BE WARNED: AFTER THE FIRST SENTENCE THERE WILL BE MAJOR SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ DETECTIVE COMICS #30 YET!
That’s right folks! Yesterday DC Comics announced in their This Just Happened series that Annie Aguila, motorcross phenom, and the daughter of prominent community activist from Gotham City’s East End Elenna Aguila is a potential candidate to be the new Robin. It happened in Detective Comics #30, here’s my review if you want the details before reading the book.
I know for a fact that in certain corners of DC fandom the young scamps for whom Damian Wayne was the one and true Robin are plotting mass revolt of geektacular proportions. For guys and gals like me who have been living in this world for a while we know that the only Robin death that was sacred was Jason Todd’s death … until it wasn’t. Inevitably fans will begin shouting that DC just killed the character off, and they haven’t given honoring his memory enough time. The shortened version is simply “Damian Wayne is our generation’s Jason Todd”. For many DC fans much younger then I, it is a fact that Damian Wayne is their Robin and his death is and should become an iconic part of the DCnU’s Bat-mythology.
It’s interesting to note that Jason Todd’s became iconic only after fans voted in a call-in ballot system to have the Joker kill Jason Todd. The kill side did win by the slightest of margins – 5,345 to 5, 271 – a factor that also became an important aspect of his enduring legacy, further entrenching it. The call-in vote seems hokey now, but in 1988 it was Batman editor Denis O’Neil’s attempt to provide fan input while helping to drive sales. As O’Neil recounts in Batman: The Complete History DC had reason to believe Jason Todd wasn’t popular among fans anyway, and so it gave DC a way to change up the character in the costume, what at the same time making a serious mark in the Bat-mythology. Alas, in Batman #428 Jason Todd was declared dead having been bludgeoned with a crowbar in a dark Gotham City ally, with Batman helpless to change his fate.
And then eight months later Tim Drake is introduced as the next candidate for Robin in Batman #436. Damian tragically perished fourteen months ago in February 2013. He was a much loved character, and even myself who always felt that Damian wasn’t my Robin – that he was the Robin that belonged to the new kids coming into the hobby – I recognized the unique achievement that is Damian Wayne. Full credit to Grant Morrison who molded that character. Like Tim Drake for my generation of collectors before him, Damian marked a recognizable era in the Bat-mytholoy that could own. But Damian got more then a year of official mourning.
There are differing opinions on this, but I subscribe to the opinion that Batman can’t exist without Robin, and certainly the opposite is true, even more so. Stephanie Brown fans that wanted to see her be given another shot as Robin may hold out on principle, but I don’t have a problem with a new created character coming to the forefront. If it weren’t for brand new characters becoming Robin we wouldn’t have had Jason Todd, Time Drake, or Stephanie herself.
By the final panel of Detective Comics #30 Annie Aguila checks off a lot of the “origin requirements” needed to assume the Robin mantle. She’s a motorcross phenom, so she’s got the performer angle covered, and arguably some acrobatic skills in a nice nod to the Grayson origin. As a motorcross athlete Annie brings an advanced knowledge of mechanics. As the final act of the book begins we see Bruce working on Damian’s favorite motorcycle foreshadowing a plot element that offers a potential source for bonding and conflict.
Annie also appears to have become an orpahn in the final panel of Detective Comics #30, another classic element of the Dick Grayson and Jason Todd origins. Although Tim Drakes father was a constant presence in his life, he too would become an orphan of sorts when his father died at the hand of Captain Boomerang in 2004′s Identity Crisis.
Finally, Annie is a girl. The increase in female fans and collectors is very clearly on the rise. Even in my small corner of the world it’s obvious that the female buying demographic is growing, and that is a good thing. I suspect that a lot of female fans who were collecting when Stephanie Brown became Robin make up the passionate calls for her return to the DCnU. I think its time for the new Robin to be a female Robin.
Even the most ardent purists have to admit that Annie Aguila has a lot going for her candidacy to be the next Robin. As a collector and a long time fan of this stuff I can say that Manapul and Buccellato have crafted an excellent case based on honoring all those who have come before her. I think she passes the first test, but now Manapul and Buccellato have to write her stories in way that proves she’s worthy of that pedigree. If they can do that we may be witnessing the next era of Robin in the DCU.