The role of Robin went through some changes in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. After Dick Grayson, the first Robin, transitioned to Nightwing it didn’t take long for the second Robin to emerge. Jason Todd would be in the role for about five years of publishing time before readers voted to kill him. This left a void in the Batman books that a teenager named Tim Drake would fulfill in a way that demonstrated DC had learned their lesson about the type of character that the role of Robin demanded.
Tim had analyzed what Robin meant to Batman before he assumed the role. While Dick paved the way, Tim used his diligence to blaze his own path to becoming the greatest sidekick ever. The timing of Tim’s rise to becoming Robin was a huge factor in his greatness as a character. The period where he became Robin was a boom time for the industry with comics selling in record numbers. This allowed Tim to be the Robin for a whole generation of fans, but he also was a part of some great stories like “Knightfall” and “No Man’s Land” while maintaining his own ongoing series. Let’s look a little deeper at what makes Tim the way better Robin.
15. THE BEST ROBIN COSTUME EVER
Let’s get things started with the most obvious of things about Tim Drake: his Robin costume. While Dick’s may be considered more iconic in some ways, the shorts and pixie boots aren’t exactly the coolest look in today’s world. Tim’s costume is one of the most amazing modernizations of a costume that loses none of the classic appeal. The black cape in the back with yellow in the front is visually stunning with the black boots. The use of a sleeker “R” on the breast of the costume made the fans of the ‘90s flock to this awesome look.
The costume has become the modern look of any Robin character in movies and animation. Dick Grayson has a version of it on the animated series, and Young Justice used variations of it for both Dick and Tim, but it was Tim’s costume first and it always will be.
14. TOOK HIS TIME TAKING OVER THE ROLE
The fatal flaw of Jason Todd was that he acted before thinking. Tim made himself a part of Batman’s life during the famous “A Lonely Place of Dying” storyline, but it would take nearly a year of publishing time before he would officially take over the role. This was followed by a long period of training and throughout the entire process Tim never took the role of Robin for granted, he wanted to learn and become the greatest Robin ever.
In many ways, Tim was everything that Jason Todd wasn’t and was the result of previous mistakes made by DC Comics in trying to rush characters into a role too quickly. This obviously lead to fans turning on Jason, but Tim is a model character for comic book readers and creators on multiple levels.
13. NOT AFRAID OF LYING TO BATMAN
Both Dick Grayson and Tim Drake spent time as leaders of teams of Teen Titans, but while Dick had the luxury of being one of the first sidekicks, Tim had to earn the respect of his peers in different ways. Early in Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans run, Tim does this in a very direct, slick way that elevates him to a new level of respect with his teammates when he admits that he has lied to not only senior Titans member Starfire, but Batman as well.
Tim does this so that the younger Titans can do the things they want to do separately from the watchful eyes of their mentors. The trust factor that is built by Tim is another sign that despite his youth, he is a natural leader with the ability to bend the rules when necessary.
12. KNOWS EVERYTHING DICK DOES AND THEN SOME
Tim Drake is the most intelligent member of the Bat-family. This is because he started brilliant, but when you combine that with the opportunity to be mentored by the best at what they do, you get the best Robin. In New Titans #65 when Dick first meet and takes Tim out to train, Dick makes Tim watch the carousel at a local park and tell him about as many people as he can remember over the course of a day.
Tim fails miserably, but it reveals his ability to work hard to improve and learn from his mistakes. He’s a sponge for learning, whether it is fighting techniques, crime solving or being a great detective, he brings his “A” game to everything. Dick sees it after one day with him, and years later Tim is still in the process of building upon his incredible abilities.
11. BELIEVED BRUCE WAYNE WAS ALIVE WHEN NOBODY ELSE DID
Following the events of Final Crisis, Bruce Wayne was trapped in the Omega Sanction by Darkseid and Dick Grayson took over the role of Batman. All evidence, including a skeleton of Batman, pointed to Bruce being dead. Only Tim Drake carried the torch for believing in Bruce still being alive, and this was coming on the heels of multiple people Tim had cared about dying in succession, only to return alive.
Tim proved once again that his instincts as a detective are usually accurate and he goes on to break down the time-hopping plot that Bruce is captured within. The whole story was an illustration of the earnest, hopeful nature that Tim embodies even in the most trying times. Tim has needed and will continue to need this type of resolve as he continues his role as the greatest Robin ever.
10. GAVE UP THE ROLE AND WAS STILL A HERO
Tim Drake faced one of the toughest choices of his crime fighting career when his father found out that he was Robin. Jack Drake threatened to out the other members of the Bat-family and Tim made the best choice that he could, giving up being Robin to allow the others to continue. In the aftermath of this decision, his once girlfriend, Stephanie Brown took over as Robin and inadvertently started a gang war in Gotham.
It was during this “War Games” storyline that Tim had the chance to show he was a hero even without a costume. During an attack at his school he did everything he could to protect his fellow students. It was a great illustration of Tim’s ability to balance the importance of both of his families, both at home and at the Batcave.
9. FACED THE JOKER ALONE AND LIVED TO TELL ABOUT IT
Tim Drake became Robin in a time when the comic book industry was flourishing. This allowed DC to experiment with giving Robin some solo miniseries to see how they would sell and to allow for Tim to grow as a character out of the shadow of Batman. The second of these miniseries was called Robin II: Joker’s Wild.
The story involved the Joker being determined to kill Robin again, and Tim had to face the Clown Prince of Crime alone. The story showcased the Joker’s use of a hacker to cause problems in the city and it gave Tim a chance to shine with computer skills, which became a hallmark of his character. Tim was able to face the challenge and get Joker back in Arkham, cementing him in the role of Robin even further.
8. BECAME BATMAN BEYOND TO HELP TERRY MCGINNIS
While it may not have been as well received and impactful as many readers would have hoped, The New 52: Futures End did have a major impact on Tim Drake at the time and gave him an experience that no other Robin has had: being the Batman of the future. Tim did this at the request of Terry McGinnis, who died in the present day and needed a replacement in the future.
In the future, Tim works with an older Barbara Gordon, Luke Fox and eventually the Justice League of the future before learning that Terry McGinnis was in fact alive. Terry had been brainwashed to become the villain Rewire, and this leads to Tim’s final battle with him and the restoration of the original mantle of Batman Beyond to Terry. The whole story is another example of great sacrifice and selflessness from Tim Drake.
7. TRAINED BY VARIOUS MARTIAL ARTS MASTERS INCLUDING LADY SHIVA
During the earliest days of Tim Drake’s tenure as Robin, Bruce proposed that Tim take a journey overseas to learn from some of the best fighting experts. This led Tim to encounter Rahul Lama, a Chinese martial arts master, and eventually to crossing paths with King Snake and Lady Shiva. Due to mutual concern about what King Snake was up to, Lady Shiva worked with Tim Drake and trained him further.
Two things of note happened during this time, one of which was that Tim received what would become his signature bo staff during his training. The other was that he got to train with one of the world’s greatest fighters and still upheld his values when she instructed him to kill King Snake. Tim had dramatically increased his fighting skill while not compromising his moral values in any way.
6. PROVED HIMSELF WORTHY TO RA’S AL GHUL
When it comes to Batman villains, few have the high standards that Ra’s Al Ghul does when it comes to his opponents. Ra’s is incredibly experienced and intelligent, if a bit misguided, and when Bruce is gone following Final Crisis he finds himself going against Tim Drake.
Tim not only goes against Ra’s, he impresses Ra’s through his use of his resources and friends to foil Ra’s plot. His computer skills are beyond what even Ra’s expects him to be capable of applying. Even when fighting a losing physical confrontation with Ra’s, Tim is simply stalling to get paperwork filed in time. Tim even gets the title of “detective” bestowed upon him by Ra’s during the confrontation. And the conclusion leads Ra’s to deem Tim worthy of being his heir. This is the highest of high honors coming from Ra’s, so take that Dick Grayson.
5. MASTER WITH TECHNOLOGY
Another aspect of the timing of Tim becoming Robin that benefits him greatly is the age of technology in which he grew up. His level of mastery when it comes to computers is something that is only going to become more and more beneficial as time goes on. Tim has researched nanotechnology, hacked military drones and helped foster the building of the “Belfry” as a new base of operations for the Bat-family within Gotham.
Tim can also use this type of skill to not always have to be fighting with fists, and become a character who is as dangerous behind the scenes as he is in front of a supervillain. Tim is not going to be outpaced by constant technological changes and updates because it is his passion and he loves to learn about it and be the best.
4. HAD A LONGER TERM RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS PARENTS
This one may be the most subtle part of what makes Tim Drake such a great Robin. Both Dick and Bruce lost both of their parents at a young age, and it forced them to change as a result. For Tim, he had a much more normal upbringing, and while both of his parents would eventually be killed in stories, his childhood had already taken place.
Tim is by far the most well-adjusted of the Bat-Family. His levelheaded nature is likely a result of his normal upbringing. Given that he is an unusually intelligent young man and he could take his time with his studies and growth in a normal atmosphere, he was able to become an amazing asset to Batman. While much of this is out of anybody’s control, it is something Tim will always have that Dick doesn’t.
3. WILLING TO SACRIFICE HIMSELF FOR THE GOOD OF OTHERS
Whenever a list of heroic qualities is generated, one of the words that will almost always be mentioned is “selfless.” At the start of DC’s Rebirth launch in Detective Comics, Tim Drake had been having some wonderful events occur in his life. He had rekindled his relationship with Stephanie Brown and had recently been accepted into college, but unfortunately all of that would be abruptly taken away from him in perhaps his most heroic moment.
During the Bat-family’s battle with the Colony, Tim realizes that by redirecting a massive drone strike at him instead of throughout the city, he can save many at the expense of himself. He is gunned down violently after taking the opportunity to express his feelings to his crime fighting partners. Detective Comics #940 is a tear jerker that perfectly encapsulates the best Robin ever.
2. SO GREAT HE HAD TO BE TAKEN OFF THE BOARD BY MR. OZ
Following this heroic sacrifice, readers learned immediately that is was no death, but actually a calculated maneuver by Mr. Oz, a mysterious figure collecting certain characters who threatened a cryptic master plan. His justification for choosing Tim Drake for removal demonstrates Tim’s stature among DC’s heroes.
Mr. Oz stated that Tim was putting together pieces of things and was so connected to other heroes that he had to be taken out of the picture. It was later revealed in a flashback that Tim knew that Batman had been forming an army of sorts based on information that is going to be followed up more in Dark Nights: Metal. While it was a sad, seemingly torturous situation to place a beloved character into, it was the ultimate compliment to the greatest Robin of all time. Let’s face it, Mr. Oz let Dick Grayson keep on doing his thing as Nightwing.
1. FIGURED OUT BATMAN’S IDENTITY ON HIS OWN
Sometimes it is all about being at the right place at the right time. Tim happened to witness one of the most unfortunate events in Dick Grayson’s life in person due to his presence at the circus where Tony Zucco murders the Graysons. This was the string that Tim followed over years until he discovered Batman & Nightwing’s identity at the age of nine. He did this by studying their fighting techniques in footage over time and being smart enough to put all the pieces together.
This is an extraordinary accomplishment that gave Tim Drake immediate credibility. For a young kid to have the patience and determination to pull this off shows his detective skills were off the charts before ever learning from the best. Dick was gifted physically, but Tim’s mental gifts put him in a place to be a whole different level of asset to Bruce’s mission.
Did we convince you of Tim Drake’s greatness or do you still favor Dick? Let us know in the comments.
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