The debuts of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are iconic, just like the debut of comics’ most famous sidekick Robin, The Boy Wonder. The privilege and honor of being partners with the World’s Greatest Detective has been passed down to a few new faces throughout the years. Since 1939 there have been four boys to wear the “R” logo on their chest. Each with their own origins and adventures, which helped make each of them as famous as Batman himself.
Detective Comics #38 saw the premiere of America’s first official superhero sidekick. After an unfortunate accident involving his parents at the circus, young acrobat, Dick Grayson, was left an orphan until Bruce Wayne adopted him and trained him in the martial arts in order to become Robin, The Boy Wonder. Fans were in love with Robin, who added lightness to the story and was a character that many kids could see themselves being. They thought to themselves, “I couldn’t be Batman, but I could be Robin”.
Throughout Detective Comics Dick Grayson’s origins were examined more closely and he was featured in more issues and even eventually received his own comic series about his solo adventures. In The Silver Age of comics Grayson joined the Teen Titans and was proclaimed their leader, a role he would have for many years, until he decided to “grow up”. In Tales Of The Teen Titans #43, fans saw the birth of Nightwing. A darker, edgier, grown up Dick Grayson who left the role as Batman’s sidekick and assumed a new one as a new hero. No more walking in the Dark Knight’s shadow.
Shortly after his career with the Teen Titans Nightwing was given his own series, which followed his adventures as a lone crime fighter in a new city. The writers did feature him in Batman storylines such as Knightfall or, more recently, Hush, but he would still remain a solo hero for the most part.
Dick Grayson appeared in the Batman Forever and Batman and Robin films in the 1990’s, which received bad reviews, but I wont get into that, and he is featured as Nightwing in Batman: Under The Red Hood. He is most famously recognized from Batman: The Animated Series. He begins the series as Robin and remains in that role for the first three seasons, but in the “New Adventures” he becomes Nightwing, arguably the coolest character of that entire series, besides Batman of course.
Debuted as the second Robin in September of 1983 after Dick Grayson assumed the Nightwing persona, Jason Todd was arrogant and over confident with a temper. Not Batman’s favorite ally, but a partner he trusted with his life; Todd could do what was necessary, which was an asset, but a flaw as well. Batman first met Todd when the teenager tried to steal the tires off the Batmobile. After discovering that Jason had lost his parents, Batman took him under his wing and trained him to become the next Robin.
Jason remained Batman’s sidekick for a few years, but wasn’t very well liked by most fans. His quick temper and dangerous decisions led him to many situations that required rescue from Batman. Todd did have a prologue appearance in Batman: Under The Red Hood, but the character never appeared in many well-known stories, except for A Death In The Family, arguably one of the best Batman stories ever. While ting to track down his lost mother, Jason is captured by the Joker and beaten to near death. The Joker rigged the warehouse to explode with Jason and his mother still inside, but Jason saved his mother’s life by shielding her from the blast. He may have been a rebellious teenager whose decisions put him in deadly situations as it did in A Death In The Family, but at least Jason Todd died a hero.
With the absence of Dick Grayson and the recent death of Jason Todd, young Tim Drake had noticed that his favorite Caped Crusader was heading down a dark path. In order to save his hero from destroying his legendary name, Tim used his keen detective skills to deduce the true identity of the Batman. When Tim confronted Batman with knowledge of his identity, Batman really had no choice but to train the boy as he did with the previous two Robins, only this time Tim had more fighting masters like Nightwing, Azrael and Batgirl to help make his fighting style unique and more advanced.
Like Grayson, Tim eventually joined the Teen Titans and became their leader for a number of years, and (again, like Grayson) took to a new disguise as the hero, The Red Robin. Still affiliated with Batman, but older and wiser, he could make it on his own. Tim has appeared in many well-known Batman stories, was the newest addition to the Bat-family on Batman: The Animated Series and was the central character in Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker. This character was much more liked then Todd due to his positive attitude and will continue to be a success in the DC Universe.
After Batman died in the Final Crisis storyline, Dick Grayson realized that the world needed a Batman, no matter whose face was beneath the mask, so he became the legend, created a new, flying Batmobile and gained a new sidekick, Damian Wayne, the fourth and newest Robin. Damian is the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul and the League of Assassins has previously trained him before ever meeting Grayson, making him arguably the most deadly Robin at such an early age.
Damian premiered in the relatively new series called Batman & Robin, where we see the brand new adventures of Dick Grayson as Batman and the new Robin. He has remained the main character of the series and has been featured in the main Batman comic series. For now he is just Robin, but who knows, in the future he may take up the mantle of Batman himself, just like the original Robin.