Overview: In Tim Drake: Robin #7, what is supposed to be a fun date for Bernard Dowd and his boyfriend Tim Drake becomes both a family and a criminal affair.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): As Tim Drake: Robin #7 begins, Tim Drake is rushing to get ready. Bernard Dowd, his boyfriend, is waiting. The two have dinner reservations, but it’s perilous, as Firefly has been attacking restaurants. Bernard is not worried; after all, he has Tim with him. Bruce Wayne was able to get the reservations for Tim, Bernard, and Bernard’s parents on short notice. It’s revealed that Bernard’s parents could have gotten the reservations as well, but they are not as encouraging. Bernard is studying to be a chef, which is not what his parents want for him.
At the restaurant, Bernard is not happy. His parents have also arrived. Bernard’s mom is not approving of Tim, which is evident when she says that he brought his “little friend.” Tim excuses himself to the bathroom. After tense words between the two, Bernard’s mother tells her son that she wants him to come back; Bernard admits that he wants to also but is interrupted by an explosion. Firefly is attacking, and Robin quickly swings in to engage.
Bernard tries to get his parents out but is cut off by the fire. He grabs a tablecloth to cover them. Robin tries to find out who Firefly is working with. While this is going on, the Dowds start to argue. Mr. Dowd says that everything has to be about Bernard. Then he says the worst thing possible to the shock of Mrs. Dowd. Mr. Dowd lashes out that it would have been better if Bernard had never been born. Bernard exits the restaurant by himself, but he does not want to be alone.
Soon, Tim steps out and embraces his boyfriend. Bernard shares the interaction with his parents. Bernard mentions it is like his worst fears coming to life. This sparks a memory in Tim, and he races back to the restaurant, saying he forgot his sweater. Bernard follows, but his parents are still in the restaurant. Through a window, Bernard sees Robin trapped in a fire cage. But there is someone else, Phobia. She is the brains of this operation, feeding off of the chaos of the trapped patrons.
Bernard sneaks in and discovers his parents’ worst nightmare, and it is not him. They are arguing in the middle of the inferno about getting a divorce. Just then, Firefly and Phobia find Bernard and grab him in front of Robin. Robin escapes and takes out both Firefly and Phobia. After putting out the fire, Robin leaves them for the police.
Afterward, Tim and Bernard walk home. Tim asks if Bernard is safe, and Bernard tells him that he is always safe with him. The two share a touching moment, and then Bernard asks him if he got his sweater. Tim says that he forgot that he did not have one with him, and Bernard reveals to the reader that he knows that Tim Drake is Robin. He, however, will not let Tim know that he knows until Tim is ready to reveal that information. Bernard gives Tim a necklace with his initial. That way, both Robin and Tim can keep him close.
Analysis: The art of this story by Serg Acuna is fantastic. The character designs are great. Bernard is drawn as a masculine young man along with Tim Drake. There are no feminine features highlighted, and the clothing style of the two characters are also masculine. Tim could be drawn as a little too young but not overly youthful as he has been depicted in the past. I look forward to this artist staying on the book.
Story-wise, the focus is not on Tim but on Bernard. Bernard actually appears more than Tim or Robin in this story. We get insight into the Dowd family and their fears. They really are not concerned about Bernard but themselves. It is a little ironic since Mr. Dowd calls Bernard selfish when the two of them are the selfish ones, as shown in their argument in the restaurant. On a hopeful note, the story concludes with Mrs. Dowd texting Bernard asking him to come home. It’s a sweet finish to the story that tries to dig deep into the complexities of what’s deeper beneath the surface when it comes to fear.
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.
Tim Drake: Robin #7
This is a wonderful story that has the requisite action of a superhero comic book, but the focus is on one of the supporting characters. This story opens the book on Bernard Dowd, what he knows, feels, and thinks. It also is a positive depiction of gay relationship between two men.