12 June 2011

Robins and the Reboot

DC Comics is getting a lot of attention for the “reboot” of its entire universe, which is of course the point. The weekly Robin editorial staff is of course interested in only one slice of those changes.

In an interview at io9, DC co-publisher Dan DiDio stated: “We think you’re looking at every one of the former Robins to have a real showcase book.”

Dick Grayson will return to the role of Nightwing, with a three-color costume and less interesting gloves. Though characters in the rebooted universe don’t necessarily have the same pasts and personalities as the characters with the same name now, the publicity copy says this Grayson has stood in for Batman for a while, as the current one is doing. Does the reboot get him out of the cape and cowl without the company having to figure out a plausible melodramatic plotline to explain the change?

The second Jason Todd is definitely becoming more prominent in the new universe. He’s also getting to ditch the embarrassing outfit that Grant Morrison wanted for his appearance in Batman and Robin, based on the original Red Hood design from 1951. (That was a great story, but who thinks it’s a good idea to emulate the Joker’s clothing sense?) We don’t know what color the rebooted Jason’s hair will be, but his outfit includes a red bat on his chest, perhaps a sign that he’s rejoined the Wayne family. That said, he’s teaming up with Dick’s former fiancée Starfire and Dick’s boyhood buddy Arsenal, so there’s still a lot of sibling envy at work there.

Tim Drake will lead a grittier version of the Teen Titans. Apparently DC’s way of targeting adolescent readers, born in the 1990s, involves costumes that look like they were designed in that decade. Tim now has feathers, but at least he’ll lose the ugly, featureless Red Robin cowl. And has he realized that the bird emblem on his chest is not a robin? We know that Tim’s rebooted character is still a computer geek, and still Badass Normal.

Damian Wayne will finally get to be sidekick for his father, Bruce Wayne, once again the one and only Batman. Damian’s got a frilly cape, but otherwise his costume looks much the same. Will this partnership turn out to be all that he’s hoped? Again, it’s not entirely clear what experiences this version of Damian and Bruce will have had together.

And finally, Stephanie Brown! . . . Stephanie Brown? . . . Has DC made any announcements about the short-lived but official female Robin of 2004?

She can’t be Batgirl since Barbara Gordon is resuming that role after more than a quarter-century of retirement and activity as Oracle. But I’ve seen no word on what role Stephanie will play in the new universe, if any.

But she’s going to have “a real showcase book,” right?

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