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Batman: The New Adventures

Robin & Nightwing in “Batman: The New Adventures”

Series OverviewThe New Batman Adventures

Late in 1996 the decision was made to create new Batman episodes. The reasons were twofold: first, the Fox series, in reruns for several years, was moving to the Kids’ WB! network and Warner wanted to freshen the package; second, the live-action film Batman & Robin was due for release in mid-1997 and Warner demanded new episodes that showcased the film’s newest star, Batgirl, as a full-time member of Batman’s team.

As Described in “Batman: Animated” by Chipp Kidd and Paul Dini:

“Team was the operative word because Warner was insisting on more appearances from Robin, too. The producers had always preferred the idea of a younger Robin, and as the WB had fewer problems than Fox with putting a youngster in jeopardy, we decided to bring in young Tim Drake from the current Batman comics as our Robin. Departing from his comic book origin, we made Tim the abandoned son of a crook with ties to Two-Face. The boy’s father skipped town and Tim found himself going head-to-head with the vicious gangster. Batman saved Tim from Two- Face and, upon discovering Tim’s father had been killed on the run, took the boy on as his new partner.”

“We would also explain that Dick Grayson had come to a tumultuous parting of the ways with Batman and had walked out on his former mentor. For nearly three years Dick had been on his own, traveling the world not unlike the way young Bruce Wayne had, gaining life experience before putting together a new identity and returning to Gotham as the masked crime fighter Nightwing. In the interim Batman, who had deduced Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl identity almost from the start, revealed his secrets to the enthusiastic young heroine and often called upon her as an ally in Dick’s absence. After Nightwing had reestablished him-self in Gotham, he, along with Batman, Batgirl, and the new Robin, might work together on important but there would always be a certain distance between them. ”

In 1997, Kids WB decided to re-launch the series with new episodes; The characters were completely redesigned; Robin became Nightwing; Tim Drake became Robin; and Batgirl became a trusted ally. The new episodes were shown with new episodes of Superman: The Animated Series under the title, the SUPERMAN/BATMAN ADVENTURES.

Dick Grayson as Nightwing

Dick Grayson as Nightwing

After college Dick Grayson left Gotham to travel the world on his own, much like Bruce Wayne did in the years before he became Batman.

While living abroad, Dick studied many different crime fighting techniques and reexamined his feelings about taking up the role of Robin again when he returned to Gotham. He eventually realized he had outgrown the role of Batman’s trusted kid sidekick Robin, and set about developing a new heroic identity all his own.

When Dick returned to Gotham, he moved out of Wayne manor and into a downtown loft above an abandoned warehouse. Money from a generous trust fund set up years before by Haley’s Circus enabled Dick to buy the building and he has turned its top two floors into his own high-tech urban headquarters. True, Dick’s fortune is small compared to the Wayne billions, but he’s got enough cash to keep his crime fighting alter-ego in state of the art weaponry for years.

Batman was respectful of Dick’s decision to go it alone. Like any father-surrogate he knew his “first born” had to leave the nest sometime and watched him go with a mixture of pride and regret. Now in his new identity as Nightwing Dick still teams up with his one-time mentor, but Batman often finds his one-time partner has new, and in some cases radically different crime fighting ideas of his own.

Nightwing is quickly establishing himself in Gotham City as a young, powerful and mysterious force for good. Barbara also likes the change in Batman’s former sidekick and is looking at Nightwing as a romantic possibility, something she never could see in the old Robin.

Here’s how the show describes Nightwing “When last we saw Robin, he and Batman were fighting tirelessly for justice in crime-ridden Gotham City. These days, however, things have changed. Dick Grayson (Robin) is no longer a boy, in fact, he’s now a college graduate who has just returned from traveling the world, much like Bruce Wayne did years ago. Living abroad enlightened Grayson and enabled him to study various crime fighting techniques. When the time came to return to Gotham City, Grayson had to consider returning to his role as Robin. Ultimately, he decided that he had outgrown his position as Batman’s sidekick and was ready to embark on his own crimefighting career as Nightwing. However, Nightwing (Grayson) can periodically be found teaming up with Batman, offering a few revolutionary crime fighting techniques of his own.”

Nightwing Episode Appearances

Dick Grayson first appears in the end of the episode “Sins of the Father.” Bruce, Barbara and Alfred react to the grown up crimefighter as Dick remarks “Hey, you can’t stay a boy wonder forever.”

In “You Scratch My Back,” Nightwing makes his debut, and finds an unlikely ally in Catwoman in trying to expose a South American gun smuggling operation into Gotham City. This episode highlights Nightwing, hints at his relationship with Barbara and illustrates his tense relationship with Batman. This episode also has a great sequence – showing Nightwing in his loft headquarters, charging into the night on his motorcycle as his theme music plays… culminating in a shot where he stands silhouetted against the moon.

In “Old Wounds,” the original Robin, Dick Grayson recounts to the new Robin, Tim Drake, why he and Batman broke up as a crime-fighting team. This fills in many blanks in the gap between Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures.

Glen Murakami on Designing Nightwing

From a 2006 interview with titanstower.com: “[laughs] Well, everyone always gives me crap about the mullet. And it’s funny, because the only reason I did that was to give him long hair. On that series, everything was so stylized and streamlined. How do you give someone long hair that can be animated? Now, it looks kind of goofy. So I’m constantly living that down; Everyone ask me, “Why did you give Nightwing a mullet?” We wanted to give him long hair to make him “the rebel”. But it had to be clean. It had to be stylized. So it ends up looking like a mullet. So that sorta sucks. [laughs]”

Nightwing Appears in:
* Sins of the Father
* You Scratch My Back
* Joker’s Millions
* Over The Edge
* Animal Act
* Old Wounds
* Chemistry


Tim Drake as Robin

Tim Drake as Robin

Robin is now Tim Drake, a thirteen year-old street kid adopted by Bruce Wayne.

Tim’s real father was a small-time hood (Stephen “Shifty” Drake) who stole money from Two-Face and then skipped town to escape the villain’s wrath. Abandoned by his callous parent, Tim was forced to live on his own. A great admirer of Batman and Robin, Tim tried to act as brave and tough as his heroes, and successfully eluded Two-Face’s year-long efforts to capture him and force him to reveal his father’s whereabouts. Eventually Two-Face did catch Tim, only to later receive word through the underworld that Drake Sr. had fatally run afoul of gangsters in Central City. Furious, Two-Face ordered his men to kill Tim, but Batman caught up with the villain and rescued the boy. Admiring Tim’s courage and fighting skills, Batman took him under his wing and a new Robin was born.

Owing to his years of parental neglect, Tim has grown up very “street” with a tough exterior and a chip on his shoulder. His new life as Bruce Wayne’s ward has softened him a little, but he’s still all sass and attitude when he goes into action as Robin. Much greener than Dick Grayson was at his age, Tim sometimes bites off more than he can chew when he rushes into danger. To a degree Tim feels he has to “earn his place” at Batman’s side and he wants to prove he’s all the hero the old Robin was and then some.

Tim Drake first appears in the first episode, “Holiday Knights” An adaptation of the highly popular comic book “The Batman Adventures Christmas Special”. This episode is made up of 3 mini stories which span the time from Christmas through New Year’s Eve. Story 3 tells of the Joker’s plan to kill all the people celebrating in Gotham Square on New Year’s Eve with a sonic weapon. It is up to Batman and Robin to stop him before the stroke of midnight.

The new Robin’s origin is detailed in “Sins of the Father” This story tells the origin of the new Robin, Tim Drake and how getting in Two Face’s way leads him to a partnership with the Dark Knight. Key Robin episodes include “Never Fear” and “Growing Pains.” Robin also appeared in the Static Shock episode, “Big Leagues” wherein he appeared a little older than in his previous “Batman” appearances.

Glen Murakami on Animated Tim Drake

From a 2006 interview with titanstower.com: “I remember after the first BATMAN [THE ANIMATED SERIES], I asked [Producer] Bruce [Timm] why we didn’t make him younger; I didn’t remember the reason. But then when we did the revamp, I was happy that Batman was paired up with a younger Robin. I thought that was more interesting. I liked that character dynamic. I think it took it back to the original idea of Batman and Robin. ”

“I wasn’t as involved with the stories on the previous BATMAN series. I was just starting out. I was primarily a character designer. Even on the revamp [THE BATMAN ADVENTURES], I was more Art Director than being involved with the writing on the show. But I did talk with Bruce about Robin being more of a teen sidekick.”

“I think the reason Bruce [Timm] made Robin in college was because that was the current continuity of the comics. And he also gave him that Neal Adams designed costume. I felt that the dynamic between those two characters wasn’t as interesting because Robin was so much older. I just think when you have a younger Robin, the contrast between him and Batman is more interesting. That’s why we had the younger Robin when we did the revamp.”

“After working on the first BATMAN, we got a chance to streamline everything. So when we came back with THE BATMAN ADVENTURES, we varied Robin’s age, Batgirl’s age, Nightwing’s age. We made it more of a ‘Batman Family’. That was interesting and different from what had been done previously. We still had their personalities to play with.”

Robin Episode Appearances:
* Holiday Knights
* Sins of the Father
* Cold Comfort
* Never Fear
* Growing Pains
* Over The Edge
* The Demon Within
* Critters
* Animal Act
* Old Wounds
* SUPERMAN EPISODE – Knight Time
* Chemistry
* Beware The Creeper


Animated Gallery (click to enlarge):

 

The New Batman Adventures
1. Holiday Knights
2. Sins of the Father
3. Cold Comfort
4. Never Fear
5. You Scratch My Back
6. Double Talk
7. Joker’s Millions
8. Growing Pains
9. Mean Seasons
10. The Demon Within
11. Over the Edge
12. Torch Song
13. Love is a Croc
14. The Ultimate Thrill
15. Critters
16. Cult of the Cat
17. Animal Act
18. Old Wounds
19. Legends of the Dark Knight
20. Girl’s Night Out
21. Chemistry
22. Judgement Day
23. Beware the Creeper
24. Mad Love

Batman Appearances in Superman: The Animated Series
World’s Finest [parts 1-3]
Knight Time
The Demon Reborn

Batman Appearances in Static Shock
The Big Leagues

 


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End of titanstower.com transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind titanstower.com. He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author