Robin Watch: The Immediate Future of Harper Row
Welcome to the latest Robin Watch! As some of you may recall, I am keeping my eye on DC Comics’ search for the new Robin, because I am confident that they’re not going to keep Batman solo forever. The phrase ‘Batman and Robin’ is just too well ingrained in the public’s mind. It’s marketing gold. The last Robin, Damian Wayne, has been dead for about a year now, but Batman is still flying solo. DC doesn’t seem to be in any rush to name a new Robin. They’ve got more than a few contenders in play, and something pretty major happens to my pick, Harper Row, in this week’s Batman #28!
I can’t believe I didn’t see this coming. It pretty much changes the entire game!
I want to warn everybody that there will be massive SPOILERS for Batman #28 in this article. If you don’t want to be SPOILED, then don’t click to continue.
Want a little hint? Let’s just say that the developments in this week’s issue are so massive that I may have to change the name of this feature. And for those of you rooting for Harper Row, like me, this issue should be both amazing and bittersweet.
Join me after the jump to see what happens to Harper!
For Batman #28, writer Scott Snyder takes a break from his Zero Year storyline to provide a glimpse into Batman’s near future. And by ‘near future’, I mean the upcoming weekly series Batman Eternal. Snyder and DC are promising a big year for Batman, with Batman Eternal leading the charge. So it’s fairly safe to say that everything that happens in Batman #28 is all in continuity for the upcoming year.
I’m happy to say that it looks like Harper Row will indeed become Batman’s new sidekick.
But she’s not Robin.
Instead, she adopts her own identity: Bluebird!
This is a pretty staggering development, but it makes perfect sense! Batman is open to the idea of getting a new sidekick, but why would he let them take on the identity used by his son? In Bruce’s mind, Damian was Robin, so why let Harper dress up as a new Robin when she could be anything? It’s not like ‘Batman and Robin’ is written in stone in the DCU.
Remember, in the New 52 continuity, after Jason Todd died and Tim Drake became the new sidekick, he used the name Red Robin.
So if DC is opening up the identities used by Batman’s sidekicks, then Bluebird definitely fits the theme. It’s still Batman and a bird-named sidekick. And Bluebird is pretty badass in this issue.
This is why I may have to change the name of this feature to Sidekick Watch. Maybe DC isn’t looking for a new Robin. Maybe they really are ready to let the Robin mantle stay buried. I can remember hearing, once upon a time, that after Jason Todd died, DC was ready to move on to something else. There were talks of creating a black teenager named Raven to be his new sidekick. Obviously that didn’t happen, but perhaps DC is back to toying with the idea.
‘Batman and Bluebird’ doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘Batman and Robin’, but I am a fan of trying new ideas. I could definitely see this work. Plus, at least Harper is the new sidekick…I think. Her relationship to Batman in this issue isn’t exactly spelled out. It just reads like she’s Batman’s new partner, but Bluebird could also be a Huntress-esque wildcard hero that Batman is willing to work with in Gotham. That would be disappointing, but it could happen.
I’m also disappointed that Harper won’t become Robin. I’m a huge Robin fan, so I want to see the identity live on. But beyond that, I was also looking forward to DC crowning not just a new female Robin, but a legitimate female Robin (no offense, Stephanie Brown fans).
But I think there’s still a chance that Harper could become Robin, though I base that completely on marketing. Like I said above, ‘Batman and Robin’ is ingrained in the public perception. Even people who don’t read comics know them as a team. So it is in DC’s best interest to have a Batman and Robin in their comics. Not only that, but if they hope to spin Batman’s new sidekick off into her own solo series, a title like ‘Robin’ is going to sell much better than a title like ‘Bluebird’. That’s Marketing 101. Also, crowning a female Robin would definitely make headlines, and both DC and Marvel are eager for national news coverage these days.
I both like and loathe this development. I’m glad to see that Harper has indeed become Batman’s new partner (I think), but it’s disappointing that she doesn’t get to be Robin – yet. Maybe Bluebird is a starter costume, and she later earns the right to be Robin. We’ll see.
Either way, I’m excited to see that big things are in the future for Harper Row. I can’t wait to see how she becomes Bluebird.
Update: An interview between Snyder and Newsarama was posted online after I posted my article. He also gave an interview to IGN. He talks a bit more about his plans for Harper, his original goals for Harper, and her role as Bluebird. Apparently, even though she’s Batman’s partner, she doesn’t hang out with him at the Batcave. She doesn’t know he’s Bruce Wayne and the like. It’s all part of an attempt to give Batman new allies and characters in his life, which I like, but I’m still disappointed that Harper might not be Robin. She’s perfect for the role! At least Snyder agrees that Batman will eventually have another Robin. I hope it’s Harper.