SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #76 by Tom King, Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea, Norm Rapmund, Tomeu Morey and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Unlike the literal back-breaking defining moment of "Knightfall" more than 25 years ago, Bane has instead been fracturing Batman slowly in the events leading up to "City of Bane." A series of tragedies orchestrated by Bane, from the attempted assassination of Dick Grayson to Selina Kyle leaving Bruce Wayne at the altar, has eroded at the Dark Knight's emotional stability. Has he been broken by Bane? If not, Batman's nearly there as Bane rules over his city, but Tom King and Tony S. Daniel's Batman #76 shows the Caped Crusader isn't the only one suffering from Bane's manipulations.
Gotham Girl's unexpected trouncing of potential ally Captain Atom has left a mark on the morale of the Bat-family. When Red Robin visits him in the hospital, a shell-shocked Atom essentially tells Tim Drake to save himself and get out of Gotham. When Tim later discusses the situation with Damian Wayne, it fires up Robin, who wants to confront Gotham Girl himself. However, a demoralized Tim talks him out of the impulsive plan.
Instead of trying to formulate a better one, though, Tim largely admits defeat. Have Bane's machinations indirectly broken him, as well?
What Happened to Tim Drake?
Damian concedes he couldn't take Gotham Girl on his own, but the combined strength of the Bat-family might. But Tim reminds Damian that should any of the Bat-family set foot in Gotham, another would pay the price – the patriarch to the family's own leader, Alfred. Bane has apparently laid down an ultimatum that Alfred would be killed should Tim, Damian, or anyone else close to Batman intervene. And that's a risk Tim isn't willing to take.
It's a fair point, but when Damian questions Tim on when they started following the orders of a villain like Bane, Tim has a startling response. "Since he came - since he hurt us," Tim says, in reference to Bane. "Since he took our city and broke our father." The two Robins momentarily come to verbal blows, but the exchange quickly ends with Damian grasping for a plan – and Tim having none to offer.
Tim seems uncharacteristically clueless as to what to do next, and is unable to provide any guidance or solace to his younger counterpart. He's likely referencing his recent, and nearly fatal, encounter with Bane, when he, Dick Grayson and Jason Todd were hanged in the Batcave by Bane and left for dead. Bane's move against Bruce's pseudo-sons was enough for Bruce to sideline his partners from that point on. But Tim hadn't spoken of it, until now.
And What's He Going to Do?
Clearly, the threat of Bane has left a mark on Tim, and is playing a noticeable role in his hesitation and uncertainty toward exactly how to confront him. While Tim wisely chooses to exercise an abundance of caution for Alfred's sake, his decision seems based on fear as much as it does wisdom. Tim doesn't just seem cautious; he's scared.
While he might not have been broken in the same sense or magnitude that Bruce has, Bane's strikes against Bruce have left a lot of emotional collateral in their wake. And Tim is one of the victims.
When Tim came on the scene, it was under the premise of how Batman will always need a Robin. Right now, though, the reverse is true. Tim, his figurative brothers, and all of Gotham, need Batman. If only Selina can nurse him back to health in time to save Gotham – and Bruce's family.
Batman #77, part three of "City of Bane," goes on sale Aug. 21.