WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Superman #38 by Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Sergio Davila and Vicente Cifuetnes, on sale now.
Tim Drake never wanted to be Batman. As a child, he’d deduced the identities of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, and after the murder of Jason Todd, sought out Wayne to caution him about his reckless ways in the wake of his second sidekick’s death. His original intent had been to convince Dick to walk away from his Nightwing persona—and go back to being Robin—but Tim ended up becoming the third Robin himself.
Ten years from now (roughly), in an alternate future, a grown-up Tim is consumed by darkness. Following an unexplained Crisis, he adopts his mentor’s persona and, using the gun that killed Bruce Wayne’s parents, executes the Dark Knight’s enemies one by one. He also takes over the adult version of the Titans and, in the process of making the western half of America safe, creates the conditions for a fascistic society whose citizens sacrifice safety for security.
We first encountered this nightmare scenario during Geoff Johns and Mike McKone’s mid-2000s Teen Titans run. The three-part Titans Tomorrow flash forward (Vol 3. #16-18) shows the adult team having taken the place of the Justice League, and having adopted the codenames of their elders. It is not a hopeful future, at least not in Tim’s half of the country. The East Coast is a much brighter place thanks to a group of breakaway Titans—co-led by future Batwoman, Bette Kane and Bumble Bee (Karen Beecher)—as well as President Mal Duncan, a former team member who guides his half to the country according to democratic principles.
It is a future that Tim desperately wants to avoid. As we saw in the pages of James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows and Alvaro Martinez’ Detective Comics (#965-968), he has come back to the present to prevent it from happening by killing the current Batwoman. “A Lonely Place of Living” pit the future Tim’s fatalism against his present version’s hopefulness. He tried to convince his younger self that killing Batwoman will permit him to walk away from superheroics, fall in love, go off to college, and prevent the future.
The Bat Family, whom young Tim has christened the Gotham Knights, foils the future Batman, and sends him forward through Hyperpertime to his own reality. However future Tim returns once again in the “Super Sons of Tomorrow” crossover. This time, he’s intent on killing Jon Kent to prevent the death of millions. He gets his chance in Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Sergio Davila and Vicente Cifuetnes’ Superman #38.