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Red Robin

Alias: Tim Drake
Formerly: Robin

Titans Member
Joined: 
Teen Titans (third series) #1 [2003]

Related Links:  BatmanJack Drake
Nightwing (Dick Grayson)Red Hood (Jason Todd)
Batgirl II (Cassandra Cain) • Young Justice

Red Robin Quick Bio: Tim Drake learned the secret identity of Batman and petitioned to become the new Robin. At first reluctant, Batman eventually conceded and trained Tim to become the newest Boy Wonder. When Tim matured into an able young solo hero, he adopted a new identity as Red Robin.

Teen Titans File Photo:

Teen Titans Group Photo:

Archived File Photos (in chronological order):

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History


Batman Needs A Robin

Young Timothy Drake and his parents, Jack and Janet,  went to Haly’s Circus on the day that Dick Grayson’s parents were killed. Tim got his picture taken with the Flying Graysons and was anxious to see their act – especially Dick’s part in it. The young boy witnessed the Graysons’ fatal plunge and saw the Batman comforting Dick afterward.

For years, Tim was plagued by nightmares about the Graysons’ accident, until one day, the nine-year-old Tim saw a news broadcast in which a security camera filmed Batman and Robin battling the Penguin. Robin executed quadruple somersault, and Tim knew it could only be Dick Grayson doing it. Tim took his findings to their inevitable conclusion: Bruce Wayne was Batman.

Tim followed the Dynamic Duo’s careers closely. He knew when Dick became Nightwing and when Bruce Wayne adopted Jason Todd. Once again, Tim deduced that the new Robin was Jason. Tim then read of Jason’s death, which meant that Robin was dead, and noticed with alarm that Batman seemed to be going off the deep end. He photographed Batman’s sloppiness in order to prove to Dick that Batman needs a Robin.

ABOVE: Tim Drake meets Dick Grayson for the first time in NEW TITANS #60 [1989].
BELOW: Tim becomes Robin in BATMAN #442 [1989].

When Dick left the Titans for a short time in order to find himself, Tim broke into Dick’s apartment and deduced that Dick must have went to Haly’s Circus. Tim followed Dick to the scene of his parents’ death, and, after Dick wrapped up a murder mystery, convinced Dick that Batman was in trouble.

When Dick caught up with Batman, the Caped Crusader admitted that he could use some help, but Two-Face soon trapped both Nightwing and Batman. Tim, dressed as Robin and accompanied by Alfred, came to their rescue. Once Two-Face was defeated, Batman accepted Tim as the new Robin, but only on a trial basis.

Tim training begins in earnest, as detailed in SECRET ORIGINS 80-PAGE GIANT #1 [1998].

Robin Takes Flight

Jack and Janet Drake were rarely around due to their frequent business travels, leaving Tim to live at a Gotham boarding school. Consequently, Bruce Wayne made arrangements to have Tim visit him frequently, during which time the boy trained in secret under Batman’s watchful eye. While on a business trip in the Caribbean, the elder Drakes were abducted by the Obeah Man, an insane voodoo priest. Batman took a direct interest in the Drakes’ kidnapping and went to the Caribbean to free them. However, the Dark Knight was too late to save Janet, who died from the Obeah Man’s slow-acting poison. Jack nearly lost his his life as well, and was left paralyzed some time after his rescue.

Tim finally proved himself by rescuing Batman from the Scarecrow, at which point he was presented with a new, modified Robin suit and was allowed to travel to Europe to further hone his talents. There, Tim studied combat under teachers unknown even to Batman and learned certain skills that are now uniquely his.

Later, still recovering from his broken back, Bruce asked Dick to substitute for him as Batman for a time. Dick accepted. During this time, Dick established a wonderful partnership with new Robin, Tim Drake. Bruce eventually returned to Gotham to reclaim his role as Batman.

Tim’s father, Jack, recovered from his coma. He fell in love with his physical therapist, Dana Winters, and the couple eventually wed. Living with his father and step-mother. Tim found it sometimes difficult to maintain his secret identity. But juggling his personal and super-heroic life became even more complicated when he started dating the Spoiler in his Robin identity.

Tim also assisted the Teen Titans on a few occasions. He helped Atom’s team of Titans rescue the man-monster Fringe from the clutches of the Veil. He also helped train Argent following the apparent ‘death’ of Titan member Joto. Argent offered him membership in the Teen Titans, but Tim declined.

ABOVE: Young Justice forms in JLA: WORLD WITHOUT GROWN-UPS #2 [1998].
BELOW: Young Justice gels in YOUNG JUSTICE #1 [1998].

 

Reckless Youth

Robin, Superboy and Impulse later found themselves at the epicenter of the conflict in which all adults were banished from the Earth. When an ancient artifact came into the possession of Matt Stuart, the son of an oft-absent archeologist father, he discovered that it possessed a genie, and used its power to remove all grown-ups from the planet. With only children left behind, chaos ensued and it was up to the junior heroes Robin, Superboy, and Impulse to restore order.

Following this adventure, the threesome decided to remain together as a team. Adopting the JLA’s “Secret Sanctuary” in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island as their de facto headquarters, the team acquired the name Young Justice and quicked welcomed Wonder Girl, Arrowette and Secret  into their ranks. Robin initially concealed his secret identity from his teammates, but later trusted them enough to share his personal life.

ABOVE: Robin helps Superboy deal with his true lineage in TEEN TITANS (third series) #5 [2003].
BELOW: The next generation of Teen Titans, as depicted in TEEN TITANS (third series) #21 [2005].

Teen Titans

A conglomerate known as Optitron offered to sponsor the Titans and Young Justice after summoning them to San Francisco. Before any decisions could be made, a mysterious cybernetic girl known as Indigo emerged from the future. Unwittingly, she somehow activated a rogue Superman android, resulting in the apparent deaths of Troia and Omen. At Troia’s funeral, Nightwing disbanded the Titans.

Meanwhile, members of Young Justice felt responsible for the tragic deaths. This led Wonder Girl, Robin, Impulse and Superboy to form a new group of Teen Titans under the guidance of the more experienced Cyborg, Starfire and Beast Boy.

Tim feels guilty lying to his father, as shown in TEEN TITANS (third series) #8 [2004].

With the loss of his wife still a fresh memory, Jack Drake became highly protective of Tim – particularly in light of his son’s frequent absences. The situation escalated when Robin joined the Teen Titans, forcing Tim to concoct a cover story where he claimed to attend a Engineering Vocational School on weekends. Jack began to doubt his sons claims, leading him to ransack Tim’s room and discover his hidden Robin costume. A furious Jack deduced Bruce Wayne was Batman and confronted him with  a gun. Tensions eased when Tim arrived to intervene, explaining to his father that he was never coerced to become Robin. Not wishing to cause his father further pain, Tim agreed to relinquish his Robin identity.

The situation was short-lived, however, when a massive gang war erupted in Gotham. The war seemingly claimed the life of Tim’s girlfriend, Stephanie Brown, who has assumed the Robin mantle in his absence. Tim felt compelled to resume his Robin identity, a decision that Jack came to understand and respect.

But just as Jack came to terms with his son’s life as a super-hero, he was killed by Captain Boomerang during the murder mystery surrounding the death of Sue Dibny. The orphaned Tim Drake was later adopted by Bruce Wayne.

Tim Drake discovers his father’s murder scene in IDENTITY CRISIS #6 [2005].

Compounding the deaths of  Jack Drake and Stephanie Brown, Tim lost his best friend when Superboy was seemingly killed by the vengeful Superboy-Prime. This led Tim to obsessively attempt to resurrect his fallen teammate by re-cloning the Teen of Steel.  The experiments failed, but the grieving hero found comfort in the arms of Superboy’s girlfriend, Wonder Girl. The young couple’s guilt , however, put a fast end to the relationship. Superboy eventually returned with the help of 31st century super-science, reuniting Robin with his best friend.

Robin was also overjoyed to discover Stephanie Brown’s purported death was faked by Dr. Leslie Thompkins in an attempt to protect the novice hero. Stephanie returned to Gotham as Spoiler, and later evolved into a more capable crime-fighter as Batgirl.

ABOVE: Tim as Red Robin, from TEEN TITANS #93 [2010].
BELOW: It’s Titans Together in TEEN TITANS #93 [2010].

Red Robin

When Bruce Wayne was seemingly slain during the so-called Final Crisis, Dick Grayson assumed the mantle of the bat in honor of his fallen mentor. Taking on Wayne’s reckless son, Damien, as his new Robin, Grayson has taken to the streets of Gotham as Batman to ensure the legacy of the Dark Knight. Tim, still convinced that Bruce was alive, assumed the identity of Red Robin and made it his mission to locate his adopted father.

Batman’s proteges later discovered Bruce Wayne was still alive and lost in the timestream. Once rescued and returned to the present, Wayne established a worldwide network of Caped Crusaders known as Batman, Inc. and accepted Damien as his new Robin. With that, Tim decided to retain his Red Robin persona and eventually rejoined his friends as a member of the Teen Titans.


Powers & Abilities


Robin is a superb crime-fighter, trained in martial arts and acrobatics. His other talents include detective work, computer science, healing skills, and analytical thinking. His costume, fireproof and bulletproof, contains numerous weapons that help him in his fight against crime, the most notable of which are his sling and his collapsible staff.

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Essential Reading


New Titans #60-61, Batman #440-442 [1989]: ”A Lonely Place of Dying” Speedy rejoins the group at Nightwing’s request; Timothy Drake helps Batman and Nightwing defeat Two-Face, and Batman soon agrees to let Timothy become the new Robin. First appearance and origin of Tim Drake Robin. 
Detective Comics #618-621 [1990]: 
“Rite of Passage” storyline, focusing on Tim Drake. The Obeah Man kidnaps Jack and Janet Drake and poisons them. Jack Drake falls into a coma while Janet Drake dies.
Batman #457 [1990]: First “official” Tim as Robin appearance, as Tim Drake defeats the Scarecrow and dons his own unique Robin costume.
Robin #99-100 [2003]: Tim Drake leaves the prestigious Brentwood  Academy when his father has a financial setback.
Teen Titans #1 [2003]: What do teenage super-heroes do on the weekends? They hang with the Teen Titans! The invitations go out to a handful of reluctant heroes: Superboy, Robin, Impulse and Wonder Girl. Walk into the new Titans Tower with Cyborg and Starfire as they gather together the next generation of Titans. First Robin III as a Teen Titan.
Teen Titans #8 [2004]: Who is Raven? The Teen Titans get a crash course on this mysterious former Titan, and what her reappearance could mean. Tim feels guilty about lying to his father concerning his Teen Titans activities.
Robin #124-125 [2005]:  Jack Drake deduces that Tim is actually Robin and confronts Bruce Wayne with a gun. Shocked and angered at Tim’s betrayal and Bruce’s purported manipulations, Jack demands that Tim give up as Robin. A distraught Tim complies.
Identity Crisis #5-6 [2005]:  Jack Drake and Captain Boomerang are victims of a double-bind trap, which claims both their lives.
Teen Titans #20 [2005]: Robin continues to cope with the loss of his father while the Teen Titans are asked to track down one loose end from Identity Crisis: the armor of Lex Luthor.
Teen Titans #34-37 [2006]: One Year Later, it’s Part 1 of “The New Teen Titans!” A new year of exciting adventures begins with the “new” Teen Titans and the bizarre Doom Patrol. Tim Drake is obsessed with re-cloning Superboy, and shares an unexpected kiss with Wonder Girl.
Teen Titans #92-93 [2011]: The Teen Titans take down the Calculator’s latest scheme involving robot duplicates. Red Robin rejoins the Teen Titans.

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A 2004 Robin commission by Pete Woods.

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 Boy Wondering


Fifty years after the original first appeared, a new Robin takes flight.
An article from Comics Scene Magazine #17 [1991]
by Daniel Dickholtz

As Tim Drake has discovered, enthusiasm and a flimsy, garish outfit aren’t enough to transform an energetic child into a suitable squire for the Dark Knight. But given the ever-increasing viciousness of Gotham’s criminals, to say nothing of the still-fresh memory of Jason Todd’s death, it isn’t surprising that Batman plans not to repeat past mistakes. Instead, he prefers that others provide the newest Robin with a more effective costume and more thorough training.

Designed by Neal Adams, who had earlier created the outfit the Dick Grayson of Earth-2 ultimately wore, Tim Drake’s uniform features a camouflage-oriented cloak, a Kevlar vest and an assortment of compartments filled with weapons, food and electronic hardware. But while it’s certainly now geared towards keeping its wearer alive, there was a more basic reason for deviating from the brightly-hued suit worn by Robins past, according to Denny O’Neil, editor of the Batman titles.

“It was a very dated costume” he explains. “We thought we could make it a little more modern, a little classier maybe, a little more appropriate to a teenager than to a little kid. Also, we did want an excuse to put the hi-tech stuff in. This is the age of computers, after all.

“One of the problems with the old costume was that it wasn’t really very practical for a dark, night character. One of Neal’s inspirations was the reversible cape so you preserve the bright Robin motif, and yet, there’s a certain logic to being able to cover up. And hell, school kids wear bulletproof vests these days. It seems to me that if I were in any kind of crime-fighting business, I would certainly want to do that. As for computer links, I really don’t know what they are, but Elliot Brown, who did
the technology part of this, assures us that they would work. I’m perfectly willing to take his word for it.”

The new Robin costume will soon be seen on action figures, lunch boxes and other products in stores across the country as well as, DC hopes, on movie screens in Batman II. After all, with all its protective gear and built-in equipment, this battle-ready Robin appears to have taken his cue from the film’s heavily armored Batman.

“I don’t know if it [the costume] was influenced [by the movie’s],” says O’Neil, “but that probably played some part in the designer’s thinking. We got about 15 different designs, and we, I swear, Scout’s honor, liked this one the best. We sent them out to [Batman director] Tim Burton, and this was the one he liked best. So, it was a real consensus that this is the one we ought to go with. Some of the others were interesting, but we wanted to preserve the traditional Robin look and yet update it.”

The updated Robin costume by Neal Adams.

However, a reputation built up by others over a half-century was not something Tim Drake needed to inherit and so, given the task of furthering the latest Robin’s training, writer Chuck Dixon, along with penciler Tom Lyle and inker Bob Smith, devised a five-issue “Trial” to make a man out of the Boy Wonder.

“No matter who Robin is, he’s generally considered just a sidekick,” Dixon reasons, “and I thought it would be challenging to deal with a sidekick as a primary character in a mini-series. And everybody seemed to have disliked Robin II so much that it was also a challenge to make a Robin people would like. Alan Grant had laid some great groundwork in Detective for Tim Drake to be a really neat character, and as I talked to Denny O’Neil and Dan Raspier, I got even more interested in the direction they wanted the mini-series to take, a coming-of-age story with lots of fistfights.

“Tim Drake has a lot, of self-doubt whether or not he can fill Robin’s shoes, whether he could be a competent sidekick for Batman.

“He’s not overconfident, which was obviously the problem with the previous Robin. He’s not full of the wisecracks, although a transformation comes over him when he puts the costume on. He’s pretty much a loner, which makes him match up with Batman. I always said Dick Grayson was much more sociable than Tim Drake. I mean, Dick Grayson, as they put him in college, was kind of hip. I don’t think Tim Drake will ever be kind of hip. He’s brainy, into computers, into books. He’s like a really super-athletic nerd in many ways.

And just as his mentor once set off around the globe to complete his crime-fighting education, so too does the young hero take his leave of the United States to add to his own. “It was John Lennon who said, ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,’ ” Dixon recalls. “Robin plans to go to Paris to hone his martial arts skill and gain some confidence. And he never gets there. He begins to learn with the old master, that doesn’t work out, and he immediately finds himself involved in a world-spanning conspiracy run by a knighted English nobleman who’s also King Snake, dreaded Asian underworld figure. He becomes involved with a renegade Drug Enforcement Agency agent and Lady Shiva, and the three of them travel from France to Hong Kong, battling the King Snake and his hench-person Lynx, who I hope will be Robin’s female nemesis, his Catwoman, along the way.”

In the end, though, it matters little whether Tim Drake will be able to capture King Snake. It is the wandering attentions of readers he will have to arrest, and to Batman fans who’ve long taken his role for granted, he will need to prove that he is capable of supporting both his own title for a brief time and their interest over what DC would like to be many long years.

“I really think he can,” says Chuck Dixon. “Robin had a run in Star-Spangled Comics back in the early ’50s, and they were some really good stories, better than the Batman stories at the time. Robin as a character, and this Robin in particular, I think he’s strong enough. Readers will get a kick out of him. He’s no Hardy Boy.”

“We tried to build Tim Drake carefully from the ground up to make him likable and, within the confines of our art form, believable. We have a gut feeling that you get when you’ve been doing it for 25 years that he will be popular and that we’ll probably do other mini-series,” remarks Denny ONeil. “I think he’ll certainly be more popular than Jason.

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A Robin commission by Mike McKone.

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 Teen Titans and Robin


2003: Titans Together
[from “DC Comics Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle”]

The Teen Titans had been one of DC’s most popular teams of the 1980s, and while some successive series had been well-received, none had reached the heights of the Marv Wolfman and George Pérez era until writer Geoff Johns and artist Mike McKone’s relaunch.

Following the events of Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day, Cyborg and Starfire decided to form a new team of Teen Titans to train the next generation of heroes. The team was partly made up of former members of Young Justice: Superboy (Conner Kent), Robin (Tim Drake), Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark), and Impulse (who renamed himself Kid Flash shortly after joining). The new line-up was completed with Beast Boy and the subsequent return of Raven.

The first story arc, “Child’s Play,” put the new team through their paces as their old for Deathstroke set out to kill them. The team soon learned that Deathstroke was being possessed by his son, Jericho, and old Titan long thought dead. Jericho was insane and wanted to stop the team from reforming, hoping to prevent more deaths like his own. The series succeeded in pleasing fans of all eras with its mix of old and new characters to the foreground, making the reader feel empathy toward the teenage heroes. It wasn’t long before the Teen Titans was one of DC’s best-selling titles again.

The next generation of Teen Titans by Mike McKone.

Geoff Johns on Robin
[from Titans Companion 2, by TwoMorrows Publishing – 2008]

TTC: Now, your Titans contained a mix of old and new Titans. What sort of dynamic were you shooting for there?

GJ: Well, I looked at the original – what George and Marv did – and they had a reverse pardigm, kind of. They had the old standbys – Wonder Girl, Robin, and Kid Flash – and then they brought in the new characters Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy, who was established already as a Doom Patrol sidekick, and they made him Changeling.

And from that, I kind of saw it as, “If this is the next generation, Nightwing, Donna and Flash had already gone off on their way, and we want to make this the Teen Titans,” so I would bring in Cyborg, Starfire, and Beast Boy as the old guard, and the new guard would be Superboy, Robin, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash.

[…]

TTC: By this point in the Titans, events over in Robin’s own title caught up with you, where he quit being Robin.

GJ: Oh, yeah, I remember that. They told me that there was going to be a new Robin – Stephanie Brown was going to be Robin for, like, two months – and so could I not use Robin for two months? And I said, “Sure,” so the next storyline, the “Beast Boys and Girls,” I just decided not to use Robin. But the same time, if Robin wasn’t around, I wanted one of our Titans to go looking for him, and of course, that would have to be Superboy.

TTC: Did you see that as an opportunity to further explore the friendship between those two characters?

GJ: Yes, I did.

TTC: Did you ever feel handcuffed in any way while writing Robin? Because he was the only one who still had his own book outside of the Titans.

GJ: No, I really liked the character. Robin’s a great character the way he is. I didn’t want to do anything to him that would require a change in the monthly. I wasn’t going to kill him, and he wasn’t going to put on a different costume, so I never felt like I was hindered. I really felt free writing Robin. I love writing Robin.


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A Robin commission by Freddie Williams III.


 Creators On Tim Drake


Dennis O’Neil, Editor on Batman Titles: So our problem became: how to create Robin Ill without generating the hostility that plagued poor Jason. Dick Grayson was the answer. If, as we thought, readers felt Jason had somehow usurped Dick’s place, then we should link the new Robin to Dick – give Robin his predecessor’s stamp of approval. One writer had done almost all of the Dick Grayson material DC had published for a decade: Marv Wolfman, co-creator (with George Pérez) of the New Teen Titans.”

“That made Marv the first, and really only, choice to undertake the task of giving Batman a new helper. And if we were using Marv, why not have some of the story happen in the pages of THE NEW TITANS, which he was already writing, and thus be able to take advantage of the very considerable talents of Marv’s collaborator on the Titans, George Pérez? George volunteered to co-plot the story with Marv and do layouts on the TiTANS episodes, and editor Mike Carlin enlisted Tom Grummett and Bob McLeod to complete George’s graphics work. I asked the regular BATMAN artists, Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo, to handle the BATMAN issues. Finally, we chose a name for Robin III – Tim Drake – and, after a couple of editorial conferences, six gifted gentlemen retired to do what they do best.”

Chuck Dixon, Writer on Robin: One “family” relationship that remains healthy is that between Dick and his successor as Robin, Tim Drake, whom Dick has befriended in almost a brotherly manner. “His relationship with Tim is like older brother and younger brother,” says Dixon. “That was really apparent when Dick filled in as Batman. I really like that relationship.”

Geoff Johns, Writer on Teen Titans: “Trained by Batman, he is an urban vigilante detective. Tim Drake is not what he appears. He’s not what you think. And he’s not Batman Junior. He’s better. He’s a helluva lot better. This kid is more adjusted than Bruce Wayne will ever be. He’s more realistic, he’s more down to Earth, and he’s better at dealing with people. However, that doesn’t mean he’s the straight-laced kid that gets all ‘A’s’ and always says ‘Thank you.’ He’s not perfect. He has a sly smile, makes you wonder what the hell he’s thinking. He can stay quiet, he can play the role of ‘the good kid’ but he has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. Robin has slowly become something entirely different than I was expecting — and I couldn’t be happier with that.”

 


Sources for this entry: DC Who’s Who Binder Series, DC Universe Role-Playing Games: Sourcebooks and Manuals [ West End Games], DC Secret Files, supplemented by titanstower.com


End of titanstower.com transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind titanstower.com. He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author