Robbie Robertson (comics)
|Joseph "Robbie" Robertson|
Robbie Robertson from Daredevil (vol.2) #92.
Art by Michael Lark.
|First appearance||The Amazing Spider-Man #51
|Created by||Stan Lee
John Romita Sr.
|Full name||Joseph "Robbie" Robertson|
|Team affiliations||Daily Bugle
|Supporting character of||Spider-Man
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. The Tombstone stories were well received by readers and contributed to greater interest in Robertson.
Gerry Conway's run on The Spectacular Spider-Man and Web of Spider-Man expanded Robertson's back story with a dark history involving the hit man Tombstone which continues to haunt Robertson in the present. The stories drew an exceptionally intense level of reader interest. Editor Jim Salicrup recalled that "some of the most jaded, seen-it-all before guys - namely the guys in Marvel's production department - got hooked on the Tombstone/Joe Robertson soap opera. They'd actually come into my office concerned about what was going to happen to Robbie next. 'He's not going to jail, is he?' they'd ask."
Fictional character biography
Joseph Robertson was born in Harlem. 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 divorced. Growing up in a working-class family and being a member of a racial 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. 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 serves as publisher when Jameson temporarily steps 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 share an apartment when Mary Jane is 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. Robbie once wrote an article for the high school newspaper about Lincoln's bullying and extortion, but spiked it after being threatened by Lincoln. Years later, while working as a reporter in Philadelphia, Robbie witnessed Lincoln murder one of Robbie's contacts. Once again, Lincoln threatened Robertson, and the journalist fled to New York City and began working for the Bugle. He told no one of the murder he witnessed.[volume & issue needed]
Twenty years later, when Tombstone takes a job with the Kingpin, Robbie, determined not to be intimidated again, begins collecting evidence of past crimes that would have Tombstone incarcerated for life. Tombstone hunts Robbie down and breaks his back with his bare hands. Robbie is laid up for months as a result of this, but makes a full recovery, as his spine was not broken.[volume & issue needed]
Tombstone is arrested and tried, thanks in part to Spider-Man. Breaking 20 years of silence, Robbie testifies against his old schoolmate in court. The judge, however, is on the Kingpin's payroll and circumstances lead to Robertson having to agree to serve 3 years himself for withholding evidence of the Philadelphia murder. Robbie and Tombstone end up in the same cell block, where the hit man makes Robbie's life miserable. So broken is Robbie's spirit that he halfheartedly goes along with a jailbreak. However, when Tombstone attacks an interfering Spider-Man, Robbie regains his nerve and saves him. Robbie and Tombstone fall out of the escape helicopter and land 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. Stunned by this, Tombstone backs off. While Tombstone has not abandoned his murderous ways, he has officially called off his vendetta on Robbie. Robbie receives a pardon for his efforts to protect the Amish family, and resumes work at the Daily Bugle.[volume & issue needed]
After Peter's "coming out", Robbie reveals he knew Peter was Spider-Man and stands up to J. Jonah Jameson after all these years about his treatment to Peter/Spider-Man. Unable or unwilling to admit that he had gone too far in his hatred of Spider-Man, Jameson fires Robertson. However, he rehires him shortly after.[volume & issue needed]
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. 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 and resigns. Robertson becomes 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.
After Phil Urich is exposed as the new Hobgoblin, to protect the Daily Bugle's reputation, Robbie benches Ben Urich until this situation blows over and fires Phil's ex-girlfriend Norah Winters. During the later Goblin coup of New York, Ben attempts to arrange a meeting to talk Phil down and convince him to accept a cure for the Goblin formula, but when Robbie is discovered in the area, Phil believes that Ben was trying to set a trap and delivers a serious injury to Robbie before Spider-Man appears.
Age of Apocalypse
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).
In Spider-Man Noir: Eyes without a Face, Robbie is investigating the disappearances of African-Americans from Harlem, which leads him to accompany Peter Parker to meet Otto Octavius on Ellis Island. Robbie is captured, and later lobotomised, as Doctor Octopus is operating on the aforementioned African-Americans in order to try to get the perfect slave. Peter eventually liberates the prisoners, but feels 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.
In the MC2 universe, 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. This adventure also features Richie Robertson, Robbie's grandson.
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.
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]
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.
In other media
- In the 1977 television movie pilot for the CBS series The Amazing Spider-Man, Robbie Robertson is several decades younger than his comic book counterpart. He is portrayed by Hilly Hicks, an actor who was then in his late 20s. The character does not make subsequent appearances on the series itself.
- Robbie Robertson appears in the 1981 Spider-Man cartoon voiced by Buster Jones.
- Robbie Robertson appeared in Spider-Man: The Animated Series voiced by Rodney Saulsberry. Like in the comics, he is J. Jonah Jameson's right-hand man and the person trying to have Jameson see that Spider-Man is not evil. 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, but 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 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.
- Robbie Robertson appears in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "Along Came a Spider" voiced by Troy Baker. He was seen at the Daily Bugle when Tony Stark visited J. Jonah Jameson.
- Robertson made a brief appearance in the 2002 film Spider-Man. 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 crimefighting.
- Robbie Robertson appears in the video game version of Spider-Man 2 voiced by Jeff Coopwood.
- Robbie Robertson appears in Spider-Man 3 voiced by Charlie Robinson.
- Robbie appears in Spider-Man's ending for Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds.
- Aushenker, Michael (October 2010). "Not Amazing, but Spectacular". Back Issue!. TwoMorrows Publishing (44): 57.
- Amazing Spider-Man #559
- Amazing Spider-Man #560
- Amazing Spider-Man #648 (January 2011)
- Superior Spider-Man #16
- The Superior Spider-Man Annual #2
- Tales From The Age of Apocalypse #2 (December, 1997)
- Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without a Mask #1-4
- The Buzz #1 (July 2000)
- Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #9
- What If? Volume 1 #24