Boy Detective: Celebrating Tim Drake, the Third Robin
On this day in 1989, Tim Drake made his debut in the pages of Batman #436. Created by Marv Wolfman and Pat Broderick --- and named for Tim Burton, director of the Batman movie released that year --- the kid who had an unfortunate front-row seat for the Flying Graysons' last performance would grow up to be the third Boy Wonder to take the identity of Robin, partnering with Batman to fight crime in Gotham City.
In the years since, Tiim has become one of the most prominent characters in the Batman mythos. He found success not only as the Dark Knight's sidekick, but as a solo character with an ongoing series that lasted for over 150 issues, and he formed the cornerstone of not one but two relaunches of Teen Titans. Three, if you count Young Justice.
One of the most important things about Tim Drake as a character is that, like Batgirl, and unlike the Robins before him, he didn't have a tragedy in his past that compelled him to fight crime. While his parents would eventually be killed off, he took the identity of Robin when they were both still alive after realizing that Batman needed a partner, someone to help him while he helped everyone else. That selflessness and compassion were among Tim's defining characteristics, and his characterization as a kid who loved Batman certainly made him easy to identify with.
Of course, since he came to prominence in the early '90s, he also had a radical crimefighting skateboard and was an expert computer hacker who could mouse around linkfarms to leave nastygrams in various inboxes. That was pretty cool, too.
Tim complimented Batman in a way that no other character had before, not only by volunteering for the role as Robin, but figuring out how to make it happen. He's the kid who discovered Batman's secret identity on his own --- while literally living in the house next door, no less --- and kept the secret until he joined up.
The Robins were all built to reflect a certain aspect of Batman's character. Dick Grayson was the kid whose parents were murdered in front of him and swore to fight criminals; Jason Todd was the tough fighter driven to anger by injustice; but Tim is the detective. His relationship with Batman was different to those seen previously by readers. Batman was a father figure for Dick and Jason, and to an extent he served that role for Tiim as well, but as detectives they were also partners.
In the years since his creation, Tim has been seen in many different media and has taken a few different identities --- in the continuity established by DC's New 52 reboot, he became Red Robin of the Teen Titans --- but for a generation of readers, he will always be Robin.