The Batman Family – A Definitive Guide
Over the many decades of Batman he’s had many different accomplices, sidekicks and partners – to the point that his image as a lone vigilante has practically become a falsehood. With the beginning of Batman Inc this group is only getting bigger. Today we provide an easy guide to the people Batman calls his family, starting with the man himself.
This guide is representative of the current line-up of characters across different media.
Bruce Wayne was born into an influential family. The Wayne’s have played an integral role in Gotham City history by making hefty contributions to the economic system, the transit system (by building bridges and the train system) and setting a moral standard for people to follow. When Thomas and Martha Wayne we murdered in a mugging their son Bruce was traumatized after witnessing the event, setting him on the path to becoming Batman. Intent on setting an example and cleaning up the crime and corruption in the city he operates as a vigilante. For many years he worked solo, but now functions as a mentor and patriarch to first an informal group of vigilantes and later an organized group.
Robin – Nightwing – Batman (Gotham)
Like Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson was witness to the violent death of his parents. The youngest member of a family of acrobats, his parents were killed when their trapeze was sabotaged by a mafia made man who wished to extort the circus that employed them. Before Grayson could go to the police with the information on the murder Batman intervened and warned him that the gangsters would have him killed. Instead Batman took the young acrobat under his protection and trained him as a crime fighter. Grayson donned a costume modeled on Robin Hood with colours influenced by the Red-Breasted Robin, taking the alias ‘Robin’. Dick Grayson would, over time become the legal ward of Bruce Wayne and later his adopted son.
Eventually Grayson grew tired of working in the shadow of Batman and look on the new identity of Nightwing. With his new role as a member of the Teen Titans and later moving to Bludhaven to work as both as vigilante and a police officer he had struck out on his own. Although now longer partnered with Batman they’d stay in close contact and would on occasion work together. After the apparent death of Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson returned to Gotham and battled to claim the title of Batman – a role he would win. Since then Dick Grayson has been working under the guise of Batman with his support team, taking up a role in Batman Inc and working primarily in Gotham.
In the year 2019 Bruce Wayne has had to resort to using a highly technology based Batsuit to fight crime as his age and years as a vigilante has taken it’s toll. When he almost suffers a heart attack on the job he hangs up his cape for good. In 2039 Gotham City has changed into a futuristic neon bathed megalopolis and the ailing Bruce Wayne has been forced to merge his company with the unscrupulous Derek Powers. With his allies having died years before Wayne has little support behind him. Meanwhile a high school student named Terry McGinnis has discovered that his father has been murdered by Derek Powers and goes to Bruce Wayne for help. Wayne is unable help, but McGinnis discovers his secret. Donning the high-tech Batsuit McGinnis becomes the future Gotham’s new protector with Bruce Wayne acting as his mentor and guide in the field.
Robin – The Red Hood
In the months following the retirement of Dick Grayson as Robin, Batman returned to working alone. One night, whilst on patrol, he returned to the Batmobile to find a rather bold youth stealing the hubcaps. Learning that Jason Todd is an orphan like him (his mother died of an overdose and his father disappeared working as hired muscle for Two-Face), Bruce Wayne took him in and began his training. Covering up his distinctive strawberry blonde hair by dying it black he adopted the persona of Robin and soon began work as Batman’s sidekick. Todd flourished under Wayne’s tutelage and seemed to get more of a thrill out of vigilante crime fighting than Grayson. He’d often take on issues facing the youth, tackling drug dealers who had infiltrated his high school.
Without the loving up-bringing that Wayne and Grayson enjoyed Todd could be subject to bursts of anger and recklessness. When finding a suicide victim who hanged herself under the threat of rape by a gangster Robin got to him before Batman. It appeared to Batman that Todd had thrown the gangster off a 22 story building, yet his young protegee never admitted to it. Later, while pursuing a lead to find his birth mother, Jason Todd fell afoul of The Joker who beat the young boy to death with a crowbar.
Through a series of events that could only be considered normal in comics, Jason Todd came back to life. Seemingly lost to madness Todd had his mind restored by Talia al Ghul before returning to Gotham. Todd went public trying to claim Batman’s cowl after his death, losing it to Dick Grayson. Left to take the mantle of Red Hood, Todd now functions as an extremely violent and deadly vigilante and enemy of Batman.
Robin – Red Robin
Bruce Wayne was distraught when he discovered that he was too late to save Jason Todd and unable to apprehend The Joker following the murder. Alfred and Dick noticed that his behaviour was becoming aggressive and dangerous. That’s when Tim Drake stepped in. Like Bruce Wayne, Drake grew up as part of Gotham’s elite and he was an avid amateur detective. Not only had be deduced that Bruce Wayne was really Batman and Dick Grayson was formally Robin and now Nightwing, but that Jason Todd had been Robin and had recently been killed – and he did it at the age of nine.
He approached Batman and told him that without a Robin he’d let himself become reckless. Batman was impressed with the young man’s ability and took him under his wing. After he trained overseas with a number of masters Tim Drake took up the mantle of Robin. Although he suffered many tragedies – the death of his father at the hands of a mobster, his girlfriend Stephanie Brown and his best friend Superboy – Tim Drake always remained idealistic and dedicated. His skill as a detective rivals Bruce Wayne and he can more than hold his own in a fight. After the death of his father Tim was formally adopted by Bruce Wayne along with Dick Grayson.
Following the apparent death of Bruce Wayne Tim left Gotham using a new identity: Red Robin. Convinced that Wayne was still alive he traveled the world looking for evidence. Along the way he has fought and entered into an alliance with Ra’s al Ghul and battled a new Legion of Doom. Upon the return of Bruce Wayne and the establishment of Batman Inc, Tim has maintained the identity of Red Robin.
Spoiler – Robin – Batgirl
Although Stephanie Brown has a rather happy-go-lucky attitude she comes from bad stock. Failed game show host Arthur Brown had turned to crime, donning the guise of ‘The Cluemaster’. A poor man’s Riddler he’d leave clues behind at his crime scenes that would inevitably get him caught. As a result of his time in prison he rarely spent time with his daughter, Stephanie. Upon his release he’d try and bond with the young girl, but she became angry when he resorted to crime. When The Cluemaster stopped leaving clues for the police Stephanie took action. She donned a purple hooded costume and set out to spoil her father’s heists by leaving clues herself. Called ‘The Spoiler’ she initially ran afoul of Robin, but soon teamed up with Robin and Batman to catch The Cluemaster.
Enjoying her new found role as a superhero The Spoiler would continue to work as a vigilante. She’d often team up with Robin with whom she was infatuated, although he considered her a pest. She eventually formed a close bond and Tim Drake and Stephanie started dating (even though she didn’t know he was Robin at the time). When Stephanie discovered that she was pregnant, the father being an ex-boyfriend who fled during ‘No Man’s Land’, Tim supported her through the pregnancy and the eventual adoption of her daughter by a family.
When Tim’s father discovered his secret identity and forced him to give up vigilantism Batman reluctantly took on Stephanie as a new Robin (chronologically the first female character to become Robin) and put her through an intensive training program along with Batgirl and the Bird of Prey. This role was short lived as Batman dismissed her after disobeying his orders on two occasions. Taking up the persona of Spoiler once again she inadvertently started a city wide gang war where she would be captured and seemingly tortured to death by Black Mask. The reality was that Dr. Leslie Tompkins had faked the death to protect Stephanie from reprisals.
After enrolling in college Stephanie continued to work as Spoiler. When Cassandra Cain became disillusioned with her role as Batgirl she handed the title over to Stephanie under the watchful eye of Oracle.
Unlike other characters who have become Robin Damian is neither an orphan, nor was he trained by Batman specifically for the part. Instead he’s Bruce Wayne’s biological son who was brought into the world secretly by his mother Talia al Ghul. Damian was raised by Talia and Ra’s al Ghul as a member of the League of Assassins and was trained as a killer from a very early age. By the time Damian was brought to his father’s attention he was already a stone cold killer although not yet a teenager. He was left in Batman’s custody as an attempt by Talia to disrupt his campaign against crime with the spoiled and dangerous child trying to claim the title of Robin by killing his rivals. Initially he donned an outfit made up of Jason Todd’s old costume and his League of Assassins garb and fought with a quarterstaff.
In time Wayne, Drake and Grayson were able to bring Damian under a semblance of control. Although always predictable and dangerous they have endeavored to help him integrate into normal society and adopt the ideologies of the Bat Family. This has been an uphill struggle for everyone involved as Damian considers himself to be above such matters, yet he does seek his father’s approval so he makes a sincere effort from time to time. When Dick Grayson took up the mantle of Batman Damian became the new Robin and they continue to work as a duo to this day.
Robin – Catgirl
In the future timeline started in The Dark Knight Returns Bruce Wayne takes up the role of Batman more than a decade after retirement. Older and out of training he finds himself in more danger facing the gangs of Gotham then he did in the past. On his first night on the beat he rescues thirteen year old Carrie Kelley from a gang. She idolises the Caped Crusader and spends her lunch money buying a Robin costume and dons a pair of green tinted glasses in place of a mask. Kelley heads out to the streets (with her apathetic parents oblivious) armed with a slingshot and firecrackers to do her part. When she saves Batman’s life she convinces him to take her on as a sidekick.
Jump to a few years later and Kelley, now 16, has taken on the persona of Catgirl. In the intervening years Kelley has received combat training and is now a skilled crime fighter who uses clawed gloves, rocket powered roller blades and an arm mounted batarang canon. Her responsibilities have also been expanded, taking care of the ‘batboys’, groups of youths who are trained to fight against street crime. The new role comes as a double edged sword for Kelley as she is forced to brutally discipline a batboy who seriously maimed his targets. She still retained her innocent outlook on life, having to be comforted by Bruce Wayne after the event and falling into the role of daughter for him.
Batgirl – Oracle
Not wanting to diminish the cultural impact, importance and awesomeness of the character, Barbara Gordon is the ultimate cosplayer fantasy story. When the daughter of Commissioner James Gordon was invited to a costume party she came up with the novel idea of creating a female version of the Batman costume. On the way to the party she witnessed the attempted kidnapping of Bruce Wayne by Killer Moth, so she intervened in costume to save Wayne from severe embarrassment. This started her on the road to a career as a crime fighter, flying in the face of Wayne’s objections based on her gender. It didn’t take long for him to change his tune, often noting the immensely positive attitude she brought to the team in contrast to the bitter campaign for revenge that Batman and Robin had been on. In addition to being a strong a capable crime fighter she had a rich civilian life. As Dr. Barbara Gordon, PhD she was the head of Gotham’s Public Library and had an ongoing romance with Dick Grayson.
Barbara Gordon eventually retired from her role as a crime fighter but remained in Gotham. During one of his many escapes from Arkham The Joker turned up at James Gordon’s apartment and shot Barbara. The bullet shattered her spine and left her paralyzed. Gordon then returned as Oracle, making her debut as part of Suicide Squad. By turning her exceptional intellect to the field of data management and deployment Gordon became Batman’s primary source of information on Gotham, it’s criminal underworld and the superhero community. Oracle’s skills as a hacker are without peer and she has become a central part of the superhero world, providing information for a large number of crime fighters. Barbara Gordon grew into a leadership role during her time as Oracle, training, among others, Stephanie Brown as Batgirl and heading up international vigilante group Birds of Prey.
More recently Gordon has resumed the role of Batgirl after regaining the use of her legs. How this was accomplished and whether or not the change is permanent is yet to be seen.
Batgirl – Black Bat (Hong Kong)
After Gotham City was leveled by a massive earthquake Batman went to ground. In order to help monitor activity around the city without her usual network Oracle employed Cassandra, a mute martial arts expert who collected information for her. Cassandra Cain was the daughter of villainous assassins David Cain and Lady Shiva. Cain raised her as an perfect killer, versed in multiple fighting styles and forced Cassandra to remain mute, leaving her to become versed in body language instead. Cassandra is a precise and efficient fighter who, like Staphanie Brown, rebelled against her criminal father and turned vigilante. After being taken in by Oracle and saving Bruce Wayne she was offered the opportunity to join their crusade as Batgirl. Cassandra became the legal ward of Barbara Gordon and started to learn to speak, read and write.
Following the death of Bruce Wayne Cassandra feigned disillusionment with his crusade and handed the mantle of Batgirl on to Stephanie Brown. Cain went to ground as an anonymous agent and remained in contact with Tim Drake. Setting up base in Hong Kong she was invited back to the fold upon the return of Bruce Wayne but elected to stay where she was to fight against organised crime. With the establishment of Batman Inc she donned her costume once again and took on the new code name Black Bat.
For some members of the Batman Family the inclusion of Selina Kyle has been a point of contention. Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle first crossed paths when she was a career criminal going by the alias ‘The Cat’. Making a living by grifting high society and burgling them. Over the years the Bat and the Cat have sparred many, many times and unlike many of Batman’s main opponents she is not insane. Rather she steals to make a living and as a result Batman has seen her as a grey area. Selina is highly protective of the poor areas of Gotham and protects them against organised crime taking over the streets as well as occasionally taking young delinquents under her wing. In recent times the romance that has sparked between Bruce and Selina has cemented her alliance to the Bat Family.
There’s a very strange trend in the Batman universe where many of the female vigilantes are the children of criminals. Stephanie Brown is the daughter of the Cluemaster, Cassandra Cain is the daughter of David Cain and Helena Bertinelli was born into one of the most prominent organised crime families in Gotham. Already a withdrawn child Helena Bertinelli was kidnapped and sexually assaulted at the age of six as an attack against her father. Whilst in boarding school she was assigned a bodyguard, an act that further segregated her from her peers. Eventually she saw her family murdered in a mob hit at the age of 19. From this point she vowed to wipe out organised crime, took training from her bodyguard and became the Huntress.
Although Huntress has a strong relationship with Tim Drake she has rarely been accepted by Batman as a partner in vigilantism. Batman often sees Bertinelli as unpredictable and excessively violent (often she employs a crossbow when attacking criminals). In spite of this she has worked with the Birds of Prey and the Outsiders.
On her twelfth birthday Kate Kane and her twin sister Beth were being taken out by their mother for a treat. On the way to the restaurant they were confronted by armed men who kidnapped the three of them. Her father, Col. Jacob Kane, led the rescue with a unit of soldiers under his campaign, but the mission ended tragically when Kate’s mother was executed and her twin sister caught in the crossfire. After being inspired by an encounter with Batman, Kate set out as a crime fighter using stolen military equipment. When her actions were uncovered by her father he showed his support by sending her around the globe on a two year training mission. Returned with high level military training Kate discovered that her father had created a Batsuit for her, along with experimental weaponry and a bunker under the family home. Although she has not officially been accepted into Batman’s circle he has shown support for her crusade. Outside of being a vigilante Kane has remained a prominent figure in Gotham as the heiress to one of the wealthiest families in Gotham and assisted Detective Renee Montoya aka The Question, with whom she has been romantically involved.
Azrael – Batman
Taking the name of the Biblical Angel of Death, Jean-Paul Valley is the latest in a long line of assassins controlled by the ‘Sacred Order of Dumas’, taking up the role after the death of his father. Valley has spent the majority of his life under a veil of psychological conditioning that forces him into the role of hitman to the religious order. He came to the attention of Batman when he assisted Alfred Pennyworth rescue Bruce Wayne from a kidnapping. Impressed with his detective skills and fighting ability Batman made Azrael an offer to join their crusade against crime. Impressed with Wayne’s ideology he rejected his birthright to break his conditioning and train with Wayne while working as a security card at WayneTech.
When Bruce Wayne had his spine broken by Bane during the ‘Knightfall’ story arc he nominated Jean Paul Valley to take up the role of Batman over Dick Grayson. Valley made alterations to the Batsuit, reinforcing it with technological upgrades that allowed him to defeat Bane. Valley continued to upgrade the suit by adding blades, explosives and other weapons. Falling into the role of Batman lead Valley to act unacceptably violently towards criminals, eventually allowing one to fall to his death. Bruce Wayne stepped up his recovery efforts to take down the new Batman. Valley did work with Batman on and off up until his death.
Cyril Sheldrake and Beryl Hutchinson
Knight and Squire (England)
Possibly the first member of the international community of vigilantes allied with Batman, with the original Knight (Cyril Sheldrake’s father) first appearing in the 1950s. Knight is inspired by both Batman and the Knights of the Round Table and has modeled his style accordingly. Similarly to Bruce Wayne he is a prominent member of society (he is actually knighted) and is seen as a leader among the superhero community. He bases himself out of his mansion with an underground headquarters. His vehicle of choice is a motorbike with a stylized horses head named ‘Anastasia’.
Accompanying Knight is his sidekick Squire, Beryl Hutchinson being the third person to take on the part. The two have a very similar dynamic to Batman and Robin, with Squire being more than a partner in crime fighting. At one point she brought Knight back from a bout of alcoholism during which he acted as a villain.
Mister Unknown – Batman (Japan)
At the beginning of the formation of Batman Incorporated Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle travel to Japan to recruit famed vigilante Mister Unknown to the organization. Unfortunately they arrive too late as Mister Unknown has met a grisly end involving acid by way of his arch-enemy the immortal Lord Death Man. What neither Batman nor Lord Death Man suspected was that the aging Mister Unknown had started to employ a body double, the young martial arts expert Jiro Osamu, to assist him in his ventures. Lord Death Man had already tracked down Osamu when Batman and Catwoman intervened and saved his life. Osamu, who had taken on the identity of Mister Unknown, then agreed to become the Batman of Japan.
Whilst Wayne, Sheldrake and Osamu are either wealthy or well sponsored Bilal Asselah comes from the other side of the tracks. French-Algerian in origin and raised by a single mother in outskirts of Paris, he was inspired to take up a mask by corruption in authority rather than the acts of criminals. Asselah inadvertently got caught up in a French-Muslim protest and was savagely beaten by police. When his friend took more radical action and was killed by police Asselah was inspired to take action. He donned a mask to become a symbol unaffiliated with religion or race who could bring justice to those in need. Asselah’s greatest skill is his ability as parkour runner.
El Gaucho (Argentina)
El Gaucho is another hero who has been inspired by the actions of Batman to take up the fight against crime. Initially he was part of a shadowy organisation known as Spyral but quit when the woman he loved was killed. He struck out solo, relying more on his hand to hand combat skills rather than gadgets. When the International Club of Heroes was founded he took up membership. Many of the members were disheartened when the group disbanded but El Gaucho continued to follow Batman’s example by fighting the good fight against villains such as El Sombero and Scorpiana. When Batman traveled to Argentina to recruit El Gaucho into Batman Inc he refused, but remains an ally of the Bat Family.
The Hood (England)
George Cross, known as ‘The Hood’, is a vigilante crime fighter stationed in England. While Knight models himself after Batman and the nights of the Round Table, The Hood takes his inspiration from the legend of Robin Hood. He’s a powerful fighter who has teamed up with Batman on more than one occasion, even rescuing him from Narcosis. Later in his career The Hood was recruited by a government agency as a secret operative who donated the bulk of his salary to charity. When his agency learned of Batman Inc they positioned The Hood to be recruited so as to act as a mole. The plan backfired when The Hood used Batman’s database to find that his agency wasn’t what it seemed to be. He was betrayed and left for dead, only to be rescued and recruited into Batman Inc as a member of the ‘Dead Heroes Club’, a team of heroes thought to be dead by the public whose mission has not yet been revealed.
The Dark Ranger (Australia)
Originally just called ‘The Ranger’, John Riley fought crime in Australia until joining the Batmen of all Nations upon which he became The Dark Ranger. Of Aboriginal ethnicity Riley was inspired by Batman to take up the fight against crime but found that he continually needed to upgrade his armour and equipment to combat the escalating challenges of fighting villains. By the time he began working with Batman he’d equipped himself with a pulse gun and jetpack.
Batwing (Democratic Republic of Congo)
David Zavimbe’s parents died as a result of a HIV infection and he and his brother were recruited as child soldiers by a local warlord. The two youths found that they had an aptitude for murder and became favoured by the General. After David and his brother Isaac planned to sneak into an enemy leader’s camp and slit his throat the General demanded that they burn the entire village down. Refusing to kill the women and the children in the village the General threatened to kill them for insubordination and viciously attacked Isaac with a machete. Later that night David drugged the General and left him in the hands of his enemy, then he escaped the role of a child soldier and chose to surrender himself to an orphanage.
As an adult Zavimbe joined the police to fight injustice but found that the organisation was rife with corruption. Unlike many of the members of Batman Inc, Zavimbe was not operating as a crime fighter prior to his recruitment but was approached by Bruce Wayne with an offer to join his team. Already a skilled martial artist he was supplied with combat armour capable of flight and a range of crime fighting gadgets to become Batwing.
William Great Eagle and Little Raven
Man of Bats and Red Raven (America)
William Great Eagle is a Native American who served in the American military during the Iraq conflict and is a trained doctor. Great Eagle uses the Man of Bats persona not as a crime fighting identity but an icon of social activism. Stationed in South Dakota he elects to spend his time settling conflicts and providing medical and spiritual support for the small communities in his area. Accompanied by his son using the identity of Red Raven, they travel the area in a custom painted pick-up truck. When offered a position in Batman Inc along with a budget to buy gadgets and vehicles, William Great Eagle informed Wayne that any funds would be used to support the community.
Flamebird – Plebe
Bette Kane is the cousin to Kate Kane, the Batwoman, and has recently moved to Gotham City to attend university. Originally a spoiled debutante living in L.A. she donned the Flamebird persona and took up fighting crime in order to gain the attention of Robin. After several years of adventures her move to Gotham City reunited her with her older cousin who eventually agreed to train her. Disposing of her old identity Bette was given a new one – Plebe – with a plain grey costume. The two eventually had a falling out and Bette left Kate, taking up the role of Flamebird once again.
Without Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s campaign to fight crime would never have been successful. Pennyworth spent his youth following an ambition to become a stage actor in London. When his father, butler to the Wayne family, passed away Alfred reluctantly obeyed his father’s dying wish for him to take up his position. Forming a close bond with Bruce as a child he took him in as his ward after the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne and encouraged him to live a full life. When Bruce instead vowed revenge on the world of crime by becoming a vigilante Alfred became a moral barometer who helped Batman retain his sanity, maintain his cover and patch up his wounds after battles against the underworld. Alfred as also served as a father figure to Dick Grayson, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne and has made it his duty to care for and support the family of crime fighters as they crusade against injustice.