I’ve already written a whole lot about the whole Substack deal, so that’s been denied the lead story item. So what do we do instead? Let’s look at sidekicks having big weeks in this edition of Comics Disassembled.
1. Robin, Having a Big Week
What a week for Robins of all varieties!
First, the big news about my guy Tim Drake, my Robin and the Robin in my book. In a story in Batman: Urban Legends, writer Meghan Fitzmartin and artist Belén Ortega told a story about Drake understanding that he is – and always was – bisexual, even being asked out on a date by a guy at the end of the story. The spectrum of response to this ranged wildly from enormous enthusiasm to deep, deep rage, shocking absolutely no one. The latter group were upset for an array of reasons, most of which were likely related to their own biases, but their chief argument seems to be this: why make Tim Drake bisexual when it could have just been a new character?
The first part of the answer is because Tim Drake means something to people already, so it would give weight to the reveal. The second part is something that they might not be able to understand, but it’s also because like actual people, comic characters – if written well – are able to evolve and be given new depths and directions in their lives because sometimes that happens in life. Sometimes people figure themselves out, and things just click, improving their lives immediately. We all have moments in our lives where that moment clicks in place, often with wildly different ideas and concepts. In Fitzmartin and Ortega’s story, it finally clicked for Drake.
Does that materially change my beloved collection of the character’s 1990s solo book? Absolutely not. That’s all still true, just like this part is true. That doesn’t harm the character or break the character or whatever you might say. It just makes Tim more like the rest of us: someone who is always searching for something until they find it. Now that he found it, it’ll be exciting to see what stories could be told. It’s very, very difficult for me to see that as a bad thing.
Beyond that, all the Robins were busy, as DC anointed the month of November as “The Month of Robin,” with writer Tim Seeley and artist Baldemar Rivas tackling an upcoming Robins mini-series that finds all the characters who held the title – Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown and Damian Wayne – forming a support group for erstwhile sidekicks, at which point things go terribly wrong, as they tend to do.
Not only that, but writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen are teaming up for the excellent looking three-issue series Robin & Batman, a Year One story of a sort for the OG Robin Dick Grayson. That latter title is the world’s easiest sell. I mean, it’s a three-issue mini, it’s Lemire, it’s Nguyen, and it’s Year One. I ask this genuinely: what’s not to like? Nothing. The answer is nothing.
So hey, shouts to all the Robins out there. Just because you all started as sidekicks doesn’t mean you can’t finish number one. Shouts to each of them for doing just that this week, and to the creative teams doing the work.
2. Adaptation Inequities, Continued
The subject of the inequities related to comic creators who create specific characters who show up in comic movies and shows has been written about ad nauseum, especially as of late. There’s not a whole lot of ground that isn’t being covered over and over at this point. Not that it isn’t worth pointing out that it very much sucks that Disney is making billions off Marvel properties but super stingy, but to a certain degree, most news related to it is the same news, which is, again, it’s a sad state of affairs.
That said, Sam Thielman’s recent feature on the subject over at The Guardian covered some new ground, and some very, very specific ground. According to multiple sources, the general plan of attack for Marvel is to send an invitation to the premiere to the involved creator and to also give them a check for $5,000. Now, that is, undeniably, better than nothing. But when you’re talking about a franchise that has made Disney nearly $23 billion – not including the Disney+ shows or Black Widow – $5,000 is barely anything. That’s a tough, tough look.
That part isn’t new. It’s all a tough look. As per usual, they’re doing very little to change that, at least from what we’ve seen and heard. But each time an article like this comes out, another layer is peeled back and we learn even more about the inequities that take place. It’s a real bummer, and a very solvable problem at the same time.