SPOILER ALERT: This article has references to upcoming events in the comic book ‘Grayson’. If you don’t want to be spoiled, you may want to avoid this.
Before Bucky, Toro, Captain Marvel Jr., Speedy, Kid Flash and Aqualad, there came the first sidekick in comic book history, Robin the Boy Wonder. Debuting in 1940’s ‘Detective Comics’ #38, Dick Grayson was part of a family of circus acrobats, whose parents were killed when the circus owner refused to pay off extortionists. Dick was taken in by Bruce Wayne/Batman, who was in the audience when the Dick’s parents were killed. Eventually, Dick became Batman’s partner, Robin, naming himself after Robin Hood (not the bird as people so often assume). Despite his bleak origin, the character was intended to lighten the Batman character up as well as to give juvenile readers a character they could relate to.
2015 marks the 75th anniversary of Robin, the first comic book sidekick, so what does his parent company, DC Comics have in store for him?
Last year, readers may recall that Nightwing (Dick Grayson’s grown up super identity) was captured by the Secret Society, beaten and tortured and then had his secret identity exposed to the entire world at the hands of Lex Luthor. As a result, Grayson had to abandon both his super identity and his everyday identity. With Batman’s aid, Grayson went to work for secret spy agency Spyral as a mole, feeding information about the organization back to his mentor.
Tom King, the co-writer of Dick’s current series, simply entitled ‘Grayson’, expresses, “This is the 75th Anniversary of Dick Grayson, and we have big plans for him throughout all of DC. Our goal from the beginning was to make him an A-List superhero, and you’re going to start to see some of that come up in the next year.”
Many would argue that Robin/Nightwing was already A-List. The character has appeared in several animated series and movies, as well as in live action four times. Most “civilians” know Robin more than they know Green Lantern or The Flash. But it’s still good to hear that Grayson is getting a big push in the next year.
King added, “This is the end of season one of Grayson. And the idea was to get people used to the idea of Dick Grayson in this new role, and to show that we take this character very seriously, and we see a continuity between Nightwing and his new mission. And so we wanted to do some really great one-and-done spy stories right off the bat, to get people on board with this new status quo. So we always knew that would come to an end with season one, and then season two would be an expansion of this world.”
Season One, as King refers to the first several issues of ‘Grayson’ culminated with the assassination of enigmatic leader Mister Minos and Dick’s partner Helena Bertinelli assuming control of Spyral, opening the door for Dick to gain a new partner. “The next season will be about Dick Grayson returning to the DCU, and the impact that has on him as a character, and on all the other characters.”
That’s not the only big change for the character. In the greater DC Universe, Batman is assumed dead, leaving Dick stranded in Spyral with no one to report to.
Says King, “Batman had Dick out on this mission. He’s the one contact, the one thing tying Dick to Gotham City and his family and friends, the one person who knows he’s alive. And he’s gone. What does Dick do now?”
Tim Seeley, King’s co-writer, says “We can do an out-in-the-cold mission, you know? We can do a spy with no ties home, which just added cool ideas for us.”
With Dick’s spy career firmly established, he’s going to be venturing out and rubbing shoulders with some other famous characters, including the man that exposed his identity, Lex Luthor.
Seeley explains, “Clearly Dick’s going to have some issue with the dude that sort of killed him in front of his mentor… You’ll see some cool dynamics between, you know, a guy like Lex Luthor who is obviously the quintessential supervillain, but he’s also a guy with some of the same interests as Spyral.”
King adds, “This comic was never intended to be Grayson by himself forever. That’s not what we want to do, that’s not what we want to write. That’s not what Dick Grayson is. He’s a very social hero. He’s a leader. He’s a man that everybody depends on. And that’s going to play a role in his future.”
And one of the first heroes he encounters is one that he has been one of his longest-running allies, Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl, in ‘Batgirl Annual’ #3. In the past, Barbara and Dick were an on-again-off-again couple, but the New 52 history is altered and the duo doesn’t seem t have ever consummated their mutual attraction. But their crime fighting relationship was very close, so that at least forms one tight bond between them.
It does not look as if Grayson will reclaim his Nightwing guise any time soon and since he became Nightwing, there have been three newer Robins, Jason Todd, Tim Drake and currently Damian Wayne. (As well as Stephanie Brown in the pre-New 52 DCU.) He has served as a replacement Batman in the past and with Bruce Wayne believed dead, this may be the time for Grayson to don the cowl again.
But it sounds like King and Seeley have enough in the works that don’t include Dick adopting another super identity.
Hopefully, DC will do a little more to celebrate this milestone, like a collection of classic Dick Grayson stories and some merchandise, like statues and action figures.
What else would you like to see to commemorate Robin’s 75th anniversary? Are you reading ‘Grayson’? What do you think of the writers’ plans for the character? Sound off below!