29 March 2009

Mike W. Barr on Robin

Mike W. Barr was one of the leading Batman writers of the 1980s, scripting Detective Comics and creating the magazine Batman and the Outsiders. In those Batman stories, he wrote stories about two Robins: Dick Grayson, leaving the nest, and Jason Todd, just starting out.

In this interview at Jeffery Klaehn's Pop blog, which also appears in Inside the World of Comic Books, Barr spoke of Robin as one of the elements "vital to a Batman story":

JK: In a perfect world, should Batman stories be infused with sense of adventure and heavy doses of periodic lightness? This seems to have been what Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson hoped to achieve by introducing the character of Robin in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940). Your handling of Robin seemed very much in keeping with what I imagine their original intent was. How did you view Robin, in relation to Batman?

Barr: I'm convinced Robin is a major reason why the Batman strip has had such longevity. Batman is by no means psychotic, but I do think he's emotionally crippled in some respects, and he knows it. He sees with Robin a chance to bring the lad through his emotionally fragile adolescence by giving him an outlet for his rage that Batman didn't have when he was a boy. They're at once father and son, big brother and little brother, and anyone who thinks there's anything untoward in their relationship can go to hell . . .
Given that opinion, it's ironic that some of Barr's highest-profile Batman work came in 1987 in two stories with no Robin in sight: the "Year Two" series and the graphic novel Batman: Son of the Demon. The latter showed Bruce Wayne having a child with longtime antagonist Talia al Ghul. That took place in an alternative universe, but in Batman and Son (2006) Grant Morrison brought such a child into the standard DC continuity under the ominous name of Damian. Now he appears to be the latest Robin.

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