When DC launched the New 52 company-wide reboot, many characters were completely revamped for a new era. Some of these changes ended up being well-received, like Wallace West. But other characters were changed so subtly that, even though they ended up as entirely new characters, no one noticed. This is exactly what happened to the iconic Robin Tim Drake.
In DC’s post-Crisis continuity, Tim Drake was the third Robin — after Dick Grayson and Jason Todd. But how Tim entered the role set him apart from the other two in a big way. Tim wasn’t an orphan and wasn’t found by Batman; he sought Batman out first. After the death of Jason Todd, Batman was in a dark place, becoming significantly more brutal towards the criminals he fought and getting lost in his own darkness. Tim Drake saw this and wanted to help. He first asked Nightwing to return to the role of Robin, but, after Dick refused, Tim took the role for himself. Tim taking on the mantle of Robin was one of the major events in Batman’s life that helped him heal after Jason’s death. But when the New 52 came into effect, Tim wasn’t just changed, he was outright replaced.
Who Is the New 52’s Tim Drake?
Readers are introduced to this new character in Teen Titans #0 by Scott Lobdell, Tyler Kirkham, Matt Banning, Jon Sibal, Norm Rapmund, Andrew Dalhouse, and Dezi Sienty. This issue details the history of the New 52’s version of Tim Drake, including how (and why) he came to be Batman’s new Robin. Tim Drake is one of Batman’s best Robins, but the New 52 fundamentally changed their relationship. Instead of Tim seeking Batman out to save him from his own growing darkness, Tim simply wanted to be the best at everything. He was an Olympic-level athlete with a genius IQ. He approached Batman to be his Robin, and, when he was rejected, he decided to rob the Penguin to get Batman’s attention. This robbery put Tim’s family in the line of fire, forcing his parents to go into witness protection and Tim to change his name to Timothy Drake.
Pre-Flashpoint Tim Drake was a nerdy kid who wanted to help save the world. He admired Batman and Dick Grayson, and, when he saw Batman falling into darkness, he wanted to do what he could to save him. Two of the most important moments in Tim’s life were the deaths of his parents, which came only after he started acting as Robin. In fact, a major component of Tim’s character throughout the ’90s and ’00s was having to juggle his family and social life along with his responsibilities as Robin, which was something no other Bat-Family member had to deal with. For better or for worse, the New 52 got rid of these defining characteristics.
Batman Takes in a New Version of “Tim Drake”
As of Teen Titans #0, Tim had a different motivation for becoming Robin, a different backstory, and a different skill set. Essentially, he was a different character, which is why DC’s Rebirth slowly reset Tim to who he was before Flashpoint. When a character’s backstory, motivations, and skills are completely changed, then it’s fair to say they aren’t really the same character anymore. Tim Drake’s introduction to the Batman mythos was a pivotal moment in Batman’s history, and, by changing all of it, the New 52 version of Robin Tim Drake isn’t really the original character anymore — he’s just some guy named Tim.
Check out Teen Titans #0, available now from DC Comics!