Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Comparing the DC Universe with the New 52 part 2: Former Robins and other Batman-sidekicks

In the previous post I explored the changes that happened when the new 52 reboot affected the history of the Robin legacy. Lets look at what changed when Robins became new heroes in the DC and new 52 continuities, and check in on the other Batman sidekicks.
When Dick Grayson began to have trouble fulfilling his duties as Robin due to his college studies and his leadership role in the Teen Titans, Batman dismissed him as a sidekick. However Dick stayed firm in his resolve to be a hero. If Batman didn't need a Robin, Dick would fly solo. But after nearly ten years being Robin, Dick needed a more grown-up identity and costume. Using an old blue trapeze act costume his father had once wore and adding yellow to the costume as a throwback to his yellow cape as Robin, Dick Grayson became Nightwing. In the new 52 history, Dick quit being Robin after only a year of being Batman's sidekick, and crafted a blue-and-gold body armor to fight crime in as Nightwing.
In previous DC history, Nightwing felt that his blue-and-yellow costume still reflected his role as Robin, and was too brightly colored for a nocturnal vigilante. He designed a solid black bodysuit adorned with a blue bird emblem (as a throwback to his Robin days the shade of blue he chose was robin's egg), and left his home in Gotham city to become the official hero of a neighboring city called Bludhaven. In new 52, Nightwing chose a new darker costume as well, black body armor with a red (as a nod to his Robin costume) bird symbol that had aspects of the Batman symbol, and he left Gotham to become a solo hero in Chicago.
After his death at the hands of the Joker, a cosmic event brought former Robin Jason Todd back to life. When he learned that Batman didn't avenge his death and kill the Joker, Jason went over the edge. Choosing one of the Joker's original alias, Jason became the Red Hood and began a bloody rampage in Gotham city, killing criminal he felt deserved to die. Red Hood also targeted Tim Drake for replacing him as Robin, and Dick Grayson to prove the he was always the better Robin. After a confrontation with his mentor Batman, Red Hood formed an uneasy alliance with the Bat-family, and even tried to be a hero forging an identity as Red Robin. However he relapsed back into his violent tendencies and became the Red Hood again. Originally Red Hood just wore civilian attire with a red helmet hiding his face, but later he felt that he should to become the lethal hero he felt Gotham needed and desired to replace Batman, so he designed a black and white costume adorned with a red skull as his symbol. He went on a crusade violently killing criminals and posted his exploits on Youtube to garner fans to support his new "heroic" lifestyle, until he was finally stopped and sent to prison. In new 52 history, Jason was killed by the Joker, but brought back to life by a coven of witches called the Caste. They trained him to become their warrior, and gave him a sense of purpose. He later returned to Gotham as the Red Hood, wearing a black body-armor with a red bat symbol and a red helmet/mask. Unlike in the previous history, Red Hood wasn't as angry at the Batman and his sidekicks, and occasionally worked with his fellow former Robins Dick Grayson and Tim Drake instead of attacking them. He even formed his own vigilante team called the Outlaws.
When the third Robin Tim Drake found that he had been replaced as Robin by Damian Wayne, he decided to adopt and modify Jason Todd's former costume and identity of Red Robin. Like Dick Grayson did as Nightwing, Tim used his Red Robin persona to become his own hero and not a sidekick, and in fact in suit design and behaviors Red Robin began to be more like Batman than Robin. In the new 52 history, Tim Drake was never Robin, and instead began his career as Red Robin. When he quit being Batman's sidekick, Tim (with the help of a a very gifted inventor) created a new Red Robin costume that had a hi-tech metallic cape that could shift into a glider-wings to give him the power of flight. Unlike previous history, Tim's new Red Robin costume still had resembled a Robin costume and did not resemble Batman. Red Robin began a solo crusade to protect kids that had metahuman abilities and formed the Teen Titans.
In previous history, Red Robin had briefly worn a new costume that strongly resembled Nightwing before reverting back to his classic Red Robin costume. In new 52, a darker more streamlined Red Robin costume that resembled the previous history 2nd Red Robin costume was designed for Tim Drake but has yet to be worn

Barbara Gordon designed her own gray,blue, and yellow version of Batman's costume to wear to a Halloween party, but when it party was attacked by a costumed villain she charged into action as Batgirl. Barbara's accidental foray into the life of a costumed crimefighter left her wanting more, and she began to slip out every night in her costume to prowl the city. Batman tried to stop her at first, but her determination won him over and he trained Batgirl part of his team. In the new 52 history, Barbara was visiting her father at the police station where the Gotham City police had made a mock up of Batman's body armor to try and figure out how Batman's tech worked. When the station was attacked by a serial killer, Barbara put on the make-shift Batman armor to defeat the killer. Batman had arrived on the scene just in time see her take down the criminal and was impressed by her actions. Unlike previous history Batman encouraged her vigilante persona of Batgirl. Barbara was then given a costume that combined elements of Batman's costume and Robin's costume and she began her crime-fighting career.
In previous DC history, after years of being Batgirl, Barbara Gordon was shot in the back by Joker and was permanently paralyzed from the waist down. Being confined to a wheelchair didn't stop the former Batgirl form fighting crime. She soon became the world's foremost computer hacker, the Oracle, and help Batman with information and even organized her own team of field operatives that she called the Birds of Prey. Oracle even designed a virtual reality armor inspired by her Batgirl costume that allowed her to physically move in the new 3-D cyberspace called Internet 3.0 and fight computer viruses and internet crime in the holographic world. In the new 52, Joker's bullet only injured her back, and didn't cause permanent damage. After 3 years of physical therapy, Barbara designed a body-armor that gave her weakened spine extra support and became Batgirl again. She never became Oracle as in previous history.
Helena Bertinelli was only a child when a mafia hit killed her parents. The trauma of her family's death drove her to want to hunt down every member of the mob and make them pay. Inspired by the Batman and taking advantage of her natural archery skills, Helena became the arrow-shooting Huntress. In new 52 history, Helena Bertinelli was an alias used by former Robin Helena Wayne (the daughter of Batman and Catwoman from a parallel dimension) when she wasn't in her new costume as the Huntress. Her Huntress costume had elements of bother her parents respective costumes.

Stephanie Brown was the daughter of a wannabe super-villain called the Cluemaster. Creating a costume for herself to hide her identity, she set out to spoil his plans and stop him from committing crime. Stephanie realized she had a knack for crime-fighting and continued using her costume as the Spoiler. Her exploits led her to become friends with Tim Drake in his Robin persona. He helped to train her and improve on her skills. This later resulted in the two heroes falling in love with each other. Spoiler's talents made her valuable enough that when Tim Drake briefly stopped being Robin, Batman allowed her to replace him as Robin in the interim. When Tim reclaimed his Role as Robin, Stephanie resumed her role as Spoiler. Later Barbara Gordon helped train Spoiler to become the new Batgirl. In new 52 history, Stephanie appears as Spoiler, claiming to have info on a gang war. Her costume incorporates aspects from her original Spoiler costume, along with her pre-52 Batgirl costume.

Cassandra Cain was the daughter of two of Batman's most formidable foes, Cain and Lady Shiva. Raised to be an assassin, young Cassandra was never spoken to, forcing her to learn to read body language as  her only means of communication. Her body reading talents were so precise she could anticipate how a person would move before they did. As a small child she was force to kill a man and the horror made her run away. Years later she would find a home with former Batgirl Barbara Gordon. Cassandra eventually took on her mentor's identity as Batgirl. Slowly learning to speak and read, Cassandra eventually became Batman's trusted partner and she assumed a new identity as Black Bat (modifying her full face cowl into a sleek domino mask). In new 52 timeline, Cassandra is Black Bat, a trusted agent of a future Barbara Gordon.

Bette Kane was the niece of Kathy Kane aka Batwoman. Upon discovering her aunt's secret identity, Bette decided to join her as Bat-Girl. Taking inspiration from her idol, Dick Grayson's Robin, she designed a red and green costume. In new 52, Bette was the cousin of Kate Kane, the New 52 Batwoman, and began her career inspired by Dick Grayson as Nightwing and became Flamebird. Her Flamebird costume maintained the Bat-Girl red-and-green color scheme, with the addition of yellow flame designs.
When it was apparent that nobody took her seriously, Bette Kane decided to devote herself to becoming a serious hero. Patterning herself after Nightwing, Bette became Flamebird using a crimson-and-gold costume with flame designs and built in light-and-electricity based weaponry. In the new 52 universe, Bette revealed her Flamebird persona to her cousin Batwoman and asked to be trained to be a legitmate hero. With Batwoman's training, Flamebird donned black-and-bronze armor with flame-throwers and a jet-pack and assumed the new codename Hawkfire.

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