Comedians have been making jokes about the romantic proclivities of Batman’s junior sidekick, Robin, for decades. But now comic book publisher DC Comics has officially re-written the character as bisexual.
While his sexuality isn’t explicitly stated, in the latest edition of the DC anthology series “Batman: Urban Legends #6” Robin’s alter ego Tim Drake accepts a date with a young man named Bernard he has just rescued from a villain known as Chaos Monster. The story, titled “Sum of Our Parts,” ends with Bernard asking, “Tim Drake, do you want to go on a date with me?” Tim/Robin responds, “Yeah … yeah, I think I want that.”
Given that the character previously had relationships with women, many comic book fans are accusing DC and writer Meghan Fitzmartin of “retconning” — a shorthand term for “retroactive continuity” that Oxford languages defines as “to revise (an aspect of a fictional work) retrospectively, typically by introducing a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events.”
Bounding Into Comics points out that Drake/Robin not only previously showed interest exclusively in women but had numerous heterosexual relationships. “Batman: Urban Legends itself notes, Drake has only been interested in women in the past,” the outlet explains. “Before this retcon, Drake was dating Stephanie Brown. In fact, Drake has been romantically involved with at least half a dozen women in the past. They include Ariana Dzerchenko, Cassie Sandsmark, Zoanne Wilkins, Tam Fox, Madison Payne, and Barbara Gordon.”
But Fitzmartin insists the seeds of Tim/Robin coming out were always present.
Discussing the shift with Polygon, she argued that bisexuality was part of the natural evolution of the character. “[“Sum of Our Parts”] happened because this is who Tim is,” Fitzmartin said. “I love this character very much, and as I went back to reread as much as I could to do Robin justice, it became clear this is the story Tim needed to tell.”
The story goes on:
“Even after she got the go-ahead, Fitzmartin says it took some time to absorb the idea that she was going to create a coming out story for a Robin — and a very established version of Robin at that. “I fully sat on the floor of my apartment for a solid two minutes in happiness as it sunk in. Ultimately, this wouldn’t have happened without champions at DC, like Dave and James Tynion IV, and I hope it is as meaningful for others as it has been for me.”
Though outlets like Entertainment Weekly and Pink News described Batman fans as “overjoyed” and “absolutely elated,” it’s unclear what evidence they based this reporting on beyond several curated tweets as no official fan surveys have been conducted.
DC readers at Bounding into Comics almost universally see it as a negative development and proof that the comic book giants care more about wokeness than quality storytelling.
Said one commenter, “Since about 2016, I’ve slowly stopped caring about American comics, except as a sort of sad, self-destructive side show. I read manga, which I’ve discovered is great, but the North American market is just a wasteland of virtue-signalling garbage with Twitter it’s north star.”