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[personal profile] metaphasia
So [personal profile] amathela has been reading Batman recently for Stephanie Brown, who is also one of my favorite characters in DC. And at first, I thought I didn't have alot to say about it, because I don't read a lot of comics (My parents did not ... approve? of comics, so I never really got to read them growing up. I guess they thought they would stunt my intellectual growth or something, but now that I'm an adult I can read all the comics I want. WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?), but I realized that I do have some thoughts to say.

First, Stephanie Brown. Of all the DC characters, she's probably my favorite. And the reason I like her so is not just because she's a strong, competent, intelligent female (which, yes, all my buttons), but the main reason? She was Robin. All the other female characters in the bat-family are distinctly female. Superheroes in general, and the bat-family in particular, make a huge distinction between the a character's real-world identity, and the mask. And all the other female characters have female masks; Batwoman. Batgirl. Huntress. Catwoman. But the Batman and Robin masks are traditionally male. And then Steph takes over the Robin mask and title. Which is why I love her more than just about anyone else.

Of course, my understanding of the DC universe does not match the actual DC universe. My knowledge of the characters is based on a handful of comic issues, Wikipedia articles, and fan meta discussion, fic, and pics. For example, I'm fairly certain that Supergirl does not have a different costume for every day of the week, is not a Valley Girl, and does not spend every Saturday morning visiting county fairs and filling her apartment full of random tcotchkes because they remind her of Krypton (and Superman may be the Last Son of Krypton, but she's the only one who was old enough to actually remember the planet, and that is way more tragic).

But I'm digressing! The point was that [personal profile] amathela said she couldn't figure out Tim Drake, and so, with the above disclaimer in mind, I am (somewhat) proud to present the COMPLETELY OFFICIAL Metaphasia History of Robin.

This is the most important sentence in this story: Tim Drake is Bruce Wayne, Jr.
The first Robin was Dick Grayson, who was the son of circus acrobats. Tim Drake, meanwhile, was the son of Jack and Janet Drake, who, if they are not quite Bruce Wayne rich, are certainly in the same tax bracket. And then Dick's parents get killed, and he gets adopted by Bruce, and becomes Robin. And one day, Tim notices that Robin just pulled off a move that the Flying Graysons have only ever successfully completed in the history of ever, and figures out Dick and Bruce's secret identities (and while other people have managed to figure out that Bruce is Batman, at nine years old, Tim is certainly the youngest to do so). So, in exchange for keeping their secret, they let Tim hang around the batcave, and mess around with the computers, and teach him a little bit about detective stuff and martial arts, and his parents are just happy that Tim has a friend, who is even the Right Kind of People, because Tim is a total geek (seriously, he plays D&D, spends all his time online, he's a total geek). And then Dick goes off to college out of town, and becomes Nightwing, and then Tim stops hanging around as much because he's starting high school, and Bruce decides to adopt Jason Todd, who was a troubled kid on the streets, because he can't say no to a kid who's parents are dead, and because with Dick and Tim gone the house feels way more empty (Wayne Manor is freaking huge), and he finds he kind of misses having people around (and, because he's also pragmatic, he realizes it wouldn't hurt Bruce Wayne's image if he was not just philanthropic on a monetary level, but also helping the city out, one orphan at a time).
And then Jason Todd is killed by the Joker, and Bruce starts going into a darker and edgier guilt and shame spiral, and so Tim decides to hang around Wayne Manor again (Alfred and Dick might have said some things to him, plus his parents are always out of the country on business). Which is when his parents are kidnapped by crazy voodoo cultists and his mom dies and his dad gets stuck in a coma, and Bruce is now on his third orphan, but he's not letting this one be Robin, because he's not letting another kid die on his watch. But Tim does start picking up his training again a little, and start getting into shape.
Which is when, over Christmas break, Bruce gets called out of town and the Joker breaks out, and there's nobody left in town who could possibly stop him. Except of course, for Tim. So with Alfred's help, and Commisioner Gordon's backing, he takes the Joker down, barely. And when Bruce gets back, he's really angry and exasperated at Alfred and Tim for doing it, but he's also kind of proud that the kid who was only half trained managed to take out the Joker one on one (who is now having a breakdown of the HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO KILL ROBIN BEFORE HE STAYS DEAD variety). Which is how Tim becomes the third Robin.
I said that Tim was Bruce Wayne, Jr., and that that was the most important thing for understanding his character, but what's happened so far is only the half of it. Yes, he was born into the upper crust of society, and yes, his parents got written out when he was just a kid, but that's just the superficial similarities. None of the members of the bat family have superpowers; they fight crime by being near peak human beings, strong, and smart, and quick to think and act, and extremely well trained. However, they are all different. And the first two Robins, Dick and Jason, were both very talented at combat. Dick spent his formative years as a circus acrobat, and Jason spent his on the street, which meant they were both more towards the physical end of the spectrum.
And Tim can't possibly match them. He got the Batman Survival Combat Course, but he's not going to hit the levels the others have; they just have years of experience on him. But he's clever, and a geek, and he pulls his own weight by being smarter than any of the criminals they face.
And Batman's title is not "The World's Greatest Martial Artist", it's "The World's Greatest Detective". Bruce's most notable trait isn't physical, it's mental. Which means that Tim isn't trying to live up to the reputation of Robin, he's trying to live up to Batman. His defining character trait is insecurity. Everywhere he goes, everyone he meets, Tim Drake is compared to Bruce Wayne, and when he's in the mask, Robin is compared to Batman. He's trying to live up to an impossible standard, and every time he comes up short, no one else expects him to measure up (because it's BATMAN, nobody can measure up to Batman), but he does expect himself to measure up.

(And then Tim meets Stephanie, which is his chance at a real relationship, because when you wear the mask you can't possibly be with someone who doesn't also, and it's all fun and games like a first love is (but instead of doing ring toss at carnivals, they're beating up villains), and then it's really not, and I just want the two of them to have all the angst, and then do all the cliches, especially the ones that involve being undercover and mistaken identities, and then a happy ending and live happily ever after beating up bad guys in an alley.)

Date: 2012-04-03 11:39 am (UTC)
amathela: ([comics] stephanie brown)
From: [personal profile] amathela
Interesting primer! It's not that I don't know all about Tim - or even that I can't figure him out, necessarily, I just ... can't really get a hold on his character in a way that makes me really feel anything? IDK, I figure having read most of Robin and parts of Red Robin, if I don't love him now I'm just never going to. But, I mean, I like him okay? Just not in a super feelings-y way.

Date: 2012-04-04 03:12 am (UTC)
amathela: ([comics] stephanie brown)
From: [personal profile] amathela
I think the Tim Drake in your head is pretty accurate; I just think he comes off a little flat for me a lot of the time, but Steph likes him so that gives him a few points at least :p