Contains spoilers for Superman: Son of Kal-El #15
For years, an iconic panel of Batman slapping Robin across the face has been one of the biggest memes in DC history. Luckily for Robin, the tables turn in a recent recreation of the image, this time allowing the Boy Wonder to do the slapping himself.
The panel in question originally hails from 1965’s World’s Finest #153 by Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan, and George Klein. The issue departs from the classic Batman/Superman team-up to tell an alternate-reality tale taking place on Earth-153. In this world, Bruce grew up with his father Thomas, a widower who studies Kryptonite to find a cure for a young Superboy. When someone kills Thomas and steals the Kryptonite, Bruce dedicates his life to becoming a crime-fighter with the hopes of getting revenge on Superboy, whom he believes killed his father. The iconic moment comes when Robin defends Superboy, now Superman, imploring Batman to give up his quest for revenge. As Batman slaps Robin across the face, he says, “Don’t tell me I’m wrong, you brat… proving Superman’s guilt is my whole mission in life!” The dynamic duo part ways soon after as Batman erases Dick’s memories of ever being the Boy Wonder, continuing his quest for revenge on his own. The panel has since become a popular meme, the original having Batman shout, “My parents are deeaaaaaaad!” as Robin asks what his parents are getting him for Christmas.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #15 by Tom Taylor and Cian Tormey flips the script on the “Batman Slaps Robin” meme by turning the sidekick from slapped to slapper. In the issue, Jon Kent’s Superman leads the dangerous group known as the Revolutionaries to free Gamorra Island from the clutches of corrupt President Henry Bendix. During the raid, Damian Wayne’s Robin appears before Bendix, wanting revenge on the man who “consistently tried to hurt [his] best friend.” When Bendix tells Damian to move, Damian slaps the villain across the face in a panel that mirrors Batman’s smack from decades ago.
This isn’t the first time a Tom Taylor comic has riffed on the meme. Recently, Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s Nightwing #81 featured Barbara Gordon wearing a shirt of the image, implying the scene is a joke within the DC universe itself. Here, Damian Wayne gets to recreate the scene with a fun inversion beyond the obvious switch in roles. In the original comic, Batman slaps Robin as a result of his hatred for Superman; conversely, Robin smacks Bendix in defense of the new Superman, showing love for his best friend and fellow Super Son.
The moment from Superman: Son of Kal-El #15 is a fun wink to one of DC’s most famous moments. With Damian Wayne’s smacking Bendix across the face, Batman’s iconic meme has been gleefully reversed in Robin’s favor.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #15 is available from DC Comics now.