Tim Drake’s been off the board for quite some time in the Rebirth DCU. Almost a year exactly, in fact. He was “killed” in Detective Comics #940 — but immediately revealed to have actually been abducted by the mysterious Mr. Oz, a status which put him in the esteemed company of other victims like Mr. Mxyzptlk and Doomsday. So, of course, no one actually believed he could be gone for good, making the mystery of just how he was going to make it back one of the longest running questions Rebirth has had going.
Well, that and why Oz took him in the first place, considering his fairly blatant incongruity with the rest of his prisoner’s occupants.
Luckily, as “A Lonely Place of Living” finally kicks into gear in Detective Comics #965 alongside Action Comics’ “The Oz Effect” answers are finally beginning to trickle in — and bring with them a slew of new questions to be asked.
The arc title “A Lonely Place of Living” is a direct call back to the famous Wolfman and Perez Batman and New Titans cross over from 1989 which originally established Tim Drake in the Batman mythology. It did so by retroactively adding Tim into the moment of Dick Grayson’s parents’ deaths at day at the circus, prompting a lifelong obsession with not only Batman, but with mysteries and crime fighting in Tim that would lead him to actually solve not only Batman’s identity, but Dick Grayson’s as well.
Detective #965 lifts whole panels and lines from these issues, retelling the story almost verbatim — an important change for Tim’s status quo after the New 52 deleted the majority of his backstory and time as Robin out of continuity in favor of a story that involved Tim hacking The Penguin, placing his parents in witness protection, and demanding that Batman train him.
The “Lonely Place” angle for Tim’s transition from civilian to vigilante restores the fact that Tim originally didn’t want to become Robin at all, he just wanted Batman to have a partner again. Tim only wound up taking on the gig after Two Face left both Dick and Bruce in a dire situation with no to help. This moment — Tim’s decision to become a hero when he could have so clearly walked away — is apparently pretty vexing to Oz, who (as per Action Comics) doesn’t believe humanity to be worth the work so many people have put in to try and save it, but not more so than the fact that Tim was also ready to up and walk away from his choice.
If you remember back to the issues leading up to Tim’s “death,” you’ll recall that he’d been accepted to a prestigious university and was planning on accepting to attend. This, of course, was something that would’ve meant the end of Red Robin as a crime fighter, at least for the time being. Unfortunately, these plans were interrupted by…well, dying, but Stephanie Brown made sure that Bruce knew Tim’s intentions even after the fact.
But if Tim’s intention to leave Gotham behind actually did bother Bruce, it certainly didn’t stop him from working tirelessly to uncover the truth of Tim’s death and abduction. As Mr. Oz is quick to explain, Bruce has been working day and night to find a solution to Tim’s situation — and fortunately for him, Tim hasn’t been sitting around and twiddling his thumbs while waiting for rescue.
During their conversation, Tim springs a trap on Oz which shuts down his computer system, giving Tim run of the place — Which is great for the purposes of not being stuck in a cell, but not so great when it comes to actually leaving the prison itself. He may have broken free, but he still has absolutely no idea where he’s at…And to make matters worse? He’s definitely not alone.
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