Robin was born with a very general purpose. He was there to give children a character to relate to in Batman’s world. Nine-year-old Michael couldn’t connect to the struggles of having a billionaire playboy lifestyle (neither can 22-year old Michael, but I digress.) Robin was simply there to represent the children who were reading the stories. This is where a good writer shines. They were able to make Dick Grayson one of the most relatable and entertaining characters in all of comics.
I’m sure you all know the story but if not, here’s a brief recap. Dick is the son of two legendary acrobats; the family was known as The Flying Graysons. While performing for Haley’s Circus, the ropes get cut (sabotage!), the parents die, the boy is taken in by Bruce Wayne [The Batman]. Bruce takes Grayson because he can relate to the pain he’s currently feeling. He wants to make sure he doesn’t have the same downward spiral he did when the Wayne’s were murdered. Dick eventually becomes the sidekick, Robin; The Boy Wonder. Presented initially as this brave, fun-loving yesman, Robin evolved into a more well-rounded character. Yes, he mourns the death of his parents, but he doesn’t let it control his life. He uses his abilities, everything he learned from Batman, to help the world. He has his share of troubles, but he doesn’t let that stop him.
Dick helped Bruce grow from this cold loner into this caring father. Grayson went on to lead his own team in the Titans, and eventually became his own hero, Nightwing. Dick was allowed to evolve; he was allowed to grow up. This is something that rarely happens in comics. When he took on the mantle of Batman, he made it his own. He smiled, even cracked a few one-liners here and there. He knew he could never be Bruce, and while he struggled with this initially, he eventually accepted that he needed to become his own man, his version of Batman.
Batman is a cautionary tale about what happens when we let fear and grief drive us. It leads to a dark and lonely place. Nightwing shows that we can overcome all of our adversities. Not by embracing the darkness, but by holding on to the light; to our friends and family. Dick Grayson changed Bruce Wayne for the better. The characters don’t always get along, but they push each other to be better people.
Nightwing is indeed a character kid’s can relate to because he grows up. He has to find who he is as a person. Is he going down Bruce’s path or forging his own? Dick is far from perfect, but that’s part of his charm. These are things that anyone can connect with. Robin, Nightwing, Batman, Agent 13, and whatever other crazy title he’ll hold in the future, he’ll always be near to my heart.