When Dick got Robin taken from him, he thought it was Bruce punishing him for trying to grow up. When Dick took Robin from Tim, Tim thought he was being forced to grow up by the one person who had let him be a kid. (They were both right. Good intentions,…
Have to demur there, taking the title of Robin from Tim just after Bruce (His adoptive dad) had died, and to give it to Damian, a ghastly little monster who had actively tried to murder Tim in the recent past, without so much as mentioning it to Tim in advance was a frankly incomprehensible move from Dick which was never remotely addressed. Dick of all people should know how much of a mis-step it was, but then, Morrison has NOT been good at showing such scenes (And DC deliberately not giving ANY reason for Dick returning to the role of Nightwing was equally poor)
But the poor writing and the issue not being properly addressed are different problems. Plus, Bruce was Dick’s adoptive dad, too; this is about how different family members deal with grief.
Yes, Dick should have talked with Tim about it more before it happened. But even if Tim hadn’t wanted to give up Robin, he needed to. It was time - Damian needed it more.
Of course Tim was right to feel upset given his history with Damian. But Dick made the right decision and he made it for the right reasons. Dick saw Tim as his equal. Furthermore, Dick and Tim do not have a Batman-Robin-style relationship. Such a partnership would not have worked.
It boggles my mind that the writers wrote things that way. Of course, didn’t this problem appear in Red Robin by Christopher Yost rather than what Morrison wrote?
Despite it being badly written and out-of-character for Dick, my main objection is when Bruce and Dick’s actions are treated as equal. They are not.
Bruce was wrong to take Robin away from Dick.
Dick was not wrong to take Robin away from Tim. It was time. Tim couldn’t have been his Robin anyway. It was time for Tim to be promoted. The transition should have been handled with greater sensitivity; that would have been truer to both characters. But the mess that followed was partially due to Tim misunderstanding Dick and letting his (justified) dislike of Damian cloud his ability to judge Dick’s actions.
The misstep was the lack of clear communication beforehand, but even if Dick had told Tim ahead of time and Tim had objected, it still had to be done. For character reasons but also because DC said so.
It’s not that Tim would object, it’s that Dick really had no right to take the role of Robin away from Tim any more than Bruce did from him. It didn’t have to done at all, and certainly not that way.
The fact it worked out (as it did with Dick if you go down that storyline) does not excuse the exceptional thoughtlessness of the original act (and I don’t think the notion that Dick supposedly did it for Tim’s own good has ever been implied in the comics, that’s more speculation, no? Tim might think that, but I don’t think we’ve never seen Dick give a reason to Tim beyond “Damian needs it”, which is not a valid answer for firing not just a loyal ally of Batman, but his little brother, who is already having ongoing chronic abandonment issues (His mum, his Dad, his step-mum, Steph (for a while), Kon (also for a while), Bart (well, you see where this is going))
Knowing how betrayed he felt when he lost the role, under any other writer than Morrison Dick would and should have been more supportive to Tim, no matter how badly he was hurting himself. He might have offered Damian the role of “Red Robin”, since Robin was occupied. He would have suggested that he might want to take on another role (since he had shown himself to be concerned with how introverted Tim was becoming in his own title) rather than cast him adrift. He would have been the first to offer the name Nightwing to Tim if he wanted it, he would never, and I mean NEVER allow Tim to find out by having Damian marching around in a new Robin costume, more or less telling Tim to bog off.
Dick and Tim have worked as Batman and Robin in the past (in “Prodigal”), and did so very well, acting as brothers rather than father and son.
In fact, given how much his control freak tendencies and isolation were getting in his own title, him becoming a sidekick to Dick’s Batman again could easily have been written as just what he needed to reconnect to his original mission AND his adoptive family.
I think we are just going to agree we have fundamental differences. However, just because Dick and Tim worked together in Prodigal doesn’t mean it would work again. Both were in different places in their lives back then. Tim was clearly not Dick’s equal back during Prodigal.
I definitely agree that Dick, under a writer more sensitive to these things, would not have let Damian tell Tim. I am upset about that. It was handled thoughtlessly.
I suppose our major beef is actually over “was it okay for Dick to let Damian be Robin.” I’m guessing that because you called Damian a “ghastly little monster” earlier that you are not a huge fan. I like Damian, so perhaps that’s why I’m able to interpret what happened in a better light.
I also disagree that Dick had no right to take the mantle away. Well, I agree that one shouldn’t just fire people, but I think it was okay to give it to Damian.
Yes, I’m going on speculation to some extent. But my knowledge of Dick as someone who cares is informing me. Plus, I think the Red Robin storyline was, in part, about growing up. Dick was operating in an established pattern. When Robins grow, they leave the nest and get new names. Dick gave Tim a push towards that. That might not have been uppermost in his mind, but it could have been a part of it.
Didn’t Dick want Tim to stick around? I didn’t think he purposely drove Tim away so much as miscommunication and hurt feelings did it.
Yes, Tim was right to have hurt feelings, but I still maintain that it was acceptable for Damian to become Robin. Maybe I’m too traditional in that I accept DC’s line that it’s Batman and Robin and so Tim needed a new name. But I don’t think that what Dick did was as terrible and unacceptable as what Bruce did.
And I think that our feelings for Damian play a large role in this as well.
My feelings for Damian are not “ghastly little monster” that was my interpretation of Tim’s assessment of who Damian was. From Tim’s POV, of all the people in the DCU that Dick could have given HIS role to, it’s a conceited, arrogant little snob who has been nothing but a pain in the ass (and assorted other places he beat the shit out of when he attacked and nearly killed Tim unprovoked)? That goes beyond “hurt feelings” and into the realms of “genuine betrayal of trust”.
I think my counterargument would be “By what right did Dick fire Tim and assign Damian to the role?” and in what way is that different from the Bruce/Dick equivalent?
I’m sorry about that. I thought you were calling Damian a monster rather than giving Tim’s interpretation.
I understand that Dick picking Damian felt like a betrayal of trust to Tim. I guess I don’t see it that way because I think, like Dick, that Damian needed the role of Robin more. In my mind, Dick had to betray someone because both boys are his brothers. Damian needed to be supervised but he also needed to belong. Tim already belonged. Dick didn’t want Tim to feel abandoned and betrayed, but it was a side effect of what happened, which sucked for everyone.
Because Tim and Damian did not get along, Dick was in a terrible position. Damian was the person who needed the mantle and it was not Dick’s fault there was such bad blood between Damian and Tim. Tim would have preferred any other choice, but Dick knew Damian needed the Robin mantle more than Tim.
I see Dick’s choice of Robin as separate from Tim and Damian’s problems. Yes, those problems caused Dick’s choice to feel like a betrayal to Tim but Dick did not mean them to be a betrayal. Dick picked his Robin; if Tim felt betrayed that Dick chose Damian that is a separate issue from Dick selecting a Robin.
Why do I think Dick-Tim is different from Bruce-Dick? Origin and precedent.
Dick created the role of Robin. Bruce had a right to dissolve their partnership, but he had no right to give the Robin identity to Jason.
But he did, and that set a precedent. It established Robin as a legacy character, who was, in part, beholden to Batman for the job. Batman (and Dick) allowed Tim to become Robin. Batman allowed Stephanie to be Robin and fired her. It had been established that Batman had a measure of control over who was Robin, and that Robin was a temporary position. Given the changing dynamics and situation with Bruce’s death, I think Dick had the right to let Damian be Robin.
To me, the Robin issue is like usurping the throne. When Henry IV deposed Richard II, Henry had no right to do it. He did it because he had more support than Richard; when Bruce fired Dick, it stuck partially because Bruce had more power and support. It wasn’t right, but it stuck.
For a while, even though he “stole” the throne, Henry IV’s descendants were able to maintain their throne. Same with Bruce; he was in a position of power and he established that precedent. It remained unchallenged and became a “right” of Batman’s.
It might have been nice for Dick to relinquish this prerogative, but he didn’t. He thought he was doing what was best for his whole family when he made Damian Robin.
It was a no win situation to Dick - both Tim and Damian benefited from Robin.
Dick also needed a measure of authority over Damian that the boy could respect, and something that Damian wouldn’t want to lose so he had the ability to control him. At this point, Damian has murdered at least one person, attacked Tim, and said vile things to everyone - and there’s not much Dick can do about it, because Damian doesn’t care about him at all yet. Robin was Dick’s leverage.
Also, this was before Tim realized Bruce was alive, and I think Dick didn’t realize just how fragile his little brother was. He’d watched Tim chose not to bring his family back with Lazarus Pit waters, he’d seen Tim’s pride that Dick had taken the cowl, watched him plan out his new life almost happily, and I don’t think he noticed how much of that was bravado. He’d heard how many times Tim had talked about Robin being temporary. He wanted Tim as a partner instead of a sidekick. He was actually TALKING to Tim, going to explain his reasoning, and his brother had always been logical, so why wouldn’t he understand this?
And then Tim couldn’t be logical and Damian had to rub his victory in Tim’s face and Dick never got a chance to make things right.