3goodtimes: (batman rose)
[personal profile] 3goodtimes posting in [community profile] scans_daily

I apologize in advance for making this rather personal. Feel free to skip my emotional commentary and go straight to the scans.

Before last year, I was never attracted to superhero comics. I was living in quirksville with Clowes, Crumb, Gloeckner, Pekar, and others with some Gaiman and manga smooshed in between. What really pulled me into DC was, ironically, a series that most regard as some of their worst work—Identity Crisis. Specifically, the plotline that dealt with Tim Drake losing his father. Because I was grieving the loss of my own dad at the time (and still am to some degree), Meltzer and Morales’s depiction of mourning hit close to home. Though I’m now aware of how much continuity had been twisted in that title (and even at the time I was aware of the disrespectful use of rape as a plot device), I still love portions of it if only for the truth of the emotion. After I finished that title, I kept reading. I suspect DC nabbed me when I found a treasure trove of father-child relationships to enjoy—Oliver and his brood, Bruce and his family, Clark and his father (not to mention Christopher, however abortive that relationship turned out to be), Roy and Lian, Jim and Babs, Ted Grant and heroes he trained, etc, etc…

It’s been cathartic for me to experience Tim’s (and other character's) grief along with my own, even if real life loss is rarely as planet-shaking as it is in these pages. And it's been wonderful to read about father-child moments now that my opportunity to create new memories with my dad has been taken away for good. I like to rant about the stupid ideas that DC pulls out of its butt on a regular basis, but I stick around because I truly feel that some authors have contributed to my life in a positive way. I’m grateful for that.

So I’m putting up some Tim and Jack Drake pre and post death moments today in memory of my dad on the anniversary of his passing. Hope you get something out of them.

A nice moment in Robin #131:

Jack himself has been more of a plot device than a real character. He’s inconsistently written. Is he the sweet, concerned dad? The neglectful father? The downright violent, crazy guy? Hard to say. But the Jack in the scans above is probably one of the more likable versions.

Then of course, we have the events of Identity Crisis #5. The links for this scene, if they have been posted (it’s hard for me to tell the exact pages), appear to be broken. I hope you don’t mind me putting them up again.

The utter denial is probably familiar to some here who’ve experienced being with a dying person. It’s certainly familiar to me.

God, the transition from shock, to terror, to horrifying realization is so vividly painful. Rags Morales is excellent with facial expression. Some people find the dialogue over-dramatic, but I don't mind it.

Identity Crisis #6:

Makes me cry every time. My only complaint is that the last page turns Bruce into a symbolic monster of sorts, which perplexes me. The image is almost a copy of one drawn in Tim’s early days, when Bruce ‘comforts’ him during his father’s illness. Batman, at his best, is a symbol of justice and hope for those who suffer loss. I much prefer that imagining of him to this ‘his death curse will eat you alive’ interpretation.

Of course this scene, from Identity Crisis #7, just makes me cry more!

Answer the phone and accept your Dick hugs, Timothy!

After that, I need some Teen Titans cuddles. Issue #20:

Oh yes Tim, let’s model our grief after a man who had to cope with death by dressing up as a giant bat. That
seems healthy.

The demon-saint thing is a bit heavy handed.

Ooooh. *cues the music*

Hey, it's an enraged, grief!beating. It's like you're a grownup superhero already, Tim, you little over-achiever.

Finally some decent, physical comfort! Thank you Cassie. Just try not to go too far next time and make out with each other or something.

Date: 2010-03-05 12:56 pm (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
The thing that really grabs me about that bit from IC is where Tim turns to Batman in panic, and Bruce has the exact same panic. It's just this fantastic show of emotion in a character that reserved most of the time.

I don't necessarily see him in that last scene as a monster, so much as his look reflecting his own attempt not to fall into familiar despair and actually be there for a boy in shock.

I don't really hate IC the way a lot of people here do, if only for scenes like this.

Date: 2010-03-05 02:42 pm (UTC)
sistermagpie: Sigh. (Monet)
From: [personal profile] sistermagpie
I love Tim's whole relationship with his dad and all the things it goes through. Bruce and Dick both lost their parents really young so their relationship to them is slightly different--I won't say it's completely simple because it's not, but it's more the father you remember from your childhood. Tim and his dad had a lot of things to work through.

That's one of the things I love about the family relationships when they work in the DC titles, that people work at them because they mean a lot to them.

I don't think Bruce is a monster there, really. More that the same darkness that is in him is swallowing Tim up even if Bruce doesn't want that to happen. It's funny reading this how I think sometimes Bruce gets a lot of pressure put on him by his kids when it comes to grieving. I mean, he's never set himself up really as "this is the way you should grieve" but both Tim and Dick have times where they tell themselves how Bruce thinks and try to think the same way. And I'm not sure they're right.

Anyway, thanks for posting this. I think it's a great way to honor your dad today.

Date: 2010-03-05 03:28 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] nevermore999
Chuck Dixon wrote him consistantly as far as I remember- he was kind of a jerk, but he did care about Tim a lot. Formerly a little neglectful, but now all about the bonding!!! which made Tim a bit uncomfortable.

Jon Lewis continued in the same vein, having him be kind of self centered to the point he fell into a little fit of depression when they lost their money, but eventually pulled himself out of it to be with the family.

Then Willingham came and his characterization was all over the place.

Date: 2010-03-05 03:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flidgetjerome.livejournal.com
Yeah, that's how I remember the character too - the guy cared for his son but at the same time he didn't really understand him and wasn't paying enough attention to notice the whole vigilante thing.

Date: 2010-03-05 04:18 pm (UTC)
protogarrett: (Default)
From: [personal profile] protogarrett
"I apologize in advance for making this rather personal. Feel free to skip my emotional commentary and go straight to the scans.

It’s been cathartic for me to experience Tim’s (and other character's) grief along with my own, even if real life loss is rarely as planet-shaking as it is in these pages. And it's been wonderful to read about father-child moments now that my opportunity to create new memories with my dad has been taken away for good. I like to rant about the stupid ideas that DC pulls out of its butt on a regular basis, but I stick around because I truly feel that some authors have contributed to my life in a positive way. I’m grateful for that.

So I’m putting up some Tim and Jack Drake pre and post death moments today in memory of my dad on the anniversary of his passing. Hope you get something out of them."

This is what makes a good post amazing. People's individual attitudes and commentary, it gives the comic heft and new meaning to everyone else in the SD community. Well done.

Date: 2010-03-05 04:57 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] nevermore999

Date: 2010-03-05 05:03 pm (UTC)
naebler: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naebler
Personally I always loved the symbolism of the Identity Crisis final scene with Tim surrounded by the Bat Cloak. It as not as much a monster as a thematic choice to show that the cowl of the bat truly has a price and Tim just paid it. Where the Cowl helped Bruce survive his parent's murder it is there to cradle Tim now. It is haunting and creepy but not monstrous.

Date: 2010-03-05 05:26 pm (UTC)
curlyjo1: Shrinking Violet (Default)
From: [personal profile] curlyjo1
You can literally see the "Oh God, not again," in Batman's face.

Date: 2010-03-05 05:26 pm (UTC)
rhythmbandit: he flies through the air with the greatest of ease... (Bats * Robin flying)
From: [personal profile] rhythmbandit
Yeah, that story, and the ones following it, were really sad. But well done. And his recovery from his Dad's death really shows how strong he is.

Also, I re-read "The Diary of a Teenage Girl" so I'll finally be posting that soon.

Date: 2010-03-05 05:37 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
the moment for me is when Bruce says "Not again."

its like he is Tim for that moment.

and the scene you didnt show with bruce flooring it and busting the most magnificent U-ie ever

Date: 2010-03-05 05:43 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
i see it more as a Dark Angel. i only wish rags had drawn it so you could see Bruce's mouth, because with you not being able to see his mouth and eyes then it looks like darkness covering him as opposed to showing a moment of what batman REALLY is. he's trying to comfort Tim, and his goal is to prevent stuff like this from happening. and when it happens to some one who he has taken under his wing, it hits him hard

Date: 2010-03-05 05:52 pm (UTC)
roibenrye: (smile)
From: [personal profile] roibenrye
Awww....*tear* Thanks so much for posting. Identity Crisis was one of my first comics from DC I picked up too and it made me cry then as it does now.

Sending warm feelings your way.

Date: 2010-03-05 05:53 pm (UTC)
v_various: (Default)
From: [personal profile] v_various
OMG OMG not safe for work not safe for work!

Dammit, I'm tearing up

at work

Date: 2010-03-05 05:56 pm (UTC)
sistermagpie: Classic magpie (Default)
From: [personal profile] sistermagpie
I feel like part of what makes it work so well is that it hits that conflict in Bruce. He makes himself scary as Batman so he is scary. But here he's totally trying to comfort Tim. But he can't help but still be shadowy and look threatening. Tim doesn't feel threatened, of course, but that's what Batman's about. Scaring away people on the outside but comforting the person on the inside, if that makes sense.

It's such a great, iconic image because it's got so many conflicting ideas in it? Like Tim being swallowed and his life getting darker, but Bruce being comforting, but Bruce also being scary whether he wants to be or not. Even the line about them being orphans--on one hand Bruce is devestated because he didn't prevent another boy from being orphaned. But it also draws him closer to Bruce. I love that it's so disturbing without Bruce acting like a maniac.

Date: 2010-03-05 06:02 pm (UTC)
suki_blue: <lj user=suki_blue> (Default)
From: [personal profile] suki_blue
It's wonderful to hear that these comics have actually helped people :o)

I love Identity Crisis too. Poor Tim.

Date: 2010-03-05 06:15 pm (UTC)
dynamite: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dynamite

M--manly tears.

Date: 2010-03-05 08:16 pm (UTC)
skalja: Ultimate Spider-Woman posing like a BAMF (dc: supergirl skydance)
From: [personal profile] skalja
Thanks for sharing your story.

Date: 2010-03-05 08:31 pm (UTC)
parusmajor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] parusmajor
Batman's "not again" is supposed to be gut-wrenching callback to certain origin stories but instead, it makes me groan like "dammit, comics, do you have to keep killing off all the non-superpowered characters?". For once, I'd like to see a superhero's parents/friends/family to live a long happy life and die from a natural, non-violent cause. That "not again" line just made me think of the constant senseless killings and sounded too much like a black humor punchline; it reminded me of stuff in this TV Tropes page (I couldn't help but read the line in John Hurt's voice in Spaceballs).

Other than that, these pages were beautiful because of the very human emotions they portrayed. Tim's expressions are heartbreaking :( I love the last moment with his teammates trying to console Tim and asking him if he wants to talk about it. When you've experienced something bad that really hurts and pains you, the best course of option is to simply talk about it with people who care about you. But sometimes the thing hurts so much that you don't want to talk about it; you try to hide it from everyone, keep the pain inside you, and pretend everything is okay (as Tim tried to do here).

It's even worse with Batman's influence over his bat-clan; Bruce just isn't a really good rolemodel :/ On the one hand his childhood ended when his parents died, but on the other hand he never truly grew up. He was never able to cope with his parents' death and never got over it. He dedicated his whole life and ambitions to the death of his parents, and sometimes I wonder; would Martha and Thomas feel proud of Bruce, or would they feel sad that their son never got to just be happy and live his own life? Anyway, it's a really bad thing that Tim's initial reaction was to mimic Bruce's coping mechanisms; I'm happy he realized in the end that he's got to stop thinking like Batman. That scene with his friends comforting him is made of bittersweet awwwww<3

I'm not all too bothered about the "symbolic monster" look on Batman though. There are lots of panels where he's comforting a scared kid while looking creepy as usual. It creates an interesting visual contrast, and Batman works okay for me in these kinds of panels. What bothers me is the huge pool of blood (again, I dislike killing off minor characters graphically for shock value) and Tim almost sitting on top of his father. It somehow feels wrong; as if Tim's not worrying that he might be stepping on his dad or squashing him with his feet. I'm extremely squeamish about any kinds of actions that might be considered disrespectful towards a deceased person. Dead people are gone and they probably won't mind, but the idea of mistreating their bodies still terrifies me.

Thanks for posting this and sharing your thoughts on the pages, and thanks for opening up about a very personal issue <3 I love it when people here take the time to analyze comics and provide their own unique viewpoints for thought fodder.

Date: 2010-03-05 08:33 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
The method and reasoning of killing Jack Drake (By Captain Boomerang of all people, ordered by someone who should have had any way of knowing who Robin really was) is still asinine, but I have to say that the scene itself worked well at ramping up the dramatic tension.

But Dick phoning? He'd visit in person surely, for a proper hug if nothing else.

Oh and if Wally's not answering, call Bart, or Max, or Jessie, or Raven (who has the advantage of being a teleporter and healer) it's not like there aren't a few speedsters around who owe the Batclan a few favours.

Tim telling the Titans the truth is also heartbreaking.

Date: 2010-03-05 10:21 pm (UTC)
catey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] catey
OMG, I just wanna go there and hug him. *bawl* I think I'll never forget his eyes and the look on his face when he saw the body and tried to remove the boomrang. Or when he begged Bruce to help his dad...

God knows how much I love Bruce, but I really hated him when he told Tim to be careful with the cops. I mean, ok Bruce was being rational, thinking about their secret identities and all, but Tim's father is there probably dead and you expect him to take off his Robin clothes instead of rushing upstairs to rescue his old man? Who cares if the damn cops are there?!

Anyway, why didn't they call Clark or something?! I mean, when the situation is really fucked up and family members are involved, the first thing you do is call Superman. We all know that nobody can beat Clark. Didn't he cross the planet in less than 3 seconds when Lois was shot and nearly died?

Now I want stupid Damian to go away so that things go back to normal. Seeing Tim hurt that much makes me hate that little brat even more.

Date: 2010-03-05 10:58 pm (UTC)
mad: I AM THE LIZARD QUEEN! (Default)
From: [personal profile] mad
Thank you for sharing this!

I don't think I'd ever seen the Teen Titans bit where he finally breaks down.

The dynamics between Tim, his non-bat family and Batman have always been pretty interesting and at times quite tragic. He admired and was fascinated by Batman and Robin, and eventually joined them. As Robin he often said that he never wanted to be Batman, never wanted to keep doing the hero thing into adulthood.

I don't think his parents' deaths and his continuing on as a hero should be treated like it's the same slippery slope that all bat-kids go down or something. I like the idea of Tim choosing to keep being a hero, and in light of his father's last words, I have to wonder if that may have changed his attitude about it a little: being a hero (if he wanted to be) became something he didn't have to feel guilty about, because in the end he did have his father's blessing.

Date: 2010-03-05 11:01 pm (UTC)
mad: I AM THE LIZARD QUEEN! (Default)
From: [personal profile] mad
I still don't understand why Jean Lorring, of all people, would know this Robin's secret ID and family, and be able to plan the whole thing.

Date: 2010-03-05 11:06 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
It's Identity Crisis, it apparently never needed to make sense.

Date: 2010-03-05 11:09 pm (UTC)
mad: Ollie, in his natural state of being (Ollie in his natural state)
From: [personal profile] mad

Date: 2010-03-06 02:58 am (UTC)
jcbaggee: Jesus (Default)
From: [personal profile] jcbaggee
I know a lot of you hate Identity Crisis, but it's the book that got me back in to comics after an incredibly long absence. And I still want a poster or something of the "Batman & Robin. Orphans." page. Morbid? Maybe, but I think the image is just amazing.

Date: 2010-03-06 08:39 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Yow. That's some pretty powerful stuff there, all right. It evoked some tragic memories for me, too.
About two years ago this month, my dog died. Now, of course I am NOT saying that the two situations are equivelant in any way - the loss of a parent is about a million years more painful than anything I've ever been through, and I'm certainly not trying to imply otherwise - but at the time, it was absolutely unbearable for me. I honestly don't think I've ever felt as much raw grief at one time in my entire life, and those scenes with Tim in the Batmobile - well, they took me right back there. So yeah, I agree with you that it's a very well-done and evocative sequence. Rags Morales was obviously drawing on some painful experiences of his own.
On a slightly lighter topic, just how long did this era of the Titans last? I mean, with just these seven characters and Mia, once she joined. It seems like it was barely around for a heartbeat before the current status quo was ushered in, with the yelling and the fighting and the whatnot.

Date: 2010-03-06 08:47 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
The way I read that is not so much that he's genuinely concerned that there might be cops - after all, if the friggin' Batmobile got there just barely too late, what are the chances that the cops will be on the scene? - it's that he's trying to slow Tim down a bit, distract him just a little so that when he DOES get to his Dad, he'll either have calmed down enough to help, or he'll take the emotional blow a tiny bit easier. It's a pretty hopeless plan, and he probably knows it, but he's still doing it, because it's all he can think of.
Also note that, despite the depth of Tim's grief and panic, he doesn't just ignore Bruce - he immediately starts tearing off his costume. It says something about just how committed he is to the team - he doesn't even think about disobeying, he just automatically does it.

Date: 2010-03-06 10:51 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] kd_the_movie
If I remember an old issue of Wizard clearly enough, the whole "Bat-life is a never ending cycle of tragedy and loss" motif is exactly what Meltzer and Morales were going for in the Bruce hugging Tim scene.

Date: 2010-03-06 11:00 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] kd_the_movie
I've actually tried to make sense of it myself and the only logical theory I came to was that during the Dan Jurgens era of Titans when Ray was teen!Atom, Tim (who was kind of a reserve member) and him hit it off well enough that Tim told him his identity (I mean shit it's not Ray didn't know Batman's identity) and maybe Ray was just talking to Jean one day about that "new Robin who seems like a pretty smart and good kid with great things ahead of him" and let Tim's identity slip.

Really, this could all be cleared up if Tim and Ray every met face to face and talked about the events of IC.

Date: 2010-03-06 04:48 pm (UTC)
benicio127: (Gah!)
From: [personal profile] benicio127
I absolutely agree. It gives us a chance to see a comic in a different light, 3goodtimes. You did a lovely job. :-)

Date: 2010-03-06 04:53 pm (UTC)
benicio127: (Gah!)
From: [personal profile] benicio127
I've read the Tim/Jack scene, but I'd never read the death of Jack. Thanks for this. It was definitely gut-wrenching. Poor Tim.

Date: 2010-03-06 05:53 pm (UTC)
sun_soraya: (Wally - rush)
From: [personal profile] sun_soraya
IIR the yelling and fighting started after Infinite Crisis, when Kon and Bart were gone and One Year Later set in. That should be TT #34, the issue where we first see Kid Devil, Ravager etc. as members.
We also see during 52 that the team was unstable and new members were coming and going every day.

I liked the first 30~ issues and want a stable team back, that has more fun moments than arguing. :/

Date: 2010-03-06 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Oh, right. So after One Year Later, they basically went 'well, a year has passed, and DURING that year, at some point everything changed, but weeeeeeeee're not going to tell you when or how it happened, oh noooooooo'? (Or, er, words to that effect.)

Date: 2010-03-07 07:57 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Ah, that's OK. I'm over it. I mean, not completely - you never really get over something that intense, and she really was a wonderful little dog - but, y'know. Life goes on. Thanks, though.

Date: 2010-03-07 01:44 pm (UTC)
ladymirth: Robin is my hero  (R is my hero)
From: [personal profile] ladymirth
I revisit this scene in Identity Crisis when I'm feeling particularly masochistic. The scene itself is dramatic and riveting, esp considering the status of Jack's relationship with his son when he died, but as a plot device it doesn't fare any better than Sue Dibny's.

I don't really have a quibble with the story itself. If it were a stand-alone elseworlds tale that illustrated the consequences of the superheroes being too open with their colleagues, I'd have loved it. But it screwed up past continuity past all comprehension and senselessly assassinated three characters with loads of story-telling potential as a cheap plot device.

I hate what this did to Tim Drake. His relationship with his father was something that set him apart from the other Robins. Unlike his kid superhero peers, he actually did have two separate-though-precariously balanced lives as a civillian and a son as well as a sidekick and superhero. Robin could have taken a whole new and untraversed direction if they had continued to explore from the parent's perspective how Jack tried to reconcile letting his only child go into such danger in order to let him follow his calling.

There are very few non-powered and non-JLA associated parents whose children are notable heroes. Cassie's mother Helena Sandsmark was such a character and I found their interactions really interesting, but Cassie is superpowered. The dynamic of having family and friends in the know was one of the reasons that made Jaime Reyes' story so interesting - part of his appeal to me was that he made me recall how Tim used to be, as a well-adjusted youngster trying to do good in the world. But Jaime also has the advatage of super-armor. All Tim has is his brain and a bagful of tricks, a fact that Jack would be more than cognizant of. Having Jack, Dana (that refeshingly loving and cool stepmom) and Tim trying to figure themselves out while becoming an extended part of the BatFamily would have made a unique coming-of-age story for the Bat mythos.

But no. To be a True Bat, thou must be an angsty, traumatized, emotionally maladjusted prick. *sigh* I call that lazy and hackneyed storytelling. >(

*steps off soapbox*


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