published by DC Comics
Think "sidekick" and you probably think Robin. The two
words are practically synonyms in the world of super-heroes.
Three people have held the title of Robin over the years, with
a fourth occupying a place in a possible distant future.
The first and definitive Robin is Richard John Grayson, or
simply Dick Grayson, who first appeared in Detective Comics #40.
The character was created by Bob Kane, the creator of Batman to
make Batman's adventures more accessible to his younger fans. The only child of John and Mary
Grayson, Dick became an aerialist and acrobat at an early age,
carrying on the family tradition as one of the Flying Graysons.
Dick was born on the first day of spring and given the nickname
of Robin by his parents for that reason. Travelling with the Haly Circus, the Graysons were one of the
main attractions, until a fateful night in Gotham City. The
owner of Haly Circus had refused to pay protection money to
local crime lord "Boss" Zucco, who in turn, caused an accident
in which the elder two Graysons died by falling from a broken
In the audience that night were two people who would late have
an impact in Dick's life. Years later, Dick would find out that
a young boy name Tim Drake was in the audience with his parents.
Young Tim would later wear the mantle of Robin. Also, in the
audience that night was the man that would eventually shape and
mold nearly all of the rest of Dick's life: millionaire Bruce
Wayne, a.k.a. the Batman. When young Dick learned that his
parents were wrongly killed by criminals, Dick vowed to see
them avenged. Batman saw in Dick a kindred spirit and took the
boy in as his ward.
Over the next few years, Batman trained Dick in the ways of
crimefighting. Batman created a costumed identity for his young
ward and Robin, the Boy Wonder was born.
The Dynamic Duo fought crime for many years together. Dick became
one of the founding members of the Teen Titans, a group made
up of other young hero/sidekicks, including Speedy, Kid Flash,
Aqualad, and Wonder Girl. Dick also became friends with
Barbara Gordon, who had adopted the guise of Batgirl.
When Robin was shot during a confrontation with the Joker,
Batman ordered Dick to quit his role as Robin and refused to
work with him. Batman's reason was to protect Dick from further
harm, but Dick misinterpreted his actions as that of anger. The
two had a falling-out that would last for many years.
Dick drifted for a while going to college for a time and eventually,
dropping out and returning to Gotham City. He became involved
again with his team-mates from the Teen Titans when the group
reformed to help the heroine Raven in her struggle against her
father Trigon. For many years, Dick lead the Titans in
as Robin, until he realized that he had outgrown this identity.
He later adopted the codename and identity of Nightwing and
has continued his fight against crime in this guise.
years, Dick has reconciled with Batman and formed a lasting
friendship and mentoring relationship with Tim Drake, the
third person to wear the mantle of Robin. He has also recently
become involved romantically with Barbara Gordon the former
The second person to use the name Robin was Jason Todd. Jason's
time as Robin was a difficult one. Due to the Crisis, Jason
has two separate origins. His pre-Crisis origin is similar to
that of Dick Grayson. Part of a family that worked as circus
aerilists, Jason's parents were killed by the villain Killer Croc.
Batman brought Croc to justice and adopted Jason. Batman
trained Jason as he had trained Dick before him and Jason became the
When the Crisis on Infinite Earths came about, the writers of
Batman sought to reinvent Jason Todd to fix the public perception
that he was a wimp. After the crisis, Jason became a savvy,
street-smart kid, whose first contact with Batman was when
he stole the wheels off the Batmobile. He was living with
the woman he believed to be his mother, who died soon after
his first encounter with Batman. Batman again took him under
his wing. Robin discovered that his father, Willis Todd, was
a criminal who was killed by Harvey Dent, the villain known
as Two-Face. Batman helped Jason bring his father's killer
Jason however took to the vigilante style of justice a little too
well. He often crossed the line between justice and vengence
When a brutal rapist was acquitted due to a technicality, Jason allowed the man to fall to his
death. The suggestion was that Jason may have caused him to fall.
Eventually, Jason discovered that the woman he believed to be
his mother was not and he went in search of his real mother.
The woman turned out to be a doctor in Africa. Unfortunately,
she was involved with Batman's arch-enemy, the Joker. Jason
was betrayed by his mother to the Joker and severely beaten.
The two were then trapped in a building which the Joker then
blew up. Batman arrived to pull Jason's body from the wreckage
of the building.
For many months, Batman was without a partner, but the lack of
a balance to his darker nature was causing him to become more
brutal and savage. Enter Tim Drake, the only son of Jack & Janet Drake.
Jack was the owner of Drake Industries, one of Gotham's leading
manufacturers. Tim had deduced over the years the identities
of both Batman and Robin, and approached Dick Grayson, when
Batman became more violent after Jason's passing. With the
help of Grayson in his guise of Nightwing and Wayne's butler
Alfred Pennyworth, Tim was able to convince Batman to train
him as the new Robin.
Drake was given a new costume which had long pants and was
designed to better protect him in battle. He fights with an
expandable staff and uses a vehicle called the Redbird. He
is the leader of a group of younger heroes known as Young
In the Frank Miller series, The Dark Knight Returns, in the
future the mantle of Robin will be taken by a teenage girl by
the name of Carrie Kelley. She will fight alongside the aging
Batman, even saving his life in battle.
The role of Robin has been portrayed in both the movies and television.
In television, the role was played by Burt Ward, who made
famous a whole string of "Holy Whatevers." (My personal
favorite was "Holy Molars, Batman!" after Robin was saved from
certain death by catching a batarang in his teeth.) Later
the role of Robin was played by Chris O'Donnell, who is the
poster child for Peter O'Toole's line from My Favorite Year:
"I'm not an actor - I'm a movie star!"