02 January 2011

Robin’s Hood, and How It Changes the Universe

I’ve written before about thinking that Grant Morrison’s most immediate inspiration for his long Batman and Robin arc that’s produced a (by my count) sixth Robin was Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All Star Batman and Robin.

Of course, Morrison had many other inspirations as well, going back to the collection that he (and I) read as a wee lad, Batman: From the 30s to the 70s. But Miller’s vision of a “goddamn Batman” strikes me as the most likely jumping-off point for Morrison to think up Damian Wayne, the goddamn Robin.

In All Star Batman, Dick Grayson (age twelve) creates a crime-fighting costume for himself based on Robin Hood. (That legend was in fact Jerry Robinson’s principal inspiration in designing the character, which is why the original costume has a little medieval styling.) The goddamn Batman doesn’t like the long name “Robin Hood.” And he doesn’t like the hood. So far as I know, there’s no precedent for that moment in previous DC Comics, no previous portrayal of Dick wanting to wear a hood. It supposedly happens only on “Earth 31,” reserved for Miller’s vision of the goddamn Batman.

But in Batman and Robin Morrison scripted a moment (for Philip Tan to illustrate) that’s a direct response to Miller’s. Dick Grayson, now Batman, tries to pass on some of his mentor’s wisdom to Damian—wisdom we’ve never “officially” seen Bruce give. And this hood-wearing goddamn Robin responds in his own special way. (I only wish the word balloons were placed more gracefully.)

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