With yesterday’s release of “Batman” #28, we got a look into the near future of Gotham City, and while flash-forward gimmicks in comics are starting to become a little overused, writer Scott Snyder managed to pull off something buzzworthy with this one by showing Harper Row operating as Bluebird, a new sidekick for Batman.
We first met Row back in “Batman” #7 when she aided Batman in upgrading the city’s electric grid and also took a more hands-on role in helping him capture a fleeing villain. Despite warning her not to do so again, the Dark Knight ended up needing an even bigger favor from Row during the “City of Owls” saga, as she managed to construct a defibrillator that saved his life after a brutal beating and narrow escape.
Growing up in the Narrows, we know Harper can handle herself in the roughest parts of Gotham, and she’s already proven herself capable with technology and gadgets. With some ongoing training, she seems like she’d be a fine partner for Batman.
And while many readers suspected this was Snyder’s endgame for the character all along, he at least wasn’t lying when he said she wouldn’t become Robin. It’s going to take some getting used to before “Batman and Bluebird” sounds like a natural thing to say, but at least to me, it makes more sense for Bruce Wayne to have Harper establish her own identity than to take up the Robin mantle.
For starters, it never sat right with me that Bruce would allow anyone to become Robin again after someone died in that role. I felt that way after the death of Jason Todd for sure. Though taking up a partner again wasn’t completely illogical after some coping time — especially since the new partner in question was Tim Drake, who turned out to be a terrific character — it never seemed right that Batman didn’t just retire the Robin name out of respect to Todd (who wasn’t dead anyway, but that’s an entirely different and much bigger can of worms).
In the New 52 world, the deceased Robin is actually Batman’s own son, so it definitely feels proper for Harper to have a different code name. Bluebird works for me, especially with costume design we saw in that glimpse of the future. Plus just about every other bird name for a super hero is already taken.
There have been plenty of Robins, and if Batman has to have a partner, it may as well be a different bird by his side. Kudos to Snyder for coming to the same conclusion.
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