It’s been half a year since the last chapter in the development of Tim Drake’s coming out, but the wait was worthy of the time between. To celebrate Pride Month this year, DC Comics is releasing DC Pride Tim Drake Special, a 64-page one-shot comic, that collects the two breakout stories from Batman: Urban Legends and features a brand-new story that deepens further Tim’s journey of self-discovery and its consequences.
“Sum of Our Parts”, written by Meghan Fitzmartin and penciled by Belén Ortega, was originally published in last year’s Batman: Urban Legends #5 and #6 and “Happy Holidays”, also written by Meghan Fitzmartin, but penciled by Alberto Jimenez Albuquerque, was originally published in Batman: Urban Legends #10, also from last year. “The Elephant in the Room”, the brand-new story, reunites Fitzmartin with Ortega to present what feels like the last part of a trilogy.
While “Sum of Our Parts” was a journey of self-discovery and the realization of Tim’s feelings for Bernard Dowd, “Happy Holidays” was a reflection about his relationship with his father, Bruce Wayne, and his connection to his closest brother, Dick Grayson. “The Elephant in the Room”, on the other hand, is all about his best friends. It is as if Fitzmartin structured a broader story in three acts, reflecting three steps of a coming out process: to yourself, to your family, to your friends.
The fact that, in this narrative structure, family comes before friends, shows how Tim cares about Bruce and reminds us of both his origin in 1989 and Christopher Yost’ run from 2009-2010. Tim became Robin because he was worried about Batman’s mental health and he was the one person who believed Bruce had not been killed by Darkseid in Final Crisis (2008).
It is worthy of note that Fitzmartin shows Tim worried about Bruce’s happiness, but never afraid of not being accepted by him for his queerness. This is both a testimony of Tim’s tendency to put others before him and his confidence in his father’s morals. It also sends a powerful message to all queer readers: you would be accepted by Batman.
The Special’s third chapter, “The Elephant in the Room”, has a very appropriate title. Originated in a 1814 fable by Ivan Krylov entitled “The Inquisitive Man”, the phrase became a metaphorical idiom for an obvious issue that people know about but someone doesn’t want to discuss because it makes them feel uncomfortable. By carefully choosing what the characters say or don´t say, Fitzmartin is able to define the whole atmosphere of the story until the very end. There is even a feeling of uneasiness causing an eagerness in the reader to get to the conclusion.
Like her two previous stories, this one is more about relationships and feelings and less focused on the villain, who serves more as a metaphor of the situation. She is still able to portray Tim’s important traits though. Detective skill, rational thinking, intellect, caring and a little awkwardness in dealing with feelings. Everything is in there.
It is interesting how Fitzmartin, with just three stories, has become one of Tim Drake’s most important writers, redefining the character by canonizing a layer fans have been identifying in him for a long time. What could have easily came out as cheesy, ended up being enjoyable and relatable, no doubt because of her skill in framing scenes and choosing which dialogs should be included and which should be implied.
We could say Belén Ortega’s art is perfect for this kind of story, but that would be unfair to her. She is the kind of artist that really knows how to visually tell a story, adapting the composition and shape of panels to the rhythm of the story. The action scenes are dynamic and the interaction ones have the perfect amount of emotion. It is impossible not to notice how clear the face expressions are, which leaves no doubt about how the characters are feeling.
The Special has a bad part though. It ends. We definitely need more Tim Drake. Soon!