Robin wasn’t really around when I first started reading comics as a kid, but when I got seriously into comics as a fan and collector, Tim Drake was having the best run of his life. Well, not his life, his life was kinda awful given he was constantly getting beaten up and lying to his father about being Robin.
But if in 1997 you were reading comics or, like me, you were reading Wizard because you had limited availability (I grew up on military bases, so the comic selection amounted to Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and the occasional odd issue of something different), then you definitely saw the cover art to Robin #47 at some point.
Quick summary: The Genesis cross over saw many heroes lose their powers, so Gotham is in chaos. Tim Drake at this point was at the crux of a key moment of his run: his frustration with his dual life. At the time, he was actually dealing with being grounded by his father, which put a hamper on his Robin activities. Over the course of the issue, he breaks up a shootout and chases a gang member named Young El into an abandoned building, where El is trapped by a fallen beam. Tim tries to save El, but in the end he drowns as a result of Tim’s efforts to save him.
The first Robin issue I picked up wasn’t #47, but it was #56, where Tim was trying to choose between his girlfriend Ariane who knew him as Tim or The Spoiler, who knew him as Robin. Tim struggled with a lot of real world, relatable problems at this point in time. with many critics hailing him as the modern Peter Parker, and was one of the first new characters I clung to when I started collecting. When I came back to comics after a hiatus in the mid-00s, he was the third character I started looking up (as you probably guessed, yeah, Wally and Dick came first). In the mid-00s, Tim went through a shift as his character evolved. He had become an orphan after the event of Identity Crisis, and went from trying to maintain the balance to almost losing himself in his life as Robin, even going so far as to deceive Batman to maintain his independence. Tim went from being the Robin most like a teenager to being the one most likely to surpass Batman, and it happened so quickly that even he was surprised.
It was New 52 where I was lost. Tim, previously forging his own identity within the Bat-family as Robin and then Red Robin, was now Red Robin, leader of the Teen Titans. No more solo adventures, and barely associated with Batman. Teen Titans was an awkward mess, and Tim usually just came off as a jerk in a weird bird costume.
But it’s Rebirth now, and Tim’s back. He’s still Red Robin, but he’s in classic Robin red and green, a look almost as good as that slick red and black look he had in One Year Later.
Tim’s back to having relatable problems. He’s got a hell of a scholarship offer, but he’s worried about leaving Gotham alone and disappointing Batman. His relationship with Spoiler is back, but there’s the tension of him potentially leaving. But more importantly…Tim Drake is a goddamn badass again.
Tim’s only in Detective Comics right now, but he’s clearly a focal point. He’s a genius level badass again, and I am so excited for the future of this character I’ve grown up with.