Batman has been avenging his parents and defending Gotham for nearly 80 years now. Sure, Gotham is still a cesspit, but we’ll chalk that up to the town being cursed rather than questioning the efficacy of Batman’s war on crime. Either way, we can’t really blame the guy for recruiting some help. And Bats has recruited a lot of help over the decades, ranging from his ever-expanding stable of Robins to several Batgirls, plus a couple of replacement Batmen for when Bruce was on vacation and/or dead, and multiple teams of allies for when things get really dicey. And it’s not just the Bat-family that work hard to keep Gotham safe. There are also several standalone heroes and antiheroes who’ve made Gotham their beat, with or without the Dark Knight’s blessing.
Below, we’ve run down 25 of the most interesting and important superheroes who have worked the mean streets of Gotham over the years. The war on crime is never-ending, and it sure as hell isn’t a one-man job. Here are 25 Superheroes Who Have Protected Gotham (Besides Batman).
25 Thomas Wayne (Flashpoint)
We may not have gotten to see much of Thomas Wayne’s career as The Batman, but it was one of the biggest plot twists to come out of the Flashpoint miniseries that set up the New 52. When a confused and powerless Barry Allen breaks into the Batcave to enlist Batman’s help, he discovers that Bruce Wayne is long-dead in this timeline, gunned down in an alley by Joe Chill. That act drove his father, Thomas, to become The Batman -- and to track down Chill and beat him to death with his bare hands. This Batman, like Batfleck, has no qualms about killing.
Thomas Wayne was a very effective Dark Knight, but also a much more ruthless one. It’s understandable, given that the Wayne family manages to be even more tragic in the Flashpoint world than in the original timeline. Not only does Thomas lose his only son and embark on a path of vengeance, he loses his wife. Martha is so traumatized by Bruce’s death that she takes a razor to her face, carves herself a new grin, and becomes Flashpoint’s Joker. Further proof that the Waynes can’t get a break in any reality, and that Gotham will always need a Batman.
24 Gotham & Gotham Girl
A relatively recent addition to the Bat-canon, Gotham and Gotham Girl were introduced in the current DC Rebirth storyline and are already proving to be fascinating additions to Gotham’s heroic lineup. Their origin was revealed in Batman #3, via a clever fake-out. It looked like we were going to have to sit through yet another retelling of Bruce Wayne’s very worst day. Family in a dark alley, mugger... you know where this is going, right? Wrong.
Instead of watching Thomas and Martha Wayne get gunned down, Batman swoops in to save the day, revealing that this isn’t the birth of the Dark Knight, but rather the moment that inspires another hero. Grateful to and fascinated by Batman, young Hank Clover is put on a path toward becoming Gotham, with his sister Claire joining his fight as Gotham Girl. (Not the greatest superhero names, admittedly, but it’s hard to find one that hasn’t already been used in this crazy town.)
Unlike many of Gotham’s defenders, Gotham and Gotham Girl do actually have superpowers, including flight, invulnerability, heat vision, super-strength -- generally dipping more into Superman’s toybox than Batman’s. Unfortunately, an encounter with Psycho Pirate drove Gotham insane, forcing his sister to kill him to stop him from doing more damage. That tragedy will no doubt haunt her, but will it further strengthen her heroic resolve or drive her to the dark side? Could go either way in this town. (And we're betting Gotham won't stay permanently dead either -- does anyone?)
The Ragman was originally created in 16th century eastern Europe, conjured up by a group of Jewish mystics as a replacement for the fearsome Golem. The role was passed down from one person to the next, eventually landing on Rory Regan in Gotham City. “Ragman” might not sound like a particularly intimidating alter ego, but the rags in his costume are actually formed of the souls of the evildoers Ragman has vanquished and absorbed. Even better, he gains the physical attributes and skills of all those he consumes into his costume. That’s pretty hardcore, and we’re also presuming it smells just awful, because can you even put concentrated evil through the washing machine?
First appearing in Ragman #1 in 1976, Ragman was created by artist Joe Kubert and writer Robert Kanigher. He was reintroduced post-Crisis in 1992 by Keith Giffen. Ragman has never loomed as large in Gotham as the various members of the Bat-family, but he’s teamed up with Bats on several occasions over the years and also pitched in after Bats’ “death” and disappearance during Final Crisis.
22 Jason Blood/The Demon
Speaking of supernatural defenders of Gotham, Batman has often turned to the enigmatic Jason Blood when his hometown is in peril from things that go bump in the night. An expert occultist and demonologist, Jason Blood would be a useful supernatural consultant even if it weren’t for his... other half. That comes in the form of the Demon Etrigan, a hulking yellow brute who speaks in rhyme and was bound to Blood by the wizard Merlin. (Did we forget to mention that Blood is centuries old and was once a knight loyal to King Arthur himself?)
Created by Jack Kirby in 1972, Jason Blood and Etrigan has been a staple of DC’s supernatural subculture for decades, appearing in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run, and more. While Etrigan himself is not the trustworthy sort, Blood has earned Batman’s respect and trust over the years. As seen during Joe Kelly’s Justice League run in 2003, Blood and Etrigan were even part of a contingency plan Batman put into place to assemble a replacement League should anything ever happen to the regular crew.
21 Flamebird/Hawkfire (Bette Kane)
Back in the pre-Crisis days, Betty Kane was the niece of the original Batwoman... and donned a mask herself as the very first Bat-Girl (thank god Barbara ditched the hyphen). After the Crisis erased both Kanes from the continuity, Bette Kane was reinvented with a new superheroic identity: Flamebird. Her origins at this point weren’t exactly strong (she became a superhero to try and woo Robin), but she did work with the Titans for a while. Her origins were further complicated by the universe tinkering of Infinite Crisis, until the aftermath of that series took her back to her roots.
In her most recent iteration, Bette Kane is now the cousin of current Batwoman Kate Kane. She moves to Gotham with her identity of Flamebird already a thing of the past. However, once she discovers Kate’s dual identity, she wants to get back into the superhero game and becomes Batwoman’s partner, first under the name Plebe. She later acquires a new costume and flame-based tech and changes her name to Hawkfire.
20 The Creeper (Jack Ryder)
Created by Steve Ditko in 1968, the Creeper was Jack Ryan, a former Gotham City TV talk show host who takes on the identity of the Creeper, initially trying to rescue a scientist kidnapped by mobsters. At first it’s literally just Ryder in tights, yellow makeup, and a fright wig, but the shenanigans involving the scientist expose Ryder to a serum that grants him a healing factor and heightened strength and agility. He also acquires a nifty gizmo that lets him summon his Creeper costume onto himself instantaneously, so pairing it all with a maniacal laugh that would do the Joker proud, Ryder begins a crimefighting career as the Creeper.
The Creeper’s origins have been tweaked several times over the years, notably in a 2006 one-shot after the events of Infinite Crisis. This storyline tied the Creeper’s powers and appearance to experimental nanotechnology and “smart skin.” This also introduced the notion of the Creeper as a personality separate and distinct from Ryder, a trope that’s been carried forward through several incarnations of the character. He’s unpredictable, he looks goofy, and he’s almost certainly a little crazy, but what the hell... Gotham already has a murderous evil clown, so it might as well have one working for the good guys.
19 Manhunter (Kate Spencer)
There have been several DC characters who have operated under the name “Manhunter” over the years (not to be confused with the Martian variety, J’onn J’onzz), but for this list we’re focused on Kate Spencer. The first female Manhunter, Spencer was introduced in the 2004 Manhunter series and played into the events of Infinite Crisis. Spencer turns to vigilantism after becoming frustrated by her day job as a federal prosecutor. After the villainous Copperhead ducks a death sentence and kills two guards while making an escape, Spencer decides enough is enough. She steals several devices from evidence lockup and takes down Copperhead, beginning her career as Manhunter with a bang. Her suit -- salvaged from a dead Darkstar -- ramps up her strength, agility, and general toughness. She dons gauntlets once worn by Azrael during his time as Batman. And she honors the legacy of the Manhunter name by wielding a staff that belonged to a previous Manhunter, Mark Shaw.
Her solo series didn’t last long, but Kate has popped up repeatedly in the years since, working with the Department of Extranormal Operations, the Justice Society of America, and even stepping in as Black Canary’s replacement in the Birds of Prey at one point.
18 Knight & Squire
The roles of Knight and Squire go back several generations, but for our purposes we’ll focus on the most recent iterations. Inspired by Batman’s exploits, British nobleman Percy Sheldrake became the heroic Knight, enlisting his son Cyril to fight by his side as Squire. Their superheroic career took a tragic turn after Percy was killed by their nemesis Springheeled Jack. The loss of his father drove Cyril into depression and substance abuse. That might have been the end of it, but his downward spiral crossed his path with a young girl named Beryl Hutchinson, who helped pull him back from the brink. Inspired and reinvigorated, Cyril decided to take up his father’s identity as Knight... and enlist Beryl as the new Squire.
Eventually Knight and Squire got to meet Batman in person, beginning a relationship with the Dark Knight that made them trusted allies of both Batman and his compatriots. After Batman’s apparent death during Final Crisis, Knight and Squire traveled to Gotham to help try and stabilize the city, working closely with Nightwing and other members of the Bat-family.
17 Bluebird (Harper Row)
A whip-smart young woman with a knack for electrical engineering, young Harper Row first met Batman after he rescued her and her brother Cullen from bullies who were assaulting them. Fascinated by and grateful toward Batman, Harper began trying to learn all she could about the Dark Knight. Her snooping led her to discover some of the gizmos Batman had stashed around Gotham to deactivate security cameras when he needed to pass through without being seen. Discovering some of Batman’s doodads would have been impressive enough, but Harper took it a step farther... she upgraded them. She continued stalking Bats, in spite of him explicitly telling her to knock it off, and eventually wound up saving his life after the Court of Owls left him for dead.
It seems inevitable that all this Bat-fixation eventually would eventually end with Harper donning a costume. But Batman & Robin Eternal revealed that Harper had been on that course for a lot longer than she realized. Her mother was killed by a brainwashed Cassandra Cain, part of a convoluted plot to position Harper as an ideal Robin candidate -- a possibility Batman rejected at the time. And, indeed, when Harper does finally slip on a mask, it’s as Bluebird, not Robin -- a loyal ally to the Bat, but still very much her own woman.
16 Batman Incorporated
We’re going to cheat a bit on a couple of these entries. There have been so damn many heroes operating in Gotham over the years that it makes sense to cover a few of the larger groups or organizations rather than trying to highlight every member. One of the more comparatively recent groups is the one saddled with the somewhat terrible name of “Batman Inc." The Dark Knight launches Batman Inc. as an initiative to spread his crimefighting mission around the globe, recruiting agents from numerous countries and funding the whole thing through Wayne Enterprises.
It’s kind of a weird notion for a vigilante who traditionally trafficked in secrecy and intimidation -- not the sort of guy you’d expect to go corporate. Still, it was as good an excuse as any for writer Grant Morrison to riff on the Batman tropes as applied to different cultures and environments. The Inc. incorporated familiar faces like Batgirl and The Outsiders, but also noteworthy new bat(ish)men such as Africa’s Batwing, Australia’s The Ranger, Argentina’s El Gaucho, the Native American Man-of-Bats, Knight & Squire (see above), and more. Batman Inc. are a valuable extended army when Batman needs more than just his local Bat-family... or when he’s been taken off the board temporarily.
15 The Outsiders
Long before Batman Incorporated was... well, incorporated, Batman assembled another team for those special occasions when his usual Bat-crew just wouldn’t do. First introduced in 1983’s The Brave and the Bold #200, the Outsiders are a sort of superheroic black ops group, a team not as beholden to public opinion as, say, the Justice League. Sort of like the Suicide Squad, except Batman’s slightly less ruthless than Amanda Waller, and membership isn’t maintained with explosives.
The Outsiders lineup has shifted and evolved over the years, but the original team included Black Lightning, Metamorpho, Katana, Geo-Force, Halo, and Looker. In the mid-2000s, the team was resurrected for a new series under the leadership of Nightwing and Arsenal (former Green Arrow sidekick and fellow Titan Roy Harper, who’d by that point grown out of calling himself “Speedy"). In 2011, Batman once again assembles the Outsiders, this time as a subset of Batman Inc. Operating under the direct command of Red Robin, the team included Metamorpho, Katana, Looker, Halo, and Freight Train. Unfortunately, this version of the team didn’t survive long, but there’s no question that the Outsiders will be back at some point. They’re tenacious.
14 Duke Thomas/Lark
During the yearlong New 52 story arc Zero Year, the Riddler plunges Gotham into darkness, cutting the city’s power and announcing that he will restore it if anyone can pose a riddle he can’t solve. Student Duke Thomas began training his mind to try and stump the Riddler, the first of several acts that put him on a path that will intersect with Batman’s. When Gotham is walloped by Hurricane Rene, Duke saves Bruce’s life, rescuing the unconscious Wayne. Later, that interaction with Bruce comes back to haunt him when The Joker kidnaps Duke and his family as part of a plan to recreate the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
Thomas’ heroic instincts went full spandex during the Future’s End story arc in 2014. Several years after the death of Bruce’s son, Damian, the mantle of Robin has remained unclaimed. Duke Thomas finally takes up the identity, a role he’s been preparing for ever since those first meetings with Bruce Wayne years earlier. Donning his own version of the Robin costume, Duke once again saved Bruce’s life, this time from the Heretic. In We Are...Robin, Duke returned to the current continuity as a Robin-inspired vigilante, and in Batman: Rebirth, Batman recently recruited Duke into the fold as the costumed hero Lark.
13 The Birds of Prey
In addition to being the behind-the-scenes “eye in the sky” for pretty much every cape in the DC Universe in her role as Oracle, Barbara Gordon sometimes needs a more direct approach to problem solving. Beginning with the 1995 one-shot Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey, Babs began a long and fruitful partnership with Dinah Lance, AKA Black Canary. Soon the roster expanded to include other female heroes, particularly during Gail Simone’s acclaimed run of the ongoing Birds of Prey series in the early 2000s. After Black Canary was captured and badly wounded, Oracle recruited the Huntress (Helena Bertinelli) for the rescue job. Even though Oracle and Huntress often clash, those three formed the core of the group for most of Simone’s initial run.
Although they operate all over the world, wherever they’re needed, the Birds of Prey have been there when Gotham needs them. In addition to that core trio, the Birds have been a showcase for DC’s female characters over the years, both the familiar and the obscure. At different moments, the team has worked with or recruited Lady Blackhawk, Catwoman, Dove, Hawkgirl, Ice, Katana, Manhunter (the above-mentioned Kate Spencer), Power Girl, Vixen, and even Poison Ivy.
12 Batwoman (Kate Kane)
The Silver Age Batwoman was Kathy Kane, first introduced in 1956 and very much a product of her time. Rather than a utility belt, she had a utility purse, filled with weapons disguised as lipsticks and other stereotypical female accoutrements. She also sported an eyesore of a costume that would only be useful camouflage inside Willy Wonka's candy factory. Thankfully, Kathy was eventually given a much-needed reboot during the 52 limited series that followed Infinite Crisis. The new Batwoman was both a more interesting, complex character, and a welcome recognition that society had progressed a long way since the 1950s.
The original Batwoman was brought into the comic, at least in part, to combat claims by crusading moralist Frederic Wertham that Batman and Robin were gay. It’s only appropriate, then, that the revamped Kate Kane was a lesbian -- and if that wasn’t a direct middle finger at Wertham, it should have been. Her connections to other Batman characters (her cousin Flamebird, her former lover Renee Montoya) made her an easy addition to the world of Gotham, and she’s proven to be a lasting ally, currently appearing in Detective Comics as DC continues its “Rebirth.” Thank god they also gave her a better costume.
11 The Huntress (Helena Bertinelli)
In her original Golden Age incarnation, the Huntress was actually a supervillain and member of the Injustice Society of America. The second Huntress was Helena Wayne, the daughter of the Batman and Catwoman of Earth-2 (the alternate reality into which the adventures of the Justice Society and most of the Golden Age heroes were retconned before Crisis on Infinite Earths tried to streamline things). When most comic fans name-drop the Huntress these days, however, they’re talking about Helena Bertinelli, the daughter of a Gotham mob boss who takes on the alter ego after her family is killed in a gangland hit.
Batman has often been skeptical of the Huntress, at best, as she can be both violent and unpredictable. Still, she’s proven to be a useful weapon in the war to keep Gotham from being a total craphole, and she’s earned the grudging respect -- if not always the trust -- of Bat-allies such as Oracle, Red Robin, and Nightwing (with whom she’s had a fling or two). Batman even sponsored her membership in the Justice League at one point, but that ended about how you might expect (she tried to kill the supervillain Prometheus and got the boot). Huntress has even popped up in live-action several times over the years, both on the short-lived Birds of Prey TV series and in The CW’s Arrow.
10 Batgirl/Black Bat/Orphan (Cassandra Cain)
Cassandra Cain was trained from birth to be a killing machine -- and very little else. The daughter of two assassins, David Cain and Lady Shiva, Cassandra was groomed to be an ideal bodyguard for Ra’s al Ghul. She was taught the killing arts, and how to read people’s body language to an almost supernatural degree, but the League of Assassins neglected other areas... such as teaching her to read or speak. After committing her first murder at the age of eight, she escaped from Cain and eventually resurfaced in Gotham amidst the No Man’s Land earthquake storyline, when she became an agent of Oracle.
In spite of her dubious origins, Cassandra soon proved her worth to Batman and Oracle, and she eventually took up the mantle of Batgirl. Like many Bat-allies, her morality has occasionally been grey-ish, with Cassandra at one point taking over as leader of the League of Assassins. After passing the Batgirl title on to Stephanie Brown, Cassie eventually turned up in Hong Kong, operating under the new identity of Black Bat. In the current DC Rebirth storyline, Cassandra has taken on yet another title: Orphan. Under any name, Cassie Cain is a badass.
9 Batgirl/Spoiler (Stephanie Brown)
Given how important Batman’s parents -- and their loss -- were in shaping his destiny, it’s probably not surprising that so many members of the Bat-family have tragedy or just unfortunate parentage in their past. In Stephanie Brown’s case, her father was the Cluemaster -- so not only was Pops a supervillain, he was a poor man’s Riddler. Thankfully, Stephanie rejected her roots and became the crimefighter Spoiler, taking the name from her attempts to “spoil” her father’s villainous schemes. Stephanie became a popular supporting character in Robin’s ongoing title in the late ‘90s and early 2000s... and she was just getting started.
In addition to her initial Spoiler identity, Stephanie has the bragging rights of having served stints as both Robin and Batgirl -- not even Barbara Gordon or Cassie Cain can say that. She was “killed” in the 2004 War Games, but it unsurprisingly didn’t stick. She returned from faking her death in 2008 and took over as Batgirl for a few years before the New 52 initiative put Barbara back in the hood. She eventually appeared in the New 52 continuity in Batman Eternal, once again operating as Spoiler. In the current DC Rebirth storyline, she’s working alongside Batwoman, Red Robin, Orphan, and Clayface as part of Batman’s emergency response team.
8 Azrael (Jean-Paul Valley)
Is there anybody in Gotham who wasn’t trained by a secretive order of killers? It’s gotta be, what, like 53% of the populace at least? In the case of Jean-Paul Valley, he was a seemingly normal grad student, completely unaware that he was a sleeper agent for a malevolent sect of religious assassins known as The Order of Dumas. His mundane life is upended when he’s “activated,” soon crossing paths with Batman and managing to -- somewhat -- break the shackles of the Order’s psychological conditioning. It was the beginning of a partnership that would wind up with Valley actually donning the cowl as Batman himself.
Having trained under Batman’s tutelage, Valley stepped in as the Dark Knight after Bruce Wayne’s back was broken by Bane. Decking himself out in a painfully '90s version of the Batman costume -- complete with mandatory finger blades -- Valley stepped into the void left by Wayne’s injury, but soon proved a violent and unstable replacement. When the guy who used to have your job rallies from a broken spine just because you’re making such a mess of the gig, that’s not a great sign. To be fair, Valley was nowhere near emotionally or mentally stable at the time, and he’s continued fighting evil as Azrael long after abandoning that ridiculous Knightfall Batman getup. He might still be a controversial figure, but, for a while, he was the damn Batman. Few can say that.
7 Robin (Damian Wayne)
Bruce Wayne has been a father figure to many people over the years, beginning with the orphaned Dick Grayson and continuing on through many of the other allies he’s taken under his wing. But with Damian, Bruce finally found a true, literal son... and all the complications that brings. The child of Bruce and Talia al Ghul, Damian was more than a little “rough around the edges” when Talia surprised Bruce with his existence in Grant Morrison’s 2006 “Batman and Son” story arc. Being raised as a killing machine by assassins doesn’t do much for the social graces (just ask Cassie Cain). Nevertheless, Bruce slaps a costume on the precocious (i.e. spoiled and semi-murderous) 10-year-old and begins training him as the fifth Robin, hoping his own influence and that of his allies will stabilize the lad.
Damian brought a unique spin to the role of Robin, both because he was Bruce’s biological son and because he was kind of a little snot. He’s blunt to the point of rudeness, often dismissive of Bruce’s philosophies and methods, but watching his relationship with his father develop was fascinating. It also set Bruce up for even more tragedy when he was killed in action (battling an adult clone of himself, natch). Of course, this is comic books, so he got better...
6 Red Hood (Jason Todd)
Speaking of Robins who were kind of a dick, we come to Jason Todd. Remember that line in the kids’ song about how the Batmobile lost a wheel? Jason Todd was the one who stole it. Initially Todd was conceived as pretty much a carbon copy of Dick Grayson -- acrobatics, dead parents, the whole spiel. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, he was rebooted to be a troubled street kid who Batman took in after he literally tries to steel the wheels off the Batmobile (we weren’t kidding). This prickly, smartass Robin proved to be unpopular among fans, so much so that they literally voted for his death during an infamous telephone survey. That led to the “Death in the Family” storyline, in which the Joker beat Jason to death with a crowbar and then blew him the hell up for good measure. Seems excessive, huh?
Of course, he eventually came back to life, because that’s what these people do. Thankfully, his post-death life has been a lot more interesting and better received than his youth. As the gun-wielding vigilante Red Hood, he’s been first a villain, a hero, and finally settled somewhere in the middle. This is Gotham -- morality tends to exist only in shades of gray, and Jason Todd is just fine with that spectrum.
5 Catwoman (Selina Kyle)
You might have noticed that plenty of Gotham’s heroes have spent time on the other side of the law. Villains become heroes, heroes become villains, and pretty much nobody has more fun straddling that line that Selina Kyle, AKA Catwoman. First introduced in Batman #1 way back in 1940, Catwoman has been a thorn in Batman’s side for nearly eight decades. How many septuagenarians do you know who can still pull off spandex?
Catwoman’s origins have been tweaked and retouched over the decades, but she always seems to come back to her core: a whip-wielding cat burglar who’s in it for the thrills and who has a soft spot for the oppressed. Even when she’s firmly on the wrong side of the law, however, she always operates with her own code, and that morality, however flexible, has made her a useful ally to Batman over the years. Her on-again, off-again romance with the Dark Knight has also made her one of Bats’ most recognizable and long-running flames, even if it’s mostly limited to flirting, occasional flings, and foreplay in the form of rooftop chases.
4 Green Lantern (Alan Scott)
We expect it’ll be controversial to include the Golden Age Green Lantern this high up the list, but you’ll notice this is a list of superheroes who’ve defended Gotham, not a list of Batman partners who’ve defended Gotham. And Scott has been protecting this dismal burgh since the 1940s. He even ran the Gotham Broadcasting Company in his civilian guise, which helped keep him abreast of any local crooks who needed a visit from a giant green flaming boxing glove.
Unlike Hal Jordan and the sci-fi-based Green Lantern Corps that were to come, Alan Scott’s power ring was fueled by magic, although it did have a equally arbitrary weakness like Hal’s ring (it didn’t work on wood). Operating both alone and as a member of the Justice Society of America, the original Green Lantern has been keeping the streets of Gotham safe nearly as long as the Dark Knight -- and he was even co-created by one of the men responsible for Batman (Bill Finger).
Scott underwent a major character revamp during the New 52 era, making him a much younger hero of Earth-2. It remains to be seen what Alan Scott’s future will hold in the DC Universe, but we suspect we haven’t seen the last of him.
3 Red Robin (Tim Drake)
The death of Jason Todd directly paved the way for the third Robin, perhaps the best character to hold that title since the original. Unlike many of the Robins, Tim Drake wasn’t thrown into the role by tragedy and loss -- he actively sought it out. A gifted natural detective, young Tim holds the honor of having worked out Batman’s true identity. Specifically, he recognizes one particular move that Robin uses as a trademark of Dick Grayson from his Flying Graysons days... and if Dick Grayson is Robin, well, it’s not a huge leap to wonder if Bruce Wayne has been spending all that disposable income on Bat-gadgets.
In spite of having initially won the approval of both Alfred Pennyworth and Dick Grayson, Tim has a hard time convincing Bruce to let him take on the role of Robin. Understandable, given that Bruce is still mourning the last person to wear that costume. But after an intense period of training and vetting, Drake eventually dons the red, black, and green -- and finally gets a version of the Robin costume that doesn’t require short pants. Since then, he’s been one of the most popular and interesting characters in the Bat-verse, and has since carved his own path as the head of the Teen Titans and in his new identity of Red Robin.
Drake has been an important part of Batman’s team in DC Rebirth, and it looks like his future is only getting more interesting...
2 Batgirl/Oracle (Barbara Gordon)
After being crippled by the Joker, Barbara Gordon could easily have just retired from the whole war against crime thing, and nobody would have blamed her for it. After all, she served with distinction as the original Batgirl, proving herself time and again to be a powerful defender of the innocent and a worthy ally of the Bat. After having leaped from rooftops and swung from the skyscrapers of Gotham, how can you keep fighting the good fight when you’re now confined to a wheelchair? In Barbara’s case, you simply find a different weapon. If her fists and feet weren’t useful, then her mind would more than suffice.
As Oracle, Barbara became the go-to information broker for every noble cape in the DC Universe, a master hacker and strategist whose insights and intel often made the difference between victory and defeat. She organized and oversaw the Birds of Prey, became a trusted confidant of everybody from Superman on down, and generally proved to be even more of a badass in the chair than she was out of it. Thanks to some New 52 revamping, she eventually even got to slip back into the Batgirl costume again, but this actually felt like a step backwards in many ways. Her role as Oracle highlighted her true strengths and character -- she doesn’t need the cowl to be a hero.
1 Nightwing (Dick Grayson)
Could the number-one slot go to anybody else? Dick Grayson is the original Robin, the first Boy Wonder who taught Batman the importance of chosen family. Introduced in April 1940’s Detective Comics #38, Dick has been a cornerstone of the DC Universe nearly as long as the holy trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Like Bruce, his childhood was marred by the murder of his parents, and like Bruce, he chose to focus that tragedy into a devotion to protecting the innocent of his city. Unlike Bruce, however, Dick has never been quite so eager to let the darkness swallow him up. In fact, he’s frequently been the glimmer of light that keeps Bruce from going down even darker paths. They might not always get along, but Dick is as much Bruce’s son as Damian -- maybe even more so -- and he’s very much grown into his own man.
Dick began coming into his own as a founding member and leader of the Teen Titans, and that step out from under the shadow of the Bat continued when he eventually abandoned the role of Robin and became Nightwing. With the exception of Alfred, there’s no one Bruce trusts more, so it was pretty much inevitable that Dick would be the one to take up the mantle of Batman after Bruce’s apparent death. His mentorship of Damian proved to be just as crucial as Bruce’s influence -- if not more so. If Bruce ever does permanently retire, or some punk gets lucky and takes him down, there’s no one in the DC Universe more qualified to take charge of Gotham’s protection than Dick.