10 Comic Books That Made A HUGE Impact In The Real World

5. The Death Of Robin - A Death In The Family

Crime SuspenStories #22
DC Comics

A Death in the Family was a 1988 story arc written by Jim Starlin, illustrated by Jim Aparo, and edited by legendary creator Dennis O’Neil. The story ran through Batman #426-429. Jason Todd become the second Robin after Dick Grayson went off to college and became Nightwing. Todd was a violent, impulsive, and reckless sidekick. Everyone realized that the character would have to undergo a major overhaul or be killed.

As DC was writing comics promoting HIV/AIDS awareness at the time, Starlin suggested giving Robin AIDS, but the idea was rejected. Finally, O’Neil recalled an SNL sketch where viewers would decide the fate of a lobster on air and he suggested the same for Robin. Two 900 numbers and two final pages were created, to reflect the votes. Once the votes were counted, it was 5,343 in favor of death to 5,271 for survival. Jason Todd died by only 72 votes.

Only a few people on the creative staff who had to finish the final page and a few of the executives knew the outcome. It quickly became a media controversy because most people believed it was Dick Grayson who had been killed by the Joker. DC received death threats and criticism from the industry for being bloodthirsty. O’Neil had to stop doing interviews as he was becoming known as “the guy who killed Robin”.


John Wilson has been a comic book and pop culture fan his entire life. He has written for a number of websites on the subject over the years and is especially pleased to be at WhatCulture. John has written two comic books for Last Ember Press Studio and has recently self-published a children's book called "Blue." When not spending far too much time on the internet, John spends time with his lovely wife, Kim, their goofy dog, Tesla, and two very spoiled cats.