Nearly all of Batman’s allies have been thrust into a life of crime fighting do to some sort of personal tragedy. Tim Drake was one of the few who not only willing chose to fight crime along Batman’s side, but was happy to do so. Sure, first Robin Dick Grayson was as happy-go-lucky as they come, but Tim’s life wasn’t marred, yet. He was a happy teenager who was smart enough to deduce Batman’s true identity.
Unlike many of DC’s characters, Tim’s history isn’t that convoluted, having been introduced in 1989, well after Crisis on Infinite Earths. After losing his partner, the previous Robin Jason Todd, Batman had become angry and reckless. Tim had decided to intervene, having surmised Batman’s identity years ago. When Tim was 9 years old he visited the circus, meeting the Flying Graysons. Having seen Dick perform, it was easy for young Tim to infer that Dick was Robin, seeing the two perform the same difficult gymnastic move. Tim appeared at Wayne Manor telling Alfred he needed to speak to Bruce. He said that Batman needs a Robin to balance him out, and offered his services. After being accepted by Alfred and Dick for his incredible reasoning skills, Bruce took him on as Robin.
This is what separated Tim from the other Batman characters, he was the smartest. Bruce even admitted so himself, saying Tim will one day surpass him. While Tim was a talented athlete, it was his brain that set him apart from the rest.
Aside from being happy and volunteering for the job, Tim had one important character difference from his predecessors, pants. The new Robin, while keeping the same colors, had a costume that made more sense, only slightly though. Short sleeves and still no cowl?
Batman sent Tim around the world to train with various masters before allowing him to fight at his side. After three successful miniseries a solo series was launched in 1993. Since Batman was having his own problems, this gave time a chance to branch out on his own. The series lasted until 2009 with 183 issues. The series was first written by Chuck Dixon. This, along with the Nightwing solo series also written by Dixon are some of the best comics I’ve read. Both series are must reads for any Batman fans. Aside from his solo and sidekick efforts, Tim was also a member of Young Justice and eventually the Teen Titans.
Things were too good to last. The idea of a happy crimefighter was too much to ask for apparently. In 2004’s Identity Crisis, Tim’s father Jack was murdered by Captain Boomerang, leaving him an orphan. Bruce eventually adopted Tim. This was the first bit of real tragedy for the character. While it was a great story beat for the moment, I still question the decision to mare an otherwise happy character. Other notable events were the death of his best friend Superboy during Infinite Crisis , and the death of his girlfriend Stephanie Brown (Spoiler/Robin IV/Batgirl) during War Games. After Superboy’s death Tim sported a new costume using his colors.
After Bruce “died” during Final Crisis, Tim took up the name Red Robin, leaving Damian Wayne, Bruce’s son, to take the Robin mantle. Tim, believing Bruce to still be alive, searched for him, mostly because DC didn’t know what else to do with him. The series was decent, but not a must read. Then, the New 52 happened.
Tim’s origin and place was up in the air for a while, and still somewhat is thanks to opposing information. Scott Snyder in Batman and Peter J. Tomasi in Batman & Robin reference Tim’s time as Robin where Scott Lobdell’s Teen Titans says he was never Robin, and that Tim Drake isn’t even his real name. It’s as though part of the New 52’s initiative was to fire all the editors. While Tim continues to have adventures in Teen Titans, he’s fundamentally not the same character anymore, and not worth the time.
Tim’s had quite a few appearances outside of print. Aside from the second season of Young Justice, he was also Robin in The New Batman Adventures. As far as video games his most notable appearance was in the Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC for Batman: Arkham City. Easily his best video game appearance, and voiced by Troy Baker.
Tim is my favorite Robin. His solo series in the 90’s was an excellent read, making him a fan favorite, and the Robin people most identify with. While his current status isn’t positive, at least he’s not alone (see the rest of DC). Plus, there’s still 20 years of awesome stories starring Tim.
Who’s your favorite Robin? Hate what the New 52’s done to Tim Drake? Comment below!
At least Red Robin had a cowl.