When Batman Was Forced To Relive Robin’s Death Over And Over

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Today we’re looking for a Batman story where the Dark Knight was forced to relive Robin’s death over and over again!

This is the Great Comic Book Detectives, where readers send in requests for comic book names they remembered reading years ago and I try to find them for them! Send any future inquiries to [email protected]!

Recently I asked my followers on Twitter and on Facebook what was the first Batman comic they remember reading. A few of the answers involved comic book stories that people remember reading as kids, but couldn’t remember exactly WHICH comic it was, as decades had obviously passed in the meantime . Yesterday I discovered one of these Batman stories and today we will discover another!


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THE BATMAN COMIC MYSTERY DESCRIBED

Reader Juan Castro replied on Twitter to say that the first Batman comic he ever read was, “1970s. A villain puts Robin in many deadly traps. It happens in a wax museum. To the point climaxing, Batman grabs a plate of a figure representing Salome with the head of Jean-Baptiste, and throws it to prevent the blade of a guillotine from decapitating Robin. I can’t find it in all my life.”

Ironically, this same problem was another reader’s answer!

So let’s get to the bottom of what’s behind this super creepy Neal Adams cover!


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THE BATMAN COMIC MYSTERY SOLVED!

The comic in question is Batman “How many ways can a Robin die?” by Frank Robbins, Irv Novick, Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano, with the aforementioned cover by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano.

Here’s an interesting aspect of this comic, from a Batman historical perspective. As you may or may not know, in the VERY late 1960s, the Batman comics dropped Robin from the show. As I detailed in a recent Comic Book Legends Revealed, this was partly down to Denny O’Neil, even before the writer technically wrote a Batman story, as he explained to Dan Greenfield :


Dan Greenfield: I was going to ask you. In fact, last night I rewatched my comics and the one thing that always strikes me is that before you got into character, they had already made the decision to have Robin leave. Robin was at Hudson University and was used sparingly from then on.Denny O’Neil: Well, it was a conscious decision on my part. Greenfield: Oh! O’Neil: Yeah, I mean… I was offered Batman a year before I did. Greenfield: No kidding? I want to hear that. O’Neil: Because it was in the camp thing (from the Batman TV show). This is not always true, but it was in this case. Camp like in the sense – as opposed to the more erudite sense – this one-line joke about, “I loved this thing when I was 6 and now that I’m 28 and I have a date every two weeks with a therapist and a little light drug use and two divorces, “Look how silly that is.” “I would go to the most literary bar in Greenwich Village on (Wednesday) or Thursday nights and be writers , poets and college professors, all watching Batman! But when it was over, it was over. It was like someone flipping a switch. And that’s when (editor) Julie (Schwartz) said, in her avuncular way, did I have any ideas for Batman? And at that time, I was not going to be asked to camp. I was going to be asked to do whatever I wanted, within the limits of good taste, etc.

However, once Robin was out of the show, he would come back, but specifically for Adams to draw covers where Robin was in danger! Ra’s al-Ghul’s debut comes with a cover showing Robin getting shot!


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Five issues later, in the classic Halloween issue that saw Batman heading to Rutland, VT’s Halloween celebration, Robin is in danger again…


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So the cover for Batman #246 was in line with these other covers (and it’s certainly understandable that this is someone’s first comic, because it sure made you buy the comic, didn’t it?)…


Batman-246-0

The comic opens with Batman seemingly seeing Robin die, but when he gets there he sees it’s a dummy, but he contains a taunt…



Batman-246-1

Batman quickly deduces that the ways “Robin” keeps getting killed in these gruesome death raps are recreations of the killers on Gotham’s death row, but when Batman investigates, he learns that there is a fifth killer who was released for a technicality (check out Robbins’ bizarre use of creepy quotes in this page. Why the hell is there “technicality” in a creepy quote?)…


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Batman realizes that the fifth killer, Ravek the Butcher (making his first and ONLY appearance), has now finished paying tribute to his fellow killers and is about to REALLY kill Robin in a re-enactment of HIS last kill in a wax Museum !



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And of course, there is the Salomé and Jean-Baptiste sculpture that Jean mentioned!


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And yes, Batman uses the plate to save the day…


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Batman then deals with Ravek…


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Robin ends the number with a weird joke, “Ironic, isn’t it, Batman…if I had been awake through all of this…this Robin would have died a thousand deaths!” It’s not ironic, it’s just a stupid joke!

Anyway, there you go, Juan! The mystery is solved!

Alright, that’s it for this episode of The Great Comic Book Detectives! If anyone else has a story they’d like me to find, email me at [email protected]!


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