As time goes on, I become more and more convinced I want to write something about why Tim and Steph mattered so much to the DC Universe. It’s such a shame that Steph was benched, and Tim’s current book, Teen Titans, doesn’t cover anywhere near the depth of his character that we saw in Robin (vol 2) and Red Robin.
Simply put, Tim and Steph reflect the problems that teenagers and young adults have coming to terms with adulthood, responsibility, and, ultimately, who they are as people.
The most shocking thing is that there are huge numbers of people who dearly love these characters, yet it appears that there is no space for them as there are already 52 books that DC are putting out. Let’s take a look at that for a second though:
The Dark Knight
Batman and Robin
While Batman and Detective Comics should exist as they’re a couple of the longest running series around, and Batman and Robin has a place because it brings to light the relationship between Bruce and Damian, the other two could be moved aside for other things.
The Dark Knight, so far, hasn’t shown any reason it needs to exist. The story line so far has indeed been darker than the rest, but it needn’t be its own comic when dark story lines can be introduced into Batman and Detective Comics. When we look at Batman Inc, a book which covers the fringe element of the Batman Family, we’re introduced to many characters, but never given a chance to learn about who they are. This undermines the greatness of the Super Hero genre.
The premise of the Super Hero is that you have someone who does something which the reader dreams of doing, but makes them relatable by spending large amounts of time with the protagonist out of costume. When you have team-up books like Teen Titans and Batman Inc, a lot of the magic of the genre is lost as we are only given a small amount of page-space, which isn’t enough to cover the depth of a character.
This is why Teen Titans has failed to be a Tim Drake book. He’s there, and he is certainly the head honcho of the group, but so far he hasn’t been given much page space to explore who he is and why he does what he does. Indeed, while there was Teen Titans 0, which changed Tim’s background, it wasn’t enough to explain who he is.
We were never given a change to experience the problems he had with the death of his mother, nor did we see how he dealt with his falling grades and his father’s reaction to this, and eventually how hard the death of his father hit him. Massive changes in a young adults life, completely wiped out.
Brining it around to Steph, we completely missed the relationship that Tim and Steph built up, from its tough beginnings when Tim was dating Zoanne, right through to her death. There was so much to the relationship, a couple that so clearly loved each other, both in and out of costume, but they had their problems. Initially Tim didn’t want anything to do with Steph as he believed that she was too reckless, and shouldn’t be crime fighting. But like many a romance, that didn’t stop it from blooming. They were just mad for each other, and had a lot of feelings about each other and themselves which they could finally explore.
That’s the important thing about relationships, someone comes in to your life and offers a completely new perspective on who you are. This is exactly what made Tim and Steph such an amazing couple. We’d already seen Tim grow up, but he wasn’t grown up yet. Stephanie came on to the scene and put him in his place in a way Bruce couldn’t even dream of.
Young adult readers had been through these kind of emotional upheavals themselves, and instantly saw themselves in Tim and Steph, which was exactly the reason Dick was introduced as the first Robin.
Robin was introduced originally so that young readers, early teenagers, had someone who could help them see themselves in the comics. Today Damian stands out as this character. Dick is now Nightwing, and Babs is once again Batgirl. In my mind, they are aimed at a mid thirties demographic, and Bruce covers everyone older. The reason I say this is because I don’t think that anyone relates to someone the same age as themselves. The Middle Aged Man likes Batman and James Bond because they remind themselves of a time when they were a bit younger, a bit more athletic, and a bit more attractive to women.
So what does the mid twenties man want? Well I don’t want to see Dick and Babs. Don’t get me wrong, I love them to bits, but they’re my age, they don’t fill me with memories. Instead they make me think of my friends, people who are the same age as me, and who I can turn to for familiarity.
What I really want to read is something that excites me, something that reminds me of some of the good times I’ve had in my life, so I like to see myself through the late-teen/young adult eyes of Tim Drake, and many women my age relate to Steph in much the same way.
We only have to look at the most popular books for twenty to thirty year olds, Twilight, and take a look at the the characters, you see they are of a similar age to Tim and Steph, yet DC aren’t creating a book with similarly aged characters. OK, there is Teen Titans, but as with above, teams books are too dilute and just cannot get to the core of the character.
Personally, I would like to see a book which starts Tim and Steph as Red Robin and Spoiler (to start). They would double bill, and would open with how they meet in costume. We’d see Tim in a relationship, maybe with Zoanne, and we’d show the story of their relationship from the start again. I’d like to see Steph being told to quite, like before, and be brought under Bruce’s wing for training, to the chagrin of Tim.
What would I call this book? I don’t know, but it won’t be called ‘Red Robin,’ and it won’t be called ‘Red Robin and Spoiler,’ either. No, it needs to be something which reflects the two of them together, in and out of costume, because there’s more to the two of them than kicking butts.