenure as Robin, but, really...? She made a much better Batgirl than she ever managed as a Robin. <p>The fault here was less the character than the creators, as Stephanie was pretty much given the role with the intent of setting up her eventual (and ultimately undone) death, necessitating that she was less than capable. Thankfully, the character was redeemed for a short while in Bryan Q. Miller's fondly remembered <em>Batgirl</em> series, even if she remains in New 52 limbo in current continuity.
Although, yes, the Pre-<em>Crisis</em> Earth-2 Robin is essentially Dick Grayson and therefore the same character as the "regular" Dick Grayson, the strange and wonderful late career of the character merits his own entry in this particular top 10. <p>After all, while all other Robins have either given up their life or the identity as some point, Earth-2 Grayson kept being Robin well into adulthood, maintaining the identity even after the death of Batman himself, despite also becoming an international ambassador for the United States in his secret identity. Because, really, what else says "political envoy" if not "former sidekick who can't quite say goodbye to the past?"
The only reason that Carrie isn't higher in this list is that she abandoned the Robin identity pretty quickly in the grand scheme of things, having already ditched it in favor of becoming "Catgirl" in <em>DK2</em>. <p>Otherwise, Carrie is downright awesome, from her snarky can-do attitude down to the ridiculous goggles she wore when taking on the identity. Carrie made Robin her own in a way that few others have managed. Jason Todd, you should've taken some pointers. <p>Her recent debut in the New 52 and the <i>possibility</i> that she could perform the role again ... for the very first time ... demanded her inclusion in these rankings.
What was that we were just saying about can-do attitudes? Tim Drake was a pretty great Robin maybe a little <em>too</em> great, when you think about it. <p>While there's no denying the appeal of a Robin that is more than a little nerdy and socially inept, preferring to play Boy Detective instead of be a regular teenager not to mention the fact that his Batman fanboyishness was the thing that led him to assume the role in the first place later evolution of the character into being almost as good a detective, athlete and superhero as Batman himself seemed just a little too much, somehow.
Oh, poor Damian. In many ways, the ultimate distillation of all previous Robins the snark of Carrie Kelley, the bad attitude of Jason Todd, the smarts of Tim Drake, the actually-being-the-son-of-Batman of Bruce Wayne Jr., etc. Damian was a remarkably, unexpectedly <em>fun</em> Robin, with a lot of the comedy coming from his inability to (and disinterest in) conforming with social norms. <p>In other words, he was a Robin who really acted like a little kid at times, as annoying and hilarious as that could be. Plus, by rejecting his mother's plans and choosing to become a superhero, Damian proved that, deep down, he was a good kid. <em>That</em> is what we want from our Robins, surely?
The original, and still the best. Dick set the template for what it means to be Robin, thanks in large part to the fact that he assumed the role for <em>so long</em>. <p>We've seen Dick-as-Robin in so many different ways excited and eager, surly and sullen, and almost everywhere in between. But Dick also knew when enough was enough, and didn't want to grow up to become Batman ironically, considering which allowed him to outgrow the identity in a way that none others have properly managed. <p>For setting the pace, and for knowing when to leave, Dick Grayson is the best Robin we've seen so far and, just to be particularly controversial, I'd argue that he's the best Batman we've had to date, as well.