Many internet people (including quite a few here at Stately Spoilers Manor and our California embassy) hold the strong opinion Tim Drake is the best Robin of them all.  But how did his storied heroic career get started?  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Batman #442 awaits!

Batman442FeatureBATMAN #442
Writer: Marv Wolfman/George Perez
Penciler: Jim Aparo
Inker: Mike DeCarlo
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Denny O’Neil
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 1.00
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $6.00

Previously in Batman: Jason Todd is dead.  Murdered by The Joker, the second Robin has left the mortal coil, but not without consequence.  The loss of his partner has made Batman unstable, cold and more of a vigilante than ever.  Former Robin Nightwing has returned to Gotham to try to reason with his adoptive father, but Batman is having none of it, while a young man named Timothy Drake has put together the pieces that no one else ever could and discovered the real identity of The Batman.  Now, Tim waits in the Batcave with Alfred, unaware that Batman and Nightwing have been caught in a trap by Two-Face and are slowly suffocating under a mound of rubble…


Alfred, having been through this situation hundreds of times before, cautions Tim about dwelling on the worst-case scenario, but Tim feels like this is different.  This is a situation that calls for decisive action…  a situation that calls for a hero!


Across town, Nightwing is unconscious, and Batman is barely able to bolster the beams protecting them from death, while Two-Face argues with himself, his own compulsions forcing him to flip his silver dollar talisman before sweeping in to finally kill his oldest foe.  Alfred and Tim race across Gotham City, as Two-Face detonates the rest of the building the Caped Crusaders have been trapped in.  The metaphorical cavalry (in the form of a pre-teen boy and an elderly manservant) arrives, seemingly moments too late…


The spectre of a second murdered Robin in as many months spurs Alfred Pennyworth into action, rushing Two-Face as Tim nimbly dodges his attacks.  Sadly, the would-be Robin proves more effective against Harvey’s split-personality tactics…


His martial arts training is impressive, but Tim’s sharp eyes and deductive skills are his true gift, allowing him to find a hidden coal chute that gives him access to the ruined building’s basement.  But will he find the heroes or Gotham or their corpses?


C’maaaahn, guys…  It’s a comic book, of course they’re alive!  Having demonstrated his combat-readiness and his smarts, Tim begins digging, proving that he also has massive reserves of determination, straining himself to the limit to unearth the Dynamic Duo…


Batman brushes past the lad he perceives as an interloper, only to be stopped short by Tim’s words: “Bruce, please!  Listen to me!”  With Batman slowed for a moment, Alfred and Nightwing make the case to trust Tim, citing his skills as a detective and his remarkable gymnastic prowess, but it’s Tim who makes the most salient point: Batman is not the same without a Robin.


Batman brushes aside the argument, refusing to put another child in danger, even though he has clearly been running himself ragged.  Our would-be Robin then makes the point that will tip the scales: If the criminals of Gotham think they’ve killed Robin, they’ll know that they can kill Batman!


Man, I love Jim Aparo’s facial expressions…  Aparo never gets the acclaim of his contemporaries, but for me he draws one of the definitive Batmans (as well as a perfect Metamorpho, an amazing Black Lightning and the only acceptable Halo, but that’s another story) and the expressions on the faces of Alfred and Dick are wonderful, as they realize that someone is finally getting through to their adoptive son/dad.  Batman throws aside the question until they’ve handled the issue of Two-Face, allowing Tim to save the day again by pointing out that he stuck a tracker in Dent’s pocket while they were tussling.  Tracing Two-Face to a scrapyard, Batman orders Tim to stay in the Batmobile, which turns out to be a bad move, thanks to more Two-Face traps…


The battle rages for a few moments, then Harvey gets the jump on Nightwing, and prepares to seal his fate with a flip of the coin…


Harvey Dent goes to jail and the extended Wayne family returns home to discuss what to do about the kid-who-would-be-Robin.  Nightwing makes the case for Tim’s skill, Alfred for his ability to follow Batman’s orders, and Tim himself for a willingness to play by whatever Batman’s rules would be.  But Bruce himself points out the obvious, realizing that he HAS made himself a symbol and that Tim’s argument was 100% correct: He needs a Robin, even if he doesn’t want one…


The road to Robin is a long one for Tim, not bearing fruit until 1991 (wherein he finally gets some long pants and decent armor in his own series), but until the preparation for this issue, I hadn’t realized that Tim Drake was Robin for the better part of TWENTY YEARS, until the New 52 revamped his official status.  That’s really a shame, as part of Tim’s appeal is the fact that he, more than any of the other Robins, Dick Grayson included, is a self-made hero.  Batman #442 wraps up the depressingly named ‘A Lonely Place Of Dying’ with an upbeat story, adding a cool new hero the DC mythos (even if the current editorial team apparently doesn’t see it that way), earning a very impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall. 

[taq_review] [su_signoff]

About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

1 Comment

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.