08 February 2009

Not a Reason for Robin

I quote from Gone and Forgotten's "Batman Is a Stinking Coward":

One of the most iconic images of Batman and Robin involves the spotlight hitting the Dynamic Duo as they rear back in surprise. It's a weird image, they both very clearly look utterly worried, and I guess mostly they didn't expect anyone to be carrying around a spotlight.

You know what stands out most for me, as far as goes this image? It's how ROBIN stands out most - Batman has ducked behind his cape, obscuring his outline. . . . most importantly he's chosen to STAND BEHIND THE CHILD. "Shoot the boy, but leave me alone," his body language seems to be screaming, "Can't you see his exposed limbs and garishly colored costume? Get the boy target!"
As G&A goes on to point out, this image was reused many times in the "Golden Age." More recently it's been repainted by Alex Ross, as captured by Wikipedia.

I'm quoting that analysis because it's funny, but not as one of my storytelling "Reasons for Robin." (If anyone's worried about Robin's safety, just recall that very shortly he'll slip on a pebble and fall down out of range.)

However, today's comics readers don't suspend their disbelief about such things as easily as those of the 1940s. Some fans have cheekily suggested that the only logical reason Batman would encourage Robin to dress up in red and green is to create a distracting target.

So scripter Adam Beechen addressed the issue in Robin, #152. After a quarrel with the second Batgirl (or third, if we count Bat-Girl), Tim Drake confronts Bruce Wayne with the notion that Robin's just a way for Batman to catch the crooks' attention.

And Bruce insists he's never do that. Which is of course what he'd say. Endangering a teenager doesn't make sense for the logic of Batman's character, as Ross himself has argued.

But who said Batman is logical?

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