DC Kills Robin Again

DC Entertainment must really hate Batman's sidekick, they've gone and killed Robin the Boy Wonder once more. This time he dies in heroic fashion instead of just getting beaten to death by the Joker. Sacrificing one's life for the greater good is a tried-and-true dramatic device, but no one seems to truly stay dead in comics anymore, so that dilutes the impact quite a bit.

Robin is a character that revolutionized superhero storytelling. He added some "light" to the Dark Knight's saga and arguably gave younger audiences a more relatable figure. The first alter ego was Dick Grayson, whose origin mimicked that of the Caped Crusader when his parents were killed performing an aerial trapeze act. His background as a circus performer justified his athlethic and acrobatic moves as he transitioned to crimefighting. The Batman writers actually gave the character a nice arc over the years as he became an angsty teenager, joined the Teen Titans, and eventually went off on his own as the grownup Nightwing. He even donned the cowl as a new Batman when Bruce Wayne was believed to be dead (as I said, death is shortlived in comics.)

Next came Jason Todd, whom readers hated, leading to the controversial decision in 1988 to kill him off in violent fashion.  It was gruesome, but it did bring a real world plotline about the dangers heroes face battling evil, especially the notion of having an under-age child facing off against insane killers. Of course, they brought Jason back as Red Hood, a no-holds-barred vigilante, a stark contrast to Batman's moral restraints.

Next up, Tim Drake was a fan-favorite as a precocious young boy who figured out Batman's secret identity and earned the role of Batman's new partner, with a new armored Robin costume to go with it. He became a founding member of the superhero team Young Justice and then a leader of the revamped Teen Titans. As DC Comics rebooted its lineup with "The New 52," Drake became Red Robin, with a darker costume.

Stephanie Brown, Tim Drake's girlfriend, was briefly Robin, and seemingly died from injuries after being captured and tortured by the villian Black Mask, but then returned (again, heroes rarely stay dead), revealing that her death was faked. She was also the superhero known as The Spoiler and Batgirl's replacement.

Another popular female version of Robin was Carrie Kelly in Frank Miller's classic The Dark Knight Returns, a future version of the Batman saga.

The current version of Robin is (or was) Damian Wayne, the lovechild of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul. Trained by the League of Assassins, Damian was a more volatile and dangerous version than the Robins of the past, but had an interesting dynamic not just with his detective father but with Dick Grayson as well, both of whom took him under their wings (pun intended) to train him not just physically and mentally, but emotionally as well. His character faced an interesting evolution, becoming more and more likable and heroic, while avoiding some of the pitfalls of two-dimensional depictions of superheroes that we often see.

What kind of impact will the latest plot twist have on the continuity of Batman? Hopefully, it won't be just another cheap marketing gimmick, but a story that will connect with readers for a long time to come.

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