Who Is DC’s Best Legacy Character? (Batman Division)
It was only a week ago that we asked you to vote on DC's best legacy character, and while I'm happy to say that our audience made the correct choice by giving Wally West a... runaway victory, there was one set of heroes completely absent from the poll. Over the past 75 years, Batman has racked up an impressive roster of sidekicks, allies and hangers-on, and with them, an entire set of legacies so large that they would have overwhelmed the initial poll.
Before we get into it, though, a few notes. First, since we're working with the idea of legacy, the first character for each role is not eligible for the vote --- Dick Grayson, for example, is not eligible for his time as Robin, although his successors are. Second, these legacy characters must occupy not only the same name as their forebears, but also their roles. Going back to Dick Grayson again, he might not be DC's first character called Nightwing, but he certainly not carrying on the legacy that Superman founded in Kandor, so he's not eligible for his time as Nightwing, either. Third, I'm counting Bette Kane as "Bat-Girl" and not "Batgirl," meaning that neither she nor Barbara Gordon are eligible for the vote. There, simple enough, right? Let's get to it.
Note that you can vote for up to three options.
As a child, Tim Drake deduced Batman's secret identity on his own, and after seeing what Batman went through in the aftermath of the second Robin's death, he stepped up to provide Batman with the partner that he needs to keep him balanced. He's a computer genius, a passable ninja, the owner of what might be the best costume redesign of the '90s, and a kid who decided to become a superhero purely out of concern for others rather than being motivated by a tragedy. And, not coincidentally, he's the right answer.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Bruce Wayne was raised by a group of ruthless killers instead of a kindly English butler? If you have, well, here he is: Damian Wayne, the artificially aged child of Batman and Talia al-Ghul, who was raised to become the perfect leader of the League of Assassins. Arrogant, vicious and torn between two legacies, Damian's time as Robin changed him, allowing him to become a compelling character who hid his insecurities behind bravado, right before he died. Don't worry, though: He got better.
Before she became Batgirl, Cassandra Cain was raised to be a living weapon. Thanks to an experiment in child-rearing by an assassin who once helped to train Batman, the language centers of her brain were tied to movements, meaning that she fights as easily and effectively as other people talk, and can read her opponents' movements like a book. The thing is, she didn't want to be a weapon, and after her first experience as an assassin, she hightailed it to Gotham City and fell in with the best possible crowd, becoming Batgirl for the first decade of the 21st Century. Her tenure ended rather abruptly, but she's recently made a return in the pages of Batman & Robin Eternal, so things are looking up.
As her more ardent fans will be happy to tell you if you ever come within eighteen steps of bringing it up, Stephanie Brown — originally created as the Spoiler — was Robin for a hot minute back in 2004. The short version of that story was that it didn't end well for anybody, but a few years later, she made her return as Batgirl, taking up where Cassandra Cain left off and leaping into a series of pretty fun stories that saw her forming a friendship with Supergirl and, in the high point of her career, fighting 23 Draculas in a single night.
The connection between Kate Kane and Kathy Kane, the original Batwoman, is a pretty complicated mine field of conflicting continuities, but since they both exist in the DC timeline right now, I'm counting her as a legacy character. If nothing else, she deserves to be on the list thanks to a series of fantastic and visually striking adventures (and a great costume), not to mention that she's one of DC's highest profile LGBT characters ever.
Remember how we put Jared Stevens in the last poll as a control group because of how unlikely it seemed that anyone would vote for The Man Called Fate? Well, say hello to Jean-Paul Valley. He would, of course, go on to far greater success (and a hundred-issue run of a solo title) as Azrael, but he was first introduced to readers as a follower of the order of St. Dumas whose conditioning and combat training made him the perfect replacement hero when Bruce Wayne was injured. Finally, readers had the answer to the question of what Batman would be like if he was just covered in knives. Just covered in them.
In a dark cyberpunk future defined by apathy, corruption and teen dance parties, Terry McGinnis became Bruce Wayne's protege years after the latter retired from crimefighting. Terry proved to be more than up to the past, rocketing around the future with jet-boots to put a stop to future crimes that were suspiciously familiar to anyone who read Amazing Spider-Man and adding a touch of optimism and hope to a future that had lost its inspiration. Well, except for the time he fought the Joker. That one got pretty dark.
He might not be eligible for his time as Robin or Nightwing, but don't forget that Batman's first (and longest-serving) partner stepped into his mentor's boots on two separate occasions. The first was after the events of Knightfall, when Jean-Paul Valley proved to be a little too knifey for the task, and the second was when Bruce Wayne was presumed dead, but was really sent backwards in time to be infected by Darkseid's hyper-adapter so that he could return to the present and destroy the future. It's all very simple. Regardless of circumstance, though, Dick did a great job as Batman, including forming a solid and life-changing relationship with Damian Wayne that kept him on a path of heroism.