Robin: Unmasked

Is Tim Drake officially finished as Robin??

That’s the question I’m left with after reading this trade.  Of course, that needs a little explanation, so let’s back up a bit…

Robin is out patrolling on his own when he faces off against a thug named Johnny Warren.  Johnny bests him in battle, but not before blowing off his own hand due to one of Robin’s devices and shooting a woman he was holding hostage.  Johnny escapes as Robin tends to the victim.

We later learn that an artifact Johnny had stolen has taken possession of his body, jamming itself through his chest and conversing with him (yes, it’s as weird as it sounds).  When Robin and Johnny face off once more, Johnny almost wins, beating up Spoiler and planning on killing her.

Robin, of course, won’t have that.

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Johnny is dead, with Robin presumably responsible for the death. Nothing can be confirmed, however, because Johnny’s body disappears from the morgue before an autopsy can be performed.

Tim brands himself a murderer though, leading Batman to seriously question whether he can continue being Robin.  He mopes around for months, feeling guilty and unsure of himself.  It takes a swift kick in the pants from his girlfriend/ally Stephanie Brown (Spoiler) to set him on the right track.

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**Side note: how much did I love Stephanie in this trade? She’s spunky and funny and has absolutely no problem speaking her mind.  I’ve read very little about her up to this point, but I already like her. End girl-crush mini rant.**

Tim feels renewed, knowing that Robin is who he’s meant to be.  Unfortunately, all of that comes crashing down when, through a coincidental series of events, Tim’s father learns of his secret identity and is none too thrilled at the thought of his son fighting crime on a nightly basis.

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He points a gun at Bruce and threatens to reveal his secret to the world.  Mercifully, Tim is able to talk his father down, albeit slightly.  He convinces his father to keep their secret, but unfortunately it comes at a price.

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And just like that, Tim Drake is no longer Robin.

I wasn’t expecting this sort of ending, and yet the entire comic seems to be leading up to this moment. Tim is so unsure of his future, and just when he’s figured it all out, a monkey wrench gets thrown into his plans, tossing his world upside down.  I know enough about Batman lore to know that Tim won’t be gone from the comics for good, but if this is truly his Robin swan song, I’m certainly sad to see him go. He was always such a dedicated Robin, eager to please Batman and bring a little justice into the world.  It’s disheartening to think that he’s sacrificing his role just because his father disapproves, and yet it feels all-too realistic.  Especially given that Tim’s mother died a violent death, it makes sense that his father would be extra protective of him.

Overall I enjoyed this comic. It was a brief storyline, but it left an impression.  in an abstract, way Robin’s insecurities and introspective thoughts are all too reflective of what many of us go through as teenagers.  True, we may not be superheroes, but surely most of us questioned who we were or what we wanted to do with our lives at this point.  Bill Willingham created a story that felt true-to-form for many teens, crafting a relatable story (no small feat when super villains and high-tech gadgetry are involved).  I’m sure we’ll be getting a new Robin soon, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m sad to see this one go.

On a side note, I’d like to point out a glaring error I noticed in the character bios on the opening page of the trade, simply because I can’t let it slide.

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“…after Thomas and Mary were killed by a gunman.”

Mary.

MARY.

Doesn’t DC have an editing staff??  I know it’s just a little note in a character bio that may not even be read by many people, but still. This is not a name to get wrong.

Okay, rant over, I just had to point that out.

-Jess

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