Robin. Boy Wonder. Nightwing. Red Hood. No matter what you call him, he’s Batman’s iconic, crime-fighting sidekick. Robin is a title that was intended to invoke an image of innocence, hope, and rebirth as a counterpart to Batman’s brooding disposition. Those attributes don’t always come to the foreground during his adventures, however. After nearly a century of escapades, both with Batman and on his own, it stands to reason that a few of Robin’s escapades would wind up on the stranger end of the spectrum.
As a counterpart of Batman’s WTF Moments, it’s only fitting that the Boy Wonder gets the respect he deserves. And ‘Holy WTF, Batman!’, he does not disappoint. From Dick Grayson to Tim Drake, every version of Robin has been just as busy as any other superhero with getting his hands dirty in the shockingly weird. So hold on to your Batarang! Here are the 15 Most WTF Things Robin Has Done.
15. Robin Eats Rats For Dinner
Dick Grayson was the first, and likely the most iconic, Robin of them all. His parents were trapeze performers for a circus who were killed by the mob, leaving the youngest member of the Flying Graysons all alone in the world. With no family left to turn to, the young boy was later taken in by Bruce Wayne.
The original Robin’s origin story is pretty well known to Batman fans. However, in the controversial All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder comic, penned by Frank Miller, Dick Grayson’s origins story gets a bit of a face lift.
In this updated origin story, Miller aims for a much darker and grittier tone. Most people hated it, some people loved it, but there’s one thing we can agree on: it is insanely weird. Batman does the boy a ‘favor’ by kidnapping him, endlessly insulting him, and finally, locking him away in the Batcave. While stowed away, Batman refused Dick food, forcing him to hunt and eat rats to survive. Fans were outraged for the author’s decision to subject the beloved Dick Grayson to such lows, but if nothing else, we have to thank Miller for gifting us such unforgettable quotes as, “I’m the goddamn Batman”.
14. Robin Is Literally Killed Off By His Fans
Jason Todd was the second Robin after Dick Grayson, and fans of Batman’s go-to sidekick were not particularly fond of his replacement. In fact, they were so fed up with the character (possibly because of his violent tendencies) that DC decided to put the fate of Todd in their fans’ hands. Two 1-900 numbers were created, with the intention of putting it to a vote. Calling one was a vote for life, and calling the other was a vote for death. The vote carried for the death of Jason Todd by a margin of 72.
Robin’s death scene was particularly haunting and intimate. In Batman #427 “A Death In The Family” the Joker bludgeoned poor Jason Todd with a crowbar and left him to die in an explosion. This event became a pivotal moment in the shaping of Batman’s character, in that he ‘allowed’ this fate to befall his counterpart. But damn, man…DC fans are as cold as ice!
13. Batman And Robin Make Blind People Jokes
In Batman #204 and Batman #205, criminals posed as blind men in order to rob a armored car full of gold (naturally). Batman and Robin are able to foil the ‘blind’ mobsters in their familiar fashion of style and pizazz. They even go so far as to pose as the blind mobsters in order thwart these criminal masterminds. The lengths that this Dynamic Duo will go to secure a victory know no bounds.
The pair later ruin this triumphant moment by standing around wearing shades and cracking blind jokes. That’s right…blind jokes. Some could argue that they were attempting to be inclusive and that their intentions were honorable, but the execution looks to have fallen flat on their face. Having the heroes of your story, one of which a child, play ‘dress up’, and mock the group that they’re dressed as seems entirely misguided. It didn’t help that the series of puns they unleashed upon unsuspecting audiences were about as bush league as they come.
12. Crossing the Shower Boundary
Much like other superheroes’ comic books (or any other literary form, for that matter), a sense of context is absolutely necessary in order to fully grasp individual panels. But even when you drop in on a specific moment without any idea what’s going on, a whole lot of fun can still be had. Robin has a plethora of such panels, given his somewhat questionable relationship with the Dark Knight. This panel comes from Batman #356, and it is undeniably an all time great.
At a glance, in this pane, Robin appears to be sneaking a peak at the chiseled man-bod of Gotham‘s protector. The words exchanged are obviously pretty suggestive, but, as you may have suspected, something much more sinister was afoot. In fact, it was the evil Hugo Strange who lured Batman and Robin into a faux Wayne Manor. It was there that Hugo sends an android version of Robin into the bathroom to kill Batman when he’s at his most vulnerable…conditioning.
11. Robin Fights Crime As A Mummy
Batman and Robin occasionally take on additional disguises from their already existing disguises in order to not be detected. Every once in a while, though, these costumes can be just downright ridiculous and nonsensical. Case in point: in Detective Comics #320, Batman and Robin dress up as mummies.
In this issue, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are investigating a device within an alien spacecraft that causes their skin to turn green. Vicki Vale, a character known for suspecting Batman was Bruce Wayne, is suspicious that Bruce and Dick are Batman and Robin when they show up to a crime scene dressed as mummies in order to hide their skin. Way to throw her off your trail there, boys!
The story takes an interesting turn when the side effect of green skin disappears, and the Dynamic Duo resort to using green make-up while out of their disguises in order to throw tricky Vicki off their trail. God bless the Detective Comics series; they’re just full of gems.
10. Robin Dies A Thousand Deaths
Saying that Robin is victim to some brutal ends is probably an understatement. While he certainly serves his purpose, the Boy Wonder oftentimes serves as Batman’s greatest weakness. As such, there is a perpetual target on his back. Throughout the comics, villains are constantly using Robin as an attempt to leverage an advantage over the Dark Knight.
In Batman #246, Batman witnesses Robin die at the hand of the Butcher in a series of Saw-esque killings, where Batman is powerless to help. Each Robin killing leaves a clue leading to the next in this danse macabre. Eventually, Batman deduces that Robin is still alive, and he’s been witnessing a mannequin massacre all along. He finds the real Robin (please stand up) on the precipice of death, trapped in a guillotine, and the Caped Crusader manages to save the day. The torture of witnessing Robin die in all these different ways weighed heavily on Batman, and Robin responds in kind…with a pun. “This Robin would have died himself a thousand deaths.”
9. That Weird Robin/Batman alt-universe hybrid
Comic books can get a little wonky. Different dimensions, universes, and realities exist within them. The population at large was just introduced to this concept in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Doctor Strange, and DC is no different. In Flash #123, The Flash runs so fast he ends up in ‘Flash World’, which would eventually be named ‘Earth-Two’. In this alternate reality, Batman has retired, and Robin has taken over his role as a ‘Grown-up Robin’. It was incredibly awkward across the board.
This Big Boy Wonder first appeared on the cover of Justice League of America #55, and, as you can see from the picture, aesthetically, he just does not fit. The color of the symbol is off, and the yellow cape is just off putting. This wasn’t enough to quell the growth of Earth-Two Robin, however. In Justice League #91-92, both Robins (Earth-One and Earth-Two) spend some quality time together complaining to each other about how they feel under appreciated. Because what else do you do when you come face to face with a version of yourself from another dimension?
8. Stephanie Brown Makes a Very Uninformed Decision
Contrary to what some may think, Robin is not always a boy. Batman has had two prominent female Robins over the years, Stephanie Brown and Carrie Kelley. Brown started off her crime-fighting adventures under the alias of Spoiler, and she was also the girlfriend to the third Robin, Tim Drake. When Drake suddenly gave up his mantle, Batman took a chance on Brown to see if she can fill the void. Unfortunately, she lacked the pedigree of the other Robins (mainly, her parents weren’t a high flying circus act), and she disobeyed a direct order of Batman’s. The Caped Crusader promptly fired her as a result of her recklessness.
Much to Gotham’s chagrin, Stephanie did not accept Batman’s decision. In an effort to win back favor with the Dark Knight and prove herself worthy of the red, green, and yellow tights, she steals one of his plans to destroy Gotham’s underworld. Her efforts fail miserably. Brown causes a city-wide gang war, during which she is kidnapped by the villainous Black Mask. The mob boss then tortures her with a power drill, and she eventually dies of her wounds. There’s a simple enough lesson to be learned here, folks: if Batman fires you, retire.
7. Damian Wayne kills himself…kind of
When one becomes a parent, one is suddenly forced to take on an immense number of new responsibilities. The child must be cared for, taught right from wrong, and kept from harm. Gotham’s greatest hero seemed to have missed the memo on that last bit.
Upon learning he was a parent, Bruce decided it would be a good idea to enroll his son, Damian Wayne, into the Robin program. Damian Wayne is the son of Talia al Gul and Bruce Wayne, and grandson to Ra’s al Gul, so you could say this role as Robin is his inheritance. Damian certainly would, anyway. But, c’mon Batman! Look at the turnover rate!
Damian quickly became a favorite after being introduced to the fans (as part of the canon) in Batman #655. He was a talented fighter, cunning, and witty. Which is what makes his ending so tragic. In Batman, Incorporated #8, a tear-jerking series of events concludes with Damian breaking his promise to his father to never kill again, that leads to him essentially getting battered to pieces before Batman can save him. Oh, and here’s the kicker: the Heretic, the monster that kills Damian, was set upon him by his mother, Talia…and was the boy’s adult clone. Good grief.
6. Creating a Zombie Batman
It is pretty traditional for comic book superheroes to die and be resurrected or cheat death somehow. Is it a religious allegory? No, it’s just a way to keep readers invested. But it is fun. In a battle against the big bad of the DC Universe, Darkseid, Batman is burnt to a crisp by his foe’s Omega Sanction attack, and Robin (Dick Grayson) takes it upon himself to save his mentor and leader.
Dick, in all his wisdom, takes Batman to the Lazarus Pits — a supernatural oasis that can resurrect the dead — to restore his life. And he succeeds! But the result of this resurrection was an abomination, and Batman was more of a zombie than anything else. The newly revived Bat-zombie goes into a frenzy, attacking everyone (even poor Alfred) until Robin and co. finally bring his spree to an end. Great idea Robin!
It turns out that Darkseid had actually burned a clone of Batman that he had laying around, and the real Batman had been sent back in time…or something like that. It’s Grant Morrison folks; nothing is ever black and white.
5. Robin Paints a Room Yellow & Goes Bananas on Green Lantern
Here we go again with another excerpt from Frank Miller’s All Star Batman & Robin. In this portion of the tale, Batman is jealous of Green Lantern’s power, his ring, and the hero’s inability to use it to its fullest potential. So he conjures up a plan to steal the weapon from one of the most powerful heroes in the universe. Spot on, Batman!
His plan is simple: lure Green Lantern into a location of his choosing and steal it from him. Except before meeting there, he orders Robin to paint the entire room yellow, as the color happens to be Green Lantern’s weakness. Upon entering the room, Robin is able to steal the ring from Green Lantern in his weakened state, and adds insult to injury by delivering an absolutely crushing blow to the Lantern’s trachea, nearly killing him! This is what you get, Batman, when you kidnap and brainwash a child, turning him into a weapon! Thankfully, Batman and Robin know emergency triage surgery, and are able to save Hal Jordan‘s life.
4. Robin Hooks Up With Wonder Girl In His Dead Friend’s Goo
Yes, it’s just as weird as the title suggests. Tim Drake’s Robin joins the Teen Titans and becomes fast friends with Superboy. Friendships can be fleeting when you’re in the business of saving the world, however, and Superboy dies tragically. So, in Teen Titans #36, Robin does what Robins always do, and he tries to bring his friend back from the dead, and for over a year, his attempts to clone his beloved pal prove unsuccessful. The Boy Wonder, frustrated with his failures, smashes one of the jars of his friend’s remains and falls to the floor in them. Sorry readers, we’re not quite at the WTF part yet.
Enter Wonder Girl. She hears this commotion and comes in to see what Robin’s up to. Being Superboy’s lover at the time of his death, she is furious at Robin for his ridiculous actions. After her scolding, though, the two find the comfort they’d been missing, and start going at it on the floor. That very same floor that’s currently covered in the goo of Superboy. Unfortunately, the Bro-Code is not extensive enough to cover this situation, but you know what you did was wrong, Robin!
3. Robin Beats The Joker To Death
The relationship between Batman and Robin and the Joker is downright titillating. The Clown Prince of Crime is continually pressing the Dynamic Duo to their limits, and in the Last Laugh, the Joker manages to break Robin. Diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, the Joker decides that he wants one last, colossal hurrah. While the rest of the world is at war (for unrelated reasons), he sets a trap for Batman’s protégé.
The Joker manages to trick Nightwing (Dick Grayson/Robin) into believing that he had murdered Tim Drake. This causes Nightwing to fly into a frenzy and beat the Joker to death with his bare hands — something a member of the Bat-Family does not do. To top it all off, Tim Drake walks in on the aftermath, at which point Nighting realizes that he’s been played. The Joker might be the most killable villain in comic books, but sadly his nemesis is the Dark Knight, who has one rule: don’t kill.
2. Robin on Robin Warfare
It is not unprecedented that a Robin or a former Robin would assume the title of Batman. Sometimes, the Dark Knight disappears for a while or is dead for a period, and somebody needs to take his place. Gotham needs a Batman, after all. This position is (usually) available only to those who have practiced under his tutelage, namely, the Robins.
In Battle for the Cowl #2, Nightwing (Dick Grayson) and Jason Todd (who at this point has been resurrected) battle it out for the time honored tradition of beating criminals to a pulp in a crazy outfit while growling, “SWEAR TO ME!” Things get heated rather quickly, and the fight makes its way to the top of a moving train. It’s here that Nightwing gets an edge on Jason and kicks him over the side of the speeding locomotive. Jason, holding on to the edge, refuses Nightwing’s assistance and, seemingly, plummets to his death. What does it say about the teacher if his pupils act this way?
1. Robin Is Far Too Into His ‘Sister’
Robin is a young man, full of hormones and testosterone, but there are just some lines you DO NOT cross. In Wonder Woman #284, Robin crosses all of those lines when he is sent to help the Huntress, aka Helena Wayne, daughter of Catwoman and Batman (in this universe, anyway). Things between Helena and Dick get quite hot and heavy when they take a break from their investigation to work out.
Now while they may not be biologically related, they were, however, raised in the same Wayne Manor household at the same time, and are essentially step-siblings. Things dive headfirst into the creepy pool when, at one point, Robin draws a similarity between changing her diapers in her infancy and seeing her naked now as an adult. The weirdness and depravity doesn’t end there, unfortunately. Robin later breaks into Helena’s bathroom when he’s well aware that she’s showering. Learn boundaries, Boy Wonder!
Do you have any bigger WTF Robin moments? Does the Dynamic Duo have a future in DC’s movie universe, or will the big screen Batman continue to be a one man show? Sound off in the comments section.