Is Damian Wayne the Best Robin?
By Gregg Katzman
December 23, 2014
"Who's the best Robin?" It's a question fans continue to argue and argue about and we're sure the discussion will go on for years and years to come. We all have our favorites and, even if many of us know our favorites probably aren't the "best" one, that won't stop many of us from proudly standing by the character's side and explaining why they're great. Seeing as Damian Wayne is our latest Character of the Month, we figured we should analyze whether he truly is the best Robin. He certainly thinks he is.
By "best" Robin, we mean the character who will benefit Batman's mission the most. Who will help him when he needs assistance the most? Who will stand by his plan, even if they have disagreements? Who will make the Dark Knight look at a problem from a whole new perspective? Who will make Bruce Wayne grow as a hero? Does Damian Wayne help his father more than the 3 other iconic Robins? We're not including Stephanie Brown since her time as Robin wasn't very extensive and, well, she was kind of fired. That said, there's no denying many of you can go on and on about why she's your favorite Robin and understandably so! Now, let's see what advantages the big 3 Robins brought to the costume.
First, there was Dick Grayson. Out of the several Robins, he's the most skilled and the most agile. He may not be as good as Batman (not many are), but when those two are in a fight, not many threats have what it takes to overcome this Dynamic Duo. While Batman may be brooding and intimidating, Grayson's often likable and uplifting. He has great teamwork with Batman when they're out in the field and his personality offers a nice contrast to Bruce's. He eventually wanted to become more than Robin, but we're looking back on his time as Robin. Then there was Jason Todd. The second Robin may not be as nimble as Grayson, but he has an inner rage that Bruce was hoping the child could channel and use for good. Todd's okay with fighting dirty and he tested Bruce's abilities as a mentor. The character's death (and eventual return) had a huge impact on the hero. Jason Todd isn't exactly Batman's biggest success story, but it plays a critical part in his life.
Later came Tim Drake, a boy who may not be as skilled as Grayson or as challenging as Todd, but he's absolutely the best detective out of the batch. That's not saying he's a pushover and bad at fighting or that the others aren't the brightest around, but he has the most potential to become "the world's greatest detective." Batman's a phenomenal hand-to-hand combatant and strikes fear into his enemies, but his gifted intelligence is what truly boosts his abilities as a hero. What good is a fighter with a lot of technology if they're foolish in combat or can't figure out what their enemies will do next?
So, what does Damian Wayne bring to the table? He's a gifted fighter and has a sharp mind -- he's been trained by the League of Assassins since he was just 3-years-old -- but each Robin knows how to hold their own in a fight, disarm a thug and outsmart a variety of opponents. What makes his time as Robin truly unique is the fact this is a father and son fighting side by side. Yes, Bruce's views the others as part of his family, but this is quite literally his only child -- something Damian has no problem rubbing in Tim's face. Batman would fight to the death to protect any of the Robins, but having his actual son -- his flesh and blood -- simply brings more weight to the dynamic, something which Peter J. Tomasi made perfectly clear in the pages of BATMAN AND ROBIN. Bruce loves all of the Robins, but with his son's terrible and bloody past, he feels an overwhelming need to make sure Damian has a bright and positive future. This is brought about some brilliant displays of motivation. Hell, Batman just went to Apokolips and back -- and not to mention fought Darkseid -- because there was a chance to save his son.
The fact that Damian was raised by Talia al Ghul to become a cold and wise killing machine puts an extra emphasis on just how motivated Bruce is to help his son become a good, respectable man and not a bloodthirsty individual who walks the line between hero and villain. The desire to mold his son into the best person he can possible be is a constant test for Bruce, one that is always forcing him to be mindful of how he acts and make sure he's doing everything he can to help teach Damian what's right and serve as a positive role model. It's a learning experience for both of them and it's no easy feat considering the training Talia put the kid through, after all.
The father-son relationship may bring about a passionate and stronger connection, but just like a number of young sons, Damian tends to clash with his father. Be it blatantly disobeying an order or strongly protesting a plan and/or idea, Damian's arrogance and sense of comfort with his dad means he's more open and blunt with his opinions. Now, Damian rarely has a filter and often tells others exactly how he feels, but his confidence and drive to do what he wants to do has produced several issues. As you probably know, defying an order and doing what he thought was right is exactly what got him killed.
Overall, Damian's kind of a blend of the previous Robins. He's incredibly skilled and effective in combat (Grayson), has quite an attitude (Todd), and, despite his arrogance and young age, he has a brilliant mind (Drake). His witty personality and impressive formidability makes him an extremely appealing and lovable character to many readers, but his arrogance and frequent desire to prove himself can create major problems (just ask the Teen Titans). So, is Damian Wayne the best Robin? He has the potential to one day earn that title and now that he's back, hopefully we'll see him continue to grow as a character. You know, once the ego boost of having super powers wears off. But as of right now, a better case can be made for Dick Grayson or maybe even Tim Drake as being the "best" Robin. Is Damian worthy of being called your favorite Robin, though? Absolutely!