Episode Title: “The Color of Revenge!”
Original Air Date: May 22, 2009
The phrase “Dynamic Duo” is as firmly entrenched in Batman lore as “the Dark Knight”, and of course it takes two to form a duo. In this episode we finally get to meet Robin (Dick Grayson), the second part to that duo, and in at least some people’s opinion, perhaps Batman’s better half.
The teaser has batman and a young (perhaps early teen years) Robin tracking colorful criminal Crazy Quilt to an art museum. Crazy quilt attacks the duo with a lethal light based weapon. The quick thinking Robin uses a mirror to reflect the attack back at Quilt, and the light strikes his eyes, apparently permanently impairing his vision.
The story proper opens in Bludhaven, where Solomon Grundy is attempting to abscond from a building with a large safe on his shoulder. When the police call for back up, it is an older (let’s say twenty something) Robin that arrives and defeats Grundy. Apparently in the years that have passed since the teaser, Robin has ceased to be a sidekick, and become the protector of Bludhaven in order to become a hero in his own right. While riding his motorcycle through the streets after the Grundy affair, Batman rides up beside him and informs him that Crazy Quilt has escaped Arkham and come to Bludhaven to exact revenge on the Boy Wonder who blinded him years ago. Robin displays outward signs of dissatisfaction that Batman is showing up in his city and giving him orders as if he were still a sidekick. The pair travel to and abandoned disco in search of Crazy Quilt, and are showered in red, cut out paper fish when they enter. Crazy Quilt reveals himself in a doorway and Robin charges at him against Batman’s warnings. But the figure Robin charged turns out to be a mannequin decoy. As Batman helps him up, Crazy Quilt transmits an image of himself, seals the chamber, and the room turns into a giant kaleidoscope that will crush them with centrifugal force. The two independently manage to escape from the death trap, and head to their motorcycles only to find that Robin’s bike has been destroyed. In a moment of desperation, Robin is once again reduced to riding in Batman’s side car. Robin deduces that Crazy Quilt is at S.T.A.R. Labs, and showing that he ignored Robins comments, Batman declares that Crazy Quilt must be at STAR Labs. They arrive at S.T.A.R. Labs and find that Crazy Quilt is going for a light emitter weapon, thanks to a guard that ignores Robin and looks to Batman for help. Crazy Quilt reveals that he plans to wire the weapon into his optic nerves, which will simultaneously turn him into a living weapon and restore his sight. Crazy Quilt uses his new weapon to capture Batman and escape the lab, Telling Robin that he plans to weave the dynamic duo together into a rug that he can walk on every day. Robin tracks Crazy Quilt to the Bludhaven Textile factory where Batman is strung up on an industrial loom. Robin takes out Quilt’s henchman and goes in to rescue Bats, but first takes a moment to tell Batman that he is an independent hero now, and not a sidekick, Crazy Quilt bursts in with his newly integrated weapon, and Batman instructs Robin to handle. Robin relies on the acrobat skills he learned as part of the Flying Graysons to defeat Quilt, and in the epilogue Batman asks Robin if he wants to tag along in an adventure in Gotham, to which Robin enthusiastically agrees.
Just two episodes ago I was lamenting the fact that a character like Crazy Quilt had been reduced to a cameo appearance, but here he is featured in the entire episode (including teaser). It was also quite the treat to hear Jeffrey Tambor’s voice emanating from the villain in what seems to me to be top notch casting. I suppose we were passed due to have Robin addressed in the series, but when he first appeared I was curious just which Robin it would be, or if he would be portrayed as sort of a composite of a few of the Robins, but by the end this episode makes it clear that we a watching Dick Grayson. I never picture Dick Grayson as having angst about his relationship with Batman (that is more the territory of Damian Wayne and Jason Todd), but rather being comfortable with his role and by far the most well adjusted of the Robins. I do suppose during his time with the Teen Titans, Dick did eventually struggle with his hero identity, and thus ascended from Robin to Nightwing. I also thought it would have been nice to have him as Robin in the teaser and Nightwing in the story proper, but perhaps the creators were concerned that this may have caused confusion for some viewers. Overall, I think this story of a boy emerging from the chrysalis of adolescence to metamorphose and spread his wings as an adult hero is one of the better efforts thus far.
Featured Characters: Robin (Kane, Finger & Robinson, 1940), Crazy Quilt (Jack Kirby, 1946)
To learn more about Dick Grayson listen to Heroes & Villains ep. 21