Robin: Tragedy and Triumph

I’m really liking Tim Drake.  Not just as Robin, but as a Batman character in general.  In the few appearances I’ve seen him in so far, he’s been given so much more depth and emotion that the past Batman sidekicks.  He feels entirely real; flawed, yet still the type of person I want to root for.

This collection features two storylines.  As the title would suggest, one is of a tragedy, the other a triumph.

The “Rite of Passage” story was one I feared was coming, though I hoped I was wrong.  It is such a common thread throughout comics, and especially Batman comics, that a character must lose one or both of his parents as a means to explain his behavior.  Tim Drake was the exception to this rule.  While he had rather absentee parents who were too busy traveling for work to pay much attention to him, they were still alive.  Tim would need a new, completely unique motive for wanting to fight in the name of justice.

Or so I thought.

I felt it long before it actually happened.  Hell, the comic practically spelled it out for the reader.

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I had hoped against hope that Tim’s musings with Alfred were merely a means of pointing out the differences in this storyline from its predecessors.  Whereas the past Robins had very clear histories which helped mold their characters, Drake was the exception.  His musing over whether the loss of one or both parents was necessary to create Robin was touching, and unfortunately all too fitting.

Caught in the middle of a fight on the island of Haiti, Tim’s parents are poisoned.  His mother dies, while his father is completely paralyzed for life.  Tim had already agreed to become the next Robin before these events transpired, and yet this was the catalyst which threw him into his new role full force.

It’s such a pity that this had to be Tim’s rite of passage into the Robin role, primarily because he is such a kind, likable kid.

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He’s sweet and caring and doesn’t bear the angry chip on his shoulder that Jason Todd did.  Tim is a truly good kid that the reader can easily root for, and to see him have to suffer the loss of his parents is quite heartbreaking.

He deals with this pain in a surprisingly mature manner (to be addressed in a later post on Robin: A Hero Reborn.  The stories were divided between two separate trades, hence the break in the narrative.)  When he reemerges, Tim has fully embraced the Robin identity, though he is still trying to adjust to life as a superhero.

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His uniform pays homage to the Robins of old, while still being unique enough to remind readers that this is the new Robin.  Those of the past are dead (be it literally or figuratively) and a new Robin has taken up the mantle in the name of justice.

The “The Joker’s Wild” storyline puts Tim to the ultimate test.  With Batman away on assignment in South America, Tim is left to watch over Gotham just as Joker escapes Arkham.  Understandably, Tim is more than a little hesitant about facing the crowned price of crime:

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This is a big part of why Tim Drake is so likable.  He’s not some arrogant, cocky teenager who’s going to charge into a fight, figurative guns blazing.  Tim is wise enough to recognize that he’s new to the superhero game, and that facing off against a villain as tough as the Joker might be a bit out of his league.  Luckily, he has Alfred there to offer words of encouragement.

Truth be told, Tim doesn’t really have much of a choice.  With Batman out of town, defending Gotham falls on his young shoulders.  He steps up though, despite his fears, and ultimately overpowers Joker, returning him to his rightful place in Arkham.

It is Tim’s kind nature, along with his recognition of how much he still has to learn, that makes him such an endearing hero.  He doesn’t believe himself to be untouchable, nor does he think he knows best.  Tim Drake is a hero who knows his own limits but is willing to push them when called upon.  He’s a faithful student, a loyal friend, and a skilled crimefighter.

He’s the partner Batman has always deserved.

-Jess

 

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