B A T M A N U N A U T H O R I Z E D Dark Knight can think to give is to place

B a t m a n u n a u t h o r i z e d dark knight can

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B A T M A N U N A U T H O R I Z E DDark Knight can think to give is to place his young sidekicks on thesame path he’s trodden. And though Bruce Wayne has in the processtried desperately to protect his loyal wards from suffering the same painhe did, his results have often been, at best, mixed.Dick GraysonPerhaps the most famous of the Boys Wonder is Dick Grayson. He was,after all, the first. In the 1940s, when comics were experiencing theirgolden age, youthful sidekicks were common in the so-called funnybooks. Captain America had Bucky, Flash had Kid Flash, Green Arrowhad Speedy, and so on. These sidekicks were created primarily to givereaders, mostly young boys, an “in” to the stories. Because the mainheroes were adults, the comics were assumed to be inaccessible to chil-dren; if kids could see someone their own age having exciting adven-tures alongside the hero, the stories would prove to be more interestingfor them to read. Kids were encouraged to see the sidekick as them-selves.With Robin, it was not only the reader who could relate: Batman, too,identified strongly with Robin. Dick Grayson’s parents were circus per-formers, and like Bruce Wayne’s folks, were murdered in front of him.Wayne, reliving his own nightmarish childhood, effectively adoptedyoung Dick as his ward. It wasn’t long before Bruce revealed his dualidentity to the boy and began training him as Robin.In the 1995 film Batman Forever, this story is told, albeit with an older(college-aged) Dick Grayson. In the film, Dick’s experience even moreclosely resembles Bruce’s, as he, too, is seeking vengeance for his par-ents’ murder. But even here-not the most popular or successful versionof events-Bruce’s response is one of reservation. He seeks to protectDick from the pain he has lived with for years.In both comics and film, Bruce Wayne is successful in his mission toease Dick’s pain and protect him from further loss of innocence until hereached adulthood. Dick Grayson always found an element of joy inbeing a superhero; he possessed a childlike happiness that Bruce did not.And when Dick outgrew the mantle of Robin, he assumed a new identi-ty as Nightwing-a darker persona than Robin’s, but one that was still122
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Robin:Innocent Bystanderlighter than Batman’s.Grayson’s ascent to independence as Nightwing is the crowningachievement of Batman’s purest mission: while seeing your child growup to be a vigilante crime-fighter may not be every parent’s dream, inthis case it was a tremendous accomplishment. Batman had seen DickGrayson’s Robin as a reflection of himself, and so was able to, in effect,change his own history. Dick didn’t become as dark as Bruce had. It wasas though Bruce gave Dick the best things about himself, withoutbequeathing the worst.
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