DC is making it clear: There's a new potential Robin in town.
But this time, she's not exactly new.Carrie Kelley, a character being featured on the cover (and inside) of next week's Batman and Red Robin #19, is being touted by DC as a potential Robin candidate. As revealed in the New York Post, she's a revamped version of the Robin featured in the futuristic story The Dark Knight Returns.
The consideration of Carrie Kelley isn't a huge surprise to those of us hard-core comic fans that have been naming candidates, because Carrie Kelley's name has come up before. (And that's our cue to share a link to our "Top 10 Applicants for the New Robin" story, where we included Carrie Kelley as a leading possibility). But it is something DC is wanting fans to notice, and that attention-grabbing gatefold cover they revealed today shouldn't be ignored.
So who is Carrie Kelley? Why does she makes sense as a candidate for Robin? And what's so great about her appearance that DC would publicize it before readers even see her?
First FemaleAlthough DC has featured one other female Robin full-time (namely, Stephanie Brown, who wore the costume in 2004; we're talking main universes only, too), that story was apparently taken out of continuity when DC rebooted its universe in 2011.
It's a point of contention with many comic book readers, not only because Stephanie Brown had quite a few fans herself, but also because it eliminated the only official female Robin who had appeared in Batman canon.
As it stands, the current, New 52 version of Bruce Wayne has only had male sidekicks.
However, Stephanie Brown was not technically the first and only female Robin to appear in a story published by DC Comics — she was only the first in-continuity. Before Steph came kicking into Batman's world, an "out-of-continuity" story about an aged Bruce Wayne of the future had already told the story of a girl who wore the mantle of Robin.
Caroline "Carrie" Kelley was the Robin introduced in the '80s comic and graphic novel series, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller.
A 13-year-old girl who was saved by Batman during an attack, Carrie went out and bought herself a Robin costume, searching for Batman with the intent of serving as his sidekick.Of course, the young scout succeeds, quite effectively. In The Dark Knight Returns, Carrie establishes herself as a capable partner for Batman, so much so that in the sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Carrie also strikes again, this time wearing the mantle "Catgirl," but still partnering with Batman to defeat the bad guys.
Now that Carrie is coming into DC continuity, she's a little different. According to Pete Tomasi, "she's a college kid who's got spunk and speaks her mind... This is not an alternate-earth Robin, this is simply a girl named Carrie Kelley, who we learn knew Damian, which in turn weaves her into the fabric of the DC Universe for the first time in 25 years.”
Outside Canon Comes InCarrie's addition isn't the first time DC has mined "out of continuity" stories for its "in continuity" comics. Popular characters from the animated DC television shows have shown up in comics before (most notably Harley Quinn, who was created for Batman: The Animated Series long before she was ever in a comic, continuing a long tradition that reaches back to Jimmy Olsen and other Superman supporting characters who appeared first on radio). And DC's 2006-2007 weekly series 52 had a conclusion that added 51 "alternate earths" to the comic book canon, including many formerly out-of-continuity characters.
But the mission of DC's recent reboot — to re-introduce DC properties for a new, modern audience — seems to encourage creators to look outside regular canon to populate its New 52 universe. Not only does the Batman universe now have an in-continuity version of Carrie Kelley, but just last week, Batwing introduced a revamped Batman Beyond character, Luke Fox, as a new, African-American, heroic costumed character.
Robin Pros and Cons
So could Carrie Kelley be the next Robin?She's got three things in her favor:
1) She's not a kid.
As Newsarama has pointed out more than once, the death of Damian Wayne should make Bruce Wayne hesitant to put another child in harm's way. Not only did Bruce lose a son, but two out of his four Robins have died before their 18th birthday.
We suspect DC knows this, and that's why Carrie Kelley is now being introduced into Batman's world as a college student... and no longer a 13-year-old girl.
2) She's not new.
As much as comic fans are now mourning the death of Damian Wayne, the fact is that he was not a popular character when he was introduced. It took seven years for the kid to grow on most comic readers, and that's despite the fact he was Bruce Wayne's own blood-related son.
The introduction of a new Robin — particularly when there are three other familiar former Robins still running around the DCU — could be a tough sell for DC, but a sell made less difficult by the fact that Carrie Kelley is already known and liked by most comic fans. She's been around since 1986, and... well... we already know that she rocks.It's an advantage over the other leading candidate that fans have suspected will take the role of Robin, Harper Row. Introduced in Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, Harper has proven herself a capable partner for Batman, but she's really new.
3) She's female.
See above mention of Stephanie Brown and that "first female" thing.
That's a big plus in a time when DC has claimed it's striving for diversity in its universe.
When Newsarama listed our "Top 10 Applicants for the New Robin", six of the 10 candidates were female. And that wasn't by accident. The atmosphere at DC (with its diversity self-challenge) and among fans (with a growing fanbase of women) is ideal for a girl to take on the mantle of Robin.
4) The Dark Knight Returns.
It's one of the best-selling DC comic collections of all time, remaining in print more than 25 years after being published.
Time magazine called it one of the 10 best English language graphic novels ever written.Everyone from film director Zack Snyder to indie cartoonist Jeff Smith have pointed toward Dark Knight Returns as influential on their careers.
Warner Bros. just released two straight-to-DVD animated feature films of Dark Knight Returns.
And it just so happens that the other comic collection that DC hails as one of its top-selling of all time is Watchmen, which is a property DC has been capitalizing upon recently.
All of this adds up to a compelling argument for Carrie Kelley to be the next Robin.
While there's also a compelling argument for DC to wait to fill the mantle of Robin — supported vocally just this week by Damian's creator, superstar DC writer Grant Morrison, writer Pete Tomasi is keeping her around for awhile.
“In regards to how long she'll be around, let's just say that it's a helluva lot longer than ‘one issue.’ I've got plans for Carrie that play well into the future," he said.“It's all real. It's all in continuity. It's all part of the Batman universe in the here and now. Carrie Kelley has found her way into The New 52 and she's here to stay — in what capacity is anybody's guess — except mine of course.” Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!