Titans has just introduced the second Robin, Jason Todd, signaling some big changes to the DC Universe show's future. The end of episode 5, "Together", is a major change from the comics canon, where the two Robins didn't interact while using the name Robin. With next week's episode of Titans titled "Jason Todd", it's clear that the younger hero will have a big part to play in the rest of the season.
The Titans premiere revealed that it has been a year since Robin has been seen in Gotham City and that Dick Grayson had given up on vigilantism to become a police detective in Detroit. Apart from briefly donning his costume to go after a child-beater and a quick call to Alfred Pennyworth to borrow money, no reference has been made to Dick Grayson's alter ego and past in Titans; he's taken great pains to keep his secret identity a secret up until "Together." It was here that he became Robin once more to fight the strange assassins known as The Nuclear Family and left the rest of his fledgling team to peruse Dr. Adamson - the man who had recruited the Nuclear Family to go after Rachel Roth. The episode concluded with assassins coming for Dr. Adamson and nearly overwhelming Dick, until a sudden save at the hands of a young man who introduced himself as "the new Robin."
It's been known for some time that Jason Todd would be a part of the Titans series and that he would be using the Robin name and costume. What has been less clear, however, is what the relationship between Dick Grayson and his successor might be like. As with many of the choices made in Titans so far, this is another instance where the reality of the show breaks with the comics that inspired it.
First appearing in Batman #357, Jason Todd was originally an exact copy of Dick Grayson - another circus acrobat, orphaned by criminals, who found a patron in Batman. A retcon following Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985 would give Todd a new background as a child of the streets who was taken in by Batman and trained as the new Robin after he tried to steal the hubcaps off the Batmobile. In both timelines, Jason Todd's interactions with Dick Grayson were limited, and they never fought side-by-side as Robin before Jason Todd's death in 1988. Indeed, the window in which there were two Robins was very brief, with Jason Todd first donning the Robin costume in Batman #366 in December 1983 and Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing in Tales of the Teen Titans #43 in June 1984. Later comic stories attempted to build a relationship between the two young men; the New 52 revamp of the DC Universe in 2011 even hinted at an adversarial relationship between the two before Jason Todd's death and resurrection as the Red Hood. Yet none of these stories ever depicted Dick Grayson and Jason Todd working together as Robin and Robin.
That's exactly what we're going to get in Titans, with their rocky relationship amplified by the shared name. Looking further ahead, though, questions get darker. If Titans is introducing Jason Todd, that may mean "Together" is the start of the show's path towards enacting A Death in the Family, the comic story where Joker brutally killed Todd, and maybe even his return as anti-hero Red Hood.
The decision to force the two Robins together in Titans marks another example of the show being willing to take risks and avoid being a straight-forward adaptation of the source material. It remains to be seen what will come of this bold choice. Thankfully, fans of the show will not have to wait long to find out.