Robbie Robertson (comics)

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Joseph "Robbie" Robertson
Robbie Robertson from Daredevil (vol.2) #92.
Art by Michael Lark.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance The Amazing Spider-Man #51
(August 1967)
Created by Stan Lee
John Romita Sr.
In-story information
Full name Joseph "Robbie" Robertson
Team affiliations Daily Bugle
Front Line
Supporting character of Spider-Man

Joseph "Robbie" Robertson is a supporting character in Marvel Comics's Spider-Man series. Created by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr., he first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #51 (August 1967).

Robertson was one of the first African-American characters in comics to play a serious supporting role, rather than act as comic relief. He has usually been a high-ranking editor at the New York newspaper The Daily Bugle and a close friend and confidant of publisher J. Jonah Jameson, acting as a voice of reason in Jameson’s campaign to discredit Spider-Man. He is more friendly and supportive of Peter Parker and his alter ego Spider-Man as well as the other Bugle staffers than the brash Jameson. In the 1980s his backstory was explored with the revelation of conflict with a superhuman hit man Tombstone, with whom he attended high school. He later spent time in jail with Tombstone (aka Lonnie Lincoln).

Fictional character biography[edit]

Joseph Robertson was born in Harlem, New York. He is married to Martha and they have had two sons. Their first son, Patrick Henry Robertson, died when he was only six months old. Their second son, Randy, is currently divorced. Growing up in a working-class family and being a member of an ethnic minority, Robertson seemed to sympathize with the downtrodden, including Marvel Comics' mutants, and he preached tolerance. He was forced to practice what he preached when his son came home from college with his white Jewish wife, Amanda.[volume & issue needed]

Robertson is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Bugle, the newspaper at which Peter Parker works and sells his photographs of Spider-Man. Unlike the Bugle's volatile Publisher, J. Jonah Jameson, Robbie tries his best to remain objective towards Spider-Man instead of automatically assuming he is a criminal. Robbie is also the only Bugle employee who does not fear the wrath of his boss and is ready to stand up to him on editorial matters. Robbie has served as Publisher when Jameson temporarily stepped down. Robbie was a close personal friend of Captain George Stacy, and it has been implied, although not outright stated, that Robbie has deduced Spider-Man's secret identity, as Stacy did. Robbie's son Randy is also a close friend of Peter Parker, and the two briefly shared an apartment when Mary Jane was presumed dead and Peter had been evicted.[volume & issue needed]

Robbie grew up in Harlem, and as a teenager was a classmate of Lonnie Thompson Lincoln, later infamous as the brutal hit man Tombstone. Writing an article for the high school newspaper about Lincoln's bullying and extortion, Robbie retracted it after being threatened by Lincoln. Years later, while working as a reporter in Philadelphia, Robbie encountered Lincoln again, who this time had just murdered one of Robbie's contacts. Once again, Lincoln threatened Robertson, and the journalist fled to New York and began working for the Bugle. He told no one of the murder he witnessed.[volume & issue needed]

Twenty years later, when Tombstone began his career doing jobs for the Kingpin, Robbie, determined not to be intimidated again, began collecting evidence of past crimes that would have Tombstone incarcerated for life. Furious at his former acquaintance's betrayal, Tombstone hunted Robbie down and supposedly broke the journalist's spine with his bare hands. Robbie was laid up for months as a result of this, but later made a full recovery, as his spine was not broken after all.[volume & issue needed]

Sometime later, Tombstone was arrested and tried, thanks in part to Spider-Man. Breaking 20 years of silence, Robbie testified against his old schoolmate in court. The judge, however, was on the Kingpin's payroll and circumstances led to Robertson having to agree to serve 3 years himself for withholding evidence of the Philadelphia murder. Robbie and Tombstone ended up in the same cell block, where the hit man made the former journalist's life miserable. So broken was Robbie's spirit that he half-heartedly went along with a jailbreak. However, when Tombstone attacked an interfering Spider-Man, Robbie regained his nerve and attacked. The two men fell out of the escape helicopter and landed in a river near an Amish farm.[volume & issue needed]

Things came to a head when Robbie moved to defend the farmer's family from Tombstone, stabbing him with a pitchfork and not caring about preserving his own life. Seemingly stunned by this, Tombstone backed off. While Tombstone has not abandoned his murderous ways, he has officially called off his vendetta on Robbie. Robbie received a pardon for his efforts to protect the Amish family, and resumed work at the Daily Bugle.[volume & issue needed]

Recently after Peter's "coming out", Robbie revealed he knew Peter was Spider-Man at some point and stood up to J. Jonah Jameson after all these years about his treatment to Peter/Spider-Man. Unable or rather unwilling to admit that he had gone too far in his hatred of Spider-Man, Jameson fires Robertson. Later, Spider-Man learns of this from Betty Brant and decides that he and Jameson should have a long overdue 'chat.' Sometime later, Jameson shows up at the Robertson house, with a bottle of wine, two black eyes and a broken hand. Robbie lets him in, and is relayed the story of what happened; Jameson discovered his office at the Bugle covered with webbing, with a note attached telling him to meet Spider-Man at an old gangster lair. Spider-Man tried to persuade Jameson to rehire Robbie, and Jameson gave him a choice, to have the lawsuit against him dropped, or for Robbie to be rehired. Spider-Man chose the former, revealing that he did so because he believes Jameson only fired Robbie to get a rise out of him. Spider-Man then told Jameson to hit him, as many times as he'd like, to finally work out his frustrations for him. Jameson was initially reluctant, until Spider-Man started goading him, threatening to inform his wife and son of his "cowardice". Jameson snapped, and started hitting Spider-Man again and again and again, resulting in his broken hand. When it was over, Spider-Man went into the rafters and gave Jameson a roll of film, containing pictures of their "fight", telling him the photographs depicting him standing back and letting Jameson beat him up would sell "a gazillion copies", and leaves. Later, at the Bugle, Jameson crushed the film with his foot, not knowing quite why he was doing it. As he turned to leave, Betty Brant accidentally hit him in the face with a door, resulting in his two black eyes. Back in the present, Jameson tells Robbie that he is rehired. Robbie asks why he should come back and Jonah tells him that he looks up to him as the person he still aspires to be.[volume & issue needed]

Post-"One More Day"[edit]

During the "Brand New Day" storyline, where all knowledge of Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane has been erased by Mephisto and Spider-Man's secret identity has somehow been removed from the minds of everyone in the world, Jameson suffers a heart attack brought on by arguing with Peter Parker, and the Bugle is bought by Dexter Bennett, who turns it into a scandalous, muck-raking rag. Robbie, though disapproving, decides to stay, hoping Bennet will get better.[1] He soon realizes that is not going to happen, particularly after learning the DB was indirectly responsible for the death of several people shown on their paper from one of their scandals[2] and resigns in the following issue seeing that Bennett cared more about making money. Later it is seen that Robertson now works as the editor for Ben Urich's newspaper, Front Line.[volume & issue needed]

Sometime after the DB's destruction, Jameson, as the Mayor of New York City, cashed in the DB shares he acquired from Bennett and gave the money to Robbie Robertson. Jameson asked Robertson to remake Front Line (which itself was on hard times) into the new Daily Bugle.[3]

After Phil Urich was exposed as the new Hobgoblin, to protect the Daily Bugle's reputation which was being smeared due to Phil's affiliation with them and the fact they have unknowingly hired other known supervillains before, Robbie is forced to bench Ben Urich until this situation blows over because of him being Phil's uncle and fire Phil's ex-girlfriend Norah Winters as she worked closely with Phil before his identity was exposed.[4] During the later Goblin coup of New York, Ben attempted to arrange a meeting to talk Phil down and convince him to accept a cure for the Goblin formula, but when Robbie was discovered in the area, Phil believed that Ben had been trying to set a trap and delivered a serious injury to Robbie before Spider-Man appeared. Phil was able to get away when Ben convinced Spider-Man to take Robbie to hospital, but Ben made it clear that he had no interest in protecting Phil and was simply trying to help Robbie while he could still be saved, accepting that Phil liked what he had become and was uninterested in redemption or help.[5]

Other versions[edit]

Age of Apocalypse[edit]

In the Age of Apocalypse reality, Robbie Robertson is editor of the Daily Bugle, which in this timeline is a clandestine paper dedicated to informing humans of the secrets of Apocalypse. He is killed by the Brood-infested Christopher Summers (the father of Scott, Alex and Gabriel Summers).[6]

Marvel Noir[edit]

In Spider-Man Noir: Eyes without a Face, Robbie makes his appearance. He is investigating the disappearances of African-Americans from Harlem, which leads him to accompany Peter Parker to meet Otto Octavius on Ellis Island, where he finds Doc Ock operating on monkeys. The truth is far more grim however, as Robbie is captured, and later lobotomised, as Doctor Octopus is operating on the afore mentioned African-Americans in order to try and get the perfect slave - one who will be obedient without question. Peter eventually liberates the prisoners, but feels a huge amount of remorse for not getting to Robbie sooner. Later, Robbie's family, and Glory Grant, are outraged that Octavius did not stand trial, as he was doing government research.[7]


In the MC2 universe, it is revealed that Robbie Robertson was killed by Doctor Octopus shortly after the disappearance/retirement of Spider-Man. This motivates Jameson to initiate "Project: Human Fly", an attempt to create a government controlled superhero. Mercenaries (later revealed to be in the employ of Doctor Octopus) attempt to steal the Human Fly suit, but are thwarted when Jameson's grandson takes the suit (the controls of which bond to the first user) and becomes the superhero The Buzz. This adventure also features Richie Robertson, Robbie's grandson.[8] The Buzz and Spider-Girl eventually apprehend Doctor Octopus, who falls into a coma.[9]

Although J. Jonah Jameson believes the Buzz to be a criminal implicated in the murder of the suit's intended wearer, he shows some satisfaction that his project led to the capture of Doctor Octopus.[9]


During the Spider-Verse storyline, the Earth-001 version of Robbie Robertson works as an importer/trader in service to the Inheritors. Robbie is served at his import company by Lance Bannon and Nicholas Katzenberg. He met Verna's servant Ms. Drew at the docks to delivery barrels full of wine for a grand feast that the Inheritors had prepared from their hunt on the Spider Totems.[10]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

In the Ultimate Marvel universe. Robbie does not have much of a relationship with Peter due to the Bugle not being as big a role in Peter's life. Robbie has been employed there a number of years before Peter showed up. He is frequently seen arguing with Jameson (usually aided by Ben Urich), though it rarely ends up in shouting, as it does in Earth-616.[volume & issue needed]

What If[edit]

In What If Gwen Stacy had lived?, Robbie gives Gwen away to Peter at their wedding, but the wedding is ruined when Jameson appears; with the Goblin having mailed evidence of Spider-Man's true identity to Jameson, Jameson has published the story and now has a warrant for Peter's arrest. Disgusted at Jameson's disregard of all the times that Peter has saved his life as Spider-Man, Robbie angrily quits the Bugle and walks off with Gwen, assuring her that they will do all that they can to help Peter.[11]

In other media[edit]


Robbie Robertson as he appears on Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
  • Joseph Robertson appeared in Spider-Man: The Animated Series voiced by Rodney Saulsberry. Like in the comics, he was J. Jonah Jameson's right-hand man and the person trying to have Jameson see that Spider-Man is not evil. And also like in the comics, he was a former friend of Lonnie Lincoln, also known as Tombstone, who always called him straight arrow. Back when Robbie and Lonnie were kids, they last see each other when Lonnie accidentally threw his basketball through a window. Robbie boosted him up abandoned him when the police came, and Lonnie was arrested. Robbie felt guilty about leaving Lonnie on that point on. By the time Robbie got a job at a local newspaper years later, he would investigate about the Spalding Chemical Plant. He found Lonnie, now a crook, there so Robbie can be put to jail so he can have his revenge for abandoning him at the grocery store. Robbie tried to catch him but Lonnie slipped and fell into a chemical pool where Robbie thought he died. In order to mend his mistakes back years ago since the grocery store, he decided to stay until he let the police hear his story and they let him go. By the time he became Jameson's right-hand man, Robbie was horrified to discover his son, Randy, is in a thug gang called the Posse, led by none other than Lonnie, who had not died but had transformed into an ugly mutant known as Tombstone. In the end, Spider-Man and Robbie teamed up to put Tombstone in jail and save Randy. But by the fourth season premiere of Spider-Man, when Tombstone was incarcerated in Rooker's Island, he teamed up with Richard Fisk to have Robbie framed, but Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson cleared his name. By the Six Forgotten Warriors saga at the fifth (and final) season of this show, Robbie helps discover the identity of Wilson Fisk. In the Scarlet Spider's reality s seen in "I Really Really Really Hate Clones," all of New York was destroyed with nearly everyone dead after the murderous rampage of the Green Goblin and Hobgoblin, leaving J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie the only survivors. Also in Scarlet Spider's reality, he finally saw that J. Jonah Jameson was right about Spider-Man even after the normal Spider-Man saved him from falling. This was due to the fact that Green Goblin and Hobgoblin were working for Spider-Carnage. In "Farewell, Spider-Man," the Robbie Robertson of the high-tech Spider-Man's reality is seen where he is with J. Jonah Jameson (who is the high-tech Spider-Man's godfather).
  • Robbie Robertson appears in The Spectacular Spider-Man, voiced by Phil LaMarr. His son Rand (also voiced by LaMarr) attends Midtown High School with Peter. His role is more or so the same as his counterpart in the comics.As in the comics,he is a high-ranking editor at the New York newspaper The Daily Bugle and a close confidant of publisher J. Jonah Jameson and insists to Jameson that Spider-Man is a hero and not a menace. At one point he surreptitiously approves Ned Lee's idea investigating Spider-Man's secret identity even though Jameson feels this will make him an "average Joe" and thus less interesting to the readers. He later allows Ned to pursue a similar investigation into the Green Goblin.


  • Robertson made a brief appearance in the Spider-Man movie (2002). He was played by actor Bill Nunn, who reprised the role in the sequels Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3. As in the comics, he insists to Jameson that Spider-Man is a hero and not a menace, and appears visibly saddened when Peter briefly gives up the mantle of the hero.

Video games[edit]


  1. ^ Amazing Spider-Man #559
  2. ^ Amazing Spider-Man #560
  3. ^ Amazing Spider-Man #648 (January 2011)
  4. ^ Superior Spider-Man #16
  5. ^ The Superior Spider-Man Annual #2
  6. ^ Tales From The Age of Apocalypse #2 (December, 1997)
  7. ^ Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without a Mask #1-4
  8. ^ The Buzz #1 (July 2000)
  9. ^ a b The Buzz #3
  10. ^ Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #9
  11. ^ What If? Volume 1 #24

External links[edit]