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“Oops!” and Tim Drake’s Robin Past

As new content editor here at, I thought long and hard about what my first post should be.

Then I remembered one statement from Scott Lobdell at the “Young Justice” Panel at SDCC 2012 that really got some fans pretty riled up:

“…as near as I recall, as it is now Tim goes straight from being Tim Drake to being Red Robin in that there was no official period of time where he was Robin. We keep most of the origin intact in that he was one of the few people who could get very close to learning who Bruce is…but it will be a much updated version of his origin.”

So it appears Tim was never Robin, and only assumed the Red Robin identity. This runs contrary to Tim’s long-standing history, and even to some references made less than  a year ago in the DCnU.

However, this isn’t the first time that DC has done the “Oops! I didn’t say that!” or say something and then later need to retract it.  However Tim Drake’s news is a bit unique in some regards. Here, the same writer that is asserting Tim Drake was never Robin also established Tim was indeed Robin… Let’s go to the evidence from the comic books themselves…

Teen Titans #1:”I used to be well-known as Robin”

Batman #1: Tim Drake “former Robin”

Even more recently in Batman and Robin #10 & #11, the “War of the Robins”, Tim Drake is considered a Robin.

Yes, the reality-altering “Flashpoint” storyline reset the DC history for the most part.

However, time master Rip Hunter established in the Booster Gold series that some events in history and time cannot be changed.  I think some of Tim’s past in the former history is the same.  His connection to Wonder Girl is still there, there are reasons why Bart and Conner are with him in Teen Titans, and even his connection to the Batman family is still there.

But longtime Batman fans will recall two seminal storylines in regards to the history of the Robins. “A Death in the Family” [1988] brought about the brutal slaying of second Robin, Jason Todd, at the hands of the Joker – while “A Lonely Place of Dying” [1991] introduced readers to new Robin, Tim Drake. With DC Comic’s official site now referencing Jason Todd as “presumed dead,” readers are left to wonder if the events of these previous stories remain intact. Same with Tim Drake’s origin. Does “A Lonely Place of Dying” still “happen” in this streamlined continuity? When Tim stands at the side of Jean Paul Valley during his Batman tenure, is it as Robin or Red Robin? What about Jack Drake? Could Tim’s father still be alive if Tim was never Robin in “Identify Crisis”? Also, how did Tim get the design of the Red Robin costume? Could there have been another Red Robin previous to Tim’s tenure?”

Other avid fans may remember the DC New 52 FAQ, where the question came up of the multiple Robins all fitting into the new “5 year timeline”. Answered: “Robin is an intern program -and a very intensive one at that.” DC posted a picture of this:

This revelation may be the next step to help DC answer their own question on how Dick, Jason, Tim and Damien could all be Robins in 5-10 years. However, given Damian’s age (10 years old) and now with Tim “not being a Robin officially”, there may have been a longer time that Batman was not with a Robin.  It also opens another confusing door as “Batman: Year One” still exists….  yet when was Damian conceived if he is now ten years old and Talia the boy’s mother?

Maybe it is another “Oops! We did it again!” slip from DC as DC did say the Batman Universe was not going to change that much in the DCnU. However,  a year later, it seems we’ve got some updates on various Batman character histories.  Time and maybe Teen Titans #0 in September will fill in some gaps.

Like sands thru the hourglass, only DC can let us know what the days of Tim Drake’s past looks like now.

Until the next “Oops!,” that is.

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    • avatar

      Hey Mik, we referenced you in the second sentence of this post with a link, didja see? I thought your article articulated various complaints I’ve gleaned from message boards and Facebook posts.

      I will add, though, that many of these decisions are likely made above Scott Lobdell. Clearly, there was not an airtight timeline established previous to the launch of the New 52, so there’s bound to be blips in continuity references.

      • avatar

        Thank you! I really do appreciate the link to my blog, and somehow I missed that before when I read your post. Your link was posted to the comments section of my blog so I figured I’d do the same here since the articles are related.

        I certainly agree with what you are saying as I’m sure decisions like Tim being (or not being) Robin are up to the editors and I hope I articulated properly in my post. But I took the way Lobdell phrased his responses as him either not knowing what editorials final decision was or that he just wasn’t paying attention.

  1. tamaranorbust

    The retcon of Tim is bad. But isn’t Lobdell’s more significant remark his comment about Red Robin’s Titans being the first and only Titans team? He has confirmed, contrary to DC’s early remarks that they are erasing the Titans’ whole continuity?

    • avatar

      YES, and that will be the subject of my next commentary post….! :)

  2. tamaranorbust

    Ok – after today’s events, I believe Didio era editorial decisions to emphasize violence, gore, mass hero deaths, heroes killing villains might be – or should be – questioned.

    Violence and gore and sex are valid themes in comics, as are really edgy stories. That’s all fair game. But the Titans used to be the primary title to provide an alternative. Not all heroes, post DKR and Watchmen, needed to go psycho, become murderous or vengeful, or turn into anti-heroes.

    The Titans’ type of non-grimdark heroism – an alternative to the crossover hyperviolence of the Didio era – is very important. I think that the Titans as legacy characters can’t be written like A-listers, so their stories are the focus of deep characterization: how heroes are challenged; how they can fail; but how they can overcome loss; mistakes; how they can grow because no matter what happens they help each other.

    It is really, really serious if Didio-era DC erases the Titansverse, leaving it simply a teen branding shell (with YJ characters retconned to have no real connection to mentors – in other words, erasing the whole concept of DC legacies) with a bit of violence and random T’n’A. It took nearly five decades to give these characters real weight ans substance. To wipe that away shows that TPTB do not understand their product or what really matters in comics.

  3. avatar

    I swear, its almost like DC is trying to destroy itself from the inside out. I mean, one of the big reasons that DC wanted to do the New 52, was because of how the continuity of the previous DCU was too complicated and confusing for new readers to jump on. Okay, fine. I don’t believe that was the case, but I can understand wanting to simplify things after so many decades of stories.

    However, as both an old reader of the old continuity and a new reader of the new continuity, I can safely say “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON ANYMORE.” DC keeps changing the history of the new continuity mid-way. They keep claiming old stories exist, but remove massively important elements and characters from those stories, calling into question how any of that happened. They keep saying one thing about a character, and then immediately contradict it.

    When friends ask me what comics are worth reading, none of my recommendations are in regards to the new DCU. Its either old trades, or Marvel books. Seriously, if someone who has been reading these comics for the last 25 years and knew the continuity foreward and backwards is completely confused by the stories, what chance does a new reader have of understanding anything?