While the rest of DC's line is occupied with building the universe of the New 52, the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic -- a tie-in to the animated series of the same name -- has been quietly giving readers some of the best and most fun team-up stories of all time. And this week, in Brave and the Bold #13, they're telling a story I've been wanting to read more than I even realized: a cross-time team-up tale where all the Robins unite to save Batman from certain death!

That's right, everybody: All five Robins from the regular DC Universe, and the alternate-future version from the pages of The Dark Knight Returns, together at last in a story inspired by one of the all-time classic Robin tales! Check out a breakdown of who they are and a five-page preview after the cut!Written by Sholly Fisch, who was also recently announced as Grant Morrison's hand-picked writer for upcoming back-up stories in Action Comics, and drawn by Rick Burchett, a veteran of DC's animated universe comics currently working on the webcomic Lady Sabre, "Batman Dies at Dawn!" pits the Six Robins against the League of Assassins in a mission to get Batman to a Lazarus pit before he's gone for good.

From left to right in the picture above, the Robins are:

1. Stephanie Brown, Robin IV: Originally introduced as Spoiler, a romantic foil for Tim Drake who lent herself to an After School Special-esque story about being the teen pregnant daughter of a third-rate supercrook, Stephanie would go on to have a brief and disastrous tenure as Robin that ended with her apparent "death." In fairness, though, she did have one of the all-time best Robin costumes ever -- her long, saw-blade-lookin' hair might not be practical, but it looks awesome -- and eventually went on to greater success fighting Draculas under the identity of Batgirl. Despite Internet popularity, she's currently killing time in post-reboot character limbo, meaning that her appearance here might be the only chance for fans to see her in all her sidekicking glory for a long while.

2. Dick Grayson, Robin I: Seen here in the identity of Nightwing, which he took up after "graduating" from being Batman's sidekick, Dick Grayson was the original Robin, a circus acrobat who took up Batman's mission against crime after his parents were murdered by mobsters. The most experienced of the Robins, Dick would also go on to take the identity of Batman himself on two occasions, after he'd stopped trying his best to make that high collar work.

3. Damian Wayne, Robin V: The son of Batman and Talia al-Ghul, Damian was raised by the League of Assassins to be the perfect heir to Ra's al-Ghul's empire. As a result, his desire to impress his dad and his egotistical attitude of superiority can make him pretty difficult to get along with. Of all the Robins, he's the only one to never really work alongside Bruce Wayne -- he was the sidekick to Dick Grayson's Batman while Bruce was dead time-traveling battling against Darksied's hyper-adapter assassin otherwise indisposed.

4. Carrie Kelly, Robin DKR: The only Robin included who wasn't part of the mainstream DC timeline, Carrie Kelly was a young student who was inspired to take up her role after an older, meaner Batman came out of retirement in the brutal future of The Dark Knight Returns. A genius at computer programming with an impulsive, fearless attitude that led her to earn her place at Batman's side by saving his life on more than one occasion. Carrie was considered by many people to be one of the best sidekicks ever even when she'd only appeared in four issues of an alternate future story. She don't shiv.

5. Tim Drake, Robin III: Another computer genius (there were a lot of those running around in the '80s and '90s), Tim Drake was Bruce Wayne's neighbor who decided to become Robin even without the driving tragedies that drove Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson and Jason Todd, purely beceause he felt like Batman needed a sidekick to keep him balanced. He was such a huge fan of Batman and Robin that he was able to figure out their identities on his own -- making him a great wish-fulfilment character for fans -- and often felt like more of a partner than a sidekick, probably because he was often off having his own adventures.

And finally:

6. Jason Todd, Robin II: An orphan who first met Batman when he was trying to steal the hubcaps off the Batmobile, Jason Todd was fearless enough that Batman tried to rescue him from a pretty rough life by taking him in and training him to be Robin. Unfortunately, Jason was too hot-tempered: When a drug dealer who beat his girlfriend to the point where she committed suicide rather than face him was found to have diplomatic immunity, Jason revoked it by kicking him off building to his death, and shortly thereafter ran away from Batman in a quest to find his mother, leading directly to being beaten with a crowbar and exploded by the Joker in an event counted among Batman's biggest failings.

Even the story title itself -- and the way that the Phantom Stranger is holding Batman -- points back to one of the defining Robin stories, 1963's "Robin Dies At Dawn!", in which the thought of his partner's death terrifies Batman so badly that he's almost unable to fight crime:

For a guy who loves those characters and their world, and who already loves what Fisch and Burchett have been doing with their title, this has suddenly become the comic I'm most excited about this week. So if you're the same way, give it a shot when it hits stores tomorrow, and send the message that these are the stories we want to see more of!

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #13 Preview:

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