Dick Grayson = a Better Batman

17Apr12

I really like Dick Grayson as Batman. In fact, I think he’s better as Batman than Bruce Wayne of the last 20 years. Here are some reasons (that should have been obvious) why it works:

1.) It just makes sense. Robin has always been a kind of “Batman Jr.,” alluding to the possibility that he would eventually grow up and take over for his “father.” The graduation of the original Robin into full Batmanhood feels natural and easy. I’ve always believed that the success of the “Batman Beyond” series came from the fact that even though it was a new person in the suit, Bruce Wayne still had to be alive and endorse the project. This feels like the same kind of endorsement — you work as a sidekick for 40 years, venture out on your own for a while, and you get the big job. Which leads me to…

2.) Dick Grayson is a 70-year-old character. He’s been around for a long time, done good work and has, for what it’s worth, earned this. It feels like a good, natural fit. This is why the Azrael/New Batman thing in the 90′s didn’t work: you can’t just invent a new character in a year, fill him with tons of backstory and qualifications and expect it to feel as good as having a character you know take up the ropes.

3.) It’s the same but different. It’s the same in the way I mention in Point 2, in that we know who this character is, so to see Dick Grayson swinging from ropes around Gotham City isn’t too far out of our comfort zone. But he’s different because he’s a lighter version of Bruce Wayne. I’m frankly tired and bored of the brooding, moody, non-stop darkness of the last 20 years. It all feels like forced legitimacy — “If we make him act serious all the time, people will take the story seriously.” After a while, it becomes just as tiresome as if he had crazy Bat-shields and quips and stuff. It’s one-dimensional. By giving it to Grayson (and I love how they’re trying to call him “Richard” instead of Dick, ’cause… y’know…), Batman is still a great fighter, great detective with less baggage. Or at least less of the same old baggage. Grayson’s still got his issues with dead parents and fighting crime and disregarding his personal safety. All that stuff is still there. But sometimes it’s nice to just let Batman do actual crime fighting instead of moping around all the time.

4.) It’s great that it’s “Batman AND Robin.” Sure, big kudos go to Grant Morrison for resurrecting the love child of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, and it’s super great that the traditional roles of Batman and Robin have flipped with a fight-first Robin and a more friendly Batman. But what’s really cool is that it’s the dynamic duo together again, in their own line. Try as they might, ret-con Batman lovers have to accept the fact that it’s been a duo for more time than it’s been a solo act. The writers invent all these reasons for Batman to push his many Robins away, driving them crazy, etc…. it’s all manufactured tension. This “Batman & Robin” title accepts the tensions and dramatizes them through action.

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