The Bat-family hijacked the Teen Titans team book to bring you a Tim Drake origin story this month and it made for the best issue of Teen Titans that I’ve read so far in the New 52. It was exciting to read because Tim Drake has been all but forgotten in the other New 52 Bat-titles. He felt downright unnecessary to be honest and it was good to be reminded who he is and what he brings to the table.
Now, a lot of changes are made in this issue so if you ask me, it’s must-reading for any fan of the character. Whether it makes you happy or enrages you, this is something you need to pick up so you know what’s happening! When I say a lot of changes are made, I mean BIG changes are made. Thankfully, I’m only really annoyed by one of these changes. For the most part, I think that Lobdell found a way to repair some things about Tim’s character that needed to be revitalized.
Here’s a spoiler-filled breakdown of the changes and my thoughts on them. Keep in mind though, I won’t be going into a long rant like I usually do because I’m still in LA and short on time.
2. Tim and his parents are under witness protection. This takes away from what I liked about #1. Without his parents still being around they might as well be dead. And what kind of parents see that their son has attracted the wrath of the mob and don’t make him join them in witness protection? His parents were portrayed as being way, way too perfect. Supportive, loving parents exist. I’ve got a pair of those myself. But when they’re okay with you giving up a shot at Olympic gold, getting the house blown up by mobsters, and they want you to live with a man in a Bat costume…it’s beyond saintly. These people are incapable of anger or disappointment or maybe they’re just stupid. Either way, they’re alive and Tim is separated from them. Let’s hope that that angle extends beyond Tim occasionally looking at photographs or video longingly.
3. Tim Drake isn’t Tim Drake. Drake isn’t his real name. It adds a bit of mystery, sure and I’m fine with that but it also leaves the window open for some crappy writer to say “Surprise, he’s Harley Quinn’s nephew” or “Clayface’s cousin”. The last thing we need is another surprise villain/hero relative.
4. He was never a Robin. Instead he noted that it wasn’t cool to have another Robin after the death of Jason so he named himself…RED ROBIN. This was pretty weak to me. I mean you have the opportunity to come up with any name you want and you go with Red Robin? It was honestly better BEFORE the New 52. Here he’s trying to be respectful about not using the Robin name in a time of mourning…by still using the Robin name.
5. Tim Drake doesn’t figure out Batman’s identity. It’s said that he wasn’t surprised that Batman was Bruce Wayne, but he never arrived at the conclusion independently. So that defining trait of Tim’s has now been given to Dick instead. I don’t think such a change made Dick a better character, but it made Tim a little less interesting in my book.
This book would’ve been a whole lot better if the artwork by Tyler Kirkham had matched the ambition of Lobdell’s script. There was a shot of an abandoned aviary that looked cool, but other than that the whole book looked rather bland and it also seemed like he had a hard time drawing eyes. Too many characters look cross-eyed or have all-black eyes that look downright scary. Batman’s ears were way, way far back on his cowl in one shot, and father Drake often times didn’t even look human. It’s not an ugly book, but the visuals were boring and came off kind of lazy.
So the story is alright and it was an origin that definitely needed to be told. Tim’s origin is probably the least well known of all the Robin’s and some of the changes that were made to Tim’s past are definitely for the best. You’ll want to pick this book up so you can get in on the discussion of what works and what doesn’t.