Art work created using the amazing talents of George Perez... one of my favourite Dick Grayson artists.
Please note: This page is under construction.
At the moment only "Mary and John Grayson" and "The Original Titans" is complete.
Who are the key people in Dick’s life? Those people who are more than friends and allies. (I will list and discuss friends/allies in a separate section of the biography). Here I want to delve into key relationships - the people I believe have helped shape Dick’s character and with whom he shares the closest bonds. I have identified eight people. You may agree or disagree. I'd love to hear your opinion. |
The first eight years of Dick’s life was shaped by his biological parents - Mary Elizabeth Lloyd (Grayson) and John Frederick Grayson. With so many origin stories told it is difficult to know what information provided is still in existence and what has be retconned. However, one theme holds true through every version - the Graysons were a very happy, loving and talented family. When Dick is taken in by Bruce it is clear he has already been taught respect for authority and his elders and the ability to ‘fly’. His acrobatic skill is exceptional and is clearly the result of more than raw talent. He has been well-trained and well-raised by his parents. While one may believe that growing up in a circus would be unstructured, Alfred notes in "Batman Year Three" that Dick had a very structured upbringing in the circus.
Dick's love and respect for his parents doesn't fade over time. He often thinks back on the lessons his parents taught him and draws on this in difficult times. Dick acknowledges his Romany heritage in "Batman Gotham Knights" #21, commenting it is good to hear Romany again.
We know the Graysons died expressly because they performed without a net when Dick was between 8 and 10 (depeding on the origin story). There are at least two references to the fact that Dick performed without a net also. The first is in “Secret Origins” #13 . In this story, we are told that Dick started performing without at net at the age of five – with his father standing below him at the ready to catch his small son.
When reading “Secret Origins” #50 (a text story), one also is given the impression that Dick performed without a net.
“You got to have faith, his father would say when asked how he could dare to perform acrobatics forty feet about a sawdust floor in front of hundreds of thrill-hungry spectators, much less allow his small son to perform with him.”
Some basic facts about Dick’s parents and early life
# Mary is shown to be wise and John to be a hard task master who cared deeply for his son's safety. (Batman #339)
# Mary called Dick Robin because he was born on the first day of Spring (Robin Annual #4)
# His father believed faith was the key to survival. (Secret Origins #50)
# His father only allowed his family an apple before performing because he believed full bellies led to dull minds. (Secret Origins #50)
# His mother's father ran away to the circus so his mum felt she grew up with no home of her own. (Batman #436)
# His mother worried about Dick not having a home of his own. (Batman #436)
# Dick started performing with out a net at the age of five. (Secret Origins #13)
# Dick's parents married under the bigtop. (Robin: Year One #54)
# Dick had a fascination with Batman before meeting him. (Secret Origins #50) and (Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #23)
# John had a somewhat different parenting style to Bruce but both wanted the best of Dick. (Nightwing #100)
# Boston Brand (Deadman) stole his costume idea from John Grayson. (Nightwing #103)
John and Mary Grayson had a huge impact on their son's life. They shared a trust and faith in each other that was proved every day they performed. The lessons the Graysons taught their son will stay with him for life and their love is something he draws on when things in his life aren't going well.
Embedded below is informaton about the characters John and Mary Grayson.
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One of Dick’s most significant relationships is the one he shares with the members of the original Teen Titans.
| Donna Troy
|| Wally West
|| Roy Harper
|| Garth ||
| Wondergirl, Trioa, Darkstar
|| Kid Flash, Flash
|| Speedy, Arsenal, Red Arrow
|| Aqualad, Tempest |
These five are the original sidekicks of DC. They are the characters who grew up together in front of reader’s eyes. The bond between them supersedes partners and friends and is closer to family. No matter where life takes them, these five will always hold a special place in each other’s hearts... or that is how it should be. DC writers who either don't know or don't understand the characters well don't always represent this bond well. However, this group’s special relationship was celebrated in " Secret Origins Annual #3" when the team comes together to save Dick from Antithesis and in “JLA/Titans: the Technis Imperative” 1999 where they save the day when no one else can. In the moments before they believ they are going to die, they share of their feelings toward each other (Thank you Devin Grayson. This is a DC writer who does understand the bond between the original Titans)
It is Dick's relationship with these four friends that helped to define him beyond his role of Batman’s sidekick. It was when working with them we saw Dick’s true gifts emerge – those of leadership and the ability to instil trust, faith, loyalty and respect in those around him. For those of us who loved the days of the Teen Titans and the New Teen Titans, the relationship between these five holds a very special place.
There are many different reasons given for the break up between Batman and his original Robin - depeding on writer and origin story. The one that makes the most sense is the one told in "Secret Origins" #13 where we see that it was basically a natural progression. Due to increased amounts of time spent with the Teen Titans Dick grew up and drifted away from his 'father'. This is a very normal part of growing up and a cycle all people go through during their adolesence.
Individual Relationships with Each of the Original Teen Titans
Dick shares a very close but totally paternal relationship with Donna. The sister/brother bond means they have always been there for each other. Dick helped Donna discover her the secrets of her past ("New Teen Titans #38) gave Donna away at her wedding to Terry Long (New Teen Titans #50) and he was the one who held her hand when her marriage broke down. Donna is the person who came to see Dick graduate from the police academy (but I can find it now) I was surprised that Donna didn’t appear on Dick’s doorstep when Bruce was killed (but lost in time). He certainly could have used some comfort - then again, maybe I’ve just missed that issue... or perhaps the writers of the day weren’t aware of this unique relationship. When Dick takes over leadership of the Justice League (Justice League of America #41) Donna is right beside him. In the last issue of The Justice League of America before DC comics launched its reboot (Justice League of America #60) we see these two together sharing some private moments, though I'd liked to have seen greater closeness between them.
Depending on which comic you read, both Wally and Roy claim the title of Dick’s best friend. Wally experienced a great crisis of confidence during his New Teen Titans days due to problems with his speed powers and basic adolescence. He and Dick left the New Teen Titans at the same time – Dick to shed his Robin persona and Wally to spend some time finding himself. Their close relationship is visited several times as adults.
Dick has stuck by Roy despite the various times Roys has set himself of a path to self-destruction - specifically Roy's drug taking days. When Roy needed help finding and claiming custody of his daughter Lian, it was Dick he called and Dick who dropped everything to assist(Action Weekly Series #613-#618 and #627 yo #634.) These two often have heated exchanges but the love, loyalty and friendship always pulls them through... which is why the "Cry for Justice" story line and those that followed leading up to the reboot are so WRONG. Over the years, Roy often seems drawn to Dick, seeking him out on numerous occasions.
Dick and Garth’s relationship is less defined but the pair is still close as seen by an adult Garth going to Dick for advice when taking over the role of King of Atlantis (Titans #15). In this story we are told that Garth views Dick as one of his closest friends, that Dick has always been there for him and that Dick is a good listener.
Sadly, in recent years, this group has suffered at the hands of DC creative teams looking for sensational stories and seeking to cull characters and from writers who simply do not understand the characters. In Infinite Crisis #4 (2005) Wally, along with his wife and twin children, is absorbed into the fabric of time. He is ‘rescued’ by the Legion of Super-Heroes (Justice League of America #10 2007) but sadly, like Donna and Garth, didn’t make the cut when DC ‘rebooted’ the DC universe in 2011.
Donna’s death in "The Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day" 2003 devastated Dick and changed him. No longer did he want to work with people he cared about... and as we know, it is this very fact that separates every team he’s worked with from the likes of the Justice League. It is their close bonds of friendship that is their strength. In the last issue of Justice League (Issue #60) before the reboot, Donna says she just wants to fade away so no one remembers her... I guess that is a way of saying we won’t be seeing her for a while.
Garth loses his partner and child in Infinite Crisis (2006) and finally his life to the Black Lanterns in Blackest Night (2009). There is no mention of him in the reboot.
Finally Roy. Of all of the Titans, I believe what has happened to Roy is by far the worst. We see the total crucifixion of his character akin to what happened to Dick in his solo series around 2004. Roy not only loses his arm, but his daughter in “Cry for Justice” (2009). He is transformed into an aggressive vigilante who returns to his drug-taking days and joins forces with Deathstroke. I mourn for Roy and grieve for the character I once knew. Dick tries to reach this new incarnation of Roy, and we even see them combine briefly to defeat a threat (Titans #30), but Roy leaves Dick to die with others - the real Roy Harper slowly fading in his Heroin Haze.
The break down of this friendship effects Dick deeply. He is angry at himself, believing he's given up on his friend, only to go in search of Roy. I’m sorry, this version of Roy may as well be another character for despite everything, there is no way Roy would abandon Dick to die. In the end though, it is thoughts of Dick which turn Roy around (Titans #38) and he fights back against Slade Wilson and reclaims his life.
Roy is the only original Titan apart from Dick to survive the reboot. He joins forces with Jason Todd (former Robin and resurrected from the dead) and Starfire (Dick’s former lover) in the book “Redhood and the Outlaws". Roy seems somewhat matter-of-fact about Dick which feels wrong. What relationship Dick will have with Roy in the current rebooted future is yet to be seen, though Roy seems to have come out younger than Dick in the reboot which doesn't work for me. Roy was always slightly older. Why tamper with this?
One can only hope that at some stage DC will reboot their reboot and we will see these five friends, who have had such a significant impact on each other's lives, together again.
Two of my very favourite stories revolve around Dick’s relationship with members of this group. In "Batman Chronicles" #7, we have a Devin Grayson gem between Dick and Donna - "Like Riding a Bike" and in “Flash Plus” an incredible story about the friendship between Wally and Dick. These two are must reads for fans of the original Teen Titans.
Below is an extract from "Like Riding a Bike" which shows what Dick feels about his relationship with the Original Titans.