If you haven't heard about it yet, Robin is dead. Again. Although this was planned nearly six years ago, the death of the new Robin is something that's got me thinking about character development.
See, one of the golden rules of writing is to avoid killing off the main character. There is a lot of thought behind the rule. For instance, what good is a character who kills himself at the end of the book? If your story is in first person, it's rather difficult to tell a story once you're dead. Another thought is that main characters shouldn't die unless it is absolutely necessary and fits the overarching plot.
So does killing Robin accomplish any of these things?
Now here's the thing: I've killed off main characters before, but rarely the protagonist. Often times, stories will kill off secondary characters for the sake of pushing the protagonist. However, I've always seen Batman a little differently.
Like most people, I enjoy The Dark Knight tales when Robin isn't around. He's pretty annoying most of the time, but ever since the late 1940s, Batman has needed Robin. In fact, every time he pushes away Robin, he only takes him back. It's a really awkward partnership.
And, of course, plenty of Robins have died (Batman(s) too), depending on which comic strips or novels you follow. If you like Grant Morrison's work, then really there's only one main Robin that died and a glass case displaying his suit as some sort of memorial. Oddly enough, that Robin (Jason) is brought back to life, but Batman keeps the glass case around in the cave, still displaying the old Robin-Hood-like uniform.
To me it seems like Morrison simply killed off a less popular character, to not only make Batman a little darker, but to make his comic work more appealing. However, it does seem he has some good reasons:
Admittedly, bringing Batman back to his roots could prove to be a great move. However, it's been done a dozen times before. Let's kill someone to bring Batman to the point he almost kills people. (See Batman: Knightfall.)
Honestly, I think Robin is needed (at least in books/comics) to provide a sort of duality. We've got Bruce Wayne who is a drunken playboy by day and anti-hero by night. A real ass-kicker. But I think having Robin around works to bring Batman back to his roots as much as killing him does.
Robin, while he's around, is generally arrogant and is often scolded by Batman. What this does, in turn, is bring Batman back to his roots. It reminds him of his own principles. It reminds him of his one rule, which derives from compassion and sometimes commiseration. Quite honestly, without Robin, Batman kinda becomes a role-playing asshole. I mean, even the Joker ends up needing Harley Quinn.
But that's just my rantish thoughts on the matter. WOULD YOU HAVE KILLED OFF ROBIN TOO?
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.