Robin’s birds and beesPosted: 06/26/2014
Tim Drake’s the first Robin we really saw “grow up” as Robin. I mean, sure, Dick Grayson took forty years to go through puberty, but his coming of age involved more chasing bad guys on giant piano keyboards and less frank relationship talks. Though he did almost marry Starfire. And dated Batgirl for a long time. Look, so Dick Grayson’s not a good example. But today, Tim has to confront a problem for the first time that batarangs and kicks to the face won’t solve: teenage love. In Robin #40-41, written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Staz Johnson, our dear protagonist has to make a choice when he’s finally at bat for his home run. Cue after school special:
Meet Ariana Dzerchenko, the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants killed by supervillain KGBeast. Robin saved her from a kidnapping, they met again out of costume, and she became Tim’s first serious girlfriend. Unfortunately, with the whole fighting crime thing Robin has to do, their time together remains spotty and inconsistent. Sadly, bad guys don’t wait till the end of dates to rob banks.
We know what he’s thinking. He’s fifteen. No matter how fast he grapples from rooftops or uses the Batcomputer to hack into mainframes, we have one dilemma that Batman hasn’t trained him for. I mean, Batman wants to beat up criminals, not bang models — unfortunately, his cover of Bruce Wayne forces him to occasionally sleep with the most beautiful women on the planet. The sacrifices that man makes. Anyway, Robin’s reaction? Warning: this is going to be incredibly melodramatic.
Let me try to explain this the best I can. In Robin #1-2, there’s a minor bad guy named Kurt Stack who runs a gang called the Speedboyz. Robin takes him out. We don’t see him again until Robin #31, written by Dixon and drawn by Mike Wieringo (which is also Stack’s final appearance) where at a car show, Ariana suddenly recognizes him. I’ve included the two pages here for you to see:
That’s it. Robin apprehends him at the end of the issue and the obvious attempted rape is never mentioned again. Ariana mopes around a few times for the next nine issues wanting to tell Tim “something,” but it’s vague and unimportant to the central plot. But there’s the story. From what I know about that kind of trauma, Ariana wouldn’t want anything to do with intimacy much less attempting to rush it with Tim, but her actions make sense from a storytelling standpoint.
Unfortunately for Tim, we’re still reading a superhero adventure. That means whenever our hero comes close to anything resembling happiness, it must be shattered and broken with all the force and malice a writer can provide. Comic are soap operas, after all.
Like all good teenage stories, ours ends today with Tim evading the violent adults to rush back home. We’ll end our article today with it. More importantly, this marks the beginning of the end for Tim and Ariana’s relationship. Their love cools and Tim starts dating Stephanie Brown (the superhero Spoiler/Batgirl). It’s not his fault — Robins and Batgirls are destined to fall in love.
As for Tim’s virginity? That’s gross. He’s a child. You shouldn’t ask questions like that.