BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES ROBIN'S RECKONING (1993)
Kevin Conroy, Loren Lester, Efrem Zimbalist Jnr, Thomas Wilson
Written by: Randy Rogel Directed by: Dick Sebast
Dick Grayson - "If only I could have stopped him. I saw him coming out of the tent, I knew he didn't belong there."
Bruce Wayne - "I know. You keep thinking if only i'd done something differently, if only I could have warned them. But there isn't anything you could have done, there isn't anything either of us could have done."
EVER SINCE HIS...
...introduction in Detective Comics in 1940 (just a year after Batman's debut), Robin has been very much a part of the Batman mythology. Love him or hate him, the Boy Wonder will always be closely linked to the Dark Knight, thanks to his countless appearances in comics, tv shows, serials and movies. Arguably his most memorable appearance was during the 1960s Batman TV series, where Burt Ward played the colourful sidekick alongside Adam West as the Caped Crusader. Unfortunately that camp interpretation dogged the character for years (and the Joel Schumacher Batman films of the mid-late 90s certainly didn't help either) and that is a shame as Robin is one of the most important people in Batman's life.
Robin's early appearances in Batman: TAS were very sparse and it was clear that he was not the focus of many of the stories. It was referenced that Dick Grayson was at college studying and so he only turned up once in a while to help Bruce out on a case, but his arrival was never met with a fanfare, instead he would just blend in with the story. That approach worked really well as it showed that he could be useful if the story allowed and he wasn't just being thrown into stories that didn't need him. So when it came time to tell the origin of Robin it was a story that needed to reflect how the character fitted into the journey of Batman as well as giving the Boy Wonder his own chance to shine.
As a story Robin's Reckoning started by establishing the light and dark dynamics of Batman and Robin; in their mannerisms and their approach to the job. Batman was a serious guy, concerned with the task at hand whilst Robin made wise cracks when taking on the bad-guys and there existed a balance between the two heroes. As the story progressed, Robin's attitude changed and as he began to take on the 'single-minded' character trait of Batman, it became evident that it was not a path that sat comfortably with Dick Grayson. The problem started when Batman and Robin were on a routine stakeout at a construction site which led to a bunch of no good hoodlums being questioned by the Dynamic Duo. One of the men revealed that his boss was called Billy Marin, a name that Batman recognised all too well. Marin was just one of the aliases used by two-bit racketeer Tony Zucco, who shared a history with Robin's alias, Dick Grayson. When Dick was a small boy he performed acrobatics with his family at Hayley's circus, under the name The Flying Graysons. Zucco had tried to extort protection money from Mr Hayley, the owner of the circus, and when Hayley refused, Zucco sabotaged the trapeze causing the death of Dick's parents. Knowing that Robin would want revenge upon Zucco, Batman quickly took his partner off the case, but when Robin found out, he became angry with Batman and the two clashed over what to do with Zuccho.
One of the strengths of the story was the use of flashbacks which detailed Dick's tragic past. The scene in which his parents were brutally murdered by Zuccho was masterfully handled and demonstrated that shock and horror could often be seen without having to actually be shown! You see the actual death of Dick's parents was played out with a clever use of cut aways. Prior to The Flying Graysons taking up their position on the highwire, Tony Zucco was seen cutting into a trapeze cable, which set up the tension of what was to come. So when Dick's father and mother swung out into the air, Dick noticed the damaged cable and shouted out for his father but it was too late and the shot of the Grayson's became a silhouette. As the wire swung back into view all that was left was the severed rope followed by gasps from the circus' audience, which included Bruce Wayne, who was the only member of the crowd clearly visible. It was a simple yet dramatic way to deal with their deaths and it was a tragedy that mirrored the one that Bruce Wayne had exprienced in his past. The flashbacks also provide much needed information on the progression of Bruce and Dick's relationship and how they had worked towards their winning partnership.
Bruce had offered to assist the police with protecting Dick from any repercussions following the murders and so the young boy found sanctuary at Wayne Manor. But Bruce was so determined to help Dick as Batman, by hunting down Zucco, that it caused him to neglect his new house guest and he had to find a way to bond with him to help ease his suffering. The only way to do that was to reveal he was Batman by taking Robin under his (Bat) wing. The outcome was that they became much closer and it helped Bruce to realise that he could open up his life to other people as well. Bruce was and always would be afraid of letting people down, stemming from his inability to help his parents the night that they died. Nothing would ever change that because the incident altered him beyond anything imaginable, therefore adopting Robin was a way for Bruce to attempt a satisfying life, by making Dick's life a lot brighter than his own. He protected Robin as best as he could and as a result, the Boy Wonder became a lighter side of the Dark Knight, taking on all of his skills, but retaining a more carefree spirit. In turn, Robin was equally important in keeping Batman on the straight and narrow, bringing him away from the edge that he often teetered on and reminded him that there existed a life outside of the cape and cowl. Batman worked well as a solitary character, but he needed secondary characters like Robin to stop him from becoming the villains that he fought so hard to defeat. He used fear to strike terror in the hearts of the lowlifes of Gotham City, but he was in danger of ruining the values of law and order he worked so tirelessly to preserve. Without Robin he was no less the hero, but with him he became so much more and as Batman pointed out to Robin at the end of the story, Zucco caused so much pain for him, that he couldn't stand the thought that Zucco might take Robin as well. As a character Batman will last the test of time, but he will only do that with the support of those who make him the hero that he is. Robin may not always fit into every story, but it's not difficult to see how empty Batman's life would be if he didn't have a friend to share his journey with.
ROBIN RETURNS: *During Robin's Reckoning as well as Billy Marin, the Bat-computer revealed that Tony Zucco also used the aliases, Simon Dirks, Sid the Squid, Killer Coburn and Punky Lesh.
*Robin became more of a prominent character as Batman:TAS continued and was rebranded The Adventures of Batman & Robin. Dick Grayson eventually became Nightwing as the show took a different direction for The New Batman Adventures and Tim Drake took up the mantle of Robin. The episode Old Wounds featured Nightwing discussing with Robin the reason as to why he left Gotham to take up a new identity as Nightwing.
*Dick Grayson was the first Robin introduced into the comics, but there have been a number of characters to wear the costume, including the infamous second Robin Jason Todd. Todd was killed off by the Joker, although his fate was ultimately decided by a phone vote in which readers were asked if they wanted him to live or die and was later resurrected. His 'death' can be read in the Death In The Family storyline in Batman #426 - 429.
*Robin was introduced into the fourth season of animated show 'The Batman' where he broke the tradition established within the comics as he appeared after Batgirl was introduced (instead of before). In the episode A Matter of Family, his father John Grayson was voiced by Kevin Conroy, who voiced Batman in Batman:TAS, whereas Tony Zucco was voiced by Mark Hamill, who provided the voice of the Joker in Batman:TAS.
*The cartoon series "Teen Titans" (2003), has Robin as the leader of a group of heroes that included Cyborg, Beast Boy, Raven and Starfire. The series ran for five years and produced a spin-off movie, Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo (2006). The show never revealed exacatly which of the Robin's it was under the domino mask, but there were a number of hints to suggest that it was Dick Grayson. One of the final issues of the spin-off comic "Teen Titans Go!" confirmed that it was Dick Grayson.