As mentioned in my last post, I really like Tim Drake as Robin. His uncertainty in his newfound role as Robin is refreshing. So many comic book characters seem to fall into the role of superhero without ever really seeming to second-guess themselves. Sure, they question if it’s the right life for them, or if it’s truly benefiting society, but they never really question their own abilities. They never stop to ask if they’re good enough.
Tim Drake breaks from this self-confident standard by simply being what he is: an unsure thirteen-year old teenager. We all might like to believe we could prowl through the streets of Gotham with Batman and be able to hold our own, but Drake represents a very real and ever-present fact about this comic: there are no super powers involved. This is just good old-fashioned crime-fighting, and only the strongest, bravest, and most cunning are cut out for it.
Surely just about everyone would question whether they can live up to that.
To highlight this point, we see Drake question repeatedly if he’s right for the role of Robin.
This costume, this symbol, represent so much history and strength, that it’s no wonder that this thirteen-year old kid would be frightened of the responsibility he’s undertaken. What’s more, Drake is dealing with the recent death of his mother and paralysis of his father. This would be a traumatic situation for any young kid, but since Tim has chosen to become Robin as well it’s especially emotional.
Surprisingly, Drake doesn’t show the characteristic “revenge” syndrome so many other Batman characters suffer from after the inevitable loss of a loved one. He’s upset and a bit angry, but he doesn’t go off recklessly seeking a fight simply because he wants to beat up some bad guys, bad guys who, to him, would symbolize the villains who destroyed his family. Tim is a bit moody at times, to be sure, but can we really blame him? His family is all but gone, and he’s been thrust into this brand new world of crimefighting. The fear, the insecurity, the uncertainty of how his life will progress from here; these are all elements that could easily lead Tim down the wrong path (similar to the path Jason Todd took).
No, Tim rises above that temptation, training hard to become a good sidekick to Batman, and listening to his mentor’s advice. That is perhaps his most endearing quality: Tim knows that Bruce Wayne can teach him a lot, and doesn’t shy away from learning. Too many other superheroes and sidekicks act as though once they don that mask, they’re instantly brilliant at fighting crime and stopping bad guys. That’s just simply not so. Especially for a character with no enhanced powers to speak of, Tim is a novice through and through, and he recognizes this. When Batman gives him orders, he follows them. He aids Bruce without becoming a liability, allowing Batman to complete his job without having to worry that Tim is going off on his own and acting recklessly.
Tim Drake is a great Robin. It’s really that simple. His story is fraught with the tragedy that has become so stereotypical of superhero stories, and yet he handles it with a maturity often missing from these stories, and virtually unheard of in a thirteen-year old. Robin has always been a high-flying acrobat; that can be taught, to a certain degree, as can the detective skills. What sets Tim apart from other heroes is who he is as a person: Tim Drake, a genuinely good kid who’s been given the chance to make the world a better place.