DC Comics have announced that Batman, Inc. will return, which is cool. I’m all about Batman, Inc. However, rather than Batman or one of his long-established allies heading up the team, Ghost-Maker will be their leader. Ghost-Maker, who was introduced not two years ago, is the trusted head of Batman, Inc., as personally chosen by Bruce Wayne. Ghost-Maker, who was apparently one of Bruce Wayne’s closest friends in his early years of training, yet we never once heard about him until he was created from whole cloth. Ghost-Maker, who has not earned a single thing he’s been given in the pages of Batman, and was part of one of the most incredibly tasteless and tone-deaf “jokes” I’ve ever read in a comic book, and yet here he is, leading a team.
He should not be part of Batman, Inc.
It should be Tim Drake.
Let’s turn back the clock a little over a decade. We’re at the beginning of 2011. For the past 18 years, Tim Drake has been the star of his own solo series, both as Robin and later Red Robin. In fact, you could go back even further and make it a full 20, because the first Robin miniseries debuted in 1991, letting Tim take the spotlight as the Boy Wonder for the first time.
That’s two full decades of consistent– and consistently excellent– material for Tim as a solo character, and that’s not even mentioning the excellent comics that were published between his debut in 1989 and his solo outings, along with his tenures on the Young Justice and Teen Titans teams. Tim was the kid who set out to prove why Batman needs a Robin, and in doing so he proved why he needed to be that Robin to Batman. His solo books always sold well, from his three miniseries that proved so popular he got his own annuals without having an ongoing book, and his two namesake monthly titles running a respective 183 and 26 issues. And that’s not counting additional annuals, specials, one-shots, and 80-Page Giants. Tim was one of the most popular, and even integral characters in the DC Comics universe, and it was that way for over twenty years.
Then, in 2011, that stopped.
Sure, he was still around, but with the launch of the New-52, he didn’t seem to have a clear purpose. His origin was tinkered with, to the dismay of longtime fans of the character, and his presence was generally relegated to Teen Titans. No more solo books, and only sporadic appearances in other titles. I made some mention of this before, but it bears repeating after some news that dropped on Friday: it feels like Tim Drake has been a character without a clear purpose for over a decade now.
Things seemed to turn around a bit with Rebirth, where Tim was part of the Detective Comics crew, but something felt a bit… off. He was cockier than usual, more focused on an obsession with his tech than anything else. Still, it was nice having Tim at the forefront again, and fans were happy.
And then he was “killed” and taken off the board for the better part of a year.
Since then, Tim has still been relegated to the background at worst, and part of an ensemble at best. Hope was restored with the relaunch of a new Young Justice series, where Tim finally seemed to return to the level-headed yet relatable leader of the group of teen heroes. Those hopes were soon dashed, though, when the character decided to go by the name Drake and wear a… questionable outfit.
Even though this only lasted a handful of issues, it was still endemic of the problem Tim has had for the better part of a decade: he’s a character who once had purpose and direction, and that’s been lost. He’s undergone frequent change, but most of it has been off-panel so we don’t get to spend enough time with him to get reacquainted with the character before he’s shuffled off the board for another change a few months later.
As a fan of the character, it’s incredibly frustrating and disappointing, since he’s more than proven that he can stand on his own.
And yet Ghost-Maker gets to lead a team.
All while Tim Drake languishes in obscurity and uncertainty. Tim’s recent arc in Batman: Urban Legends promised more from the Boy Wonder in 2022, but other than being part of a huge crowd in a Dark Crisis promotional image, nothing else has been announced. For decades, Tim proved himself worthy of being Robin, to the point that after convincing Batman that he needed a partner, he didn’t don the costume until it was absolutely necessary. Even then, Tim still waited until Bruce decided he was ready to strike out on his own, just to prove that he wouldn’t go down the same path as Jason Todd. Tim has led two teams of fellow heroes on his own, and proven time and again that he wants to work with Batman and be Robin.
He’s smart, he’s resourceful, and he’s liked and respected by his peers, both in the Batfamily and across the DCU as a whole. Tim should be more prominent, and should be one of the primary characters in DC’s monthly releases, yet Ghost-Maker is the one who is being pushed to the foreground. Worse, Ghost-Maker’s own protege Clownhunter will be part of the Batman, Inc. team, and he’s no more deserving of prominence than his mentor. They’re too new from a publishing standpoint, too green to be the leaders of well-established characters, and honestly? Neither Ghost-Maker nor Clownhunter are very interesting. Clownhunter shouldn’t have had an arc past the end of his special at the end of 2020, where Batman foolishly and ridiculously told him to not kill anybody else, while letting him keep the very weapon he’d been using to commit murder.
As for Ghost-Maker, he’s the worst example of a character who you’re told is super cool and awesome, without ever proving why you should think so. He’s incredibly shallow and uninteresting, and has no business leading a group of heroes, let alone being handpicked by Batman when Tim Drake is right there.
I’m not even against new characters. Not at all. Tim was a new character at one point, as was Batman. It’s not the newness of Ghost-Maker and Clownhunter that makes them undeserving of prominence. It’s that they are being given a chance that a long serving member of Batman’s family is more than ideal for, while that character continues to lack any sort of direction. They are new for the sake of being new, not to fulfill a deficiency in the Batman books. They don’t plug a hole, but instead cause an already full cup to overflow.
Tim Drake deserves more than what he’s been given, and that includes something that another character has been given instead. If DC knew what to do with Tim, he would be leading Batman, Inc. and have his own solo title to go along with it, and Ghost-Maker and Clownhunter would be forgotten as failed experiments.
Instead, the opposite seems to be true, and as a fan of good Batman comics, I want this to change. This needs to change.
Let Tim lead.