Tim Drake as Robin (left) and Red Robin (right)
In 1993, after the success of Tim Drake's 3-part miniseries chronicling his tribulations as the third Robin
, (succeeding Dick Grayson
and Jason Todd), Tim was given his own monthly ongoing series that began in 1993 and ran for more than 15 years, until it ended in early 2009. The series is notable for depicting Tim's personal life with his family and friends, and him balancing a delicate act between his superhero and civilian identities. The first 100 issues of the Robin series were written by Chuck Dixon
, which was acclaimed at the time for a high-profile Teen Pregnancy
arc involving Tim's girlfriend, Stephanie Brown
(Spoiler). In 1998, Wizard magazine ranked the series as the best ongoing comic book of the year.
As the series went on, Chuck Dixon left the book and different writers came on-board. The first was Jon Lewis, whose short tenure on the Robin series built a stable relationship between Tim and Stephanie
and had fondness for writing slightly sci-fi plots, which was jarring in a Batbook that focused more on street-level crime. Next was Bill Willingham, who forcibly retired Tim from being Robin after his dad found out his secret, and killed off Stephanie in the War Games crossover. Adam Beechen took over the series with Robin: One Year Later and had Tim leaving Gotham for a while and temporarily staying in Bludhaven with Cassandra Cain
. Dixon then briefly took over the series between issues 170 - 174 to resurrect Stephanie Brown, but was promptly fired and replaced with Fabian Nicieza, who wrote the last arc in the series before its cancellation (to make way for the Red Robin series).
Red Robin, which was launched in late 2009 and written by Chris Yost and Fabian Nicieza, depicted Tim Drake's search around the world to find evidence that Bruce Wayne was still alive after cutting himself off from the rest of the Bat Family. He was approached by Ra's al Ghul's assassins, who were also interested in finding out what happened to Batman. The series lasted for 2 years, until the DCU reboot in 2011.
As of current, Tim Drake no longer has a solo comic. Post-reboot, he appeared in Teen Titans
, but that series was cancelled (it will be relaunched in late 2014). Tim currently appears in Batman Eternal
Tropes associated with Tim Drake in general
- Ascended Fanboy: He was a longtime fan of the original Batman and Robin.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Chuck Dixon has mentioned that he had "Jewish" in mind while writing the character, but his series never explicitly stated his religious leanings.
- Audience Surrogate: Tim is the most 'normal' Robin, thus very relatable. This aspect of him contributes greatly to his popularity.
- Badass Normal: As with all members of the Batfamily.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Deliberately averted. After the death of Jason Todd, writers like Denny O'Neil knew they had to come up with a damn good reason why Batman would take on another Kid Sidekick. Making him a hindrance to Batman in any way was shot down because of this.
- Chick Magnet: Despite being kind of a nerd, he has been attracting a lot of superheroines/villainnesses even at a young age, namely Lynx I, Spoiler, Dava and Darla Aquista.
- Jubilee from the Marvel/DC crossover.
- In the Red Robin series, Lynx III.
- Secret and Arrowette in Young Justice
- "It's the cape. Chicks dig the cape."
- Characterization Marches On: In the later series, it's common for Tim to be portrayed as the uptight, slightly neurotic and neat freak person he is. But in his early appearances, he was just an average boy who had a messy room, posters of female models on his wall and stays up all night with dorm mates to watch football and play video games.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: He has often blamed himself for the deaths of classmates that he had failed to save, despite the fact that the victims brought it on themselves. He's also so dedicated to crimefighting that he would drop everything and anything to change into his Robin costume when he sees any sort of crime in his vicinity, mostly at the expense of his girlfriends, family and friends.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Tim's stepmother Dana. When his dad was Killed Off for Real in Identity Crisis, Dana had a nervous breakdown and shipped off to a sanitarium in Bludhaven the city that would soon be completely destroyed in Infinite Crisis. It was never confirmed if she was killed in Bludhaven. Neither has her continued existence.
- Depending on the Artist: Tim has been drawn differently by multitude of artists in his 20+ year history, but there are a few constants in his appearance: spiky, gelled-up hair; average height and a slim body type.
- Even the spikey hair is gone now. As of the New 52, he usually sports Dick Grayson's old haircut while out of costume, while Dick's hair has gotten longer and more spikey (which is also Depending on the Artist).
- Expy: Of Peter Parker.
- It's no secret that Chuck Dixon based Tim Drake's adventures on the first 50 issues of The Amazing Spiderman. Fans used to compare him to the iconic Marvel superhero, calling him the Peter Parker of Gotham.
- Foil: To Dick Grayson. He is everything Dick Grayson was not, by design. Instead of the whimsical, lighthearted sidekick who spouted catchphrases and said "Golly" a lot, he was an extremely serious and dedicated crime-fighter.
- Distressed Dude: Averted. Unlike Dick Grayson constantly needing to be rescued or saved, Tim was deliberately kept out of danger for a long time after putting on the costume. Initially, he operated as Batman's Voice with an Internet Connection so that they could slowly introduce him to danger.
- Grade School CEO: For a time after Bruce's death, Tim Drake (as one of his legally adopted sons) had significant control over Wayne Enterprises as one of its owners. He is apparently still a co-owner along with his father and brothers, despite being a teen.
- Has a Type: He has a thing (a.k.a gets turned on) with girls wearing the Batgirl costume. Firstly when Cass wore Barbara's old costume and then later when he sees his on-off girlfriend Steph in her new Batgirl costume. Being Robin himself this isn't a surprise, seeing that Robins are always attracted to Batgirls.
- He may unconsciously have a thing for blonde girls, as evidenced with Steph and Wonder Girl. Ariana even once accused him of it, saying that she bleached her hair because she thought he liked blondes.
- Hollywood Nerd: Despite having interests in Dungeons & Dragons, Blade Runner and computers, he's a generally attractive and well-adjusted teenage boy. In fact, later on in the series he has seemingly dropped all of his geeky hobbies.
- He's more of a Geek than a nerd, though.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Enforced Trope. Tim Drake was deliberately portrayed as extremely competent (even moreso than Batman in some ways) in order to justify why Batman would allow another kid to become his sidekick.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Tim never wanted to be a crime-fighter permanently. He just wanted to be Robin for a while until he could retire and go on with his life.
- Jumped at the Call: He became Robin because he figured out who Batman was and recognized Bruce's Sanity Slippage without a teen sidekick to keep him honest.
- Kid Hero: Unlike his predecessors, Tim was the first Robin to operate solo in his own book and was considered more of a hero in his own right than just Batman's Kid Sidekick.
- Legacy Character: Both series were bursting to the seams with these guys. You had: Robin III himself with both his predecessors and his successors, two Batgirls, two female ninjas named Lynx, two Anarkys (one the original, the other a repurposed General), the Red Robin identity (Jason Todd's Countdown suit worn first by the General, then Tim himself), and both Azraels.
- Lonely Rich Kid
- Missing Mom
- Nice Guy: One of his most defining traits. However, he Took a Level in Jerkass in the Red Robin series.
- Parental Abandonment: He was neglected by his jet-setting parents, and was often left alone at home with his housekeeper.
- Red Is Heroic: Tim has always been associated with the color red since his inception.
- Sidekick Graduations Stick: His transition from Robin to Red Robin.
- Secret Chaser: he knew Batman and Robin's civilian identity since he was nine, and finally sought them out when he noticed that Batman was getting more unstable after the death of Jason Todd.
- Vicki Vale in the Red Robin series — she figured out 3/4 of the Batfamily identities, with the exception of Steph, Cass and Damian.
- The Smart Guy: Most Robins play this role on teams, but Tim is the Smart Guy amongst Smart Guys. It's usually acknowledged that he's the most intelligent of all of the Robins, and even Batman himself has said that Tim will one day make a better detective than him.
Fabian Nicieza: He is 'the smart one' of the Bat-family, the thinker and planner. I mean, of course Bruce Wayne/Batman is what he is, and Tim isn’t quite there yet, but Tim at 17 has a more developed intellect than Bruce at 17 did. That’s not to say Dick Grayson or Barbara Gordon are dumb, of course they’re not, but Tim’s level of thinking is a bit... thicker... than theirs. For me, Dick is about superior reflexive thinking, Barbara about superior operational thinking and Tim is about superior comprehensive, or all-encompassing, thinking."
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Following his mentor's footsteps.
- Took a Level in Badass: Yes, he was always badass, but he still managed to take another level in it. According to Word of God, Tim's transition into Red Robin was done to (similar to Dick Grayson's own "graduation") symbolize that Tim was now considered one of the most formidable superheroes in the DC community by all of his peers. He was no longer a "sidekick" but someone who could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of veterans like Green Arrow, the Birds of Prey, and anyone else.
- Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: A big component of his characterization in the Robin series. In Red Robin he finally gives up on this trope and ditches school entirely, a year short of graduating high school. (It's hinted that he's homeschooled instead).
- Wise Beyond Their Years
Tropes in the 1993 - 2009 Robin series
- Aborted Arc: It was heavily implied at one point that Alfred was falling for Tim's stepmother, Dana. Then Blüdhaven blew up and Dana was never seen again.
- Academy of Adventure: Brentwood Academy. Lampshaded by Tim himself when he comments on the weirdness of the school.
- After School Special: The early 90s were chock-full of these issues. Near-date rapes, school shootings, teen pregnancy, bullying, drug-abuse...
- Age-Appropriate Angst: The Robin series does very well at handling Tim's teenage love troubles and his own methods of coping with his mother's death, the crippling of his father, and subsequent death of said father in a way an average 15-year-old boy would do in those situations (the Robin thing not withstanding).
- Attempted Rape: Both Ariana and Stephanie had a near-rape experience before, and both confessed it to Tim. It's no wonder that Tim has the 'Lets Wait Awhile' mentality in the first place...
- Batman Gambit: Inherited from the man himself, Tim does this once to Lady Shiva in the last arc of the Robin series. He drugs her food before their fight and wins easily against her.
- Battle Couple: with Stephanie/Spoiler.
- Betty and Veronica: Tim had a brief love triangle with Ariana (Betty) and Stephanie (Veronica) early in the series.
- Interesting twist in that the Veronica was the blonde and the Betty was the brunette.
- Big Bad: In the original Robin miniseries and its sequel, King Snake. Then for a brief time Johnny Warlock. From the end of the first ongoing into Red Robin, Anarky II.
- War Games and the brief gang conflict instigated by Jason Todd and then Anarky.
- Bomb Throwing Anarchist: Initially Deconstructed by Lonnie Machin, Anarky I, who was a Well-Intentioned Extremist on his bad days,and generally a Hero Antagonist when not. Then parodied by Anarchy II, who was actually a fascist seeking to cause enough chaos to justify a military takeover. However, after a Spanner in the Works decision by a policeman leads to him killing his own brother and sister, he arguably plays it straight.
- Clark Kent Outfit: he wore glasses for a while during his short tenure at Brentwood Academy, as sort of a precaution.
- Coming-of-Age Story: The series chronicles his progression from a naive 14-year-old boy to a jaded, cynical 17-year-old brooder.
- Cool Car: Tim's Redbird.
- Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday: in which Batman manipulated Tim on his 16th birthday into believing the existence of a Bad Future, in order to 'train' him to become a better Robin.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: Ariana caught Tim staring at Stephanie during Karl Ranck's funeral, and proceeded to bleach her hair because she was jealous and thought that Tim preferred blonde girls. (He doesn't, but Ariana was insecure and paranoid at the time) Ironically, blonde Ariana became really popular with the boys at school and that pissed off Tim.
- Fanservice: Mostly averted (surprising for a teenage book), but there are a few exceptions: Ariana coming out of her room in skimpy lingerie, and Tim's various shower scenes.
- Fighting Your Friend: Happened with an evil Cassandra Cain in Robin:OYL.
- Genius Bruiser: Tim himself ends up as a nightmare for any poor mook he comes across, but is still outclassed by the heavy hitters like Ra's Al Ghul and Lady Shiva, and must rely on Brains to score a victory against them.
- I Didn't Mean To Turn You On: Hilariously depicted between Tim and Lady Shiva in the Robin miniseries when he goes to Hong Kong. Lady Shiva wakes him up at night for their martial arts training, telling him that she'll bring him to a "whole new world". Tim's response? "Um... I don't think I'm ready for this". Lady Shiva then nonchalantly replied that they can do that later, after the training.
- Jack-of-All-Trades: To quote Fabian Nicieza:
"What I love about Tim is that he shares some of the strongest traits of various Bat-family members. The intellect and detective skills of Bruce, the ability to lead others and be a friend to others like Dick has and even the ability to make cold, harsh decisions like Jason does."
- Kid Sidekick: to Batman.
- And Spoiler is the kid sidekick to the kid sidekick.
- Keeping Secrets Sucks
- Lamaze Class: Disguised himself as Alvin Draper and accompanied Steph to birthing classes when she was pregnant.
- Off to Boarding School: One of the arcs in Chuck Dixon's run. Tim gets sent to Brentwood Academy by his dad who is worried about him being a rebellious and secretive teenager.
- Parents Walk In at the Worst Time: In Robin #40, Ariana wanted to have sex with Tim, but he told her that they weren't ready and ended up just hanging out together on the couch. Her uncle walked in on them and saw her still in lingerie, got the wrong idea and chased him out of the house.
- Put on a Bus: Ariana Dzerchenko, Tim's First Love. Although she starred in the first 50 issues of the series, she was quickly dropped in favour of the more popular Stephanie. After her breakup with Tim, she only appeared once and was never mentioned again. Heck, barely no one remembers Ariana nowadays.
- Rage Against the Mentor: Tim has called out Batman several times — first when Batman revealed Tim's identity to Stephanie without his permission, and the second time when Batman pulled an elaborate, dysfunctional plan to test his dedication as a Robin on his 16th birthday.
- Retcon: Stephanie's death in War Games — it turns out that she was just hiding in Africa.
- Ship Tease: Arguably played between Cassandra Cain (Batgirl II) and Tim shortly after War Games. Also, with Wonder Girl after the death of Superboy (Tim's best friend and Wonder Girl's boyfriend).
- Secret Identity Identity: He sometimes addresses himself in the third-person in his thought dialogues, either as 'Robin' or 'Tim Drake'.
- Secret Keeper: Thanks to his spot as the resident Smart Guy, he knew who both Huntress and Spoiler were well before they knew who he was. This annoyed them both, naturally.
- Secret Relationship: Tim and Steph started dating as costumed crimefighters (because he was not allowed to reveal his true identity to her, Batman-related issues and all) and spent a long time only knowing each other as Robin and Spoiler. Tim would also go out of his way to avoid bumping into Steph at school, and lied to his parents when they asked him if he was seeing anyone.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: The reason Tim is now an orphan and permanently dedicated to crime-fighting.
- The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: The reason why his relationships with Ariana and Zoanne went sour.
- Trauma Conga Line: starting from War Games on Tim experienced his girlfriend's death, his father's death, his stepmother's possible death, his best friend's death, his other best friend's death, and all capped off by the apparent death of adoptive father and mentor Bruce Wayne. All these tragedies caused Tim to go down the angsty, jerkass route right up until he takes up the Red Robin mantle.
- Training from Hell: His training arc with Lady Shiva in Paris and Hong Kong.
- Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: A major component of the series before Tim grows out of it.
Tropes in the 2009 - 2011 Red Robin series
- Aborted Arc: Almost all major plot threads remained unresolved thanks to the DC reboot.
- Big Damn Heroes: Tim pulls this off during Anarky II's rampage, and receives one from Cassandra Cain and Dick Grayson at different times.
- Bishōnen: Marcus To draws a really pretty Tim Drake with fabulous hair◊.
- Cool Bike: Is also a Badass Biker.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: A group of spider themed villains attack Red Robin. One nearly kills him. When they attack him en masse, he kicks their butts.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Russian industrialist and hobbyist super-villain Mikalek from Red Robin.
- Darker and Edgier: Averted. The series seems to start off as this, but Tim makes away with his brooding while combating Ra's attack on the Bat-family. It still is more straight-faced in nature compared to the original Robin run though.
- Dating Catwoman: Lynx III. Batman even wanted to give Tim advice on how he had handled Catwoman over the years.
- Gambit Roulette: In issue #12, Dick saves Tim in the nick of time from falling out a skyscraper. Later in the Batcave, Dick questions him whether he had planned it all along, and Tim replies with a: "You're my brother, Dick. You'll always be there for me."
- Guile Hero: the only Robin to have inherited this particular repertoire from Batman.
- Hollywood Atheist: His dad was Jewish and mom was Catholic, but after their deaths Tim got jaded with religion.
- Love Triangle: At one point, Tim was juggling multiple love interests at the same time. He was casually dating Tam Fox out of costume while flirting with Lynx in costume, and all the time still having UST with Steph (they would have probably gotten back together if Steph hadn't refused the kiss). Then there was the reintroduction of Cass Cain... FabNic had plans to build the triangle/polygon/harem a bit more, but was cut short by the DC reboot.
- Multiarmed And Dangerous: Goliath of the Council of Spiders.
- Murder, Inc.: The Council of Spiders.
- Rescue Romance: Tim Drake and Tam Fox are both made prisoners of the League of Assassins. When they escape in the chaos caused by Tim defeating the Council of Spiders and hurting the League, Tam gives Tim a big ol' smooch and continues to have tension with him in the series.
- Running Gag: This series lampshades just how many attractive females have attacked Tim only to form alliances with him running from the good to the tense to the ugly.
- Secret Test: Turns out that Ra's combined this with Xanatos Gambit in the first arc. Tim is pitted against the Council of Spiders and then the League of Assassins itself. If he fails, he's dead and Ra's has one less Bat-Clan member to worry about. If he succeeds he proves himself worthy to Ra's Al Ghul's sister. Goes a long way to explain Ra's apparent use of the Villain Ball in the arc.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With Damian Wayne, fifth Robin and Bruce Wayne's biological son.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Tim started as an idealist as Robin, and slowly went down the cynical route after Identity Crisis.
- Ironic, since his on-again, off-again girlfriend Stephanie Brown went the opposite direction, starting out cynical before becoming an optimist.
- Stalker with a Test Tube: One of Ra's Al Ghul's sisters. As Tim puts it, he's about to be attacked by her in a "after school special" kind of way.
- The Chessmaster: Tim Drake. And how.
- The Cowl: He is after all, the closest to Bruce in terms of personality.
- Time Abyss: Turns out that whoever runs the Assassination tournament Tim interferes with is an immortal with a laser equipped "ancient Babylonian" hideout in the sewers of Paris, and is old enough to have met Vandal Savage. It's a shame he had to destroy the place.
- Took a Level in Badass: Tim, Stephanie Brown, and the General all show how much they've grown in Red Robin.
- Was It All a Lie?: Tam Fox breaks up with Tim at the end of the series when she find out that he's been lying to her about Lucius Fox being dead.
- Will They or Won't They?: The premise of the entire Red Robin/Batgirl crossover arc.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Stephanie calls him out in Red Robin #10, in which he admits that she's right and promises to be better in the future.
- Comes from Tam Fox when he fakes her father's death-without telling her.