Batman and his boy sidekick Robin have long had a father-son dynamic that’s been explored from all angles over the years, including the inclusion of a Robin – Damian Wayne – who was actually Bruce Wayne’s biological son. But did Batman ever actually adopt any of his Robin sidekicks in the comics?
Batman took Dick Grayson as a sidekick for the first time in Detective Comics #38. The team-up was a success as Batman aided Grayson in bringing the man who killed his family to justice. Grayson dons the flamboyant red, green and yellow suit and joins the Dark Knight for good. Batman gains a disciple to teach his crime-fighting craft to and builds the family that Bruce Wayne was robbed of while growing up.
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Batman certainly acts paternally towards Robin, but did Bruce ever become a Robin’s adopted father? Dick Grayson, who mostly followed Batman’s lead in the early comics, was eventually adopted by the Dark Knight, but it’s never shown on paper. Bruce Wayne took on Dick as his “ward,” not his adopted son. Though Bruce clothes, houses, feeds and provides for Dick throughout his young life, being a ward entitled Dick to some autonomy in his life whereas if he was adopted then Bruce would have all the legal and parental rights of a birth parent. As is the way with DC comics, it was later retconned that Bruce had adopted Dick, but the details of that process were already in the past by the time it was confirmed.
Batman also adopted Tim Drake, the third Robin. Drake sussed out the secret identities of Batman and Robin all on his own and was taken under the cowl by Batman to join the Bat-Family. First appearing in Batman #436, Drake became Batman’s sidekick after Grayson struck out on his own and the second Robin, Jason Todd, was killed only to resurrect as the much meaner Red Hood. Drake was the happy medium between Grayson’s optimism and skill and Todd’s brooding recklessness. After his single father was killed in Identity Crisis, Batman stated his intent to adopt Drake and Robin agreed… before DC’s reality shifted yet again, and everything changed.
While comic fans scoff at the idea of non-fans assuming Robin must be Batman’s son, it turns out they’ve been right more often than not. But with all the different timelines and universes throughout DC Comics, the truth can get a bit garbled. Each Robin took to Batman’s particularly harsh parenting style with varying degrees of angst or defiance. But in the end, the sidekick-son dynamic was bonded by a partnership that while not outwardly affectionate (this is the Dark Knight after all) was usually familial.
Next: Batman: Hush Is Back, And He’s Coming For The Whole Family
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