Welcome back to what should be the wrap up of this spotlight on Tim Drake, the third and best Robin. Why is he the best Robin, you ask? If you keep reading this, it should become self-evident, if not, I’ll even explain it outright at the very end. Enough dilly-dallying (What is this, the 40s?) time for more Tim Drake!
After the events of No Man’s Land and Gotham went from a blighted hell hole to just a regular hell hole like the old days, the Drakes moved back to Gotham. Unfortunately, Tim’s father, Jack had decided that he didn’t like Tim’s disappearing act and sent him off to Brentwood Academy. A private school that Tim would have to live at during the week, thankfully the place wasn’t so bad and he found it easy to still be Robin.
Tim’s work with Young Justice would become a big part of his life, they’d stop all manner of chaos from taking over the planet. From child sorcerers to wars, what started as Tim, Impulse, and Superboy grew to include Wonder Girl (daughter of Zeus and a mortal), Secret (ghost of a murdered teen), Arrowette (possible child of Oliver Queen), Empress (a master martial artist named Anita Fite, yes, really) and Li’l Lobo (a spell that turned adults into kids and kids into adults left Lobo as a kid, again, really). They deal with many hardships and victories but in the end they’d disband with several retiring from heroics and the others going on to join the new iteration of the Teen Titans.
As a member of the Teen Titans Tim would join with Superboy, Kid Flash (Impulse taking on the name), Wonder Girl, along with Cyborg, Raven, Starfire, and Beast Boy. They would also see an influx of new members bordering into nearly 30 potential team members. Tim and Cyborg were often seen as the leaders from their respective teammates, sometimes clashing over tactics.
Tim’s father would eventually discover his son’s other life and demanded he stop for his own safety. To try and salvage his relationship with his dad, Tim obliged him. Batman had no Robin so Stephanie Brown took the position and everyone learned it wasn’t a good fit. Sadly, it seemed Stephanie died while being Robin and attempting a plan of Batman’s without his aide. Tim would return as Robin in the fallout of her supposed death.
The death train didn’t stop there, during the Identity Crisis (ugh), when every heroes’ family was put in danger, Tim’s father would be killed by Captain Boomerang and his step-mother would need to be hospitalized from her mental trauma. Tim would take her to Blüdhaven for help, he would also take up patrol here along side Batgirl while Nightwing was not in town. During an assault on the hospital, Dana, Tim’s step-mother would go missing, no one ever found her. Tim was now fully an orphan like the two male Robin’s before him. Batman offered to adopt him but he wasn’t ready to deal with the finality of the situation just yet, eventually he’d agree with Bruce and become his son.
Death returned in a different form by having Jason Todd show back up, alive and not so well (we’ll get to that another time). He was furious that he had been replaced and forgotten by the Titans. Jason would promptly put down the other Titans and fight it out with Tim. Jason was able to get the upper hand in the fight and left Titans Tower a mess with everyone knocked out.
Jason was just the beginnings of what would be called the Infinite Crisis as a different Superboy, Superboy-Prime, who was from a dimension that no longer existed. This Superboy had been a young Clark Kent instead of a sort-of clone like Conner. Superboy-Prime had decided to break reality back into a multiverse, mostly by punching it that way (really, it’s how we got a living Jason Todd). The heroes of several teams had to team up to fight him along with many villains. Blüdhaven would be destroyed in the Crisis and Superboy (Conner Kent) would be killed in the chaos. Tim had lost his parents, his former girlfriend, and his best friend in short time. It was certainly raining garbage on Tim Drake in that time.
Tim would join Batman and Nightwing on taking a year away to recuperate from the recent events. When they returned he’d take on a red and black costume that was a nod to Conner’s Superboy colors. His return had him learn that Batgirl was in danger, he’s also sadly learn that the danger was that Cassandra Cain had become the head of the League of Assassins. His good friend had become someone who wanted him to join her but then escaped capture when he refused, Tim can not catch a break even One Year Later from all that death. Did you see what I did there? One Year Later is the name of the big overarching plot of the return of characters like Tim, Batman, and Wonder Woman from a year of absence. Back to the spotlights you know and put up with.
Tim knew something was wrong with Batgirl and dedicated his time to help her. He’d learn it was Deathstroke, the Terminator who had been poisoning her with a mind control serum. Tim would develop a cure for the effects and return Cassandra to her senses. While with the Titans, Tim and Cassie Sandmark, Wonder Girl, would start an awkward sort-of relationship that wouldn’t work since they were both freaked out by the whole Superboy dated one and best friends with the other. To make matters worse for everyone is the murder of Bart Allen, Kid Flash, who had recently taken on the mantle of The Flash. Lot’s and lots of death for Tim around this time.
Speaking of death, turns out Stephanie Brown had faked her death in a terrible retcon by DC, I mean, to make the enemies she’d made believe her gone. Batman was being targeted by an organization called the Black Glove and unlike many such groups, they were being pretty well at messing with the guy. Batman was missing with Tim trying to take order of a Gotham underworld that knows Batman is gone. Stephanie turns out to be under orders by Batman to make this time for Tim as difficult as possible as a test of his skills. Naturally, Tim handles the assassins she hired to slow him down and then tells her he doesn’t want to talk to her anymore. This is the most civil response to someone you loved who faked their death and then hired killers to come after you.
Jason Todd would attempt to get Tim to join him in in his method of murderous vigilante work during Batman’s absence. Tim won this fight with the aide of a gang member shooting Jason in the knee and the arrival of Red Robin, an identity that Jason Todd had used before. Learning this new Red Robin was an old enemy, an assassin named Ulysses, who was luring Tim into a trap. Tim would escape this trap and don the Red Robin costume himself to go after the killer, this would not be Tim’s only time donning this name or costume. Batman was still missing and Gordon had decided to put in a Robin signal to show allegiance, Tim asked if the Bat signal could still be used to send the message that Batman was still alive, Gordon agreed.
Batman would end up being presumed dead for a while leaving Tim and his siblings orphaned once again. Tim had also found the Obeah Man, the man responsible for killing his mother and crippling his father, he was able to finally take down the villain and bringing him to justice. Not long after Batman’s supposed death did a new Batman show up using lethal methods, this turned out to be Jason Todd. Tim dressed as Batman as well to show Jason how Batman would actually handle a situation. Thanks to Nightwing, Damian Wayne, and Squire (sidekick of the Knight) Tim was able to survive Jason’s onslaughts.
Realizing a real replacement Batman had to be picked, Dick Grayson again donned the cowl and, shocking Tim, chose Damian as his Robin. Dick saw Tim as an equal, not a sidekick, real mixed blessing there. This along with Tim’s disbelief that Batman was truly dead (I mean, c’mon, it’s Batman) Tim took off on his own using the mantle of Red Robin, starting burger franchises all through out Gotham. Sorry, easy joke.
Tim’s search for Batman’s whereabouts would take him all over the world, even teaming up with Ra’s al Ghul. He survived being throw out of a skyscraper by an immortal, dude is baller. He’d even find himself teaming up with the new Batgirl, Stephanie Brown finally able to make amends. When Bruce Wayne returned as Batman and starting Batman Inc. Tim was there to aide him as Red Robin, with all the burgers Bruce could want. I can’t stop, someone send help.
With the New 52 Tim was never Robin. Instead, after Jason Todd died and Tim showed up in what had to be a month later with this new compressed 5 years of Batman history, Tim decided the best way to show respect was to take on his name with a color in front of it and run the risk of a restaurant suing him. This was how they decided to handle this situation. He’s leading the Teen Titans which I believe is the first iteration of them in this new setting? I don’t know if you can tell, but I sort of checked out around burger
So there you have it, the best Robin, Tim Drake. Why is he the best Robin? Several reasons and the first being he chose to become Robin and sought it out, it’s all he ever wanted. His best times have thus far been when he was Robin, all others have better runs outside of it. Dick became Nightwing and that made him better, even if he is the most popular Robin thanks to the ’60s TV show. Jason was more interesting when he arose from the dead since he was so disliked he was voted to death. Stephanie was far better as Batgirl. Damian’s journey had to end with him dying as Robin but it was part of his redemption and not just his whole being. Carrie Kelly only had one whole story as Robin and then when next we saw her she’d taken the guise of Catgirl, growing into her own entity as well. Tim was at his best when he was the Boy Wonder, he was in top form. I miss that guy, this new one is just some guy in a red and black costume that looks sort of like Tim.
He’s my favorite Robin and I know some of you disagree with the best Robin, but I know a lot of you agree with me. Either way, Tim Drake was a great character and I hope to see that Tim again in the future. He’s kind of in Li’l Gotham when I see him there, that’s a fun series to see the Bat family in. Go check that out, you’ve heard me talk about this one guy more than enough.
Battle for the Cowl