“Holy Secret Origin Saturday, Batman!”
It’s Secret Origin Saturday! It’s late when I am posting this but technically it is still Saturday. It will be Sunday when I post this on my social media but since its still Saturday when I’m posting it here, I’m calling this one a Secret Origin Saturday! This week we take a look at our very first sidekick secret origin featuring the very first sidekick. This week we take a look at Dick Grayson… the original… and the BEST… Robin the Boy Wonder!
To be completely honest, I was never a HUGE Batman guy.
I love Batman and I definitely regard him as one of the best super hero creations of the entire medium. He has a rich universe and mythology and arguably the best rogues’ gallery of the genre. I know some fans are absolutely fanatic in their devotion to the Dark Knight. (I go back to the days when you didn’t just say “Dark Knight.” In my day, he was “the Darknight Detective!”) To them, they’re religious about it. I love Batman, but I always preferred Superman. Superman was the first super hero comic I avidly collected so to me, he always eclipsed Batman.
That said, Batman was absolutely one of the very first super heroes I was exposed to by way of the 1966 Adam West TV series which was very often in reruns when I was growing up in the 1970’s. Batman was also one of the key players on The Superfriends, and he had a couple of Filmation produced Batman cartoon series. The Batmania of the late 60’s may have passed by the 1970’s but Batman was still everywhere… and of course, by extension, so was Robin. In those days… at least as far as the mass media and the merchandise were concerned… you didn’t just have Batman. Batman was solidly one half of the “Batman and Robin” team. Robin was always featured right alongside of him.
Eventually, I’d jump into the Batman comic books. Now we’re talking right about 1980 or so. I was immediately struck by a few differences between the Robin I’d known on TV and in cartoons and the Robin I was meeting in the comic books. First of all, Comic Book Robin was older. At this point, in the comics, Dick Grayson was being depicted as college age. On the ’66 show, he was always in high school and he looked about that age on The Superfriends and other cartoons.
Probably more surprisingly, though, was the fact that the Batman and Robin team had dissolved! At this point in the comics, Dick Grayson had left Wayne Manor to go off to college. He largely appeared on his own in solo series in The Batman Family and as I discovered him, as a back-up in the Batman series. He’d also turn out for the various incarnations of the Teen Titans. The New Teen Titans hadn’t exploded just yet. Batman was on his own. At this time, he and Alfred had closed up Wayne Manor and they were living out of Bruce Wayne’s penthouse atop the Wayne Foundation building. Anyone remember that building with the giant tree growing in the middle of it? For me, growing up, it became as iconic a landmark as the Daily Planet building over in Metropolis!
It wouldn’t be long before The New Teen Titans launched and blasted off to become one of the best sellers of the time. I’d follow Robin there and I was there when Dick Grayson eventually shed the Robin identity and adopted his Nightwing persona. I was also there for the introduction of Jason Todd, one of the most horribly shafted characters in the history of comics… but that’s another article. I was there too when Jason became the new Robin, and while I became invested in his story and I found the character to be an acceptable successor to Dick, Dick Grayson was always my Robin.
Now for a little Director’s Cut Commentary… Panel 1 shows my quintessential Robin. This is Dick Grayson in his very late teens as a blend of my favorite Robin artists, Dick Giordano, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, and of course, George Perez.
Panel 2 shows us the young Dick Grayson with his parents, the circus acrobats, the Flying Grayson. Let me just say that a Google Images search turned up lots of different versions of the Flying Graysons. Most of the shots that came up were fairly contemporary depictions of John and Mary Grayson. Almost all of them had the Graysons wearing an acrobatic variation of what would ultimately become Robin’s costume. I have to say… I HATE that! I know we’re living in a time where there is open contempt for the concept of the secret identity but I find it absolutely retarded to have Dick Grayson running around in a costume that was only a slight modification of what he wore in public performances all across the country. Hell! There were probably circus posters all over the World with the Flying Graysons on them! They were the circus’ biggest act… hence why they were targeted for murder. Here, I avoided the stupidity and just designed a basic acrobatic outfit.
Panel 3 gives us the tragic death of the Graysons and we see young Dick mourning them in Panel 4. Bruce Wayne and Alfred watch from the background. This by the way marks the first appearance of Batman in Secret Origin Saturday. Don’t worry! He’ll be getting his own page at some point! He’s on the list!
Panel 5 features a scene I absolutely had to include… Batman swearing in Dick as his new partner.
The final panel is my own homage to the very often homaged cover to Batman #9 from 1942, one of the most iconic and most referenced images of the Dynamic Duo.
That’s a wrap for this week, Everybody! Whatever you do… don’t miss next week’s Secret Origin Saturday as we go back for the very first time into the Golden Age of Comics. Yeah. I know technically, Robin first appeared in the Golden Age, but next week, we’re looking at a character firmly rooted in the Golden Age. It would be an INJUSTICE if you missed it! In fact, it might KILL you!
See you then, Everybody!!