After each recording of the podcast, Superheroes for Dummies, I write a recap of everything I’ve learnt. As this weeks episode was marathon-length, I’ll be splitting it up into multiple parts.
This is Superhero Recap, Dick Graysons Robin.
The Flying Graysons
Dick Grayson was a circus kid, part of a family of acrobats performing as ‘The Flying Graysons’. They were some of the most amazing acrobats in the country, maybe even the world. Performing stunts many could not, often without a net.
Unbeknownst to them, a mafia boss by the name of Tony Zucco was attempting to extort protection money from the circus owner. After the owner refused to pay, he decided they needed persuading. He ordered his henchmen to sabotage the ropes of the trapeze. The following night when performing one of their most daring stunts, Dick watched as the ropes snapped, and his parents fell to their deaths.
In the audience, another orphan watched on, Bruce Wayne. Remembering the pain of seeing the loss of his parents, and seeing the boy in need of help, he took the young Grayson in as his legal ward.
Initially, Bruce had no intention of having Dick join him in crime-fighting. Grayson was around 12 years old and required guidance in life to stop the hate within him becoming all-consuming. It soon became clear, however, that the want for revenge could not be dimmed.
Grayson was on a destructive path, one from which he could not return. Seeing him as a tenacious, intelligent young man, Bruce reluctantly agreed to help. He started a training routine, teaching Grayson not only how to fight, but how to show restraint. He wanted to instil in the young boy that killing is never the answer, and revenge will not fix anything.
As part of his own training, Bruce had learnt much about legendary characters, including Robin Hood. He soon learnt that not only was Robin Hood also a favourite of young Graysons, his mother had often referred to him as a Robin on the trapeze. And so the name was born. Robin, a symbol of hope against the darkness within Batman, a reminder they are fighting for a brighter future.
Finding His Way
Dick Grayson was Robin for about 40 years in real time, thought to be around 5/6 years in ‘comic time’. He made quite the impression and was well known in his own right, becoming one of the most popular sidekicks, not just to readers but other superheroes.
He grew to be the leader of The Teen Titans, a group of teenage superheroes coming together from multiple series. Superman especially looked fondly on Robin, teaching him what it means to be a superhero and how to use his fame for good.
His relationship with Batman was often strained however, much like any father/son style relationship they often had their disagreements. Ultimately, he decided he needed to discover a path for himself, outgrowing the Robin persona.
And so, with the lessons from Superman in his mind, he took on the name Nightwing. A character from Kryptonian legend who was also an orphan, finding their way in life and ridding the world of crime.
Although Nightwing will hopefully get an episode of his own, its worth mentioning his connection with Batman didn’t end. Bruce has a great deal of respect for his former sidekick. Not only has Batman nominated Nightwing to take over leadership of the Justice League, but more than once he has entrusted him with the Batman persona.
Following the events of Knightfall, when Bane broke Batmans back, Bruce leaves Jean-Paul Valley as Batman. Valley, however, was far too unstable for the role, leading to him losing control and killing Abattoir. This forced Bruce to return to protect the Batman ethos.
Having cast Valley out, but still too weak to fully return, Bruce then placed Grayson as Batman. While this was a role he flourished in, it also gave him a sense of how difficult a job it was, playing a part in the softening of his and Bruces relationship.
This wasn’t the only time he was Batman, but I have to leave you in some sort of suspense, right?
Whether it’s his perfect buttocks, or his pure skill and athleticism, there are many reasons Grayson captured peoples hearts as the first Robin. This set him up for a long future as a Superhero in his own right, one that we will certainly return to.
Steve’s suggested reading:
Nightwing year one
Robin year one