By the time I started reading comic books Dick Grayson was already Nightwing, and for a short period Batman during the Knightfall era, and Jason Todd was dead. So Tim Drake is the Robin I grew up reading. During his time as Robin, Tim showed that he made the superhero role his own as many argue he is the best Robin. That said, Tim has been placed in a spot in recent years where he is seemingly stuck in limbo as DC Comics has not allowed him to grow up by either moving on from being Robin to a new identity or even going to college. In the meantime, we’ve seen Damian Wayne, Duke Thomas, and many other young Batman Family members take his spot. Now with a new chance at an ongoing series, Tim can stop being the stagnant character he’s been and actually grow as a character for the first time in a decade. Let’s find out with Tim Drake: Robin #1.
Writer: Meghan Fitzmartin
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Six weeks after recovering from being shot in the throat (see Batman #125) Tim Drake has moved to a houseboat in Gotham City’s Marina. Tim goes on a date with Bernard and while eating dinner together they are invited to an upcoming cookout by Tim’s new neighbor.
After the date, Tim is on cloud nine thinking about his new relationship with Bernard and how it showed him to not settle.
Back at his houseboat, Tim runs into Darcy Thomas (a former We Are Robin initiate) and they catch up with each other.
They suddenly hear a scream. When they go check out where the scream came from Tim and Darcy find Tim’s neighbors have been killed and dumped on the street.
Later, while Detective Williams leads the GCPD in investigating the crime scene Robin (Tim Drake) and Sparrow (Darcy Thomas) show up to help with the investigation.
After analyzing the crime scene Robin realizes the clues point to an Edgar Allen Poe story called “The Murders In The Rue Morgue.” A giant orangutan made of yellow energy suddenly appears and starts attacking everyone.
Robin remembers fighting a similar energy animal with Young Justice not that long ago. Robin finds a disk that he believes is powering the energy orangutan and breaks it but it does nothing.
Realizing that this energy orangutan is part of his story Robin gives it a razor that causes the energy animal to disappear.
Later, while cleaning up his place Tim finds an odd package that has a label with a message that says “Clever work today. Until next time, Gumshoe.” End of issue
Tim Drake: Robin #1 reminds me a lot of the current Batgirls series. There is a mask of Tim Drake moving forward with his life but really it is just excuses being made for why Tim is now younger than he was the last time he starred in a series, DC Rebirth’s Detective Comics.
Much like Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad’s Batgirls series, the biggest problem that Tim Drake: Robin #1 runs into is how Meghan Fitzmartin’s writing gets in its own way. In an attempt to explain Tim’s current status quo and the world around him Fitzmartin goes overboard with the inner monologue. Going this hard to explain every little thing causes what should be organic interactions Tim has with Bernard, Darcy, and his neighbors to come across as incredibly forced.
I wish that Fitzmartin trusted us more as the reader of this comic book to understand the dynamic between characters through their interactions. The times when Fitzmartin just lets Tim interact with Bernard and Darcy are great examples of that. The actual conversations have a good flow. It’s when Fitzmartin tries to insert inner monologue during long dialogue sequences that the lack of trust that the reader understands what is going on appears. And it happens more than it ever should.
Going overboard with the writing of Tim’s inner monologue gets worse when he is working as Robin. In trying to get over how smart Tim is we instead are given a version of Tim as Robin that overthinks everything. It wasn’t enough to just have Tim go into full detective mode. We had to go around in circles just to extend the investigation.
It doesn’t help that the very first story for Tim Drake: Robin #1 requires the reader to have read two other comic books to get the full story. As a first issue, this should be the entry point for Tim as the lead Robin for the Batman Family again. The whole mystery about energy animals is so far out of left field that Fitzmartin makes you feel left out because it’s a story that requires another comic book to read ahead of time.
On a more positive note, the one thing that Fitzmartin does get right is quickly establishing Tim’s supporting cast. Both Bernard Dowd and Darcy Thomas are quickly shown to have good chemistry with Tim in different ways. For Bernard, we see that Tim is discovering what it means to be in a stable relationship. While with Darcy it is a good idea to have Tim have a partner he can work with as Robin and possibly mentor as Darcy is still new to being Sparrow. There is a lot of potential in both relationships to help Tim actually grow as a character.
Where I do hope Fitzmartin is more careful is how reliant she is becoming on putting down other characters as if they haven’t grown out of a certain point in the DCU history. We’ve seen how much of a detriment that was to the story in Dark Crisis: Young Justice. Now once again Fitzmartin feels the need to bag on who Damian Wayne was when he first appeared with the throwaway comment Tim made. The way Fitzmartin wrote it read like she has not read recent comics with Damian and only ever read his first appearance.
Not helping things is the fact that Riley Rossmo’s art style is just not a fit for Tim Drake: Robin. Rossmo’s unique art style needs to be paired with the right title and characters, as was the case when they worked on Haley Quinn. Here Rossmo’s art style just clashes with the world of Gotham City. Even Tim Drake looks completely off and wouldn’t be recognizable without his name being said. Even Tim as Robin just looks awkward at all times which takes you out of the story.
While it is great that Tim Drake finally gets his own ongoing series again Tim Drake: Robin #1 was a massive disappointment. The writing constantly gets in its own way and artwork is a bad fit for the character and world. Even the one solid aspect of this first issue, Tim’s dynamic with Bernard Dowd and Darcy Thomas, is not enough to make up for how the writing is all over the place. It all leads to a comic book that feels like a step back rather than a step forward for Tim Drake.
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10