25 September 2011

“I could be Robin, but I didn't think I could be Batman”

As DC Comics wound down its first Batman series with issue #713, it turned to writing stalwart Fabian Nicieza to script a final story. I think Nicieza has a particularly good understanding of the place of Robin in the Batman mythos (i.e., he agrees with me on lots of points), so this was a good choice.

Comic Book Resources interviewed Nicieza about that story, and his fondness for Dick Grayson:
When I first came to this country [from Argentina], we watched the Batman TV series on ABC and I immediately got into the character. I don't know if it was the costume or the fact I felt I could be Robin, but I didn't think I could be Batman—same reason I thought I could be Chekhov but not Kirk! I don't know, it's dorky, but I always thought any kid in shorts and green pixie boots (have we mentioned he wore pixie boots?) who could hold his own up against Batman, much less all the villains in Gotham, was cool by me.
The tale Nicieza wrote is framed around Damian Wayne telling three younger boys a Grayson-centered history of Batman, at the same time sharing the valuable lessons he’s learned from being Robin.

The story reminded me a bit of “The Batman Nobody Knows” from 1973, also about boys telling each other stories of the legendary Batman. That tale is supposed show that children are too innocent to be scared of Batman like that cowardly, superstitious lot of criminals. (It actually shows the boys as jaded enough to quickly believe that millionaire bachelor Bruce Wayne likes to jump out at children on camping trips in a skin-tight costume and mask. But I digress.)

In Batman, #713, those three little boys are named Bob, Jerry, and Bill—obvious allusions to Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, and Bill Finger, the team that created Dick Grayson back in 1940.

Little Bill later talks about a story he’s going to write. Readers’ response to these kids seems to depend on their tolerance for schmaltz. But a “last” issue of a magazine published since 1940 might deserve a bit of schmaltz.

Do I read too much into the fact that the Bob Kane analogue is a step behind everyone else?


Anonymous said...

I liked Damian's comments about recognising that Dick's friendship was viewed as being a privilege by his many, many friends, and how HE admitted (albeit almost reluctantly, and anonymously to three strangers who didn't know "The Secret") it was a privilege too, which is something he'd never have thought when he started out as Dick's Robin.

J. L. Bell said...

Yeah, I think the best aspect of this issue is what it shows about Damian. He’s still a grumpy and arrogant Robin, but he’s grown into being a Robin. That seems like an appropriate closing for this period of the Batman magazine, even if most of the growth was supposed to show up in Batman and Robin.