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Old July 24 2012, 03:48 AM   #27
A beaker full of death
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Re: Death(s) of Robin

shivkala wrote: View Post
Which is something I always found weird about the 60's Batman series in that Batman, seemingly to help train him, always deferred to Robin on the detective stuff, like the Riddler's riddles. It happened so much, after a while, I kind of wondered if Batman even got the clues or if he just let Robin do the hard work and then reply with an, "Exactly, Robin" to make it seem like he had already reached the same conclusion!
I think that was part of the campiness, the spoofiness of the series. That was one of those things put in to turn the whole genre on its head.


Sidekicks are always inferior to the hero -- either they are a comic figure like Doiby Dickles or Cisco Kid's Pancho, a youth like Robin, a racial minority like Kato or Tonto - basically someone who, even when competent, could in no way compete with the hero for the limelight. Of course, the advent of racial justice and the rise of the anti-hero did a lot to change that dynamic.
Which is why, usually through the Teen Titans series, DC dealt with the sidekicks growing older by having them feel they needed to prove themselves. Some, like Dick, felt it best to strike out on their own, with a new identity and a hope to separate themselves from their sidekick identity. DC had others, like Wally West, develop problems and have to pretty much give up being a sidekick. Though Wally fits into another category (which Dick recently filled, himself), as the "heir apparent."
Right, exactly. Suddenly we were interested in these supporting characters in their own right. This was something very new to literature, part of an egalitarian impulse sweeping the arts and society (among other things, like the rejection of the concept of the hero and the societal order he represented). Suddenly they weren't just supporting characters. Suddenly everyone had to matter, or at least be of interest. They could no longer be mere plot devices or literary constructs.

That being said, I think you are missing a key role of the sidekick, which is represented by the images the OP posted: drama. In Robin's case, it's easy to put him in the role of victim and having the hero have to deal with the fall-out of that.

In Speedy's case, it meant Green Arrow had to face the realities of drug abuse, as his sidekick was revealed to be a heroin addict. Therefore, the writers were able to tell a story about drug addiction that really affected the hero, without having to "sacrifice" the hero and have them be the addict.
Interesting point, though I think this was the product of the later era, where it was believable that sidekicks were actually in real danger or were suffering the slings and arrows of life. Before that, the danger never seemed real. Hence Lois Lane casually falling off buildings every third day:


Your other comments are also most interesting and well taken.
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