Every Batman fan is sure to have their favorite version of Robin, with fan-favorite status spread fairly evenly among the many 'Boys Wonder.' But DC Comics isn't blind to the fact that there's ONE version of Robin nobody bothers to remember.
That suggestion alone is sure to confuse even serious Batman fans, who can quickly rattle off the skills, backstories, brushes with death, and adult identities adopted after each version of Robin aged out from under Batman's wing. Dick Grayson, the boy who started it all. Jason Todd, who succeeded him (to be killed by Joker). Tim Drake, the man Bruce Wayne sees as the world's best detective. And Damian Wayne, the... youngest Robin. But that isn't the entire roster, and thankfully, some at DC are finally calling it out.
There's a good chance that those who read through Heroes in Crisis' shocking finale will have missed the subtle jab, considering how much the issue hinged on Wally West's story. But just as Tom King and Clay Mann thrust Wally into the spotlight after being ignored for years, the issue also pays homage to the Robins. The ones everyone remembers, to begin with.
Using the 9-panel 'grid' layout to spotlight the 'confessions' of the DC superheroes who spent time at the Sanctuary retreat/wellness/treatment center, Heroes in Crisis #9 finally includes Batman's sidekicks. Featuring each of the former Robins one at a time--Tim, Dick, Jason, then Damian--the sidekicks all deal with the same question. In short, their confessions show that investigating, understanding, labeling, and envying others is far easier than self-reflection (not too surprising, considering they were raised by Batman). They can all see how the other Robins fit into the world... but not themselves.
At first blush, it's the kind of moment that fans of Tom King's Batman run have come to expect. But the storytellers saved their best reference for last, aimed squarely at the people who have simply come to accept that no love will ever be shown to the one and only Girl Wonder. No, we're not referring to Carrie Kelley, the Robin of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. We're talking about the female Robin who gets even less recognition than Carrie, despite having being trained by Batman in the main DC continuity. She may be known these days as 'Spoiler,' but Stephanie Brown is just as used to being forgotten as Batman's sidekick as her fans.
The appearance by Spoiler in the final page of confessions and testimonials can be completely missed by those Batman fans unfamiliar with her days as Robin. Without even making a reference to Batman, Tim, Dick, Jason, or Damian, readers would need to know her story to appreciate why she is already certain that none of the other Boys Wonder even bothered to bring her up. While her introduction to Batman may be more unorthodox than her predecessors, and her career shorter, and less dramatic than 'being murdered by the Joker,' she nevertheless belongs in the pantheon of past Robins. A fact that Tom King appreciates, even if the larger DC community has moved on.
Stephanie Brown's appearance may not make up for her treatment over the years, it's a reminder that more and more of DC's writers are making an effort to acknowledge the full breadth of supporting Bat-characters. Since the DC Rebirth, Batwoman has returned to prominence, and Spoiler was re-introduced into the Batman family. She is still waiting for a story all her own, much like her fans, but until that comes... this shout out offers a glimmer of hope that thing may someday change for the better.
Heroes in Crisis #9 is available now at your local comic book shop and direct from DC Comics.