8 December, 2021

LitStaff Picks: Our Favorite Fictional BFFs

Batman & Robinbatman-and-robin-mobile-wallpaper

I was raised with a love and appreciation of the written word. Some of my first memories are of my mother reading to me at night before I went to bed. Some of the books were the usual children’s fare. Sometimes, it was heady stories from tomes such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales. You know, the creepy ones.

The greatest gift she ever gave me, though, was my first comic book. Regardless of what many said then, and some still do, comics aren’t childish picture books. They provided a portal to a world of fantasy, excitement, and adventure that a young boy in a small Missouri farming community, ostracized and bullied by many of his peers, desperately needed. Being an outcast, I gravitated towards the X-Men, a band of mutants hated and feared because they were different. I identified with their plight.

But as far as my favorite BFFs in comics? Hands down–Batman and Robin.

I remember watching the 1970s cartoon with Adam West resuming his role of the Caped Crusader from the campy live-action show from the ’60s. I was addicted to Super Friends. Anytime Scooby Doo was on, I practically prayed for it to be one of the episodes where the Dynamic Duo made a guest appearance.

It was much later that I truly appreciated the dynamic (no pun intended) between the two. Batman needed Robin to ground him. Bruce Wayne’s childhood was taken from him by Joe Chill, the man who murdered young Bruce’s parents. Any desire or ability to be carefree or truly happy died with them. Even though Dick Grayson’s parents were also murdered in front of him, he was able to maintain his youthful innocence. He was a voice of reason and sanity to Batman’s hard-edged mission for justice.

As Robin got older and struck out on his own as the hero Nightwing, there were other Robins. Jason Todd as the next one, angry and bitter, tearing out another piece of Batman’s soul when he was seemingly killed at the hands of the Joker. Next was Timothy Drake, whose intellect and detective skills led him to suss Batman’s true identity.

Now, with Nightwing on his own, Todd resurrected as the Red Hood, and Drake a member of the Teen Titans as Red Robin, the mantle of the Boy Wonder has fallen on Batman’s son, Damian. Damian, raised by his mother, Talia al Ghul and the League of Assassins, is a trained killer and is almost as deadly as many of the villains he and his father face. But thanks to a lot of patience from Bruce and the love of a good dog, Damian is coming along.

Batman and Robin represented a constant for me. No matter how many different X-Men came through Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters or the Avengers’ seemingly weekly roster changes, Batman and Robin were always there. They didn’t always disagree. Sometimes, there was flat-out dissension between the two. But unlike my own childhood, there was always a reconciliation. They were always there for one another. And they still are.

In an uncertain world, it’s nice to have some certainty. Even if it comes from a childish picture book.

-Kurt Bali

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