16 August 2009

Robin Takes Charge of the Case

Yet another sign that DC Comics was pleased with Robin, the Boy Wonder, right from his debut in early 1940 is how prominently it featured the character. Decades later Robin would be relegated to a corner of Detective or Batman magazine covers, expressing surprise and worry at what Batman faced. But in his first year, Robin was often front and center.

On the twelve Detective Comics covers that followed his first appearance, Robin needed Batman to rescue him five times (thrice while tied up in his role as "boy hostage"). But in the majority of those covers he was:

And inside the magazines, writer Bill Finger began coming up with stories that made Robin the lead detective, bringing Batman back on only for the final fight scenes. The first of these tales appeared in Batman, #1, with a cover date of spring 1940.That story was also the first appearance of the Cat, the sultry jewel thief later known as the Catwoman. Robin thwarts her scheme with Batman's help. But on the last page Batman deliberately makes his partner slip and fall in order to let the Cat get away.

Detective, #41, follows Dick to an exclusive boarding school, its splash panel announcing:
To ROBIN, THE BOY WONDER falls the task of bringing about the fall of a master criminal...a master murderer!
And the third issue of Batman, dated fall 1940, included a story about Dick going undercover as only he could in "The Crime School for Boys."

Robin's first completely solo adventures wouldn't start until Star Spangled Comics in the late 1940s, but already the Batman team was giving him lots of time in the spotlight.


Pat said...

Interesting series; I absolutely agree that DC knew Robin would be successful from the word go. One of my favorite little trivia questions is, "What DC character appeared on the cover of the most comics of the 1940s?" Nobody believes me when I tell them it's Robin.

J. L. Bell said...

That's a delightful statistic. I suppose it's the total of Batman, Detective, World's Finest, and the little guy's ace in the hole, Star Spangled.