Boys and Girls, Wonder1 of 12
On Friday, DC Comics announced a renewed partnership with writer/artist Frank Miller to create five new projects, including his previously announced Superman: Year One.
Only one brand new project was announced - an original graphic novel starring Carrie Kelly, the Robin Miller created for his landmark Dark Knight Returns story.
Carrie getting a new spotlight from her creator (and artist Ben Caldwell) put us in mind of Batman's iconic sidekick. He's had more than a few Robins at this point - but how do they stack up as partners-in-crimefighting?
Read on to find out.
JASON TODD2 of 12
Controversial, perhaps, but let's be honest: Jason was never a particularly good Robin, was he? In his pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths incarnation, he was essentially an over-eager, nervous clone of Dick Grayson, and in his post-Crisis incarnations, he was just a jerk with a temper.
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.
ROBIN, THE TOY WONDER3 of 12
What's that, you say? You don't remember the cybernetic sidekick of the 853rd century from DC One Million?
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.
BRUCE WAYNE JR.4 of 12
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 Batman #131, back in 1960, where, yes, he teamed up with a Batman who was actually Dick Grayson, taking over for his own mentor.
After four years, the character disappeared only to reappear in 1997's JLA #9, resurrected by none other than Damian Wayne co-creator Grant Morrison, in a dream sequence. Damian's secret origin revealed!
HELENA WAYNE5 of 12
And speaking of Dark Knight offspring, in The "New 52" universe, the Huntress started her career as the Robin of Earth-2. 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' Worlds' Finest, 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 more flashbacks.
STEPHANIE BROWN6 of 12
Yes, we 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.
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 Batgirl series. And now in her original identity as Spoiler, she's part of Batman's team in Detective Comics.
THE PRE-CRISIS EARTH-2 ROBIN7 of 12
Although, yes, the Pre-Crisis 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.
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?"
CARRIE KELLY8 of 12
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 DK2.
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.
She was seemingly primed to be used more with an appearance in the early days of the "New 52," but we've since learned those plans were aborted - but was the catalyst - for her return as part of Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
TIM DRAKE9 of 12
What was that we were just saying about can-do attitudes? Tim Drake was a pretty great Robin, maybe a little too great, when you think about it.
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.
In the "New 52," Tim's natural detective abilities were seemingly transferred onto Dick Grayson's revised origin, and despite some conflicting mentions in early issues, Tim is now officially said to have always called himself Red Robin, with the modifier, out of respect for his direct predecessor's (albeit temporary) death.
Tim was believed dead for a time, but was actually in the clutches of the villainous Mr. Oz. He's back now, but just had a falling out with Batman as a result of his captivity.
DAMIAN WAYNE10 of 12
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., and the natural athleticism of Dick Grayson – Damian is a remarkably, unexpectedly fun Robin, with a lot of the comedy coming from his inability to (and disinterest in) conform with social norms.
In other words, he is a Robin who really acts 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. That is what we want from our Robins, surely?
DICK GRAYSON11 of 12
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 so long.
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 his future), which allowed him to outgrow the identity in a way that none others have properly managed.
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.
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