Batman was first introduced to the world in 1939 – and his most recent iteration is coming to HBO Max this week (in the form of Robert Pattinson’s The Batman.) When you think about it, it’s mind-boggling that a character introduced over eighty years ago can still command our collective interest so many years later! Why do we still care about Batman?
There are likely as many possible answers to that question as there are Batman fans. But for my part, I think it’s the development of the Bat-Family. This group collectively grounds and humanizes the character of Bruce Wayne. The dark vigilante can never entirely overtake Bruce’s persona – not when he has to answer to Alfred like a son to a father or figure out how in the world to handle a kid like Damian.
I particularly love the stories that lean into the ‘family’ aspects of the various Bat-Family relationships. Here are a few of the best places I’ve found for exploring that particular dynamic.
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Robins (2021-22) is a new comic series written by Tim Seeley, which features the former Robins, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown and current Robin, Damian Wayne. Together, the five dive deep into what it means to be Robin to Bruce Wayne’s Batman and how it’s affected their lives. Check out all the excitement here!
Battle for the Cowl (comic)
Dick, Tim and Damian take center stage here, navigating a post-Batman world. Battle for the Cowl, written by Tony Daniel, delves into the Batman-related emotional scars each carries as they, by turns, clash and support each other. Jason features here, too – though as an antagonist, upping the emotional stakes.
Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad’s Batgirls series features Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain (the three characters who have, in turn, been known as Batgirl.) A sunnier series than some, the friendship between the three lightens the usually grim darkness of Gotham City and its underworld.
Titans (TV, HBO Max)
Dick Grayson’s (Brenton Thwaites) grappling with his feelings for the man who stands as a father to him, Bruce Wayne, is central to his character evolution in the Titans series. Dick and Jason’s (Curran Walters) relationship as Robin #1 and #2 is also explored. Bruce (Iain Glen), when he guests here, is an uncharacteristically bright figure – and very much a dad to Dick. You can catch up on the series here!
Nightwing 2021 Annual (comic)
The dynamic between Jason Todd and Dick Grayson features in this particular Nightwing story, written by Tom Taylor. The “brotherly” side of Jason and Dick’s sometimes-antagonistic relationship especially shines through.
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Batman Detective Series (comic)
Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain all feature in the Batman Detective series, written by James Tynion (among others). Also, Kate Kane as Batwoman, Luke Fox as Batwing and Batman himself. The heroes work as a team, along with Clayface and Harper Row, facing some major threats to their home of Gotham together. This series also explores the romantic relationship between former Robins, Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown.
Batman vs Robin (movie, 2015)
The core of Batman vs Robin is the fraught relationship that exists between Bruce Wayne (Jason O’Mara) and his newfound son, Damian (Stuart Allen). Dick Grayson (Sean Maher), as Nightwing, shows up here, too. In his calm and friendly relationship with Bruce/Batman, Dick serves as an interesting counterbalance to the antagonistic relations between Bruce and Damian.
Super Sons (comic)
The core relationship in Super Sons is, admittedly, between Damian Wayne and Jonathan Kent. In other words, it’s not Bat Family-centric. But it’s worth including here to see Batman (and Superman and Lois, too, re: Jon) primarily as a parent, not as a superhero. As a parent myself, I enjoy this.
Wayne Family Adventures (WEBTOON Original)
In Wayne Family Adventures, the crime-fighting vigilante aspect of Batman recedes far into the distance. What replaces it is a sitcom-style family dynamic. Whether it’s Jason and Damian reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, or Bruce struggling to get to Cass’s school function (and griping to Alfred about PTA moms), I love the way the family relates to each other here. If you’re looking for more typical Batman-style dark grittiness, you won’t find it here. But for my part, I look forward to the smile I get from Wayne Family Adventures every week.
Gotham Knights (video game)
This isn’t out yet – but oh, boy! Beyond looking like a very cool game, the Bat-Family is clearly going to be foundational in Gotham Knights. Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl, along with Nightwing, Red Hood and Robin (Tim Drake,) work together for Gotham after the death of their friend/mentor/father figure Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to immerse myself in this story!
So there it is! I’m sure I’ve missed something – probably many ‘somethings’! – in this list. What other Bat-Family content should I have included? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!
Article written by Maggie Plummer
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