Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How do you solve a problem like Dick Grayson? And Tim Drake?

DC struggles with what to do with the bat kids. There's currently no place for two former Batgirls, currently Barbara doesn't have anything really going for her besides being Batgirl. After YEARS of DC mishandling Jasons' character Lobdell has put him in a good direction that hopefully others will follow. As for the first boy wonder and the third? DC has had a problem with what to do with Dick for awhile and no one in Gotham seems to be that close to Tim. But some of these problems popped up before the new 52.

Around the time of Chuck Dixon writing most of the bats there was a mandate to lessen the impact of Dicks' Titan days since it was felt that a street level character like him shouldn't stray from that direction too much. Since Dixon also wanted to promote Barbara as a love interest he also wrote off Dicks' past relationship with Kori as a fling from Dicks' POV. Dixon wasn't the only one to do this, I'm not even sure if he was the first to do it but it started to slowly mess with the characters' portrayal. Still people wanted to stress what a great leader he was and the strong ties he had formed outside Gotham. Some did it much better than others but there was also a sense of "what next?" for Dick. With Bruce around he couldn't take his place in the League, the Titans had a limited role for him once Tim came around and few seemed to know what to do with his potential.

Dan Didio couldn't understand why Grayson was needed at all. He was too well adjusted, too old to play off as a kid taking orders from Batman and could never take over from his mentor for good. Since he didn't know what to do with a character that he thought had no potential for growth he wanted to kill him off. Dick was saved last minute became Batman, worked as a mentor and briefly was a part of the JLA. Then the relaunch happened. DC was going to keep his Titan history but decided to simplify things but keeping Tims' group as it's first team. Lobdell kept some of it since Kori dated Dick, worked with Roy and a few other characters. Other than the subplot of his relationship ending on bad terms with Kori none of this was explored. He could still have superhero friends but no one seems interested in that angle.

What has been done with Dick since the new 52? He found out that his fate was to be a Talon for the Court of Owls until his parents murder led him to Bruce. Inherited his circus only to lose it and his dreams thanks to the Joker. Under Snyder he's Bruces' second in command but that basically boils down to him just coming around to talk or show how close they are. Something which Snyder admits he wants to change to play with the idea that Bruce will be at odds with him and likely end up alone in the future. There's also some unflattering and rather pointless add ons to him in his solo series. The first being the fact Dick stole Cassandras' body reading talent, something that's not needed for his character. It doesn't define him like it does Cassandra, it's just something to make him different than the other Robin. For her it was a trait that made her the top fighter, it was how she saw the world and empathized with others. While she was trained from birth to achieve this talent Dick just has it because the plot says why the hell not.

The second it this weird "always looking off towards the future never in the present" mind set. Like the body reading skill it was mentioned in the #0 issue but it's also been in most of the previews and scans I've seen from Nightwing. So far neither have appeared in other titles but this trait makes Dick seem very flaky. Not the reliable guy that used to be only second to Batman in terms of inspiring and leading other heroes. I can be okay with Dick not having his Titan backround but I think a big failing was not having some history with other heroes explored. Lobdell mentioned it but I haven't heard anyone else use this idea.

I haven't been reading Teen Titans since the last DOTF tie in so I may be missing some of Tims' development. Still I think problems started to crop up after his fathers' death which was the start of the congo line of death in his life. Connor, Bart, etc. While his girlfriend Stephanie died (or at least was assumed dead) he didn't show much grief for her. At least not until further down the line when others had died. Tim became more driven, more Batman like so when his mentor "died" he took it to the extreme. This included hitting Stephanie in the stomach even though she was trying to help him via Bruces' orders. No one believed him when he said Bruce was alive, Dick gave the role of Robin to Damian without bothering to get Tims' approval and even after Bruce returned he was still kinda jerky. Fabian Nicieza writes Tim pretty arrogant, this is rather obvious especially when he writes in his bias against Jason with Tim thinking how smart he is. (Last seen in Teen Titans #16.)

Tim put his plans first and the emotional state of others last. The best example being how thoughtless he was with Tam Fox. Tam spent most of the Red Robin series doing everything she could to be there for him. Repeatedly risking her life to help Tim out. They were attracted to each other and finally went out on a date. Despite sharing a lot of information with her in the past he doesn't tell her that he faked her fathers' death. She doesn't find out until afterward and is rightly furious with him. I don't recall Tim being nearly as bad in TT. Yes he has said a few crappy things but he feels bad about it and even explained to his teammates that it wasn't his intent to hurt their feelings.

I'm not really sure why so many bat books shy away from using Tim lately. He only showed up for two panels during Night of the Owls (in two seperate books.) Besides the flashback in RHATO and a couple panels during the DOTF tie crossover he hasn't really shown up in many books. Just in small parts in Batman, Batman INC. and Batman and Robin. The latter being the most exposure he's gotten outside of TT. During DOTF Bruce repeatedly told him to shut up, and the Denial issue of B & R wasn't much better.

Dick Grayson should be the big brother figure most heroes trust, light hearted and fun. Yet you'd never know he was close to any of his siblings besides Damian. Small wonder Tim feels closer to Jason now.

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