In We Are Robin #7, Gordon, while hunting for various clues for various things with Grayson, talks about how he used to view him back in the day. Back when he stood next to Batman. When Jim Gordon was just a cop, not GCPD’s Robo-Batman, and Dick Grayson was the first Robin, not Grayson, super spy.
Grayson mentions that Gordon never looked at him. And Gordon says yeah, he couldn’t do it because he’d have to acknowledge the fact that Batman was running around with a child soldier, like he saw in Africa. You know, conscripted. Wrong. Etc. But then, Gordon goes on to say, he remembered stories about Jewish boys in the war, who volunteered – even as teenagers, children – to fight, because there was no other choice. Because they needed to.
Now, this is a few issues back as far as the ROBIN WAR event goes, but this thought, when it comes to justifying Robins, and the Robin legacy, keeps coming back to me. And since I’ve made it an odd habit of talking about Robins in this blog (for some reason?), I’m going to share my opinion on this:
I think Jim Gordon is forcing him to find an answer he can accept. I don’t blame him for this. He needed Batman, and Batman wasn’t going to throw Dick away. So he had to find an answer to accept Dick, but it isn’t one that holds water, for me.
In my mind, it’s a comparison that works better when they’re volunteers like Tim, than basically brainwashed and given little option, like Damian.
In general, I don’t much question the Robin issue any more than I do the Batman one because if you pull on one thread most of them start falling apart and there’s logical holes in most places. I’ve always thought that of the Robins so far, Tim, Stephanie, and Carrie have made the most sense because they volunteered, more or less freely, with a better sense of what they were doing. Because they weren’t so much in grief or desperation.
Dick and Jason and Damian are the more tragic examples of Robins within the universe, because their options were more limited, and they came to the mantel less willingly. They weren’t forced into it, it’s not like Batman gave them no choice at all, but their lives left them fewer options than the other three had. Tim saw a need and answered it. When Tim vacated the position, Stephanie – who was already a vigilante hero – stepped in to try and continue to fill that need, and get more training (and maybe make Tim jealous…). Carrie saw a dangerous city, and a man doing something and thought maybe she’d try too… and when that man was in trouble, she went out to save his life.
Dick? Bruce took him in. Bruce was Batman. He had no one else. Of course he would follow that, especially in a grief that was equal to the one that had changed Bruce. Jason? Also orphaned. Also grieving, though in a different way. And needing to be saved from himself. Damian? Batman’s own blood. And Talia’s. Either hero or villain. Raised to fight, to kill. Raised in arrogance. Of all of them, Damian had the least choice.
Tim, Stephanie, and Carrie are your Jewish boys. Dick, however, with Jason and Damian are your child soldiers. Harper, Blue Bird, who in Batman and Robin Eternal we see as a sort of jilted trainee sorta-Robin, or something close to, is somewhere in between. She has the orphan gig, the little option of Dick and Jason, but she’s also volunteering like Stephanie did as Spoiler (actually living with her in BRE) and Carrie did in DKR.
I’m totally rambling. I haven’t been a big fan of We Are Robin. The idea of these kids not being slaughtered more heavily is distressing to me, because I don’t disagree with Gordon in that either/or, Gotham is a war zone, if you’re approaching it as a Robin. I think it was Batman and Robin Eternal where Tim said to Jason that Jason made it real. Jason died as Robin. Any of them can.
Untrained, more of them should.
The ROBIN WAR event isn’t the best. I think it has one more issue left, and I’m still not 100% sure what the whole point is, except the Owls want Dick, maybe? They teased Nightwing, but Grayson’s too popular for that, surely. I’m not a huge Grayson fan, but the idea is still great, and there are stories coming out of his book that wouldn’t be as compelling or possible, I don’t think, as Nightwing. (I’m basically reading it for Jason. Jason’s all over the place right now, and I’m loving it.) But, best or not, I am enjoying the exploration of the original, most famous, and most joked-about kid sidekick and legacy hero.