After the Bubble bursts

Patrick Ehlers ’06

Three different people took up the mantle of Robin and fought alongside Batman. First, and most famously, was Dick Grayson. We all know Dick – he was a child acrobat, orphaned at an early age when a high-wire act went horribly wrong and his acrobat parents met their end. But Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne butted heads and Dick eventually left – went out on his own to become Nightwing.
The second Robin was a kid named Jason Todd. Jason didn’t take the position seriously and often wound up in trouble because he romanticized the adventurous aspects of being a costumed crime fighter. No one liked Jason very much, and the readers downright hated him. So, the character was killed off – beaten to death by the Joker with a crow bar. Perhaps a bit extreme, but “A Death in the Family” is in the pantheon of must-read Batman books.
Finally, there was Tim Drake. Tim worked his way into Batman’s life by being the detective, not the superhero – by deducing the real identities of Nightwing and Batman. In the end, it’s Dick Grayson who convinces Batman that he needs a Robin, and that the young Tim Drake is the ideal candidate.
But why would Batman need Robin? I understand that, from a storytelling perspective, Batman needs someone to talk to, and Alfred has to stay back in the Batcave. I also understand that comic books are often intended for children, and it only makes sense to include a character that these children can identify with. But why, in a world where Bruce Wayne is the willing and capable dark knight of Gotham – with unlimited resources and a whole Justice League of superhero allies – why would he need Robin?
Life after Lawrence isn’t easy. When I graduated in 2006, I was fortunate enough to have a hall director position lined up, and that allowed me to put off any “what am I doing with my life?” questions for a whole year.
After that, I moved to Hawaii, lived with my sister and worked as a valet/bellhop for The Aqua Coconut Plaza in Waikiki. I returned to the Midwest in November, moving to Chicago. It took a while to find a job because of the recession, so I took a job as a barista at Argo Tea. I rotted there for a while before finding an opening at Baker & McKenzie LLP for a floating legal secretary. I’ve had the job ever since.
I’ve also used the last year to put together a band with Pete Snyder (’06) that only plays songs about the television show “Lost.” The band is called Sonic Weapon Fence, and we’re planning on releasing an album later this year.
After my 12-month tenure as Plantz Hall Director, I was afraid that I would be catapulted into the world with no marketable skill set and join the throngs of faceless college graduates just looking for a job.
And to a degree, that was eventually true. I still wrestle with questions like what possibly makes me stand out from the mob? What makes me think that I’m capable of holding down a job and carving out a life? What have I got that others don’t?
Robin’s the heart. He’s the bright future of Gotham, motivated by justice and adventure and camaraderie, not a misplaced sense of vengeance. He’s the voice of the new generation that actually throws his cape into the ring to make a difference. He brings a unique perspective to the work, a levity that Batman never could. Robin isn’t your typical superhero and he doesn’t seem to be the typical Gothamite either. Like I am and like you will be, he’s the inexplicably valuable misfit in a world of staunch traditionalists.

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