My 6 Favorite Tim Drake Moments
To take a page out of the latest issue of Teen Titans, we have come here to honor the fallen Tim Drake. Last week saw Tim suffer through one of the biggest moments of his comic book career, and certainly the biggest, most impactful moment for him in years. To that end, I’ve decided to spend this week celebrating my favorite moments in the history of my favorite Robin.
Tim Drake is one of my all-time favorite comic book characters, in large part because he is the best Robin. That is indisputable. All the various Robins have strong character qualities, but Tim is specifically best at being Robin, at being Batman’s partner in crime-fighting. That is what makes him special and unique. And that is what I hope we will see more of going forward.
Tim Drake is not dead. But now is the best time to reflect on my six favorite Tim Drake moments and stories in comics!
6. Robin lies to Batman
This is a small moment, but it solidified my love of Tim Drake, the Teen Titans and Geoff Johns as a writer at a time when I was just beginning to expand my interest in comics. Once upon a time, I only read Marvel Comics. But once I was in college and had more expendable income, I started branching out into DC, specifically through the Robin solo series. When they announced that Tim would star in a new, rebooted Teen Titans by Johns, I decided to check it out and it quickly became one of my favorite comics.
Let me set the scene: after Young Justice came to an end, some superheroes got together and decided to revive the Teen Titans as a mentor program. Team veterans Cyborg, Starfire and Beast Boy got together to help train Robin, Superboy, Wonder Girl and Impulse. In the very first storyline, there’s trouble downtown (I think it was Deathstroke), and the adult heroes told the teens to stay at HQ while they went to handle it. Superboy and Wonder Girl were livid, but Tim deferred to the wisdom of the adults and said he would stay indoors and try to help from there.
Once the adults were gone, Robin silently went to the nearest window, ignoring the taunts and groans from his friends. When they finally asked him why he was cutting through the window, Tim explained that they were going to break out and join the fight. The others were quite surprised that Tim would lie to the adult heroes…leading to that all-time classic line, “I lie to Batman.”
5. Tim Drake gets involved in War Games
This is an even smaller moment, but it was one that really jazzed me up back in the day. Sad to say, I have not read the entirety of Tim’s solo Robin series. Like I said before, I only got into it towards the end, only a few years away from his transition to Red Robin. But I was definitely here for this, and it was exciting.
Basically, Tim had given up being Robin after his father found out about it. He promised his dad he would lead a normal life, go to high school and all that good stuff. In the interim, his ex-girlfriend Stephanie Brown became the new Robin, only to be fired by Batman a short time later. In the aftermath, Stephanie launched the War Games, pitting the various gangs of Gotham City against each other.
When the gang war reached Tim’s high school, he couldn’t sit by the sidelines any longer.
The cool efficiency of the moment was just fantastic, and exactly what I wanted to see in terms of Tim stepping up and being a hero again. This quickly led to him once again becoming Robin, and for that, I was thrilled. The entire issue was a lot of fun as Tim took charge and held off the gangs as best he could.
4. Robin goes International; Trains with Lady Shiva
Back when Tim Drake first became Robin, DC gave him a couple of solo mini-series to test the waters for an ongoing. I wasn’t reading comics back then, so I missed out on their initial release. But once I found the trade paperbacks and devoured page after page, they became some of my favorite comic book stories of all time. This story was the first mini-series, about Tim Drake going on an international journey to complete his Robin training, same way Bruce Wayne did to become Batman.
There are a lot of great moments throughout the story. Tim trains from an ancient martial arts healing master in Paris, gets involved with some dastardly gangs, and then teams up with Lady Shiva and a random dude named Clyde Rawlins in order to stop the international criminal King Snake from unleashing a deadly toxin. It’s crazy, but it’s also amazing.
As are the scenes where Lady Shiva, arguably one of the greatest fighters in the DC Universe, decides to give Robin a few training lessons. She gives him his signature bo staff as a present, and Tim uses it to prove his skill against her.
It’s a great scene, and I wish there were more Robin/Shiva stories out there. It’s an interesting team-up. The whole storyline is great, and ends with Robin facing off against the legendary King Snake all on his lonesome, leading to another great Tim Drake moment. It’s comics like these that make all the difference in the world.
3. Robin earns a sweet new costume
My earliest memory of Tim Drake is discovering the new Robin costume at one of those old Warner Bros. stores, the ones that tried to compete with the popular Disney stores. I was already a fan of Robin thanks to the 60s Batman TV show and what few comics I had read, but suddenly Robin had a really cool new costume — and it remains one of the coolest costume redesigns of all time. In that moment, Robin became cool, and that is a big moment.
It wouldn’t be until years later that I actually got to read the stories of how Tim Drake became Robin. He put himself out there to help Batman, while doing his best not to tarnish the memory of Jason Todd, the Robin before him. They’re cool stories, though not the best Tim Drake stories ever. But that moment, where he reveals his cool new 90s costume, was pretty great.
2. Tim Drake saves Bruce Wayne from Grant Morrison
This one is a little sad because it comes at the end of Tim Drake’s career as Batman’s partner, but it was still quite rewarding. When legendary writer Grant Morrison took over Batman comics, he made a lot of changes, the biggest of which was introducing Damian Wayne and setting everything up to make Damian the new Robin. I don’t think that was his initial plan, but that’s where everything went in the long run, and he had a hand in it. I like a lot of Morrison’s Batman comics. The story where Tim and Batman join the International Club of Batmen on that freaky murder island is one of my favorite Morrison stories.
Morrison showed a lot of respect to Tim, and I always liked that. One moment that almost made this list was in Morrison’s big Batman R.I.P. finale, in which the villainous Black Glove group set about tearing down Bruce Wayne’s life. They sent agents after Robin, but Tim Drake easily escaped and outclassed the lot of them. It was more of a minor subplot, but it was still fun for this Robin fan.
Besting that moment, though, is the one where it’s Tim Drake who is finally able to bring Bruce Wayne home from being ‘dead’. Basically, Bruce was shunted back through time and went through a whole, crazy Morrison adventure. He returns to the present infected with some kind of insane future robot and he goes up against the Justice League. Out of all the heroes there, it’s Tim Drake who steps up and reminds Bruce who he is and why he needs to come back. Tim’s final act as Batman’s partner is to save his mentor from proverbial death, and it’s just darn cool.
1. Robin beats the Joker on his lonesome
Possibly the greatest Tim Drake/Robin story was written early in his career: the one where he goes head-to-head with the Joker. Like I mentioned before, DC released a couple of short mini-series about Tim Drake in the build up to his solo adventure. One of those was Robin: The Joker’s Wild. It tells the story of Tim’s first time patrolling Gotham City alone after Batman is called out of the country on business. During that time, the Joker breaks out of Arkham Asylum, and it’s up to Robin to stop him — this story also features the first meeting between the Joker and the new Robin after he killed the last one. Chilling stuff.
The story is great from beginning to end. Writer Chuck Dixon really taps into the heart of Tim Drake as a character. The story is as much about Tim as a person as it is about the Robin vs. Joker. It has Tim in high school, Tim playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends, Tim talking things out with Alfred, Tim putting on a brave face for Commissioner Gordon, and Tim thinking through the Joker’s evil plan and putting together his own plan to stop it.
This is an amazing comic, and probably the story that solidified my love of both Robin and Tim Drake. I read the trade paperback early in my comic loving career, and I still go back and check it out every now and then. The character is just so cool in this comic, so human and heroic in equal measure. And it’s filled to the brim with great Robin and Tim Drake moments. I can’t pick just one.
Maybe the part where he beats the Joker on his own, without Batman’s help!