Tim Drake is my favorite Robin.
For the record Dick Grayson is the one I grew up with. He didn’t become Nightwing until the 1980s, slightly over halfway through my childhood but before my teen years. I grew up with Dick as Robin from both Filmation shows, repeats of the live-action 60s show, and Superfriends. Dick will always be my nostalgic Robin, but Nightwing signified an evolution of his character. He grew out of being a sidekick and became his own person.
I’ve felt since then that “Robin” is sort of the apprentice to becoming their own superhero. It’s why I’m bothered by Stephanie being Robin when she already formed her own superhero identity as Spoiler but not bothered by any other Robin. As it is Robin was created to keep things light, to keep Batman from the edge and being a more violent character. Before the Comics Code was ever an issue that was the purpose National had for creating Robin, seeing how kids liked superheroes and decided to soften Bruce up a bit with a teen sidekick. Robin basically started the sidekick trend, someone that the hero could mentor but also count on as backup in a fight.
Tim has qualities that set him apart from the others and made him THE Robin in some fans minds, including myself. The problem is DC Comics would come to be run by people who wanted that dark and gritty Batman, the brooding Dark Knight who smacked people around in anger even when fans were shown why that was a bad thing and embraced Bruce over Jean Paul Valley. And so Robin had to go or be altered into something different. That meant to them Tim Drake had to go. The problem wasn’t that he was redundant, as the following Comicstorian commentary states, but that Dan DiDio was put in charge. That never ends well. This isn’t a Versus article because Benny and I actually agree on many points. It’s the reason for those problems where we disagree.
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I wonder how much of our difference of opinion on the problem with Tim comes from our different opinions of Tim. Benny states he didn’t follow Robin. I didn’t follow much of the 1990s because it was where the dark and gritty “screw you kids” trend started, and yet even then DC knew Batman needed a Robin and why. The two heroes balance each other out. Note that when Damian became Robin it wasn’t with Bruce but with Dick assuming the Bat-Cowl while Bruce was thought dead and Tim went around the world to prove he wasn’t dead. (Turned out Bruce got sent bouncing around time thanks to Darkseid’s Omega Beams because I guess they can do that.) Dick was less serious Batman, even being caught smiling a time or two, while Damian was the more serious Robin, a reverse of Bruce and Dick’s relationship because Damian had been raised by the League Of Assassins and his grandfather Ra’s Al Ghul and needed “deprogramming”.
Dick left the Robin identity to become his own person and thus “Nightwing” happened. It was Dick coming out of Batman’s shadow since the “Boy Wonder” was not always taken seriously on his own. This allowed him to be his own man. Jason actually started out as a cheap knockoff of Dick, just with a brother that Joel Schumacher apparently assumed was Dick’s so the screenwriters didn’t do their homework properly for Batman Forever. It was after the Crisis reboot that his entire backstory was changed to being a punk kid who tried to jack the tires off of the Batmobile, wouldn’t listen to Batman, and got killed as a result of his own impatience and hotheaded streak. Basically, Damian was Jason Todd done right as fans actually gravitated towards him and yet called for Jason to die until some writer tossed him into the literal Lazarus Pit and brought him back to life as an antihero.
Except Damian was actually created to die.
He wasn’t supposed to last but, in a continued mirror of Jason Todd, was actually so beloved by fans that he was saved and continued on as Robin under Dick Grayson. I don’t remember what storyline he was supposed to die in but it was changed because DC saw potential with him. So he survives the encounter he should have died in rather than being fridged for Bruce to be all sad over and thus his tale continues and he eventually became Robin because he needed that guidance even after Bruce returned to present day.
Dan DiDio and his acolytes are the real problem as THEY are the ones who couldn’t figure out what to do with Tim, and the people he left behind are the ones who couldn’t figure out what to do with Tim. They in turn were joined by the activist who wanted to turn Tim
gay bisexual out of nowhere, having Tim and Stephanie break up off panel, just making things worse. I’ve been hoping to do a full breakdown of the “Bat-Family” and what they represent but here’s the short version: Bruce is the all-around “jack of all trades” who learned stealth, fighting, detective work, and various other skills but never mastered one over the other. Each member of the team has come to represent a mastered form of each individual talent. For Tim it was being able to put clues together and figure out a solution. Heck, make him the chief foe of Riddler and you may have something there.
Except Didio hates sidekicks and hates legacy characters. He threw Wally West into the garbage and brought back Barry (ignoring that Barry Allen isn’t the first Flash) and wanted to kill off Dick Grayson as well, worried he’d become the next Batman as if that was his only purpose. The New 52 was just a huge mistake. The Culling was a mistake according to Linkara’s reviews and there was no understanding as to what happened when. Even a trade of a Teen Titans storyline was changed from the original periodical post to make this the first Teen Titans team ever instead of a new version of Dick’s old team. In short nobody knew what they were doing during that period. As far as the whole “Drake” codename everybody made fun of that. So did I.
However, none of this is to be blamed on the character. It’s not that the character is redundant, it’s that the writers don’t know what to do with them. Benny even notes that they were getting him back on track before making Tim
gay bi and killing his relationship with Stephanie off-panel just to have him date a dude. It was dumb but had the story not been a yaoi about Tim being bisexual and had focused as much on the superheroing and crime solving…fans would have still been upset because they ended the Stephanie romance out of nowhere for no good reason then tried to convince us Steph was totally okay with being dumped so Tim could explore dudes like their relationship meant nothing, but at least they’d have something to fall back upon.
I say have Tim go back to being Red Robin or maybe something less silly like Redbird (yes, it’s the name of his car that Damian still uses in the preschool Batwheels show but nobody would make restaurant jokes), and have him be the mystery solver, the one Batman calls on when the mystery angle requires the most focus of the story for a fresh angle maybe he isn’t getting because he’s older or isn’t omniscient and needs a second brain in the game. Otherwise, have him do the mystery stories Batman used to do before DC decided he should just beat thugs up and keep the city from exploding every story. Get a good writer who knows what to do with him, put him and Step back together since “bisexual” should still mean he dates women, and just tell good Tim Drake stories like they used to.
Tim’s not redundant…it’s just so many of the writers are the wrong choice to be writing him if not outright hostile to his very existence…or they suck.
[…] since posting that Comicstorian commentary on Tim Drake being redundant as part of a series of videos against the “family” style team, and my response that […]