Saturday, 13 July 2019

Robin Drops Out

Well, kind of. Back in Batman # 217, Robin had left Wayne Manor behind and headed off for college.
And just like Green Lantern / Green Arrow, the newly minted Teen Wonder was keen to do his own thing, and discover himself and America. Except unlike GL & GA, he didn't actually have to leave his home state to do it.
Mike Freidrich wrote most of Robin's college adventures, and wanted to write about what was happening to him and his generation. So Dick got involved with college riots, elections and ecological issues, and as Friedrich was in his early '20's at the time, and if not in college, then only just out, we can't for once say that this strip was written by stuffy middle-aged men trying to be hip and cool.
Here's a good example, where Robin joins a commune in order to sniff out a violent revolutionary. Interestingly, here the Teen Wonder tries talking instead of just using his fists, which is clearly Friedrich's message.
And even though the ending is a bit pat, and a square like Robin would never really drop out, he's at least having his preconceptions challenged a little...


  1. I remember these Robin backups. The one that surprised me the most was "Soul-Pit" in Batman #239 because it featured Berni Wrightson, Al Weiss, and company two issues after Neal Adam's drew them in "Night of the Reaper."

    Chris A.

  2. I think that’s on here, Chris ( I lose track of what I’ve posted and what I haven’t sometimes... )

  3. Even in that era and especially as a solo character I felt Robin needed a costume redesign. The bare legs looks somewhat cutesy on the pint-sized 1940s waif, but for a '70s college kid?

    Gene Poole

  4. And by the time we got to Wolfman / Perez's Teen Titans I thought that even more. Still, a trademark's a trademark.

  5. Yeah, I gotta admit, I could never take Robin seriously until he became Nightwing - despite being a likable character and all, the silly green trunks and yellow cape just made him look like a doofus. It's okay if you're 14 and a design a doofus costume to offset Batman's darker image - but when you're 21 and still sporting the same exact look, it stretches the credibility way past the breaking point.

    Friedrich must've really shaken up the old guard at DC with his stories about hippies and peace and feelin' groovy. And one can only imagine how the Harlan Ellison parody in the Justice League of America was received - especially after years of Gardner Fox scripts. And yet, despite how heavy-handed or preachy his work could be, I always liked Friedrich - probably because one got the sense that he was just being honest, just being himself through his writing - not unlike McGregor - whereas other writers who were trying to be 'hip' during that time just came across as laughable.

  6. I couldn't agree more, k, and Mike will always be a hero of mine for Star*Reach. As I say, with these stories, his heart was clearly in the right place.

  7. For some of us growing up in the 70's, with not much else to reference, Robin's costume may have been passé, but not enough to distract from Irv Novick and Dick Giordano's excellent artistic pairing on Batman and related backup stories. Although Neal Adam's noir-realistic Batman carried the recognized baton of true reinvention, Irv Novick's darkly graceful figures and sweeping panels, embellished by the incomparable Giordano, became THE definitive version many of us cherish and remember, due in no small part to the frequent regularity of their offerings. Adams set an unparalleled bar of greatness, but Novick carried the reborn vision forward through countless exquisite pages of unforced mastery.

  8. Jim Aparo will always be my Bronze Age Batman artist of choice, but it does irk me that Novick doesn't get enough recognition, and in fact whenever best '70's Bat artist lists are put up, he's hardly ever mentioned, so I agree wholeheartedly, Vanderwollf.