The daughter of the criminal Cluemaster, Stephanie Brown originated in 1992 as an amateur crime-fighter called Spoiler. She later served briefly as the fourth Robin and, in 2009, became the third Batgirl. From 2009 to 2011, she was the star of her own ongoing Batgirl comic book series. She was introduced in a three-issue story arc in Detective Comics #647-649 in which writer Chuck Dixon reinvented a villain called the Cluemaster. Dixon created the Cluemaster's daughter, Stephanie, as simply a plot device for this story, seeking to "spoil" her father's plans. Even so, the character was well received by fans. The following year, Dixon launched the first ongoing Robin series and featured the Spoiler as a foil and love interest for Tim Drake. The character was at the center of a high-profile teen pregnancy storyline in 1998, which caused Wizard Magazine to name Robin the best ongoing comic book of the year. Stephanie remained an integral part of Robin's supporting cast for over a decade, until her death in the 2004 crossover storyline Batman: War Games. Her death was revealed to have been faked in a 2008 story, and in 2009, she became the eponymous lead character in the Batgirl series written by Bryan Q. Miller, with pencils by Lee Garbett. The title was canceled after 24 issues and replaced with a new Batgirl series starring Barbara Gordon.
Creating a homemade Robin costume, Stephanie sneaks into the Batcave and demands that Batman train her as the new Robin. Batman reluctantly accepts her as the new Robin, puts her through several months of intensive training, and makes her a better costume with roughly the same design as Tim's. As Robin, she patrols with Batman, but he thinks she is too unskilled to be an acceptable replacement for Tim. Batman later fires her after she disobeys his orders during two missions. In an effort to prove her worth to Batman, Stephanie steals one of his long-term plans for dealing with the entirety of Gotham's criminal underworld, arranging a meeting to bring them all together. Since this plan is predicated on the involvement of "Matches Malone", who, unbeknownst to her, is a persona that Batman uses to infiltrate the underworld, it quickly spins out of control. The result is a city-wide gang war in which Stephanie is captured by the Black Mask, who tortures her extensively to get information about Batman, as well as learning enough information to allow him to take control of Batman's plan and assume command of the gangs himself. Although she escapes and makes her way to a hospital, she is severely injured, and supposedly dies in a hospital bed as Batman sits beside her. Batman later finds evidence that vital medical treatment that could have saved Stephanie's life had been denied by Doctor Leslie Thompkins. When Batman confronts the doctor, Thompkins claims she willfully withheld such treatment to send a warning to any of Gotham's youth intending to follow Stephanie's example.
Following the revamp of the Batman mythos due to Crisis on Infinite Earths, Jason Todd is recast as a young street orphan who first encounters the Dark Knight while attempting to steal the tires off the Batmobile in Crime Alley. Jason, the son of Willis and Catherine Todd, lives on the East end of Gotham, in the Park Row district called Crime Alley. Todd's mother was a drug addict who died of an overdose some time before he began living on the street. His father Willis was working as hired muscle for Two-Face and had disappeared suspiciously following a botched assignment. Bruce Wayne sees to it that Todd is placed in a school for troubled youths which turns out to be Ma Gunn's School for Crime. Jason earns the mantle of Robin a short while later by helping Batman apprehend the gang of thieves. However, Todd does not wear the Robin costume (an improved version of the classic) until six months of training.
Batman notes that while Todd doesn't possess Dick Grayson's natural athleticism & acrobatic skills, he can become a productive crimefighter by channeling his rage. He also believes that if he doesn't help the boy, Todd will eventually become part of the "criminal element." In the revamp period, Todd is portrayed as the "rebel" Robin. He smokes, swears, and fights authority. He is prone to defying Batman's orders, sometimes to success (bringing in Scarecrow singlehandedly) and sometimes failure (botching a raid on a drug lab by jumping the gun too soon). Todd also aided Batman while Gotham City was temporarily overrun by Deacon Blackfire as shown in Batman: The Cult. The most controversial moment prior to his death occurred in Batman #424. It involved a serial rapist named Felipe Garzonas, who escapes prosecution due to his father's diplomatic immunity. One of his victims, a girl named Gloria, hangs herself amid the threat of a third rape from Felipe. Todd discovers her hanging and makes a beeline for Felipe, ahead of Batman, who arrives just in time to see Felipe take a 22 story fall to his death, with Todd as Robin at the edge of the balcony. Todd maintains "I guess I spooked him. He slipped." This highlights an earlier exchange in Batman #422 where he uses excessive force on a pimp about to slash one of his working girls and Todd asks Batman if it "would've been such a big loss if I had (killed him)?" Whether Todd pushed the rapist from the roof is never known.
In 1988's "A Death in the Family" storyline, Jason Todd discovers that Catherine Todd was not his biological mother, and runs away to find the woman who gave birth to him. After following a number of leads, including an Israeli Mossad agent and Shiva Woo-San, Todd finally tracks his mother, Sheila, to Ethiopia, where she works as an aid worker. While Todd is overjoyed to be reunited with his real mother, he soon discovers that she is being blackmailed by the Joker, who is using her to provide him with medical supplies. Sheila herself has been embezzling from the aid agency and as part of the cover-up, she hands her own son, who arrives as Robin, over to the Joker. The Joker beats the boy brutally with a crowbar, and then leaves him and Sheila in the warehouse with a time bomb. Sheila and Robin try desperately to get out of the warehouse but are still inside as the bomb goes off. Batman arrives too late to save them, and finds Jason's lifeless body in the rubble. Sheila lives just long enough to tell Batman that Jason died trying to protect her. The bodies are taken back to Gotham City for burial. Todd's death haunts Batman, and he considers it his greatest failure. He keeps the second Robin's uniform on display in the Batcave as a reminder. The murder of Todd, along with the maiming of Barbara Gordon, the first Batgirl, in Batman: The Killing Joke, intensifies Batman's obsession with the Joker.
Damian's origin is unknown to Batman. Genetically perfected and grown in an artificial womb, Damian was intended to be a formidable warrior. He is raised by Talia and the League of Assassins. He becomes a talented martial artist by the time he is a pre-teen, at which time Talia reveals Damian's existence to Bruce Wayne and leaves him in Batman's custody in an effort to disrupt Batman's work.
Precocious, spoiled, and violent, Damian battles Tim Drake, whom he wants to replace as Robin, and sucker punches Drake off the stuffed Tyrannosaurus in the Batcave when Tim stops fighting to help him. Damian then escapes, dons a variant Robin costume made of Jason Todd's old tunic and mask and assorted League of Assassin gear, and gets into a fight with and decapitates the villainous Spook. Although misguided and malicious, Damian seems to genuinely want to aid Wayne's war on crime as he sees himself as Wayne's son and wants Wayne's approval. Unfortunately, because of how he was raised, Damian lacks any sort of common sense in regards to social behavior, and believes that in order to be accepted by Batman, he must kill any rivals, which included Tim Drake. Eventually, Batman confronts Talia to confirm Damian's true identity, but both Talia and Damian are soon caught in an explosion. They survive the explosion. But Damian's badly injured body requires transplants of harvested organs, which his mother orders her physicians to carry out. Damian makes a full recovery.
Following the Flashpoint event, Bruce was returned by writers to being the only Batman, while Dick was returned to his previous role as Nightwing. Damian still serves as his father's partner as Robin. After reading the letter written by his father from an alternate timeline, the Dark Knight decides that it is time to take steps to put his past behind him. He tries to teach Damian the same values his parents have instilled within him as he finally assumes his role as a father. However, despite Bruce's attempts to build a relationship with his son, Damian remains cold and distant with his father, which Alfred worries about. This relationship is further strained when Damian kills the villain Nobody. During the "Leviathan" story arc, when his mother Talia puts a price on his head and is targeted by the most dangerous and skilled assassins, Bruce faked Damian's death and secluded him in the Batcave in order to protect him while he goes undercover to confront Talia and her minions. But against his father's wishes he escapes, donning a new costume under the name ofRedbird. Along with the mysterious Wingman and most of the Bat-family, Damian manages to rescue his father and defeat most of the League of Shadows. However, Batman explains that the temporary defeat of the League will not stop a larger force to attack later and destroy the city, so he came to the extreme decision that the only solution possible is that Damian to return to his mother, a decision that caused an emotional reaction on Damian like never before.
Damian was killed battling a brutal enemy, the Heretic (an adult Damian clone) in issue number 8 of the Batman, Inc. comic book, which went on sale February 27, 2013. Minutes after Damian's death, Batman is seen holding his son's body and he then angrily screams up at the sky as it begins to rain. According to the story's writer, Grant Morrison: “He saves the world. He does his job as Robin. He dies an absolute hero.” The later storyline, Requiem, deals with the aftermath of Damian's death and Batman's thirst for revenge against Talia as well as his own increasingly unbalanced mental state resulted by this loss. Batman is also unwilling to accept his son's death, and begins seeking the means to resurrect Damian at the cost of his relationships with his friends and allies, and had not yet made the information of his death public. When Batman and Nightwing finally confront Heretic, they overpower him, and the clone suffers a brutal beating from both in retaliation for Damian's death. Batman, despite desiring to kill his son's murderer more than anything and Nightwing made no attempts of stopping his mentor, spares the villain's life after seeing his resemblance to Damian, realizing the clone is what is left of his son. However, Talia later kills Heretic for his failure to kill Batman, and challenges Batman to a duel to the death in the Batcave.
The youngest in a family of acrobats known as the "Flying Graysons", Dick watches a mafia boss kill his parents in order to extort money from the circus that employed them. Bruce Wayne/Batman takes him in as his legal ward, retconned in some cases as his adopted son, and eventually as his crime-fighting partner Robin. Throughout Dick's adolescence, Batman and Robin are inseparable. However, as Dick grows older and spends more time as the leader of the Teen Titans, he retires as Robin and takes on his own superhero identity Nightwing to assert his independence (others would fill in as Robin). As Nightwing, Dick leads the Teen Titans and later the Outsiders.
Following the events of the Zero Hour miniseries, he temporarily replaces Bruce Wayne as Batman, beginning in Robin #0 (October 1994) and extending throughout the Batman: Prodigal storyline. In an eponymous series, launched in 1996 and continuing until 2009, he becomes the protector of Blüdhaven, Gotham's economically troubled neighboring city. Following the destruction of Blüdhaven, at the command of Deathstroke, Nightwing relocates to New York. Following "Batman: Knightfall", Dick Grayson takes up the mantle of Batman while Bruce was recovering from a broken back as he considers Dick his prodigal son. After the events of "Batman R.I.P." and Final Crisis, Dick moves operations to Gotham to protect the city following Bruce's apparent death. Despite Bruce's will instructing him not to, the chaos in Gotham following Bruce's disappearance prompts Dick to take up his mentor's identity once again as Batman. With Bruce's return, Dick once again picked up his previous identity as Nightwing.
From 1989 to 2009, he was known as Robin in the Batman comics, becoming the third character to take up the identity. Tim Drake made his first comic book appearance in Batman #436 in a flashback as a child who was in the audience when Dick Grayson's parents fell to their deaths. Following the events in Batman: Battle for the Cowl, Drake has taken up the identity of Red Robin. Tim Drake is the son of Jack and Janet Drake, coming from the same social class as Bruce Wayne. When he was a young child, he visited the circus for the first time with his parents. The Drakes asked the Flying Graysons for a photo together, resulting in a momentary bond between Dick Grayson and Tim Drake as they met for the first time.
After reaching the age of nine, Drake deduces the identities of Batman and Robin as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson after witnessing a gymnastic move by Robin that Grayson displayed while performing with the Flying Graysons. Noting that Batman has grown reckless and violent following the death of second Robin Jason Todd, who was murdered by the Joker, Drake decided to intervene and Batman eventually enlisted him as the third Robin after the death of his mother and the crippling of his father. Jack Drake also appeared in Identity Crisis. When Jean Loring sent him a gun he used it in self-defense and killed Captain Boomerang, but at the last second, Captain Boomerang threw a boomerang that killed Jack Drake. As a result Tim became an orphan, continuing the long held tradition that Robin is an orphan.
He is "the smart one" of the Bat-family, the thinker and planner. I mean, of course Bruce Wayne/Batman is what he is, and Tim isn’t quite there yet, but Tim at 17 has a more developed intellect than Bruce at 17 did. That’s not to say Dick Grayson or Barbara Gordon are dumb, of course they’re not, but Tim’s level of thinking is a bit... thicker... than theirs. For me, Dick is about superior reflexive thinking, Barbara about superior operational thinking and Tim is about superior comprehensive, or all-encompassing, thinking. What I love about Tim is that he shares some of the strongest traits of various Bat-family members. The intellect and detective skills of Bruce, the ability to lead others and be a friend to others like Dick has and even the ability to make cold, harsh decisions like Jason does. -Fabian Nicieza (comic book writer)
I believe that Tim Drake is the best Robin for many reasons, but one sticks out the most and that is, Tim WANTED TO BE ROBIN! He didn't want to be Robin for a while and then move on, no, he wanted to be Robin forever, he knew the importance of being Robin, being Batman's sidekick. This is something he'd been thinking about for a long time and he trained his mind to be the best detective to ever live. As of now, Tim still isn't a better detective than Bruce, but he's pretty darn close. Even Bruce says that Tim will eventually be the better detective. Tim has proven himself sine day one against the cream of the crop of Batman's rogue's gallery and he's come on top; on his own. I consider Damian a pocket size weapon of mass destruction, but he's not smarter than Tim, Jason was strong and passionate, but he couldn't outsmart or beat Tim in a fight, Stephanie Brown has a great fighting spirit, she's courageous and relentless, but in a fight against Tim she's simply outclassed. Dick Grayson is the only one who could beat Tim in a fight since he can go toe to toe with Batman, which isn't an easy feat. But, I give the advantage to Tim for the simple fact that he's a crime fighting student, much like Bruce, in the sense that he studies his opponent's weaknesses and advantages, and he exploits them. And the fact of the matter is that, this isn't who is the best fighter or character, this is a question of who's the better Robin, and Tim Drake is hands down the better Robin in my opinion.
Agree? Disagree? Leave your argument below and we'll read it on the next installment of the Truthful Comics Podcast.