I’m always super excited when I actually know something about the Batman universe before reading the comic.
When I saw this trade in my pile of “to-read” comics for the week, I looked at Mistah J and nonchalantly said, “Oh, is this where Tim Drake becomes Robin?”
He looked at me and exclaimed, “How do you know about Tim Drake?”
Because I’m a super expert-level comics genius, duh.
(Or because I’ve seen “Batman Beyond: Revenge of the Joker” about a hundred times…)
Either way, I was uber excited to actually know something about the comic I was about to read, albeit it very little.
After reading about the introduction to this third incarnation of Robin, I can definitively say that Tim Drake was a perfect choice to don that costume.
First off, Tim Drake knows everything, and I mean everything, about Batman and Robin. As in who they really are, what happened to Jason Todd, and just about every other little detail about the duo that can be imagined.
This unassuming little thirteen-year old cracked a mystery that none of Batman’s archenemies have been able to solve in the fifty years since his debut (seriously, fifty years. No wonder these crackpots keep winding up back in Arkham). I am both in awe and a little frightened of this kid’s detective skills. What’s more, his methods for deducing these secrets were actually believable, stemming from a trip to the circus with his parents on the fateful day Dick Grayson’s parents died. Seeing Batman and Robin on television months later, he recognized Dick’s signature quadruple somersault, realized Dick was Robin, and pieced everything else together.
This kid is a little bit of a genius.
What’s more, he’s totally sweet and innocent and basically the exact opposite of Dick and Jason. Whereas both previous Robins had major chips on their shoulder at various times, Tim has not faced the same tragedies in his life. Instead, he’s just a good kid who’s out to do right by his heroes.
Realizing that Batman hasn’t been the same since Jason’s death, Tim hunts down Dick to convince him to don the Robin costume again, because as he puts it, Batman needs Robin.
While an idea that I agree with wholeheartedly, it wouldn’t make sense for Dick to revert back to his Robin persona. He’s already adopted his own superhero image, and it simply wouldn’t line up with the story. Dick’s moved on.
Besides, he’s a grown man now. He doesn’t need to be running around in little green underwear. Leave that to Aquaman.
Even for readers at the time of the comic’s publication, I’m sure it was fairly obvious where this story was headed: Tim would take over as the new Robin, because Batman just can’t function without him. What makes this story truly impressive though is how realistic it all feels.
Batman is, for obvious reasons, strongly opposed to taking on a new Robin. After all, look what happened to the last one. With a little convincing from Dick and Alfred, along with a few displays of skill from Tim himself, he eventually comes around and acknowledges that the symbol of Robin must be maintained.
This is a pivotal moment in the Batman comic, and I worried that it wouldn’t be executed well. I had flashbacks to the unrealistic story of Jason Todd’s origin and feared much of the same. Thankfully, this story was handled with the emotional realism that it needed.
It’s no big secret that I wasn’t a big fan of Jason Todd. He was whiny and disobedient and the entire story of how he came to be Robin felt contrived. Perhaps the writers felt the same, for they’ve created a Robin who can serve as both Batman’s partner and Bruce’s son. Their interactions already feel more natural than Bruce and Jason’s ever did, and I’m happy to see that Tim isn’t showing any of the characteristic teenage moodiness of the previous Robin. He’ll be a positive influence on Batman; after all, with everything he’s been through, Bruce could use a friend and partner to help him cope with Jason’s death.
The role of Robin is a pretty big one to step into, but Tim Drake seems more than worthy.