Despite the fact that they all run around in silly costumes, some caped characters get more respect than others. If you say you’re a Batman fan, even his harshest geek critics won’t make fun of you, at least to your face. But saying that Robin is one of your favorites leads to snickering and the occasional joke about inappropriate pixie boot fetishes.
Um, ew. And whatever. Tim Drake Wayne —Robin III and the current Red Robin — is my ace, and I’m totally OK with that.
As far as I’m concerned, Tim is one of the coolest teen heroes this side of Ultimate Universe Peter Parker. Unlike his predecessors, or even his successor, Damian, Tim wanted the Robin job, and he earned it through sheer tenacity and top-notch detective work. Even Batman had to give the boy his props, which is not exactly easy for him. Until his real father was killed in Identity Crisis, Tim had a somewhat normal home life, something all but nonexistent in the Bat Universe. I’m still upset about that plot development, but I don’t have Brad Meltzer’s telephone number.
Anyway, it was Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans run that really made me a Tim Drake fan. Guarded but thoroughly badass, Tim emerged as a natural leader in a group of occasionally whiny, me-so-angsty teens. He stood out by simply not being annoying, but he also put to those pixie boot jokes to rest. Tim went toe-to-toe with Deathstroke (Slade Wilson), sliced him with a custom “R” shuriken, and then talked a little smack:
Tim: “When I have to be.”
While sneaking out of Titans Tower against Starfire’s orders, he put that whole sidekick thing in perspective.
Cassie Sandsmark (Wonder Girl): “Wait a second. You just lied to Starfire?”
Tim: “I lie to Batman.”
But my favorite Tim moment was in an exchange with his best friend, Superboy (Conner Kent). Sensitive about being a Superman/Lex Luthor mashup, Conner accused Tim of being “just like Batman” when he secretly took a piece of his hair for lab testing. Eventually, Conner had to eat those words, admitting, “I was wrong. You’re nothing like Batman.”
Tim: “I’m nothing like anybody.”
Damn straight. My friend Shag teases me about being the only person on Earth who’s reading Red Robin, but the naysayers are missing a truly interesting story about a likable hero — one who has been trained by the best, but gets things done his way. My daughter pointed out that Tim resembles Joe Jonas, which, from her point of view, is awesome.
Even in a ridiculous story (I’m looking at you, Battle for the Cowl), no one on the corner has swagger like Tim. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.