The Definitive Robin Costume Ranking
Happy Thanksgiving, comic book lovers! To help make your Turkey Day a bit more palatable, and because most of the Internet is probably shut down today, I’ve decided to have a lot of fun by ranking all of the comic book Robin costumes! I am a huge Robin fan, and his costume is a pretty notorious hallmark of the character.
Fortunately, Robin has been through quite a few changes and retcons over the years, producing a whole wardrobe of different outfits, styles and designs. Robin has had almost as many costume changes as Batman! And from hundreds of different highly skilled artists. So I looked up as many as I could find and decided to rank them from my least to most favorite.
This list is as ‘definitive’ as I felt I could get featuring in-canon comic book costumes from throughout DC’s nearly 100-year history. If I’ve forgotten any, let me know in the comments and I’ll find a place for it. But I’ve left out the Elseworlds costumes, the movie, cartoon and video game costumes, and most of the one-off alternate reality costumes. Maybe I’ll throw all of those into a second list somewhere down the line.
For now, join me after the jump for the Definitive Robin Costume Rankings!
15. Earth 2 Original
I said no alternate realities in my opening, but I’m going to make an exception for Earth 2, because it’s a pretty important part of DC’s canon. Earth 2 is the original universe from Action Comics #1, which never went through the superhero revival of the 1960s. And in this Golden Age universe, Dick Grayson grew into adulthood without abandoning the Robin identity in favor of Nightwing. He had the foresight to abandon the bare legs and pixie boots of his youth, but Dick didn’t do himself any favors with the bright yellow leggings and cape (and it got even worse when he graduated to a combined Robin/Batman costume a few years later).
14. The Original
Here is the Robin costume that history knows and loves, but it’s utterly terrible in hindsight. Maybe this is what kid daredevils wore in the early 1900s, but it’s now a laughingstock of Robin history. Bare legs, pixie boots, short green underoos; this costume would be utterly shameful if it wasn’t so iconic. I have no love for this costume, whether it’s worn by Dick Grayson, Jason Todd or even Carrie Kelley. Thankfully, due to retcons and reboots, this sad little thing is no longer in continuity.
13. Duke Thomas Futures End
This costume is a blip on the radar of Robin, but I felt it was worth adding to the list — if only because it’s a solid example of a modern costume that looks very bad. It’s not just artists from the 40s who can’t design good costumes. This costume only existed for a single issue, worn by Batman’s current sidekick, Duke Thomas, in a flash forward issue that takes places five years into the future. Duke is an adult, has his own badass motorcycle and has to give Batman a lesson in teamwork. He’s also wearing an ugly, bulky, future suit that just doesn’t work with the a regular cloth-wearing Batman. Maybe if they were both wearing futuristic costumes it would work better, but as a stand alone suit, it’s not for me.
12. Red Robin New 52
Just because they called Tim Drake ‘Red Robin’ in the New 52 doesn’t mean he was never Robin. But in giving him a new name, DC went all out in giving him a new look — and in the end, I don’t care for it. This Red Robin costume is too busy, with straps and wings and logos and the same lines and details that went with all the New 52 costume redesigns. Maybe as an independent hero this would be a solid option, but for Robin, it doesn’t cut the mustard.
11. Damian Wayne Original
This costume just never clicked for me. It’s the costume Damian Wayne wore when he officially became Robin. I never liked the weird, layered cape, which turned into a hoodie. I never liked how the red costume flaps extend below his belt. And I never liked his lace-up boots, even though I’m a fan of boots like that on other superheroes. This was just another reminder that Damian Wayne will never be my Robin.
10. Tim Drake Red/Black
This red and black outfit was Tim Drake’s second Robin costume, which he put together after Infinite Crisis back in the day. According to Tim in the comics, he picked those colors to honor his best friend, Superboy, who died in the crossover (only to come back to life a short time later). There’s a lot to like about this costume. The coloring is definitely quite stark, and the cape has some Batman-esque scallops on the end. The costume even got used on Tim Drake in the Batman: The Animated Series. But over time, I’ve fallen out of love with this look. I miss the green.
9. Stephanie Brown Original
Stephanie Brown, otherwise known as the superhero Spoiler, took over as Robin from Tim Drake for a short period in 2004. Her costume pretty much matched Tim Drake’s costume, with one important distinction: the skirt. I can understand keeping Stephanie in the same costume, because that’s what happens with Robin sometimes. But did they really need to make sure that the girl had a skirt? She can’t wear pants like Tim? Fortunately, as we’ll see a bit later on this list, this wasn’t the only Robin costume that Stephanie wore.
8. Red Robin Rebirth
Most recently, DC Comics has undergone a Rebirth to give all their comics a bit of a spit shine. This involved canceling the Tim Drake Teen Titans comic and moving the character over to the pages of Detective Comics, to rejoin Batman proper. Tim kept the name ‘Red Robin’ for the various dumb reasons, but he reverted to a much more Robin-esque costume. I approve of this change and largely like what I see. The Double-R logo is incredibly dumb, but the rest of the costume is pretty cool, combining all the right Robin colors. Though for me personally, this costume looks a little too busy. And the colors aren’t as sharp as they could be. Still, it’s a nice callback to the fact that Tim Drake is the best Robin, no matter what the retcons rename him.
7. Jason Todd New 52
When DC rebooted their entire comic book like in 2011, this involved a lot of changes to the history of the characters. The biggest change, as far as I’m concerned, is that they wiped the original Robin costume from existence! Dick Grayson and Jason Todd no longer wore those stupid green pixie boots! They no longer pranced around in bare legs! Each one got their own original retconned costume, and Jason’s is pretty neat. I like the red mask, which is a first for any Robin. And the yellow cape works, to an extent. This one looks as hi tech and detailed as other New 52 designs, but at this point in the list, that attention to detail is starting to become a positive.
6. Damian Wayne Rebirth
As part of DC Rebirth, Damian Wayne has upgraded to a flashier, more colorful Robin costume, and I mostly like it. Part of me thinks it’s still too busy, but I dig the bright colors and the energy behind this costume. The cape looks wicked, and the red tunic is fuller. Whereas I didn’t like the red flaps below the belt before, I rather like them here as they form a sort of battle skirt. There’s a regal-ness to this costume that I think suits Damian as the heir of R’as al Ghul.
5. Stephanie Brown Alternate
Stephanie Brown didn’t always have it so bad. For a single issue (that is so obscure, I can’t even remember the comic), Stephanie’s Robin costume got an alternate look that I love! All of a sudden she’s got straps around her thighs, her tunic is a little different, the skirt is long gone and the neck cowl rises up to cover her cheeks! It’s a pretty dynamic look, and I definitely approve. It’s just too bad she only wore this outfit for a single, random issue, as if the artist on the comic didn’t get the memo about Stephanie’s look. And we’ve only got a few random panels to view the suit in all its glory. Oh well. It still lives on in my heart.
4. Earth 2 New 52
Earth 2 got a bit of a revamp in the New 52, just like everything else. And one of those changes was making Helena Wayne into a Robin. In the original Golden Age comics, Helena was the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, and she became the Huntress on Earth 2. But who doesn’t like shaking things up? DC revamped her into a Robin and gave her this temporary costume for all Earth 2 flashbacks. It’s sleek, it’s stylish and it has all the detail and tech of a modern costume with a bit more streamlined execution. Plus, it’s a female Robin costume without the skirt! Though I don’t particularly like that the ‘R’ logo is now a neck clasp instead of over the chest.
3. Duke Thomas Helmet
For some reason, this costume really spoke to me as artist Greg Capullo was drawing Scott Snyder’s Batman. I love the Robin jacket combined with that awesome helmet. Duke Thomas operated as an unofficial Robin at the end of the series, coinciding with his leading role in the We Are Robin spin-off comic. But unlike all the other teens in We Are Robin, Duke actually got to play with the big boys. Even though Damian Wayne was definitely around, it was Duke and his badass helmet that operated as Batman’s partner at the end of Snyder’s run. He was daring, heroic, and he embodied the role of Robin as Batman’s partner, helping out their mentor to save the day. It’s just a shame that Duke didn’t bring that helmet with him to We Are Robin very often, and that when Batman took him on as an official sidekick, he had Duke ditch the Robin identity to instead become Yellow Batman Jr.
2. Dick Grayson New 52
Just as the pixie boots and bare legs were retconned out of Jason Todd’s original Robin Costume, so too were they ditched from the original Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson. Now as far as continuity is concerned, this is the costume the first Robin wore, when Dick Grayson decided to join Batman’s crusade! It is thoroughly modern, with all the lines and edgy alterations, but I love the look! It’s definitely Robin, and a cool Robin. I love the cape, I love the colors, I love most of the design choices. I love that Dick Grayson no longer has a history of hairy man legs sticking out of green short shorts. This costume has now been drawn by several different artists in several different flashbacks, and it just keeps getting better.
1. Tim Drake Original
They got it right the second time. For five decades, the Robin costume was pixie boots, short shorts and bare legs. But when the 1990s came around, and when Tim Drake took over the role, DC decided that something had to change. They were right. The task fell to artist Neal Adams to design a modern Robin costume that paid homage to the original but looked like something a 90s teenager would wear. He nailed it. The combination of red, green, black and yellow is perfectly balanced, keeping the costume clearly Robin, but erasing the ridiculous decisions of the 1940s. The new black and yellow cape is a huge improvement, making it as large as a real superhero cape. The coolness of the boots can never be understated. As is the fact that Adams kept the short sleeves. Robin is still a kid sidekick, and youthful touches like the short sleeves keep the costume grounded.
It’s no wonder this costume is the basis for almost every animated Robin adaptation. It’s simple and it’s perfect. Just as Robin should be.
Posted on November 24, 2016, in Comics, DC, Robin and tagged Carrie Kelley, Damian Wayne, Dick Grayson, Duke Thomas, Helena Wayne, Jason Todd, Red Robin, Stephanie Brown, Tim Drake. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.