Although there are many fans of Batman — the lone wolf vigilante who takes to the streets and rooftops of Gotham City in the dead of night to fight criminals and super-villains — the fact of the matter is that he, more often than not, he comes as a package deal with his sidekick, Robin. The Dark Knight may be the smartest detective and arguably the world’s most popular superhero, but he’s nothing without his trusty sidekick, the Boy Wonder. Richard “Dick” Grayson first appeared as Robin in Detective Comics #38 in 1940. Since then, the character has become almost as recognizable as his caped-crusading mentor.
Although Dick Grayson was the first to bear the mantle of Robin, he wouldn’t be the last. Once he became Nightwing, others followed in his footsteps. First, there was Jason Todd who would later become the Red Hood. Then, Tim Drake (now known as Red Robin), and finally, Bruce Wayne’s very own illegitimate son, Damian. But that’s not all. With the Multiverse, there are an infinite number of Robins out there, some who fight for good, others for evil; those who inspire, and those who terrify. Today, we’re focusing on the latter, as CBR travels through the DC Multiverse to find 15 times a Robin terrified us.
15. CHAINED WONDERS
It was just very recently that a dark version of Batman called The Batman Who Laughs made his presence known in the DC universe, starting with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Dark Nights: Metal #2. Hailing from the dark Multiverse, this terrifying nightmare of a character is made even more frightening thanks to the company he keeps: a gaggle of ravenous Robins, pets that he holds chained to himself.
These young Robins wear the appropriate costumes and colors, but their skin is pale, their mouths covered in blood and cluttered with sharp teeth. Speaking only the word “Crow,” they furiously go after anyone the Batman Who Laughs sets them on, like rabid, unstoppable animals. There is seemingly no fighting these monstrous Robins, and they are already among the most terrifying additions to DC’s comic books.
14. BATMAN #666
Not long after young Damian Wayne was introduced as a member of the League of Assassins, meeting his father Bruce Wayne in the pages of Grant Morrison’s Batman epic. There, we were shown a glimpse into Damian’s future, a reality where he was now all grown up and the one and true Batman in a hellish, fiery world that fell subject to extreme climate change.
In order to protect Gotham from a fate worse then death, Damian made a literal deal with the devil. Violent and brutal, this Damian was efficient, but a much different kind of Batman for a much different world. He was a new kind of protector, one who would booby-trap every single building in Gotham City to be prepared, and one who wouldn’t hesitate to murder the villains he fights, by slicing them up and snapping their necks.
13. THE ARKHAM KNIGHT
The fourth and final game in the Arkham series, Arkham Knight, featured a villain whose identity was kept a secret during its promotion phase. Known only as the Arkham Knight, this villain proved to be quite the adversary for Batman. As the users played the game, they came to find out that this villain was none other than Jason Todd – a Robin thought dead by Bruce, Alfred and Tim.
Although this turn borrowed many elements from the comic books, this version of Jason proved far deadlier and more dangerous. Partnering with the Scarecrow, he orchestrated the fall of Gotham through the use of the Cloudburst, and his actions led to the death of Poison Ivy and the public outing of Bruce Wayne as Batman, which in turn led to the destruction of Wayne Manor and Bruce’s disappearance.
12. BATMAN BEYOND
The animated movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker saw the return of Batman’s deadliest and most dangerous foe in the far-flung future, a future where Bruce Wayne was now very old and Terry McGinnis was the one fighting criminals as Batman. Believed dead for over 40 years, the return of the Joker was something that left everyone shocked. But, as it turned out, there was more to this story.
Actually, years back, Tim Drake had been kidnapped and tortured by the Joker to become Joker, Jr. The Clown Prince of Crime even went so far as implanting a chip in Tim that would allow the Joker to live on in someone else’s body after his death. Tim may not have known that he was the Joker, but he turned into a dangerous and maniacal villain nonetheless.
11. THE HERETIC
In Grant Morrison’s already legendary Batman run, readers came to discover that Talia Al Ghul, rejected by Batman and abandoned by Damian — who, instead of world domination, decided to turn to a life of crime-fighting like his father — created another “son” for herself. Although it would become known as The Heretic, this creature was in fact a clone of Damian, one who Talia could control.
He may not have been directly a Robin, be he was undoubtedly cut from the same cloth. The Heretic was an unapologetic monster, one who, to the horror of Batman, Nightwing, Alfred and the rest of the Bat-family, managed to kill his “brother” Damian Wayne by stabbing a sword into his heart. It was a move that sent a devastating shockwave through all of those who were close to Damian, not to mention fans of the character.
10. CARRIE KELLEY GETS IMPRISONED
At the start of Dark Knight III: The Master Race by Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson, Batman was missing. Or was he? With Gotham in turmoil once again, the vigilante made his presence known once again. But, it was quickly revealed that Bruce Wayne wasn’t the one under the cowl, but rather Robin Carrie Kelley, introduced in Miller’s seminal story The Dark Knight Returns.
But that’s not the most surprising part. That honor went to seeing the once chipper Carrie unleash her skills on a legion of police officers. She engaged them, and the battle was absolutely brutal. The sequence spoke volumes about where she now stood as a character, and how she had changed. Carrie emerged victorious, but beaten to a pulp, covered in blood. After falling unconscious, she would end up getting imprisoned for her actions.
9. BATMAN VS. ROBIN
In the animated movie Batman vs. Robin, Damian Wayne began the film struggling between being the hero his father wanted him to be and the killer he knew he was. To make matters worse, the villain known as the Talon showed up, telling Damian that he should embrace the killer he was inside, trying to convince the young Robin to join his side and his cause.
This struggle reached a boiling point when Damian decided to turn his back on his father and join the Talon instead. But Damian did so while physically fighting his father on the rooftops of Gotham, showing us just how skilled he was as a combatant, able to hold his own against the Dark Knight himself. While Bruce was surely holding back, it doesn’t take away how dangerous Damian was in this moment, when he decided to embrace the darkness.
This version of Deathwing is a very recent addition to DC Comics, first appearing in the DC Rebirth era of the Nightwing series by writer Tim Seeley and Javier Fernandez. Although he is a villain, a dark reflection of the person Dick Grayson is, he is actually a victim of the Batman villain Professor Pyg — one of his horrific creations, a dollotron. This character was a frightening and unsettling addition to Nightwing’s rogues’ gallery, one made all the more personal as a mirror image of himself.
Brainwashed into believing he was the real Dick Grayson by the villainous Dr. Simon Hurt, Deathwing took the fight directly to Nightwing and Robin, proving to be a dangerous threat, and a foe unlike any other. He moved as fearlessly as Dick did, but he didn’t have any of his restraints. Deathwing may have ended up turning to the side of good by sacrificing himself, but he could always return to torment Dick once more.
7. THE LAZARUS CONTRACT
Under the DC Rebirth banner, The Lazarus Contract was a spiritual successor to the classic Teen Titans story “The Judas Contract,” a sequel of sorts that saw Dick Grayson’s Titans and Damian Wayne’s Teen Titans become under attack by Deathstroke. Thanks to a new powerful suit, Slade Wilson managed to steal Kid Flash’s speed, in order to travel back in time and change his own past.
To stop him, the union of Titans followed him into the time-stream, meeting up with their younger selves. It was there that, coming face to face with the young Wally West, Damian Wayne proceeded to stop his heart, in order to alter the chain of events that would lead to Deathstroke coming into the powers of time-travel. It was a shocking and brutal action that — even though Wally was resuscitated shortly after — left a damaging effect to the speedster in the present.
6. TITANS TOMORROW
“Titans Tomorrow” was a Teen Titans storyline by Geoff Johns and Mike McKone that saw a team of Titans from the future travel to the present. In this reality, Robin Tim Drake had taken on the mantle of Batman after his mentor had been tragically and mysteriously killed in a devastating Crisis-level event that completely changed the world – a now far darker place.
As the Batman, this version of Tim was quite difference than Bruce. After Joker’s Daughter came to murder Alfred, Tim took it upon himself to eliminate the most dangerous villains that plagued Gotham. Turning into a cold-blooded murderer, Tim proved himself absolutely terrifying when he armed himself with the very weapon that was used to kill Bruce’s parents, using it now to kill Batman’s rogues’ gallery.
5. VAMPIRE DICK
While there are many frightening versions of Robin, little can come close to a real monster, an actual and established creature of the night. On Earth 43, home of the Elseworlds Batman & Dracula trilogy and the “Red Rain” one-shot from The Search for Ray Palmer series, the Batman was not just a man fighting crime in a bat costume… he actually was a bat – a vampire, to be exact, responsible for orphaning Dick Grayson by killing his family.
Swearing vengeance, Dick dedicated his life to hunting down his parents’ killer, and those like him. But when he was so close to his goal, Grayson hesitated, and he only ended up getting bitten by the vampire Batman, who turned him into a blood-thirsty monster himself. However, that wouldn’t stop Dick Grayson from joining Batman and becoming a new version of Robin. Both of them became partners, monstrous creatures of the night.
4. THE NEW ORDER
A brand new series that only has one issue out so far, The New Order by Kyle Higgins and Trevor McCarthy is a series that takes place in 2040, and it paints a very different picture of what the DC Universe looks like now. In this reality, there are no more metahumans allowed to roam free. They are hunted and incarcerated, and this is all because of a now much older Dick Grayson.
No longer the hero known as Nightwing, this Dick Grayson is at the head of a police force that hunts metahumans. But that is not the worst of it. We also come to learn that 12 years prior, Dick used a device to take away the powers of every superhero in the world in order to, in his words, save the world, leaving his friends hurt, confused, lost and beaten. We don’t know why he did this yet, but we will surely come to find out soon.
3. THE LAST CRUSADE
The Dark Knight Returns special The Last Crusade answered questions to long-standing mysteries that were established long ago in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns miniseries. This one-shot was a prequel story, one that told of what happened to Bruce’s partner Jason Todd, the Robin who took on the mantle after Dick Grasyon left.
Although he started out as an efficient ally and fighter, Jason quickly grew to become reckless and needlessly violent. He started letting criminals burn, and he saw the need to make criminals suffer, as evidenced by his willingness to cut off the arm of a man who could just as easily have been taken out some other way. As a much more violent Robin, Jason proved to be a scary addition to Batman’s expanding family in the Dark Knight universe.
2. THE DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN
Although he didn’t appear in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns series, Dick Grayson’s presence loomed large in the book, a shadow that was cast over Bruce Wayne. That is why, when he finally surfaced in the sequel The Dark Knight Strikes Again, it came as a shock. This was not because of his return, but because of what he had now become. In fact, Dick was no longer the hero, but a terrifyingly dangerous villain.
When before he was only a skilled fighter, he now had super-powers of his own, the result of a genetic treatment that turned him insane. Now able to heal faster than regular humans and take on the form of anyone he wished, Grayson disguised himself as the Joker to further torment Batman, and he even became an agent of death for the government.
The Injustice video game gave us an alternate reality where Superman, after a devastating loss, decided to rule over the Earth as a tyrant. His reign split the DC heroes down the middle, with some joining Superman, and others joining Batman’s resistance. In this universe, Robin Damian Wayne grew up to become a frightening adversary, an accomplished fighter and a killer when needed.
But Damian wasn’t on his father’s side. Instead, he had joined Superman’s rule. Matters were only made worse when we came to learn that Damian, even though it may have been an accident, had killed Dick Grayson and took the Nightwing mantle from him, a cruel move from a lost and guilt-ridden character. Damian Wayne has often proved himself to be a nuisance and a threat, but this is the time where he truly became something to fear.
Can you think of any other times a Robin scared you? Let us know in the comments!
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