When Batman writer Scott Snyder promised "a new generation of allies" for the Caped Crusader, he wasn't kidding.
Although Batman has, for decades now, been surrounded by a "family" of characters like Robin, Nightwing, Red Robin, Batgirl, Batwoman and more, the last few years since DC's New 52 reboot have seen his young allies increase substantially. They're a much more diverse list of heroes in Gotham City too, with lots of young women and more racial diversity than the Bat-family of the past.
To bring it all into perspective, Newsarama attempted to list some of the many new characters that could be considered part of Snyder's promised "new generation of allies" for Bruce Wayne.
Although Damian is not a new character — having been introduced before the New 52 reboot (and even dying since then) — the (yet-unproven) promise that Damian may be returning from the dead to become Robin again was accompanied by the news that he's probably going to have some type of powers.
The solicitation for January's issue of Batman and Robin teases that Damian not only has super powers and is fighting next to his father again (in a Robin costume), but according to the cover shown, he has bullets bouncing off his chest.
So although this is Damian Wayne, it looks like he's going to be very different than the one we've known.
Introduced about a year after the start of the New 52, Calvin Rose was a hero who came out of the "Court of Owls" storyline in Batman. An escape artist and expert fighter, the character was trained to be a villain who worked for the evil Court, but he escaped the organization and eventually became an ally to Batman and other heroes working in Gotham City.
The first time we met Duke Thomas back June 2013, he was a young boy who helped out Batman during Snyder and artist Greg Capullo's "Zero Year" storyline. The next time he showed up, he was in a "possible" five-years-in-the-future issue, wearing the Robin costume and fighting alongside Batman.
Most recently, Duke showed up in a "vision" Bruce Wayne had, where he imagined Duke wearing the superhero name "Lark" — an identity that Snyder's been teasing for months.
"We have plans for Duke, as hinted at in various versions, in various places, but you'll have to wait and see," Snyder said. And although Batman saw Duke in a Lark costume, Snyder said, "The visions are more about how Bruce thinks things might end for him, rather than any concrete spoilers. But you can get a sense from that moment that Duke is important to him."
So Duke might become Lark. Or five years in the future, he might even be the new Robin.
Right now, in Batman Eternal, Harper Row is becoming a legitimate Bat-family member thanks to her time with Tim Drake and Sergei Alexandrov, the techno-master who trained Bruce Wayne before he became Batman.
We've already seen in the future tease of Batman #28 that Harper Row eventually becomes Bluebird.
Even though we haven't seen her official adoption of the name "Bluebird" — and we already know about it — according to Snyder, it will still have a bit of mystery surrounding it. "It has a lot to do with the mystery of who her mother is, and all of this stuff that we've been playing with," Snyder said.
Harper is also unique in the Bat-family because she's not privy to his life as Bruce Wayne. "One of the reasons I think she's so different is that she doesn't want to know who he is under the mask, ever," Snyder said. "She shows up when she knows he needs her, because of the police scanner. She teams up with him. And whenever he tries to let her in at all — to a cave, to anywhere that's close to him, she doesn't want any part of it, because she thinks that people really let each other down. So ultimately, she's a really interesting character to write by his side, because she's just an ally in costume."
Harper Row's brother has taken a bit of a backseat to his sister in their appearances so far in the Bat-universe. But many readers seem to be rooting for the kid to become a hero, since he was the leading guess for who was inside the "Lark" costume when Capullo released a sketch of the hero.
Plus, there's potential in the current Batman Eternal storyline for Cullen to get some type of powers, since he's been "infected" with nano technology.
And then there's Snyder's indications that Cullen is an important character. "[The story of the Rows] became about feeling it out as it went, and trying to put the emphasis on her and her brother Cullen, as real and viable and, hopefully, exciting characters to readers, before anything else," Snyder told Newsarama. "So that was the most important to me, to make sure she was a character, and her brother was a character, that people responded to."
When teenager Stephanie Brown found out that her father was a criminal who was plotting with other villains to destroy Gotham City, she ran away and began trying to thwart his plans. Eventually, after her father tried to draw her out, she put on a costume and became the hero known as Spoiler.
Although she's a returned character, there's a sense that her so-far-pretty-limited role in Batman Eternal will become much more significant as the series nears its ending — particularly after her story showed up again in week's issue of the weekly. And fans of the character hope she finds life within a comic beyond Eternal.
When Annie Aguila first showed up in Detective Comics #30 earlier this year, creators Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul made her look like Robin on purpose.
"Brian colored her yellow and green for a reason in her first scene," Manapul told Newsarama.
"Her motorcycle is yellow and green, to give people that indication," Buccellato said. "That was by design."
Right now, it doesn't look like Annie will be the next Robin — despite the fact she's a great candidate, since she's a risk-taking, high-flying motorbike rider who's already an orphan. At the end of her introductory storyline, she had not only killed someone, but was leaving Gotham City.
Although she hasn't donned a costume yet, according to Manapul, she'll be back. "She's a character that we want to further develop," he said. "I guess we'll see where that takes her."
The Batwing identity might have been introduced before the New 52, but DC recently changed the person inside the costume to the son of existing Bat-character Lucius Fox.
A successful boxer, Luke appears to be still learning the ropes as Batwing, showing his inexperience at times. But with his role in the current Batman Eternal weekly, it's clear that DC is trying to establish the hero as part of the Gotham City team of Bat-characters.
Another not-so-new character is back, but this time with a different name. Bette Kane, who's been a sidekick for Batwoman in her self-titled comic, is now using a flamethrower and going by the name "Hawkfire."
The younger cousin of the current Batwoman, Kate Kane, Bette has a lot of potential and a brand new, spiffy costume.
Gotham Academy might seem like a quirky little side book to the Bat-family, but readers have already learned (only two issues into the series) that lead character Olive Silverlock is connected somehow to Batman and also has some type of relationship to a distant ancestor of the Penguin named Millie Jane Cobblepot.
Olive, a student at the exclusive Academy, also has a potential for powers. For those readers who aren't up-to-date on Gotham Academy, let's just say the end of issue #2 has us wondering, who is this girl?
Although the name's a familiar one for DC fans, the Helena Bertinelli recently introduced in Grayson is a brand new incarnation for the New 52. She's part of the spy organization Spyral, working alongside Dick Grayson and is also known as the "Matron" of a boarding school for young female fighters.
The Grayson Annual in December will reveal the origin of this new, still-mysterious Helena, and many DC fans are hoping she'll be joining Dick Grayson in some costumed crimefighting eventually.
There's no sign of Cassie in the New 52 yet, but we did just see her in the potential future that was shown in Batman Futures End #1 in September. In the issue, she was a member of the "League of Batgirls," meaning she'll possibly show up soon.
As long as we're talking about the Futures End issue, another Batgirl in the "League" showed up in September, emphasizing the potential of this new character in the New 52: Tiffany Fox. The daughter of established Bat-character Lucius Fox (and brother to Batwing), Tiffany has potential to become more of a Bat-player and this tease indicated the Bat-creators are aware of it.
A nod toward Batman: The Dark Knight Rises who showed up in Batman and Robin, Carrie Kelley was originally believed to be a leading candidate for the role of Robin, after Damian Wayne died.
Even though it's looking like the role of Robin is no longer vacant, Carrie Kelley is still a friend of the family (particularly liked by Alfred Pennyworth), although her assistance at Wayne Manor probably won't be needed any more with the house becoming the new Arkham Asylum.
But she could always become a bigger part of the Bat-family, like her namesake, as soon as a writer wants to take advantage of her potential.
Right now in Batman Eternal, Julia Pennyworth (the daughter of Alfred) is just helping out around the Manor, playing the role of radio-connected helper from the Batcave while her dad's locked up in Akrham Asylum (or more recently, escaped but still injured by his experience there).
But Julie has proven that she's got the skills to fight crime, and now that she's "in" on the secret of Bruce Wayne's identity, we have a feeling she'll be sticking around — or at least available to help out from time to time, whether in costume or not.