Robin vs. the JokerPosted: 07/09/2012
No, not that Robin versus the Joker story. I’m sticking with Tim Drake. And I know we just did a Tim Drake article a few days ago, but you’ll get over it.
Y’see, Dick Grayson, the first Robin, had an athleticism and acrobatic skill that normal children don’t have. Part of the benefit of being circus folk. The second Robin, Jason Todd, did not possess the physical talents his predecessor had, and he was killed by the Joker with a crowbar back in 1989. But Tim Drake ain’t an athletic dynamo either. He was just a smart kid who forced himself into the Bat family. And that makes him the closest any child reading these comics in their damp basement has to putting themselves in the stories. Any 14 year old could be Robin if Drake can do it, right? Especially Drake, because they let him wear pants.
While I like to stick to comics from the past decade or so, we’re going back to 1991. Batman’s out of town foiling some international drug ring or magician riot or whatever. Robin has to patrol the city by himself for the first time. Unfortunately, Joker escaped Arkham and Drake needs to stop Batman’s most dangerous enemy without any backup or help. Will his training and skills be enough? It’s a cool premise for a story. In Robin II: The Joker’s Wild! miniseries, written by Chuck Dixon, we get to see Drake really come into his own as a detective. But we’re going to concentrate on the fistfights.
See? His brainy side is kicking in. Something’s off, right? Because otherwise it’d be a terrible story.
Oh yeah, forgot to mention. This is the first time the two have met. When a new Robin with a much cooler costume breaks your window, you’re going to be a bit shocked. And probably angry, I mean, all that murder meant nothing now.
First round goes to the Joker. We’ll just consider this a warm up. You get it? Because it’s the middle of winter. I apologize.
This fight is even shorter, but at least Drake lands a hit this time.
The Joker’s a jerk, but you can’t deny his logical conclusions. Mostly because he saw Todd explode with his own eyes after a crowbar massacre. And if the previous Robin died fighting the Joker, well, this battle gets to be Drake’s ultimate test to see if he can truly handle being successor. It’s poetic.
So he’s not doing so hot against this mighty foe. Don’t worry, because the next round he gets to use his brain, which still probably works after getting caned in the head.
One benefit of just hitting puberty is you’re a fantastic gamer. And the Joker spends most of his time building giant typewriters or fixing abandoned amusement parks or something. Drake’s got this.
I know the game isn’t exactly Mario, but at least he’s not outside in the snow falling off trucks.
Now his smarts are offline too. Drake’s zero for three, but all that matters is the knockout. Ideally. You know who’s not comfortable with how Joker’s capture is going? Batman’s best non-butler friend.
The final battle! Can Robin take out all of Joker’s goons and apprehend the supervillain? Probably not, but he’s sure going to try. First, Robin sets up a trap for the Joker. The clown prince falls for it. Next stop: kick town.
While “R” batarangs aren’t terribly aerodynamic, we can’t forget that despite all his failures (see previous three rounds), he has been personally trained by Batman. Who’s very good at his job. Plus, you see that smile two panels up? Most likely not faking it.
I’m not sure how fast snowmobiles go, but they must go faster than leisurely ice skating. Though it’s hard not to admire the Joker for keeping a positive outlook despite his big exciting plan being ruined.
The Joker’s wading in sewage! Because he’s a big stinky loser. You can see why I’m an English major. And stories like this one made Drake so beloved among Batman fans. He’s skilled but not cocky. He’s intelligent but not overbearingly so. Every little Jimmy in their parents’ basement felt as if they could totally become Robin just as Drake became Robin, because Drake acted like they would. The kids get to live out their fantasies through the hours spent reading. Until they discovered girls, then comic books took a backseat for a while.
Spoiler alert: he doesn’t.