1. Dick Grayson as Batman
Spend some time at a comic book convention with a DC panel or on any number of comic-themed forums and you’ll quickly see how many people love the original Robin. Maybe it’s because many fans literally grew up with Grayson, becoming adults in parallel with his journey to becoming his own man as Nightwing.
Since he was able to establish himself outside the shadow of the bat, it was always obvious that Grayson had no intention of ever taking over as Batman. That just made it all the more powerful when Bruce Wayne asked him to do just that in the aftermath of Knightfall, having just seen what would happen if someone he didn’t know and trust completely took over the mantle. Teamed with Tim Drake as Robin, Dick fared well against some of Batman’s most sinister foes.
This substitute story has a second act too, this time with the motivations reversed. With Wayne thought to be dead, Grayson once again became Batman, ignoring his mentor’s will in the process. But this time he truly made the role his own, even changing the costume ever so slightly to accommodate his more acrobatic style of fighting.
As with the others on this list, there was never any question about whether Wayne would eventually return to protecting Gotham as the Dark Knight. If he didn’t, I would still have read a Dick Grayson Batman title or two, and I know I’m not alone. That’s high praise, high enough to justify his position as the greatest substitute super hero of all time.