(Editor’s Note: The following was written by Keith Feltenstein.)
In our next “Versus” round-up, we have two young sidekicks to famous, well-known, bad-asses! In one corner, we have Bucky Barnes (Marvel)! And across from him in the other corner, we have Robin (DC)! Two talented, acrobatic wards! Which of these two make a better sidekick? We will let you decide! Here is a little about each:
Bucky is the name of several characters that were masked superheroes in the Marvel Comics universe. The original one, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes, was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby as a sidekick character in Captain America Comics #1 (cover-dated March 1941), published by Timely Comics (Marvel’s 1940s predecessor). Decades later, the original Bucky was brought back from supposed death as the Winter Soldier, and briefly assumed the role of Captain America when Steve Rogers was presumed to be dead. Sebastian Stan portrays Bucky in the feature film Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) and the Winter Soldier in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). Stan will reprise the role in the sequel, Captain America: Civil War (2016).
Having trained under Steve Rogers (the original Captain America in World War II) and others in the time leading up to World War II, “Bucky” Barnes is a master of hand-to-hand combat and martial arts, as well as being skilled in the use of military weapons such as firearms and grenades. He also used throwing knives on occasion and was a gifted advance scout. His time as the covert Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier helped to further hone his skills, making him the equal to his predecessor in combat skills, and an expert assassin and spy. He is also fluent in many languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Russian, Latin, and Japanese. He can understand French. Winter Soldier’s left arm is a cybernetic prosthetic with superhuman strength and enhanced reaction time. The arm can function when not in contact with Barnes and can discharge bolts of electrical energy from its palm. The arm can discharge an EMP causing electronics to either shutdown or become useless. The use of Barnes’ EMP is shown when Barnes uses it to shut down a Nick Fury LMD and when he attempts to use it on Iron Man. The arm has a holographic function to disguise it as a flesh and blood arm.
As Captain America, he possesses the original, indestructible, vibranium alloy shield used by his predecessor, as well as a Kevlar/Nomex blend, shock-absorbing costume. He often carries several conventional weapons such as knives, guns – mostly a Colt 1911-A1 .45 and a P08 Luger and grenades.
Robin is the name of several characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, originally created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson, as a junior counterpart to DC Comics superhero Batman. The team of Batman and Robin is commonly referred to as the Dynamic Duo, or the Caped Crusaders. The character’s first incarnation, Dick Grayson, debuted in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940). Conceived as a vehicle to attract young readership, Robin garnered overwhelmingly positive critical reception, doubling the sales of the Batman related comic books. The early adventures of Robin included Star Spangled Comics #65–130 (1947–1952), which was the character’s first solo feature. Robin made regular appearances in Batman related comic books and other DC Comics publications from 1940 through the early 1980’s, until the character set aside the Robin identity and became the independent superhero Nightwing.
The character’s second incarnation, Jason Todd, debuted in Batman #357 (1983). This Robin made regular appearances in Batman related comic books until 1988, when the character was murdered by the Joker in the storyline “A Death in the Family” (1989). Jason would later find himself alive after a reality changing incident, eventually becoming the Red Hood. The premiere Robin limited series was published in 1991 which featured the character’s third incarnation, Tim Drake, training to earn the role of Batman’s junior partner. Following two successful sequels, the monthly Robin ongoing series began in 1993 and ended in early 2009, which also helped his transition from sidekick to a superhero in his own right. In 2004 storylines, established DC Comics character Stephanie Brown became the fourth Robin for a short while before the role reverted to Tim Drake. Batman’s son Damian Wayne then succeeds Drake as Robin in the 2009 story arc “Battle for the Cowl”, until his death in 2013 story. Following the 2011 continuity reboot “The New 52”, Tim Drake is revised as having assumed the title Red Robin out of deference to the deceased Jason Todd; Jason Todd, as he exists today, operates as the Red Hood and has been slowly repairing his relationship with Batman; Dick Grayson is Nightwing, and later fakes his death to become an undercover operative; and Stephanie Brown is introduced anew as Spoiler once again in the pages of Batman Eternal (2014).
Robins have also been featured throughout stories set in parallel worlds, owing to DC’s longstanding “Multiverse” conceit. For example, in the original Earth-Two, Dick Grayson never adopted the name Nightwing, and continues operating as Robin into adulthood. In The New 52’s new “Earth-2” continuity, Robin is Helena Wayne, daughter of Batman and Catwoman, who was stranded in the Earth of the main continuity following her father’s death at the hands of an alien invasion. Operating alongside Power Girl on Prime Earth, she takes the name Huntress.
Though Robin technically possesses no true superhuman powers, he has undergone a vigorous and intensive training regimen under Batman, conditioning his body and mind to peak human levels, to such a scale that he has been called a “one-man army” by the Master of Games.
Robin represents the pinnacle of human physical ability possible for his age, with his physical characteristics greater than that of even an Olympic level athlete. With continued physical and mental growth, he will continue to go even further. Robin engages in intense regular rigorous exercise (including aerobics, weight lifting, gymnastics, and simulated combat) to keep himself in peak condition, and has often defeated opponents whose size, strength, or other powers are much higher than his own.
He is arguably one of the strongest non-metahumans on Earth, seen punching out nearly invulnerable opponents like Cinderblock, and he could support a large bear guardian on his back. Robin’s durability is such that he can be struck large amounts of blunt force trauma, and his endurance allows him to go a long period of time without stopping, both in the physical and mental sense. He was raised in an acrobat family known as the “Flying Graysons” and began agility training at the earliest age. He is shown to be able to scale city buildings, can leap the length of a rooftop, and maneuver the through the air in battle with ease. Robin is particularly stealthy, and can infiltrate and sneak up on opponents, and silently leave an area without a trace. His balance and coordination are superb, and he has incredibly quick reflexes, which allows him to dodge energy blasts and gunfire at close range. He can also run at an above average speed for a human in small bursts, sufficient to chase down vehicles.
Robin is one of the finest human combatants on Earth, his skills honed to such a level even superhumans and armed adversaries can be overpowered by them. He has mastered several different martial arts styles from across the world, learned from Batman and the True Master. He also has knowledge of Tamaranean fighting techniques. Robin holds expertise in numerous areas, both academic and physical. He is the second most technologically adept Titan (after Cyborg), and helps maintain the security and computer systems of Titan’s Tower. He has an impressive understanding of various sciences, like physics and chemistry, and is a skilled mechanic and engineer, building all of his own gadgets and equipment. He is a trained detective, with a keen eye and experience in forensics. He is an expert interrogator, and has a very logical mind; he is able to create plans and strategies that effectively take down his opponent. Robin is a master escapologist, marksman, pilot, thief and impersonator, having masqueraded as various identities for infiltration. His charisma and experience make him a nominal leader.
With that all said, who would you like to see win for best sidekick? Would it be Bucky, or would it be Robin? We want you, the fans to decide who would win. Vote now! Make a difference!
Next Podcast Unlimited Poll: Better superhero – Winter Soldier vs Nightwing.