Tim Drake No Longer Robin And Other Follies In Batman’s New 52 Continuity
Scott Lobdell made quite the splash in continuity for many Robin fans last Sunday at the San Diego Comic Con. While on panel early Sunday morning for DC’s Young Justice (a unique place to have this discussion), Lobdell began sharing details on September’s upcoming zero issues. When Scott addressed the Teen Titans #0 issue, he mentioned that the comic would mainly focus on Tim Drake. It was then that he declared Tim’s origin has slightly changed, with the young Drake having now never been Robin. In a direct quote from CBR, Scott stated:
“…as it is now Tim goes straight from being Tim Drake to being Red Robin in that there was no official period of time where he was Robin. We keep most of the origin in tact in that he was one of the few people who could get very close to learning who Bruce is…but it will be a much updated version of his origin.”
Now to give a quick history of Tim Drake, the character first appeared in Batman #436 during 1989′s Batman: Year Three storyline (the same storyline that told of how Bruce Wayne first came across Dick Grayson, in his third year of being Batman). This Marv Wolfman penned tale would lead into the classic Batman storyline, A Lonely Place of Dying. In A Lonely Place of Dying Tim Drake, after discovering Bruce Wayne’s secret Identity, first dons the mantle of Robin. He is at this point, the third boy wonder, succeeding the now dead Jason Todd. For twenty years (1989-2009), Tim Drake remained Robin. In the summer of 2009, after Bruce Wayne’s death, Tim Drake once again followed in Jason Todd’s foot steps and donned the name and outfit of Red Robin (which was first worn by an alternate future Dick Grayson, in Mark Waid’s classic Kingdom Come mini-series). Tim has been known as Red Robin ever since, though has seen an extreme costume change in the rebooting of the DC Universe last fall.
Now here is the interesting part: despite a strong reboot of the DC universe into the New 52, most of the Batman universe and continuity was left unchanged. Sure there were things the Bat books had to deal with, such as the peculiar knew concept that superheroes had only been around for the past 5 years (leaving us to believe Bruce Wayne had only been Batman for very little more than 5-years, yet somehow raised Dick Grayson as Robin from a pre-teen to an adult in that time, while also raising Jason Todd and Tim Drake, and fathering a 10-year old boy that could only have been conceived after Bruce had become Batman…), but most of the old Batman continuity seemed to stick. Dick Grayson had still grown up to be Nightwing, Jason Todd was still Robin (as seen in Scott Lobdell’s Red Hood and the Outlaws, which featured flashbacks of Todd as Robin), Tim Drake was still one of Bruce’s contemporaries, and Damien was still the current Robin. Yet in almost glaring contradiction to Lobdell’s recent statement, we see several examples that prove Tim Drake as having been Robin for sometime. One of these examples was even written by Scott Lobdell himself!
So let’s start off with the main Batman title. If you’re going to discuss anything within Batman continuity, it’s safe to say that the editors are most paying attention to what is in Batman #1. Written by Scott Snyder, and edited by Mike Marts, this story from last September has a scene specifically showing all the Robins (minus Jason Todd, our Bat-family black sheep), and stating that they all in fact were Robin. I’ve highlighted Tim’s specific caption, just so you can be sure. So as you see below in panel 2 of page 16 from Batman #1, at least at the start of the New 52, Tim was a Robin at some point.
But let us go to the more glaring and confusing examples that define the tangled web of current Batman continuity in relation to Tim Drake. Written by Scott Lobdell himself and edited by Bobbie Chase, Teen Titans is the main comic for Tim Drake these days. I’d like to point out that Teen Titans and Batman share an assistant editor, Katie Kubert. At the time that both #1′s came out, everyone seemed to be doing their jobs and continuity matched up. Why can I say this? Because less than a year ago when Teen Titans #1 came out, Tim Drake was very blatantly an ex-Robin, as written by Scott Lobdell. We get our first proof positive of this when Tim Drake, in his Red Robin outfit, picks up a picture of him and Batman, where Tim is clearly wearing a Robin uniform. Though I might add, it is a little hilariously awkward that this picture exists, and I’m truly curious who it was capturing this dynamic moment for the Gotham Duo. Was Dick doing a photoshoot? Or did Tim Drake just try and pull a Peter Parker? Either way, that is undeniably Tim Drake as Robin (even wearing his late 2000′s era Robin costume) in the pages of Scott Lobdell’s Teen Titans.
But just in case you’re one of those that might argue Brett Booth is at fault for this and it was an artist mistake, there is more evidence from the same issue. While the above panels came from page 7 of Teen Titans #1, Scott did specifically state Tim was once Robin in page 10. Hilariously, Scott literally wrote “I used to be well-known as Robin, the boy wonder”.
In a final example of Tim Drake’s time as Robin still being in New 52 continuity for atleast another month, I turn to Batman & Robin. The current storyline in Batman & Robin, written by Peter J. Tomasi, involved Damien proving he is the best Robin by beating up each of the previous title holders. Damien has already called out Tim Drake, which would suggest that Tim was at some point Robin in the pages of yet another Bat titles from yet another Bat writer.
So, was Scott’s on panel comment a mistake? It was early morning on the last day of Comic Con, which could leave anyone up for errors. Or is DC further muddling up the Batman continuity in its New 52 universe? It truly is hard to tell, in a universe where we still aren’t even sure what the fate of Batgirl’s Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown are. But with September’s line of zero issues on the horizon, and promises that they will help clear up fan’s questions about continuity…here’s hoping that DC will deliver our answers rather than just raise more questions.
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