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Ken’s Comic Ramblings #19: A Case for Queer Tim Drake

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The last few years have sucked royally as a Tim Drake fan.

Is that a bit hyperbolic? Maybe when I can count on one hand the amount of scenes with the character that didn’t feel like shoving that hand into a combine harvester since 2011 and the ever more prevalent thought that the character is being tugged on by two editorial offices (the Bat Office led by the ever awesome Mark Doyle, the Khal of Khals, and the Teen Titans Office led by the out of touch) it becomes incredibly aggravating watching one of my favorite characters, considered one of the most popular Bat Family characters, get table scraps in this Bat Renaissance going on.

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You’re probably going to mention to me “But what about Batman Beyond? That’s currently starring him.” Well, sit on down and explain to you why I don’t count that book. And it really does boil down to this: It’s not Tim Drake. It’s the Five Years Later version from the mercilessly mediocre Futures End storyline. It’s not going to appeal to the majority of Tim Drake fans because only a fraction of them at best have an attachment to this version, not to mention the alienation of Batman Beyond fans by having Terry McGinnis introduced to the New 52 and then killed off.

So I had been wracking my brain out as to what kind of story Tim Drake could be prominent in. We have Dick Grayson being superspy, Barbara Gordon being a Grad student by day and hero by night and vice-versa, Jason Todd doing….whatever he’s doing, not being dead I guess? And then my thinking began to go into other directions until I came up with it.

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A Red Robin solo book that is essentially a teen detective noir story… which is just itself the wrapping around a coming out story.

Several Reasons for this:

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First and Foremost, Tim needs to be back in the Bat Universe. Not just tangentially, firmly. With DC’s attempts to condense such an expansive history down to five-six years in some vain effort to make their “iconic” characters younger (a vain effort because a group of them are celebrating their 75th anniversary so let time move forward a bit, you cowards), it essentially but the boot on a whole generation of characters. Cassie Sandsmark, Wonder Girl, had her parentage as the daughter of Zeus photocopied and plastered onto Wonder Woman, effectively adding a male to the origin of one of the biggest feminist icons ever. Superboy’s look was outright appropriated to make Superman look younger (see the jeans/t-shirt redesign in the “Truth” issues in the Superman line, then gag) and that doesn’t even begin to describe the amount of garbage they put on Bart Allen to dissociate him with Flash. Tim does need to at least get back to some semblance of his roots in the Batman universe.

Next, and this is a more broader view: There isn’t a solo book at Marvel or DC starring a LGBQT teenager. Now, relatively speaking, DC has been doing a bit better with LGBQT characters. True, they kind of screwed over Batwoman (someone else that needs a book), but they’ve got Midnighter, John Constantine, Secret Six, the supporting cast in Batgirl. But not having a young adult superhero book that deals with such an issue on a more personal, one-on-one level is so important in so many ways to so many people. And when it’s done right and thought out, it could be amazing. And I’m not even saying issue #1 out him. No! Take the time to explore the facets of such an important journey: the questioning, the self-doubt, the solace found in friends and family members. Combine that with some fun detective stories that fit in Tim’s personality, you have a potential winner.

The last reason is: It would help differentiate Tim from the rest of the Robins. Now, that’s sounds a wee bit cynical… and it is. But to the layman (and to some that aren’t layman and should really know better), the Robins are interchangeable. That is, and has always been, ridiculous. But this would help differentiate Tim from the rest the Robins. It would even open up new avenues of stories to be told. Perhaps even explore avenues of criminality not often discussed in Batman books (this kind of idea also took some inspiration from the absolutely phenomenal Batman #44 that came out this week).

So, who would be the creators of this hypothetical books? Well the writer is incredibly easy: James Tynion IV. You know the literal handful of moments I think Tim was well-handled Post-2011? Yeah, he wrote all of them. This guy, who is a self-admitted Tim Drake fanboy, would do so much wonderful work for this character. Not only that, he himself is an LGBQT creator and if you need more proof on his capabilities, go check out his creator-owned book The Woods and then come back to me. As for artist, well really it depends on the kind of tone they would try to go for but the one that comes to mind immediately is Trevor McCarthy. I have been a big fan of his since Gates of Gotham and the man has only improved since then.

At the end of the day, Tim Drake is a character with loads of potential that is being squandered with mediocre books like Teen Titans or Batman Beyond. He needs that same push that Dick and Barbara have gotten this last year and I really do think, if this New 52 reboot is here to stay, one should really take advantage of such potential to bring new audiences in with such ideas.

About Kenneth

When he is not working at a library or on his Master's Degree, Ken Godberson III is usually writing comics, prose and screenplays. He tends to be an expert on absolutely nothing except on why Impulse is the greatest superhero ever. He can be found on Twitter @kengodbersoniii or on Tumblr at kengodbersoniii.tumblr.com

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