I’ve put off writing this article for a long time. It’s a tough moment, but one that has been coming for years of fits and starts.
Tim Drake will soon finally graduate from being a Robin.
This has been a very long time coming. Damian Wayne, the current Robin, debuted all the way back in 2006. It was a tough pill to swallow at the time, but I think 13 years is enough time to accept that Tim Drake isn’t Robin anymore. It didn’t help that Tim “graduated” into being “Red” Robin for those past 13 years, while reverting to just Robin again only recently (maybe?).
What can I say? Tim Drake is the best Robin and my favorite Robin. He arrived on the scene in that cool new costume just as I was really getting into comics on my own. And with a love for the character already brewing from the old TV shows and the 90s cartoons, Tim was my Robin.
I’ll be OK.
Tim’s new name is going to be “Drake”. He gets it from an alternate dimension version of himself in Young Justice #8, out this week.
Obviously it’s his last name, but a drake is a male duck, and ducks are not to be messed with (I guess? Are we sure Bendis isn’t thinking of geese?). So I suppose it’s fine. It’s still a bird name, which is OK. Batman has a lot of bird allies these days.
I will make my peace with this over time. I think that new costume is pretty ugly, all browns and grays and unnecessary lines.
It’ll be OK. The only constant is change. Hopefully this will all work out for the best.
Now if only we could get a new Robin to replace Damian…
Longtime Henchies know that I’m a big fan of Robin. He’s one of my all-time favorite superheroes. And now animated fun guy Noah Sterling has used his nifty YouTube channel to run through the history of all the Robins. Fun times!
Yeah, the history of the Robins is weird. But fundamentally, Robin is awesome. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Also, since this video was made, I think DC is retconning their retcon and Stephnie Brown did serve as Robin. It’s confusing, but important to note.
Double also, while I’m on the subject, I’m starting to wonder if my disinterest in DC Comics as a whole these days has anything to do with the lack of a fundamental Robin. The team of Batman and Robin hasn’t been a thing for a while now. Damian Wayne is, technically, the current Robin, but he hasn’t been his father’s sidekick for years. He’s off running the Teen Titans and hanging out with Superman’s son. Tim Drake has been retconned back to being Robin, but he’s also been his own man for a while, and now he’s running Young Justice. Duke Thomas became Batman’s new partner, but DC went and gave him super-powers and made him The Signal instead, and now he’s a member of the Outsiders.
So DC simply does not have a Batman and Robin team, which is really disappointing. As much as I love Robin, I mostly love him in the context of being Batman’s partner. So I dunno, I think I’m just griping. Fun video, at least.
What else do I have to look forward to this year now that Avengers: Endgame is over? Spider-Man: Far From Home? I guess. But it’s just not the same…we live in a post-Endgame world now. And this week’s comics reflected that melancholy.
I was pretty hugely disappointed in the new issues of Young Justice and The War of the Realms. Both are OK, but the first is really weird and the second remains oddly shallow. The Green Lantern has another good issue to win Comic Book of the Week, but it’s one of those experimental issues where Grant Morrison likes to use illustrated prose.
Meanwhile, we’re this close to going back to reviewing Tom King’s Batman. The nightmare storyline is over and it was all largely good! So I’m excited to see this through to the end. Double meanwhile, I finally read King’s Sheriff of Babylon, for which he has received much praise. I thought it was fine. Probably flew over my head. But it’s definitely the work of Tom King.
Comic Reviews: The Green Lantern #7, The War of the Realms #3 and Young Justice #5.
In a Little More Than 2 Years, Nearly Every Single One of My Favorite Comic Book Characters Has Been Killed
As a longtime comic book reader, I have my personal list of favorite characters. Everybody has one, right? Those characters that you love to read about and see pop up in new comics. For a lot of people, their favorite characters are big name superheroes, like Spider-Man or Batman. For me, I tend to prefer the smaller supporting characters. That’s just what happens when you read a lot of comics and are exposed to a lot of characters.
As such, when I started this blog back in 2011, one of my earliest Lists of Six was my top six favorite comic book characters of all-time. With the exception of one name, that list has remained pretty firm over the past eight years.
In the past two years and a couple months, nearly every character on that list has been killed. Several characters in my Honorable Mentions addendum have been killed. And a couple other characters I love have either been killed or nearly killed within this time frame.
I don’t…I don’t know what’s going on.
I don’t presume to think this is some sort of targeted attack on yours truly. I think this is just the unfortunate cost of loving minor comic book characters, the sorts of characters that can be chewed up and spit out as any given writer sees fit.
But damn, this has been pretty hard on the soul.
And I guess I just felt like listing them off, as if that would help me somehow. Let’s start with my favorite characters list:
Multiple Man was killed in Death of X #1 in October 2016.
He’s still dead. Multiple Man has returned to comics, replaced by one of his duplicates. And his character has been re-written as a feckless coward. So that’s some good salt in the wound.
The Mimic was killed in Extermination #5 in December 2018.
This one was really disappointing. He made a surprise appearance in Extermination after being out of comics for a few years. I knew from the moment he appeared that he probably wouldn’t survive the series, and I had to wait several months for those fears to be confirmed.
Phil Urich was killed in Amazing Spider-Man #797 in March 2018.
Phil was my favorite superhero as a kid, and the first comic I actively started collecting on my own, issue-by-issue. I endured years of him being transformed into an unrepentant villain before they finally put him out of his misery.
Tim Drake was killed in Detective Comics #940 in September 2016.
Thankfully, his death was a fake out. He survived and returned to service shortly thereafter. He’s even gone back to being just “Robin” instead of the far more ridiculous “Red Robin”. So there’s at least one happy ending in this list.
That’s it for my list of favorites. I listed “Robin” on that list as more of the concept of the character. Damian Wayne, the current Robin, is still alive…but if I’m being honest, he hasn’t really been ‘Robin’ in a long time. The concept of ‘Batman and Robin’ as a team is pretty dead. So does that count? Not to mention that Damian was killed in early 2013. So for a short while there, Robin was dead.
The Spot is also still alive, but he’s the one character I would probably take off my list of favorites. I’ve always been a big fan of the Spot, and will always be a big fan of the Spot, but there are characters I like better. Which is probably why he’s still alive.
How about some of those Honorable Mentions at the bottom of the page?
Mach X was killed in Thunderbolts #12 in April 2017.
The Scorpion was maybe killed in Venom Annual #1 in October 2018.
I’m not too sure about this one. It does appear that Venom kills the Scorpion, but then Scorpion has been showing up in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man recently. I may have to check and see if there’s an explanation.
Strong Guy was killed in Uncanny X-Men #12 in February 2019.
This is the most recent, and inspired this list. Strong Guy is Multiple Man’s best friend, and one of my favorite duos in comics. And now they’re both dead, and neither one particularly cares about the other these days. So just bleakness all around.
Avalanche was killed in Uncanny Avengers #1 in October 2012.
That happened a year after I started my blog and he’s still dead. The recent X-Men Gold comic introduced a new Avalanche, but I didn’t read it, and I’m pretty sure the character didn’t stick around. The X-Men have since ignored the new Pyro also, and he joined the X-Men towards the end of that comic. So that’s not looking good.
That’s the major list. Eight of my favorite comic book characters have been killed since I started this blog, most of them within the past two years or so. And only one of them has been properly ‘resurrected’ in that time. It’s just a little soul-crushing.
That’s not counting the time Stingray was nearly killed in a recent Avengers comic. Or the speculation that Simon Baz, my favorite Green Lantern, is probably going to be killed in Heroes in Crisis.
I don’t have any larger point to make. And I’m largely just whining. But c’mon. There’s only so much my soul can take. Is it really so wrong to have favorite comic book characters? Is there somebody specifically targeting me?
When will it stop?
All I really know is that Beta Ray Bill had better be very careful now that he’s a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s almost no way he’s going to survive that comic.
The first issue of the revived Young Justice hit the stands last week and revealed that Tim Drake is Robin again. That’s great news for us Tim Drake fans! It’s been a long, grueling road since DC Comics gunked everything up back in the New 52 in 2011. They altered his origin and declared that Tim Drake was only ever “Red Robin” for some reason. Then Rebirth came along and they changed his origin back to normal, declaring that he had been Robin in the beginning, but had since changed to Red Robin.
And now, at long last, Tim Drake resumes the mantle of Robin. He’s the best Robin, has the best Robin costumes, and he deserves the title!
I tried to Google “Brian Michael Bendis” and “Robin” to see if there were any interviews where he explained why he made Tim Drake Robin again, but I couldn’t find any. Or maybe I didn’t dig deep enough. And I haven’t seen any explanation for what this means for Damian Wayne, the current Robin. Perhaps there will be two Robins? It’s not like having a Robin and a Red Robin was all that different.
The important thing is, “Batman and Robin” matters. It’s a household team. They’re the dynamic duo. It matters that Tim Drake was and is Robin. Granted, he’s probably going to spend all of his time with Young Justice and not teaming up with Batman. But anything could happen going forward. For now, it’s just enough to be happy and excited that something is going right with my favorite comic book characters.