I was talking to my pal Jake the other day, and he was complaining about the relative treatment from online fans about Tim Drake and Damian Wayne. He noted that Tim Drake appears to be disproportionally popular on the internet, and he felt that Damian Wayne’s initial treatment of Tim (not to mention the fact that he effectively replaced Tim) is what made so many fans hostile towards Damian online (at least at first. Eventually the awesomeness of Damian Wayne has won over most people).
I have noticed the same thing, that Tim Drake does seem to be a bit of a “sacred cow” on the ‘net. Jake had an interesting theory about this in relation to Tim’s origin.
As we all know, the idea of a kid sidekick was done so that kids reading the comics would have someone to associate with in the comic. You know, sort of like audience insertion in the story. Of course, as (I want to say Mark Waid, but it might have been Marv Wolfman or I might have just imagined that I read it entirely) rightly noted, the kids probably didn’t need to have a kid to see themselves as, as they already were seeing themselves as Batman! But still, that was the idea, at least, give someone for the kids reading the books to identify with (and obviously it was a popular idea, as young sidekicks or groups of young boys soon became all the rage in comic books of the early 1940s).
So it hits Jake, and as he describes it to me, it hits me, as well (even beyond what Jake first had in mind).
Look at Tim’s origin. His attention to minutiae (some acrobatic move Dick Grayson did that Tim saw once) resulted in him solving a mystery that has befuddled many – the true identity of Batman and Robin.
That was what Jake had in mind, but as he described it to me, I also remembered what happened next. Tim then confronts Nightwing, to ask him to go back to the way things were in the past, when Tim was a kid and things were better.
Holy crap, rapt attention to minutiae and wanting things to go back to the way they were when they were a kid? Does that not describe, like, 3/4th of all comic book message board posters?
In creating Tim Drake, Marv Wolfman specifically intended to create a character that fans would accept in a way that they did not seem to accept Jason Todd. But it never occurred to me until now that it was, in many ways, by creating a NEW paradigm for comic book audience insertion – the “fanboy” as superhero.