Overview: In DC Pride: Tim Drake Special #1, readers are treated to a collection of stories telling Tim’s journey to discover himself.
Editor’s Note: Due to the anthology nature of this collection, we will feature a synopsis and analysis for each story rather than breaking up the synopsis and analysis. Spoilers are sure to be revealed.
Story #1: Robin in “Sum Of Our Parts” by writer Meghan Fitzmartin and artist Belén Ortega
Synopsis: The first story in DC Pride: Tim Drake Special #1 opens with Tim on patrol. He is multitasking, first with Oracle in helping her diagnose and fix a system problem, and second investigating the disappearances of various teenagers throughout Gotham. Tim does have a third concern; he is trying to find himself. Tim is able to get a lead on the disappearances, someone called “The Chaos Monster,” and he is able to help Barbara with the computer issue as well. Barbara does reveal that she and the others, especially Stephanie, are worried about him. Tim tells Barbara to drop it and goes offline, as he has a date with an old friend.
That friend is Bernard Dowd, and Tim tells us he is nervous but does not understand why. The two embrace and find a suite to have dinner together and catch up. Tim tells Bernard that he is not sure what he wants in life, and the conversation is soon interrupted. A masked, muscular man has killed the waiter. Tim tells Bernard to get under the table, and he moves to attack the Chaos Monster. The villain proves to be fast and resourceful as he gasses Tim with chloroform powder, knocking him out. Tim wakes up, but he discovers that Bernard is gone.
The next chapter opens with Tim tied to a chair. He has been there for three hours, and he is approached by a man and woman. The man tells Tim that he came there looking for answers to life’s questions, and the woman holding a chain behind her back approaches the boy.
We flashback to two days ago. Tim is in the Batcave with Stephanie Brown. She tries to get him to talk about the incident in the restaurant. Tim shuts her down; he wants to focus on finding Bernard, but he doesn’t tell her that. Tim leaves to investigate, and he is soon contacted by Superboy, who is also concerned about him.
Robin decides to start looking for Bernard with his parents. He tells us that Bernard’s folks were not fond of Tim. Robin listens in to Commissioner Montoya questioning the parents about Bernard’s disappearance. Elsewhere he finds a detective talking to some kids, presumably about Bernard. They reveal that he was obsessed with pain. They even say that he had welts on his arms and legs. It is revealed that the detective is talking to the kids not very far from the Dowd house. Tim overhears this conversation and wonders what Bernard got himself into.
Back in the present, the woman beats the bound Tim Drake with the chain. They decide that Tim has potential and release him to wait on the roof for the last test.
Flashback to one day ago. Robin sneaks into the car of Detective Williams. Williams is the detective working on the case. Tim is unable to find anything in the police computers, so he decides to go analog and look for paper notes. He finds the notebook and is interrupted by Williams himself. Williams reveals that the commissioner is getting pressure to call the kids runaways. Williams also does not believe that. Williams believes there is a connection to the new cult, the Children of Dionysus. Williams, without proof or evidence, asks Robin for help in finding the missing kids. After an interlude of Robin on the roofs and a battered Tim being confronted by several Chaos Monsters, the chapter ends.
The third chapter opens with Bernard tied to an altar with the other hostages nearby in a cell. Robin reveals himself, and he strikes. We see the flashback of the Tim Drake fight; he takes out the Chaos Monsters and decides to infiltrate the ceremony as a monster himself. Robin frees Bernard and tells him to escape, noticing that Bernard’s hand is warm. Bernard does not run; instead, he helps Robin fight the cultists. Before the final fight, Bernard asks Robin to tell Tim that he helped him discover who he was, and he wishes he could have finished his date with Tim. Robin and Bernard win the fight and free the kids.
Williams talks to Robin; he seems to understand that Robin is trying to fit himself into an expectation. This inspires Tim to have a tale with Bernard. He tells the boy that he does not know what the restaurant means to him, but he would like to figure it out. Bernard asks Tim for a date.
Analysis: The art in this story is fantastic. It is very detailed, and the shadows and coloration really help with the mood of the scenes. The action sequences, particularly the final fight, are well-drawn and dynamic. They portray the action very well, even giving the brain the illusion of movement.
The overall theme of this story is self-discovery. The action beats and main plot add to this theme, as well as the side plot. The main plot details the common attribute of all the victims as self-actualization and searching for answers in the midst of pain. Tim, for his part, is also on this journey. Several times in the narrative, Tim says that he loves Stephanie, and neither she nor he knows why they broke up. When Stephanie tries to approach Tim, he shuts down and pushes her away without really understanding why other than that he’s confused. For her part, she does not abandon her friend, and that is more evident in the later stories of this collection.
It is worth mentioning that these three chapters were originally published in Batman: Urban Legends as three chapters in three different issues. Collected here helps the story come together, but it is evident that these were chapters of the same story when reprinted.
I believe the climax of this story is not the boss fight in the end but the realization that Tim needs to explore himself and who he is attracted to.
Bernard and Williams are hinted at as being queer. Williams does police work differently than normal, relying on paper and written notes. He also tells Robin that he understands that Robin is trying to make himself fit. Bernard lets drop that he has a stronger attraction to Tim; ironically, he lets that drop to Robin since he does not know that Tim Drake is Robin. Bernard is actually the one to ask Tim on a date. The queerness of the characters are not explicitly stated but implied, and I like that use in the storytelling. It makes it more organic and less in one’s face.
Story #2: Batman and Robin with Nightwing in “A Carol Of Bats” by writer Meghan Fitzmartin and artist Alberto Jimenez Albuquerque
Synopsis: The next story in DC Pride: Tim Drake Special #1 sees Batman in the cave stitching himself up after a battle. Tim comes in to ask for help and also to assist Bruce with his stitches. The main story focuses on the Episcopal Church of Gotham. The church has been repeatedly looted, though it is not the only target. The other faith-based meeting places have also been hit. The Episcopal Bishop even wants the church shut down. Batman is confused; why was Batman called and not the police? Detective Williams admits that the police were called or, more specifically, his husband was called, and Williams called Robin. Williams recognizes that the people doing the looting need help and not a bullet. Williams may be new to the force, but he understands that the police may shoot first.
The side story chronicles Tim’s visit to Blüdhaven. The central action is a fight with Tusk, but there is another motive for Robin’s visit. He wants Dick’s help in bringing Bruce back from the edge again. Dick tells him he loves Bruce, but he cannot endure this again. Bruce always finds the edge, and no one can make Bruce happy. More importantly, Tim has to look at his future and set himself free.
Back at the church, Batman, as usual, believes the worst in people, and he and Robin leap in to stop the next mob attack. Robin is concerned about Batman when they confront the mob, but out of character, Batman hugs the man to the shock of Robin. Batman then helps the people in their misery, and in the end, they all share a meal at the church. Batman tells Tim that Nightwing called and that he is right. Tim is allowed to be happy. In the end, Robin tells Batman about Bernard and that he is happy. Batman is happy because his son is happy.
Analysis: The art in this story is jarring at first, but as I was reading it, I got used to it and even grew to like it. The style is completely different from the previous story, and if I had read this separately, my initial reaction may not have been the same. With that said, I liked the detail in the characters, especially Robin’s costume, along with the brighter blues in Nightwing’s costume. It shows the brightness in Dick’s character that is important, especially in his speech to Tim about not wanting to make Bruce happy but focusing on his own happiness.
Again is it worth noting that this story was previously released as a one-off story in Batman: Urban Legends #10. It doesn’t take away from the story, but it is clear that this issue is collecting Tim’s story of self-discovery.
The main point of this story, despite the feel-good plot, was for Tim to come out to Bruce. It feels a little forced in this context. In reality, and admittedly in my own life, coming out is important but very difficult. For that reason, I have not come out to my family, and struggle with that as I write this review. I liked that Tim did come out, but Bruce seems a little more accepting than I would have thought he would be. It may have helped that in this issue, we see Detective Williams comes out as gay, admitting that he has a husband, and I liked that there was not a real reaction by the characters to that information. It was nonchalant similar to how the queer concept was written in the previous story.
This is an important step in Tim’s journey, and the next step is in the next story.
Story #3: The Teen Titans (Robin, Superboy, and Impulse) with Batgirls Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown in “The Elephant in the Room” by writer Meghan Fitzmartin and artist Belén Ortega
Synopsis: The final story in DC Pride: Tim Drake Special #1 takes place in Gotham, as the Teen Titans are in a fight with a glowing elephant. The beast is not physical, at least Superboy can’t punch it, but it can still crush walls. In the pursuit of the animal, the Titans are forced to rescue civilians while the elephant escapes. They are soon joined by the two Batgirls, Cassandra and Stephanie. After Steph chastises Robin for not calling them for help, they decide to split up and investigate. Impulse, Cass, and Superboy pursue the elephant while Stephanie and Robin investigate the clues. This actually is to force the two to communicate, as Robin is still avoiding Stephanie.
Stephanie and Robin find a disc, and just then, the others radio that the elephant disappeared. It appears in front of Robin and Stephanie. It snatches the disc, and in an attempt to recover the disc, Stephanie is knocked into a shaft. She is grabbed by Robin. Robin radios the others for backup, but he refuses to leave Stephanie to go after the disc. The others arrive as Robin helps Stephanie out of the shaft. Robin devises a plan. Cass will distract the beast while Superboy destroys the disc with his heat vision. Impulse will become a cannonball to destroy the animal. The plan works. Robin realized that the elephant was from the Mark Twain story, “The Stolen White Elephant.” In the story, the elephant is stopped by a cannonball. They do not discover who was behind the elephant.
More importantly, this is the scene where Tim comes out to Stephanie and introduces her to Bernard. First, Tim tells her that he is bisexual. She is honored that he tells her this, and I believe her when she says that she is totally fine with it. It is now that Tim introduces her to Bernard. She hugs him in excitement.
Analysis: The art returns to the art team of the first story. It was easier for me to revert back than it was between the first and second stories. I prefer this style over the style in the second story. The art does not take me out of the story like it initially did in story two.
The mystery is not resolved in the final story in DC Pride: Tim Drake Special #1, as it will carry over into the new Tim Drake series (announced this week). The main point of this story is not the mystery, it is the coming out of Tim to Stephanie. This step is primarily important because Tim still is in a friendly relationship with Stephanie, and the two even work together. For her part, Stephanie’s reaction is believable. I get the sense that she might be a little relieved to discover why Tim was so distant from her. It is clear that she wants to maintain a relationship with Tim, and she gets to have a new friend in Bernard, which she is excited about as well.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.