DCAU #183: Sins of the Father

IN THIS ONE... Tim Drake becomes the new Robin.

CREDITS: Written by Rich Fogel; directed by Curt Geda.

REVIEW: The first episode to chronologically feature the new Robin, so Holiday Knights' broadcast date seems even stranger, and it's an okay mash-up of both Tim Drake and Jason Todd's stories. The whole episode is geared towards making Tim worthy of Robin's mantle, and he's certainly resourceful. He's an expert at using the batarang he found in the wake of one of Batman's missions. He's fearless (too much for his own good). He takes his father's disappearance and likely death in stride, and is self-sufficient. But there's a certain unfinished quality to this episode that begs some questions.

It's not just that it's rather glib about Tim being adopted by Bruce Wayne/Batman. There are lots of elements that are brushed upon, but not fully explored. Tim's interest in the Batman - all the news clippings in his apartment - might have pointed to a personal investigation into who the Caped Crusader really is (as in the comics, see below), but a quick visit of the Batcave and Wayne Manor makes the point moot, and Tim's achievement that much less impressive. There's a statue of Robin Hood in the gardens at one point, but it doesn't really factor into the narrative. And what happened in between seasons? Dick looks to have graduated college and left the Robin role behind (more on this later, but very happy to see him show up at the end to pass the torch, as it were), but Barbara seems to know all of Batman's secrets now. I'm not saying this is a flaw - I don't need everything explained to me - but the new status quo could use some support in the dialog.

The whole Two-Face plot and associated action beats are fine, if not particularly memorable (expect maybe the fight played in shadows behind a movie screen). They have a job to do and they do it. I'm more interested in character moments, which is perhaps why I wanted more out of the nascent Batman/Robin relationship. The best bit for me was Dick walking in at the end and commenting on Batman's fascist rules for being his partner, a long-standing argument from the original BTAS, and likely what pushed him to become his own man. I hope the show will be able to explore Batman's difficult father figure role across its two seasons.

IN THE COMICS: The son of Jack Drake (not Steven "Shifty" Drake), the comics Tim was more well-off and had the distinction of having figured out Batman and Robin's secret identities at a young age. When his mother was killed and his father crippled, he was enlisted to become the third Robin. The Robin they skip over is Jason Todd, but his ghost is everywhere in this story, from the Robin costume memorial seen in the Batcave, to Tim's status as a thieving street urchin, to Two-Face being his father's dangerous patron.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Happy to see the new Robin in action, but in the rush to introduce him, I feel like they cut corners.


LiamKav said...

Weren't Tim's parents alive and well when he became Robin? I thought that was why made him distinct... He wasn't driven by personal tradegy. It was because he figured that Batman needed a Robin to keep him balanced, and so figured out his identity and proved that he could be Robin.

Comic Tim Drake is the best Robin, basically.

Andrew said...

@LiamKav, his dad was alive but comatose at the time of Tim's first globe-trotting miniseries, but his mother had died. Jack Drake would go on to get better and remarry, and somehow managed to survive learning his son's secret identity (and, by extension, how his neighbor Bruce spends his nights) all the way up to Identity Crisis.

LiamKav said...

Yeah, you're right. It was more that comics Tim Drake in general had a happy and healthy home life (until Identity Crisis ruined it, as it ruined so much), as opposed to Dick and Jason.

Coupe of other thoughts:

- As the caption alt-text indicates, that's not actually Dick's suit hanging up. We later see that Dick was still wearing the green and red costume when he retired. (Never mind the fact that a costume designed for an 18+ adult somehow managed to fit onto a kid who's, what, 11? 12?)
- Two-Face says "It's been a long time, bird-boy". Is he under the impression that he's holding Dick (sorry, sorry)? Have they not had enough encounters that he would notice that Robin had lost about a foot in height and suddenly had a much higher voice?
- Batgirl's model sheet turnaround gives her a big grin, which is why I assume she's got it glued to her face at several points in the episode. It looks weird...
- Hey, Alfred, Tim may have found out who Batman is, but there's no real need to spoil Dick's secret identity, is there?
- Two episodes in, and two ransom demands delivered by TV. Let's hope that trope doesn't get out of control.

I'll save my thoughts on Nightwing's costume for when he turns up, so all I'll say here is... so close.

LiamKav said...

Oh, one other thing... you mention that it seems we're missing part of the story, Siskoid. I think that gets partially covered later, but there was also a miniseries called "The Lost Years" that told a lot of that story.


Dunno if you have plans to read it? It's been a while since I have, but I seem to recall it does a much better job bridging BTAS and TNBA than the show itself did.

Siskoid said...

I plan to read everything.


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