Peter Parker walks into the offices of the Daily Bugle. People are flying by him as Peter makes his way past the many cubicles. The day is abuzz with individuals discussing the most recent Spider-Man sighting. A mixture of nerves and excitement are held within Peter, as he holds a folder filled with photographs of last night’s run in with The Vulture. A loud, abrasive man comes flying out from the office Peter was just about to walk into: J. Jonah Jameson. Jonah yells at another man, whose back is turned to the two of them, asking him to join Jonah and Peter in his office. As Peter lays out last nights work, dollar signs begin to float around in his head. Jonah throws out a disappointing number alongside a few droppings of the word “Menace!” as he begins to write it on a cheque: a sign of approval not needed. The third man in the room grabs the pen Jonah holds, reminding Jonah that Peter deserves the extra money. The man looks over at Peter, nodding in approval with a smile that reads an accepting of his hard work and also the trust he has with Spider-Man as an important public figure. This man is Robbie Robertson.
Stan Lee and John Romita Sr introduced Robbie Robertson to the world in Amazing Spider-Man #51 back in 1967. The thing that made Robbie so special, and still does to this day, is the importance and impact he would have on Peter Parker’s life as a journalist and as Spider-Man. Robbie never felt like a tacked on black character for the sake of adding diversity to a heavily white featured comics industry. Robbie represents a voice of reason, of awareness for others, and of not judging people on the surface – basically everything that J. Jonah Jameson is the opposite of. He has depth to his personality and truly cares about the importance of the truth as an editor for the Daily Bugle. Without Robbie’s guidance and approval of Peter as a photographer/superhero, Spider-Man would be a vastly different individual.
Aunt May is the person that consoled Peter when he was conflicted, consistently acknowledging that no matter what he was thinking, he would eventually make the right decision. Robbie acts on these similar principles, but comes from more of a professional setting, providing a much needed warmth to Peter’s day. Robbie always appeared to be a living embodiment of Uncle Ben. If you work hard and do the right thing, Robbie would be the first one to shake your hand with a “good job, son” right around the corner.
Having a black character with a conscience and a heart was a pretty big thing for the late 60s in comics: a refreshing human portrayal compared to a lot of other supporting characters that existed at the time. He truly plays such a key role in the development of Peter’s life that his name deserves to be compared to the likes of Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Robbie is one of those characters that cause the likes of not only Peter to smile, but the reader as well.
Robbie’s past would be explored through a great arc in Spectacular Spider-Man focusing on the relationship he had with villain Tombstone and Robbie’s resiliency to the criminal underground. He is still featured prominently throughout Dan Slott’s marvelous current run on The Amazing Spider-Man alongside his son Randy. It’s always a great thing to see characters like Robbie develop over time and still be considered a crucial part to the inner workings within Spider-Man’s world. Even though Robbie may have full reins over the Daily Bugle now, the rise in power hasn’t affected his caring demeanour one bit.