I Support Harper Row as the New Robin
The body of the previous Robin isn’t even cold yet, but already I’m throwing my considerable blogging weight behind Harper Row for the new Robin! I know some of my readers, and probably a lot of comic book readers in general, would rather Batman not get a new Robin, at least not right away. And that’s a perfectly fine idea. DC should go ahead and tell some stories of Batman dealing with the death of his son and being a lone vigilante for awhile.
But Batman needs a Robin. He will get a new one. It’s inevitable. Robin makes the comics richer, he makes Batman richer, he makes the stories richer; Robin is just a good character to have around.
And Harper Row should be the new Robin.
I also think DC should replace Damian sooner rather than later, for a number of reasons. Mostly because the reboot needs a Robin to call its own. Damian was created before anyone even had the idea of a reboot, and while a lot of characters were tweaked and altered, Damian was untouched when the whole universe was remade. And it’s clear now that he was only on loan to DC from Grant Morrison.
DC needs their own Robin, one who can stand the test of time and exist as his or her own character, not just at the whim of a single writer. Tim Drake was such a character.He wasn’t created to become Robin just for a single story, he became Robin and was allowed to grow and expand over years of stories. If DC plans to make this DCnU continuity a lasting thing, then being able to tell the story of a new Robin from the ground up is a great idea.
And Harper Row is the obvious choice. I mean, c’mon, surely she was created for just this purpose!
So who is Harper Row?
This young lady is a street smart teenager from the Narrows in Gotham City. Her father was an abusive son of a bitch, so Harper filed for emancipation and took her younger brother Cullen with her. She’s a clever and very intelligent girl who likes dying her hair and has more than a few piercings. She also has a head for electrical engineering, so much so that she actively spends time down in the sewers and got a job working on the city’s electrical grid. She’s even helped Batman out a few times, once by fishing him out of an underground river – though Batman, in his typical style, wasn’t been very grateful to the young girl.
Harper debuted in Batman #1 as part of the New 52 reboot, and has mostly been just a background character in Scott Snyder’s Batman series. She had a whole issue dedicated to her exploits, Batman #12, and it was a pretty fun issue. Harper did not exist prior to the reboot, which is a good thing, because I think she could become the poster child for the DCnU.
The DC reboot needs its own Robin. If they want this reboot to work in the long term, then this new continuity needs its own characters, teams and concepts so that everybody isn’t constantly comparing it to the old, more popular continuity. And all of the current Robins are from the old continuity, including Damian. They’re all popular characters, so it was wise for DC to keep them around, but now with Damian out of the way, DC needs to jump on some new blood, and fast.
There hasn’t been a solo Robin series in years. Now is the time to bring it back.
When the reboot happened, DC clung to the old continuity when it came to the Batman franchise. Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne were all given their own comic (some with teams) because they are popular enough characters. That was fine, but they’re all still clinging to the old continuity. Batman himself is steeped in old continuity, with concepts like Batman Incorporated carrying over. This is a problem if you want to give legitimacy to the new rebooted continuity.
Now is the time to strip Batman of this old continuity and give him a clean slate. With his son gone and no immediate Robin to take his place, Batman can be brought back to basics, stripped down to his bare essentials. He’ll be like a new man. And with a new Batman, you’re free to create a new, better Robin. One who can come to embody the new continuity.
And speaking of Damian…
Damian was a Flawed Character
If you read any of the interviews with Grant Morrison or the DC editors, you’ll learn that Damian Wayne was always intended to die. In fact, Morrison planned to kill Damian at the end of his very first story. But for some reason, he changed his mind. They made Damian into Robin and the little brat was embraced by the writers and the fans. I’m actually a little surprised that DC didn’t tell Grant Morrison he was out of luck when hewanted to kill Damian. The boy had become a popular character, and DC could easily have claimed him as their own.
But apparently not. Grant wanted to kill him, and so Grant got to kill him.
So from the very beginning, everybody at DC knew that Damian was going to die. Even when they were designing their reboot, they knew Damian was going to go away sooner rather than later. He was never his own character, he was just a story point. In a way, Damian was never really Robin either, not in the way Dick, Jason or Tim were Robin. Damian was just there to fulfill Grant Morrison’s Batman story. And while there may have been some good Damian moments and stories over the past few years, he clearly could never stand on his own. Dick, Jason and Tim were all their own characters, and now each one is headlining their own series. Tim, especially, headlined a Robin solo series for more than a decade, lasting more than 100 issues.
Damian never got his own solo Robin series.
Batman is in a Good Place Right Now
When DC rebooted all of their comics in 2011, they barely touched the Batman franchise because it was selling so well. Between Grant Morrison and new writer Scott Snyder, the Bat-family was in very good hands. And they still are. Snyder’s Batman series is on fire. He opened with the new and wonderful Court of Owls, then launched into the very well-received Death of the Family Joker story. I may not have been a fan, but a lot of people loved Death of the Family. And my problems with it had nothing to do with Snyder as a writer.
So why not let Snyder be the architect of a new Robin? Who could do it better? Snyder has proven himself as a fantastic Batman writer, with a great love of the mythos and the characters. I think he would be fantastic in creating the new Robin.
Snyder also created Harper Row. She first appeared as a background character in Batman #1 of the reboot, which means he created her after it was already known that Damian would die. So let’s say Snyder already assumed he might get a shot at creating the new Robin. He’s such a good writer, with an eye towards the bigger picture, that he already started seeding Harper Row early. She showed up in Batman #1, made another appearance in Batman #7, and then got a whole issue to herself in Batman #12. That way, if she does become Robin, it won’t be like she came out of nowhere, thanks to Snyder. He definitely knows how to craft a great story from the ground up.
Harper Row is a Lot of Fun
In Batman #12, we got our first real look at Harper Row, and it turns out she’s a pretty cool character. She’s clever, street smart, good in a scuffle and helpful in a tight spot. She’s also got class, and can clean up pretty well when the situation calls for it. She attended a fancy ball in that issue and even had a run in with Alfred.
Harper is also an orphan, a key ingredient in becoming a Robin. She does, however, have a younger brother. She sticks up for him and has definitely helped raise him. They’re thick as thieves. So Harper has got her own supporting cast to bring to the Bat-family. Maybe the brother could become Alfred Jr. We don’t know a lot about Harper Row yet, but Snyder has done a pretty good job getting us started. And the more I see, the more I know she could be an outstanding character, not just an outstanding Robin.
It’s also time for Robin to be something other than a young, white male with black hair.
We had Stephanie Brown as Robin in the old, pre-reboot continuity. She was a cute, bubbly blonde girl. And that was great. But Stephanie, like Damian, was only intended to be temporary. She barely lasted four months as Robin. Stephanie was only Robin as a means to an end in that one specific story, and that’s probably why DC erased her from existence when they rebooted continuity. She may have been the first female Robin (after Carrie Kelley), but she was never a legitimate Robin.
Now is the perfect time to give the world a female Robin. It’s the 21st century. Female characters are making a huge impact these days. Batwoman and Batgirl are both top selling books for DC, and Marvel has got Captain Marvel, Fearless Defenders and an upcoming X-Men revamp with an all-gril team. It is time for a female Robin. And now is the time to build her up right. There’s no rush. Harper Row is already in the series, so let her relationship with Batman grow. He’ll reject her at first, as well he should, but Harper Row can prove herself. Let her character build, let her rise up into the role.
Let Harper Row be Robin.
She’s ready. We all are.
I support Harper Row as the new Robin.