Tim Drake on My Mind
The controversies surrounding Tim Drake, former Robin (?) and current (always?) Red Robin, just seem to be piling up. From questions about his relationship to Batman, his sexuality, and his current status as a “Robin,” Tim Drake’s New 52 existence has been fairly controversial.
The most recent occurrence of the long running and varied controversy originated with comments made by Teen Titans writer Scott Lobdell at SDCC. In his comments, Lobdell seems to indicate that Drake was never an official Robin and raised questions whether or not he deduced Batman’s identity on his own.
Understandably, the comics sites erupted with rage in the comments section. What? Drake was never a Robin? What was he then? He didn’t figure out who Batman’s identity? WTF? Much like the controversy surrounding Alan Scott’s sexuality, an offhand comment on a panel caused a firestorm of controversy.
Now, in an interview with Comic Vine, Lobdell goes into further detail with his intentions. Given the five year guideline, all four Robins served during that short amount of time. So, how does Tim Drake stand out from the other Robins? How is he special?
Whatever it is that Lobdell is doing seems to be centered around Tim considering himself Red Robin from the start rather than just Robin. Perhaps there is a fundamental difference between Drake’s relationship with Bruce compared to his predecessors. Or something.
Let’s be clear. The New 52 hasn’t been kind to Tim Drake. From having his own long running series (both Robin and Red Robin) and appearing in Teen Titans, Drake is now relegated to Teen Titans where, though he is the leader and main protagonist, he does have to share the spotlight with six other main characters.
I can see, in that light, a need to make Tim Drake/ Red Robin stand out from his predecessors and successor as Robin (or something like that). Now, what exactly is Lobdell aiming to do? We, the reader, don’t know. We won’t learn exactly what is up with Drake’s new origin until September 26.
Now, will the changes be good or bad? Depends on how the story idea is executed. Though I have largely dropped the series, I may pick up the Teen Titans 0 issue to check out Red Robin’s new origin.
But, this whole fracas does raise issues about the New 52’s continuity. I was under the impression that there was a falling out between Red Robin and Batman that saw Drake temporarily retired. But in the Bat Family titles, the relationship seems to be more friendly. Does this make sense? Not really, but the thing with comic books is that continuity is shot. Utterly shot. No matter if there is a reboot, continuity is shot. Each writer determines the continuity on their book or aligns the continuity with a certain grouping of titles or fellow writers.
Remember, comic books are a long form serial with a rotating and interchangeable cast of creators. Each change unveils new directions and new continuity to pay attention to.
Personally, I agree with Grace Randolph’s assertion that a new number one, a reboot, or what not is not needed to jump in to comics (or a new series). All a new reader needs to do is jump in. And the rest attends to itself. Another take, perhaps, is to read for the narrative rather than for continuity or the world.
So, where does that leave me on the changes to Tim Drake? I want to trust Lobdell’s story direction. But I have not been in love with Teen Titans, to be honest. I’m willing to give Lobdell the benefit of the doubt. And then if it sucks, criticize him for it.