30 Days of DC:
Day 5 - Favorite Sidekick
Further thoughts after the cut!
Wow, yeah. This took a crazy-long time, I know. Partly because my life’s been a bit… crowded, lately (I’m sure Tim would be able to identify, there), and then I just kept doing other things and forgetting to finish this.
But also because I had an incredibly hard time choosing between Tim and Damian for this one. Like, I even started making up a photoset for Damian and everything, but in my head I just kept seeing Tim shooting me betrayed looks and asking how I could choose that entitled brat over him, on top of how horribly DC’s been treating him lately, and why doesn’t anyone love him best, and doesn’t anyone even care how hard he worked to be Robin only to have that legacy taken away from him and then completely erased…
Yes, okay, I have issues. Clearly.
So, well played, Tim. You and your emotional blackmail win.
But in all honesty, I do think that Tim is the right choice for this question. Because Tim, maybe more than any other sidekick character out there (not that I’ve read every sidekick character out there, of course) really loved being a sidekick for its own sake. Not just because he loved being a superhero. Not as a stepping-stone to something else. But because he understood what it meant to be a support and a touch-stone and a helpmate to another hero, and he saw no shame in that.
And there’s something really special and inspiring about that. Tim believed in the Robin role and understood what it represented long before he actually became Robin. Tim wasn’t trained to be a fighter from birth like Cass or Damian. He wasn’t a naturally gifted athlete like Dick. And he didn’t have Jason’s toughness or street smarts. Tim Drake came to the Robin role with exactly three things going for him: his brains, his determination, and a whole lot of inspiration. And you know what? That was enough. Because he worked for it. It meant something to him and he worked hard to be worthy of it. Tim wasn’t chosen by Bruce the way his two predecessors were. Tim stepped up and said “Batman needs a Robin”, and when no one else was there to fill that void, he convinced Bruce that he could do it.
People often talk about how Tim is essentially a fanboy who managed to have every fan’s dream become a reality for him, and that’s definitely an inspirational part of his character. But what that overlooks is just how hard Tim had to work for it. Tim is a wish-fulfillment character in many ways, but he never took anything for granted. Tim got the Robin role because he pushed for it and he believed in it, but he also got it because he gave 110% effort and he was willing to train as hard as it took. And he loved being Robin. There’s this amazing quality to so much of Tim’s Robin tenure where you can just hear him thinking “Wow, I can’t believe this is actually my life”, and considering how many sidekick characters act like snarky brats about the whole thing… that is actually really, really beautiful to me. Because heck yeah! You’re Batman’s Robin, and that’s freaking cool! Sure, it’s also pretty darn terrible at times (mainly because BRUCE), but it’s also kind of incredible, and that’s something Tim never forgot.
And Tim is just… a lovely character, in so many ways. It saddens me nowadays when I see people describing him as “emotionally distant” or other things along those lines, because Tim back in the day was such a warm, sweetheart of a character. He had close relationships with so many people - Dick, Babs, Bruce, Cass, Steph, Kon, Cassie, Bart. He even got along with Helena back when almost nobody in the Batfamily accepted her. Tim isn’t always trusting by nature (he can be rather suspicious, in fact - but that’s what makes him a good detective), but once somebody earns his loyalty, he’s fiercely dedicated to them. That’s not to say he always treats the people he loves perfectly (he absolutely makes mistakes), but Tim’s loyalty is pretty much unshakeable.
And also? He is One of Us. Maybe a big part of Tim’s appeal is basically… he’s a total nerd. He geeks out over Sci-Fi and he trips over his own feet when he tries to flirt and he was obsessing over superheroes long before he ever was one. What’s NOT to love about that?
So here’s to you, Tim Drake. My darling boy. Most favorite of all the sidekicks. The New 52’s killed so much of what made you amazing (never a Robin? EXCUSE YOU), but that only makes it all the more important to remember just how awesome you were. And you were pretty darn awesome. <3