One of the main focuses of the DC new 52 was to streamline the continuity of the DC books. Restarting from scratch and making the heroes of the DC universe exist for only the past five years has freed up a lot of major characters’ back-stories and history with one another. Superman, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman have all been given new leases on life thanks to the DC relaunch. Except for one group: the Robins.
Placing Batman within the New 52 mandate of “everything happened within the last five years” has turned the origin and legacy of Batman’s sidekick Robin into a massive headache. Now, I try to not let continuity lord over my comic reading experiences, but at the same time, I feel that something needs to be said about the fact that Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damien Wayne have all been Robin in the past five years. I won’t even touch how Damien, a ten year-old, can exist within the five-year model if Bruce Wayne wasn’t Batman when he met Talia (or was he?). Either Bruce Wayne accepted everyone and anyone to be Robin for 6 month intervals, or all three of the kids who were Robin were incredibly fast learners.
I’m not angry by this mandate; I’m more annoyed by it than anything. It seems like DC higher-ups tried to have it both ways: they wanted to reboot their line to gain the mythical “new reader”, but also knew that fans of Tim Drake, Damien Wayne, and Dick Grayson would be pissed if they were all done away with in the reboot. So naturally, they decided to keep all of the previous Robins, but failed to come up with a reason behind their existence that actually made sense. I vaguely remember Dan DiDio saying that while the other superheroes of the DC universe have been around for 5 years, Batman had been working in secret for much longer. Sure, that makes a lot of sense, and ties in with Batman’s depiction of being a loner. HOWEVER, many of the “zero issues” released last month completely crap all over this claim. Scott Snyder’s Batman zero issue takes place six years in the past, as does Batman & Robin by Thomasi and Gleason. Nightwing, Red Hood and The Outlaws, and Teen Titans take place at varying times in the new 52 universe, and all seem to contradict one another. Not to mention the revelation that Tim Drake was never “technically” a Robin now.
While I commend DC for at least shining a light and trying to acknowledge how there can be so many Robins in a small amount of time, I still feel that they could’ve done a much, much better job of filling us in. Was there a communication breakdown somewhere in the Batman offices? Or is this part of a larger plan that silently reboots what we’ve already been told? In any event, I do wish we readers had been given a more concise reason and tighter plot in regards to these four different Robins. Hopefully DC rectifies this situation soon, and gives fans the explanation they deserve.