Death(s) of Robin

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by A beaker full of death, Jul 21, 2012.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Commodore Commodore

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    That goes to my earlier point. The majority of reader's was much younger before, 80s, maybe the 70s too. At a certain age you just accept all aspects of superhero stories.A young sidekick is just one of many fantastical ideas. I grew up reading comics and watching the tv shows and older movies. Even at a very young age I knew it was fiction. But I never questioned what was presented in the story. As I got older I did.
     
  2. Holdfast

    Holdfast Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That's a great question, and probably deserves a thread of its own, but I think most sidekicks can generally be divided into two main groups: the greek chorus or the comic relief, which roughly correspond to the similar division you identified in your post.

    These roles don't have to be filled by a specific sidekick; any character can temporarily fill that role depending on the scene in question. So I don't think a hero necessarily needs a sidekick.

    But it does add some narrative ease/efficiency to have a close, permanent companion as that permits a greater exploration of the psychological and emotional state of the story using two characters whose mental states are already well-known to the audience (hero & sidekick). I suppose this is especially so in media where many characters are pretty thinly sketched anyway, so using pre-existing well-known ones enables some degree of depth when there just isn't time/scope to develop it otherwise. One might also argue that this is part of the reason for a tendency to mine a pre-existing & well-developed Rogues Gallery of villains.
     
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Commodore Commodore

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    Alfred has taken on some of the exposition role Robin used to serve. Remember originally Alfred was introduced after Bruce was already Batman. The same for Dick Grayson as Robin. Frank Miller retconned it so that Alfred had raised Bruce after his parents death. So his role grew in significance.
     
  4. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    On a rudimentary level, the sidekick just gives the hero somebody to talk to and banter with. Speaking from experience, a scene where the hero just walks around and, say, examines a crime scene by himself is much harder (and less interesting) to write than a scene in which two distinct characters, each with their own voice and personality, are discussing the situation.

    It can get claustrophobic if you're stuck in the hero's head all the time.

    Plus, larger-than-life characters like Holmes or Doc Savage or the Shadow or whomever are best observed from the outside, by somebody who can react to how awesome they are.
     
  5. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

    Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    Robin's been a teen since the Sixties. IIRC he was aged around the time the Batman TV series came out. Then aged again to college age to remove him from the Batman strip. Funny that a child/kid/teen sidekick is a bad thing but someone the same age in their own books is "okay". Tim Drake starred in his own series for over a decade. Even Dick Grayson had a strip as Robin in the Golden Age for about five years as well as back ups in various Batman books in the 70s.
     
  6. shivkala

    shivkala Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Actually, if I remember correctly, Tim Drake was 9 when he was introduced.

    An interesting question, especially given your avatar, as Marvel is introducing a sidekick for Spider-Man, named "Alpha."

    Which is interesting, since Marvel, aside from Bucky (who technically predates Marvel Comics, having first appeared when Marvel was Timely), Marvel has really avoided sidekicks. Yes, you can make arguments about Cap having others serve as Bucky, Rick Jones, and I guess, you could argue, The Falcon to a degree, to name a few, but while DC had enough sidekicks to form their own team, Marvel's were few and far between.


    It seems Alpha will serve in the role of giving younger kids an entre. Personally, I think Marvel realized there's only so much you can do to keep Peter young, and decided to, instead, give him a kid sidekick.

    They are also trying to tie it into Peter's history with Ben serving as his mentor. With Dick, at least, the Batman/Robin relationship also served as a connection to Bruce's past and for him to be there for someone who's going through what he went through. This was added onto Tim's story, as his mother and later father died after he became Robin.

    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! :vulcan:


    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."

    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.

    It seems the answer to your question is both a "yes" and a "no.

    With the New-52, DC has become more "Marvel-like" in terms of sidekicks. Aside from the Robins, we really don't see sidekicks. None of the current Teen Titans, putting aside Tim Drake for a minute, are sidekicks or protegees. As far as Tim is concerned, I guess he did work with Batman for a while, but DC recently said he was always "Red Robin" and never just, plain "Robin." Make of that what you will.

    Marvel now, seems to be trying out the sidekick thing, so we'll see how that goes.

    Personally, while I like the idea of a sidekick and I think a lot of good stories can be told with them, they are perhaps outdated. Putting aside the fact that they were originally an entre for kids into the super-hero comicbook world, they were also a product of a more "episodic" time. Back in the Golden and Silver Ages, the characters seemed to stay the same age and maintain a status quo.

    Then in the 70's and especially the 80's it seemed that the stories became more episodic. Wikipedia puts it around '69 when they decided to write Robin out of the Batman titles by having him attend college. By the time The New Teen Titans rolled around, we began to see the original DC sidekicks as being in their late teens/early 20's. By the mid-late 80's, Dick was Nightwing, Wally was the Flash, Speedy was a father, Donna was Troia, etc.

    We'll see how Marvel handles this, but compressed time or not, eventually they're going to have to figure out if Alpha is going to graduate high school or stay his current age, which is when things get sticky (no Spider-related pun intended!).
     
  7. A beaker full of death

    A beaker full of death Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.


    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.

    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:
    [​IMG]

    Your other comments are also most interesting and well taken.
     
  8. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    I just love how casually the narrative caption puts things.

    Oh, she just fell off a building. It happens. Superman spends most of his days catching people who fall off buildings (OSHA and building codes are pretty lax in Metropolis) I mean you can't fight a super-villain or apocalyptic alien every day. It also seems to imply Lois took a second job as a building inspector at some point.

    Oh, Silver Age, how we love you.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2012
  9. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Commodore Commodore

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    He must of been older than that. I remember he was a year or two older than I was when he debuted. He tells Dick and Alfred. I was 11, so he must have been 12 or 13.

    I remember how weird it was when I got older than him...
     
  10. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

    Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    IIRC, we do see Tim attending a Flying Graysons performance in a flashback. It was one of the clues that led Tim to figure out Bruce Wayne was Batman. (Robin/Nightwing uses the same acrobatic moves as Dick Grayson.) That could be what they're thinking of.
     
  11. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Commodore Commodore

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    That might be true. I just looked at my "Lonely Place of Dying" TPB. At the time of the main story, before the flash back of meeting Dick at the Circus, Tim tells Alfred and Dick he is 13.

    That has been logged in my memory forever. The original issue is one of the first comics I ever read. It was after the Tim Burton movie. My older brother had explained how there were 2 Robins, the one I knew about from the old tv show and a second one I had never heard of who had been killed off by the fans.

    So to see a new Robin felt like I was witnessing history. I remember my brother explaining how the movie was Batman's "early days" when he was not trusted yet by the police. So I never saw things in terms of separate continuities. Just different points in Batman's life. I also got old comics from Half Price Books and while I noticed differences in history it was just part of the overall story.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2012
  12. shivkala

    shivkala Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Possibly, but also it could be an extension of the whole "sidekick as entre" bit. In a lot of ways, he was more of a partner on the show than sidekick. The scenes with the clues showed he was as capable as Batman of figuring this stuff out and he seemed to hold his own in fights, at least as well as Batman did. And when the villains got the upper-hand, it was usually both of them who failed, not just Robin. And most often, it was through both of them working together that they escaped.


    Which is interesting, because it seems that Dick going to college was the start of all of this, but if I read correctly, that was done to get him out of the title, so they could focus on Bruce/Batman. I think Marv Wolfman and George Perez really were the ones who started using these characters as characters in their own rights. Interestingly enough, Wolfman came from Marvel and as Scipio of The Absorbascon is fond of pointing out, he brought some of the Marvel way into his DC writing. Thus, we get sidekicks who are growing up, staking out their own identity, and distancing themselves from their mentors.

    While danger may never have seemed "real," it did, at least give the hero something to do. It also gave the writer a chance for the villain to get a "win" without making the hero seem weak.

    Thanks, that's what I was going for. I was afraid that they'd drifted into the mad late-night rantings of someone who should have been in bed hours ago!

    Ah, okay, so Tim went to the circus at 9 and started putting together that Dick was Robin, therefore Bruce must be Batman soon after. However, he did not become Robin until he was 13. That makes more sense.

    How old was Dick when he started out as Robin? I want to say 10, but I'm not sure.

    I've always thought 10 was too young for a sidekick. My oldest is child 12 and I've taught six grade for a few years, so I'm familiar with kids between the ages of 11 and 13ish (sadly some sixth graders are in their teens when I taught them). Knowing the age, it still seems too young to be going out and fighting crime (though, sadly, some are not too young to go out and commit crime, but that's neither here nor there...). I have a hard time picturing a non-powered 10 year old making an effective fighter, sidekick or not. Damian, being genetically engineered still strains my credibility, but I guess he was made to be doing this. I guess 13 is really the youngest I can see it, but I don't think it's wise for a hero to have a sidekick that young (again, barring powers or I guess, being Hit Girl).

    Hell, put it this way, even Joel Schummacher went with a 24 year old actor to play Dick/Robin. Even given that Hollywood often uses actors in their 20's and 30's to play teenagers, they're usually at least 15 or older. If I remember, not much is done or said to convince us Dick is younger than early 20's, aside from Gordon dropping him off to Bruce, indicating he might need a guardian. I'd say in the movie, Dick is at least 17.
     
  13. Cap-Pick-Card

    Cap-Pick-Card Ensign Red Shirt

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    So Robin is actually "the world's greatest detective" and Batman is really just a bat-poser ;)