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Robin Refreshed: Meghan Fitzmartin on Tim Drake's New Status Quo

Robin Refreshed: Meghan Fitzmartin on Tim Drake's New...

By Joshua Lapin-Bertone Tuesday, September 27th, 2022

For the first time since 2011, Tim Drake is starring in his own ongoing series. Tim Drake: Robin follows the next phase of the Boy Wonder’s life as he finds a new home, faces new enemies and navigates his new love life. Meghan Fitzmartin, who began Tim’s bold new direction in the pages of Batman: Urban Legends, will be joined by penciler Riley Rossmo as the creative duo chronicle the next chapter of Robin’s life. We recently had a chance to chat with Fitzmartin, who answered some burning questions, teased some upcoming developments, and shared her love for all things Drake.

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Tim Drake as the protagonist in his own ongoing series and fandom has a lot of questions about him. For example, where is he living?

On a boat.

Tim WOULD live on a boat.

I know, it's actually kind of perfect. This is sort of pulled from life because sometimes I live on a boat. I think that it's such an interesting space, and the more that I was thinking about poor Tim, the more I was like, yeah, this makes so much sense for Tim to live on a murder shack boat, which is what we've sort of lovingly been calling it. Riley Rossmo has done such an amazing job with the design of it. Tim has been living on a boat—he's got his own place. We've not seen a marina in Gotham, but it makes sense that there would be a marina because it's surrounded by water.

It feels like it would be the setting for a final battle on Batman: The Animated Series or something.

But those were always at the docks. This is a marina where the weirdos of society live. Marina people are some of the most interesting, wonderful people that you don't really ever get to see.

Oh my god, Tim is going to have yacht friends.

A yacht is nice. I said it was a murder shed, just a reminder. (laughs) There are boats where it looks like a shed was glued to a rowboat. It was really fun when I was talking to my editor about coming up with this marina space. It's fun to explore a different part of Gotham with Tim and making this space his own.

Which version of Tim’s backstory are we using? The New 52 established that his parents were alive in the witness protection program, but it seems like we’re going back to him being an orphan. What’s the status of Tim’s parents?

They're not alive. We have enough history with the parents. They are no longer with us, and he is adopted by Bruce. That is the timeline at present.

Last year you electrified fandom with your Batman: Urban Legends storyline which had Tim explore some questions about his sexuality. What made you choose Bernard for that storyline, as opposed to one of Tim’s other friends like Ives, or an original character? Did something in those old Bernard subplot pages jump out at you?

Yeah, I wanted it to be somebody from his background. I didn't want it to be an original character. I remember those comics. I remember reading them when I was a kid and how impactful that was to me. I love those runs. I love being able to see Bernard and Tim in those times and spaces, and so to sort of give a new tint to what was going on there is really interesting—being able to look at the canon and go, "So this is what was happening, but we didn't have this information, or this shading." That was really fun. Bernard came to me because he was a character that felt correct when I was thinking about who it would be. He was a character that was dear to my heart and it was fun to be able to bring him back.

Going through his appearances during the Bill Willingham Robin run, I was surprised to see all the hints to Bernard’s sexuality…

Like I said, there's so much that you can go back to and go, "Oh, okay, that's why."

…like in Robin #122, Bernard threatens to sneak into Tim’s room at night to bound and gag him.

He was in a pain cult...so I mean...

Continuity!

I think the way that I write and the way that I tend to move through story is through feelings, and I sort of investigate that feeling and then it leads to the rest of it. So here it was like, "I think it's Bernard." And then the more that I went into it, I was like, "Yeah, it's Bernard!"

Will there be any other deep cuts from Tim’s history in your run?

I think right now I'm focused on the present and moving forward with Tim. I think it was really important to lean into the deep cuts for the Urban Legends stuff because I think that was about identity. That was about Tim's specific understanding of himself, and the way that we understand ourselves is we go back in our own history. That was why I think it was important for me to have someone like Bernard, someone from his past that he was connecting with. Now moving forward, wanting to create new spaces for him, and new villains, and new adventures is more of the priority now that he's kind of understood his past and understood who he is in the present.

How does Bernard fit into this new present, and what kind of relationship will he and Tim have?

I mean, every hero needs a damsel and Bernard is a perfect damsel. I definitely want to have Bernard around. I think it's important for him to be around. I think it's important too for Tim, to sort of push the question within himself, which is, given his track record and dating, it's not been great and I think Tim really wants this to go well. I think this is really important to Tim. He's all of us in those moments in relationships, where we're like, "I think this is really good, but I have messed this up many times before."

I don't think that he is going to mess things up again, but I think he's worried about that. I think that gets in the way of the relationship with Bernard sometimes. Bernard is like, "I'm just happy that we're here. This is a fun time. I think that you're great. I'm not worried." I've talked to my editor and I don't want to play the "what is your secret identity?" thing, but I don't want Bernard to know yet, so we're living in that space.

We’re not doing the drama of “you left our date to fight crime” or other stuff we see from teenage heroes?

Exactly! We're not doing that. I think Bernard is a very understanding person who is like, "This is fine, whatever, I trust you, I love you, whatever this is, I'm fine with it." I think Tim is more like, "WHAT?! What does that mean? Does he hate me?" And Bernard is like, "At no point did I say any of those words."

I think that's sort of the conundrum that we're facing right now with Tim and Bernard. Tim is still trying to settle into the fact that this is safe and this is good.

During the DC Pride: Tim Drake Special #1, there is a moment where Tim and Conner Kent are holding hands. So, the question is, are you trying to electrocute Twitter?

(laughs) I mean, who doesn't love setting a fire under Twitter? That's definitely something that I've heard about and am aware of and it will be more of a discussion point in later issues of certain comic brands that are happening right now.

That's going to be the line that everyone screencaps and puts on Twitter. You mentioned new enemies. What kind of enemies are we talking about?

Tim Drake at his core is a detective. Every detective needs a Moriarty. I think that's sort of what we're going for right now.

What are the dynamics of sharing the Robin name with Damian?

Damian is living his best life. Well, it's not his best life. He's living his life right now and it is a disaster in a different way than Tim's is a disaster. I think that's part of the question that Tim is currently facing—he's the Robin who's held the title for the longest, so what does that mean for him? What are the next steps for him? Are there next steps for him? Should he stay or should he go, like the way that the song goes?

It is a question I think that he is having to face with himself. And that's part of the identity search that I think he's going through. Now that I have realized these pieces of who I am, how do I move forward? What do I do now? I think that is the core of this particular run of Tim Drake. I have some ideas on where I want to take it, but ultimately, I'm very feelings-led and I'm very Tim-led. And so, part of that is just feeling out what Tim wants and how he's going to get there.

The character kind of dictates the story.

Yeah, absolutely!  He's such a special character to so many people, but especially to me. He's so important to me, and so the way in which I want to honor him is by letting him sort of run the story. Sometimes he needs some help and so sometimes, we help him a lot. Ultimately, I think feeling out what the character is doing and wanting and moving in that direction is the best way of going about it.

You’re also writing Dark Crisis: Young Justice, which has reunited Tim with his Young Justice teammates. Will they be stopping by the series to check on their friend?

That is a question of where they're all going to end up at the end of Dark Crisis: Young Justice. Where we're at right now with them is that they're friends, but there are some fractures blooming and the question will be, what is Young Justice going to look like by the end of this? I think we've all been through those friendships, where we've been friends with someone for forever, but we haven't really touched base with them in a while.


Tim Drake: Robin #1 by Meghan Fitzmartin, Riley Rossmo and Lee Loughridge is now available in print and as a digital comic book.