We have been thrilled to see Tim Drake’s iconic bo workers make its debut within the season 4 premiere of Titans, but when Tim appeared a bit further pleased about it to you, that in all probability has to do with the one who gave it to him—Bernard Fitzmartin.
Performed on the sequence by James Scully, Bernard is a brand new character to Titans, however he’s actually not new to followers of Batman’s third Robin. Tim Drake’s historical past with Bernard—whose identify is Bernard Dowd within the comics—started nearly twenty years in the past, nevertheless it was solely not too long ago that it really developed into one thing price celebrating. We don’t but know the way the connection between Tim and Bernard goes to play out on Titans, however let’s see how issues have unfolded within the comics for hints as to the place issues is likely to be headed.
Final 12 months, Tim Drake reunited together with his outdated highschool classmate Bernard in Batman: City Legends #4-6. After an journey involving kidnappers and a little bit of self-reflection, Tim requested Bernard out on a date, setting the stage for a brand new period of his life. It wasn’t a direct sure from Bernard. Like Tim, Bernard additionally wanted a while to return to grips together with his sexual identification, and that isn’t too stunning. In any case, Bernard Dowd wasn’t initially conceived as a queer character, a minimum of so far as we all know, nevertheless it’s stunning how a lot his early appearances laid the groundwork for that revelation.
Earlier than reappearing in Batman: City Legends #4, Bernard was a memorable, however underused supporting character in Tim’s life with solely six appearances within the DC Universe, the newest occurring in 2005. He was launched in Robin #121 when Tim Drake started his junior 12 months at Louis E. Grieve Excessive Faculty. Bernard is instantly drawn to Tim and begins sizing him up, making an attempt to determine the place Tim suits in with the highschool social construction.
“It’s very important,” he tells Tim. “A spot for everybody and everybody of their place. That’s how the world works.”
It sounds loads like Bernard is making an attempt to suit into a job he thinks society expects him to be in.
Because the dialog goes on, Bernard threatens to “punish” Tim (!!) and tells him to not date any women he has a crush on. On the time, Bernard simply appeared like an eccentric greatest good friend, however this scene takes on a complete new context after studying Batman: City Legends #6. Issues solely obtained extra attention-grabbing together with his subsequent look in Robin #122. Tim and Bernard are hanging out at a diner when in style lady Darla Aquista walks in. Bernard tells Tim that he has a crush on Darla, however the in style jocks she hangs round with received’t ever give him room to make his play.
What ought to we make of Bernard’s confession right here? Though we now know Bernard is queer, that doesn’t imply he by no means had a crush on Darla. The journey to discovering your personal sexual identification may be lengthy, and it’s potential Bernard was nonetheless understanding his emotions. One other interpretation is that Bernard was closeted on the time and pretended to have a crush on Darla to be able to assert his heterosexuality. Darla could be the proper particular person for this, since her social standing makes her unavailable.
Tim calls Bernard’s bluff and convinces the jocks to let Dowd ask Darla out. Bernard is furious and his temper is worsened when Darla expresses a romantic want for Tim. Studying this in 2004, we’re meant to imagine that Bernard is bummed out as a result of he wished Darla for himself. However filtered by way of a 2022 lens, we will’t assist however marvel if his jealousy got here from his emotions for Tim.
The fallout was seen in Robin #123. Tim, who was relationship Stephanie Brown on the time, protests to Bernard that he has no designs on Darla, insisting that he already has a girlfriend. Bernard is lower than satisfied.
“The place is that this mysterious Stephanie whatshername?” he asks. “Why have I by no means met her? When you’ve obtained one thing you wish to inform me, then converse up. We’re buds. I’ll perceive. We’re two trendy enlightened males within the third millennium, Drake. No must make up imaginary girlfriends.”
Wow, the place to start?
Bernard is clearly teasing Tim, however this scene has a deeper that means in mild of latest revelations. Bernard is virtually begging Tim to return out of the closet, however he’s doing it within the guise of a joke to avoid wasting face. Possibly Bernard is utilizing these feedback to check the waters, to see how Tim would react. The dialog is supposed to ship a transparent message to Tim—if you happen to’re queer, it’s not an enormous deal and you might inform me. The scene ends with Bernard warning Tim concerning the risks of relationship Darla. Interpret what you’ll from that.
In Robin #126, Bernard is a visitor on the Drake family for meal time, the place he spends all the meal fawning over Tim’s stepmother Dana. As soon as he and Tim have a second alone, Bernard begins gushing about how attracted he’s to Dana. But once more, it is a scene that makes extra sense if you happen to suspect Bernard is hiding his sexual identification. He’s making an attempt to play the position of a attractive heterosexual teenager and he’s significantly overcompensating. As he did with Darla, Bernard has additionally chosen an unobtainable feminine to be his object of want. Tim could have referred to as his bluff with Darla, however Dana is a secure goal. There’s no means Tim’s going to encourage his buddy to ask out his stepmom.
Bernard was seen once more in Robin #127 hanging out with Tim and Darla. He shared some conspiracy theories about Batman working for a shadowy authorities, unaware that he was standing subsequent to the Darkish Knight’s associate. Sadly, this is able to be the final time Bernard would share a scene with Tim for seventeen years. After the occasions of “Struggle Video games,” Louis E. Grieve Excessive Faculty completely closed and Tim moved to Blüdhaven. Bernard was seen once more in Robin #140 when Darla sought his assist in monitoring down Tim. Bernard informed her that they’d misplaced contact after their college had closed down, however pointed her in the direction of Blüdhaven. Darla continued her quest with out Bernard, who wasn’t seen once more till 2021’s Batman: City Legends #4.
In it, Tim reunites with Bernard for the primary time in years, sharing a meal at a elaborate restaurant. Sadly, their reunion is minimize brief when Bernard is kidnapped by a cult chief generally known as the Chaos Monster. Tim’s seek for Bernard leads him to the Dowd family, the place Tim makes an attention-grabbing remark relating to his mother and father.
“They at all times wished every little thing simply so completely positioned. And Bernard by no means fairly measured as much as their requirements,” Tim muses.
Bear in mind what Bernard informed Tim after they first met about every little thing having a spot? That assertion immediately makes extra sense, as does a few of Bernard’s outdated behaviors. Studying between the strains, one might conclude that Bernard was hesitant to confront his personal sexuality due to his repressive mother and father.
When Robin rescues Bernard in Batman: City Legends #6, the captive teen tells the Boy Surprise to move a message to Tim Drake in case they don’t make it out alive: “Inform Tim Drake he helped me notice my true self. Who I’m.”
After all, Robin is an outdated professional at rescuing folks, so Bernard makes it out safely, unaware that his rescuer was none apart from Tim Drake. The story concludes with Tim visiting Bernard, who formally asks him out on a date. Tim accepts and fandom rejoiced.
Tim’s journey has been a frequent subject of dialogue, however Bernard’s evolution is price analyzing as nicely. Since Bernard will not be the protagonist, we don’t get pleasure from getting inside his head the best way we do with Tim. Nevertheless, his phrases and actions have given us some large items of the puzzle, sufficient to kind an image. Like Tim, Bernard wasn’t certain who he was or the place he match into issues. Dwelling beneath repressive mother and father, he denied facets of his personal identification. Desperate to play the position his mother and father and society anticipated of him, Bernard acted like a hormonal highschool pupil and purposely sought out women who have been unobtainable. In response to what he informed Robin, Tim Drake helped him notice who he really was.
After all, Tim and Bernard on Titans are older and appear already comfy of their sexuality. I don’t imagine Tim’s ever come proper out and stated he’s queer on the HBO Max sequence—there’s been no want for him to and there possible by no means can be. However he did acknowledge being excited about Bernard within the season premiere. As for Bernard, we don’t know his sexuality but, however I significantly doubt they’d present Tim’s curiosity solely to not pay it off (additionally, that shot of them almost kissing within the season 4 trailer sort of provides it away).
Titans’ Bernard and Tim, who’s performed by Jay Lycurgo, could have their very own distinctive story and nevertheless it performs out, it’s one other instance of some welcome LGBTQIA+ illustration throughout the Bat-Household and DC Multiverse typically. And in what’s really a rarity within the superhero world, each variations of the connection can be outlined on the identical time. Will Tim and Bernard break up within the TV sequence and trip off into the sundown within the comics? That might occur, however so might the other. Or maybe they’ll get a contented ending in each. It doesn’t matter what goes down on Titans and in Tim Drake’s present comedian sequence, Bernard has helped make one factor very clear to Robin #3 and his followers—that is who Tim is.
New episodes of Titans drop Thursdays on HBO Max. For the most recent information out of Titans Tower, go to our official Titans sequence web page.
Tim Drake: Robin #1 and #2 by Meghan Fitzmartin, Riley Rossmo and Lee Loughridge at the moment are out there in print and as digital comedian books.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, films and comics for DC.com, is a daily contributor to the Sofa Membership and writes our month-to-month Batman column, “Gotham Gazette.” Observe him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed on this function are solely these of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and don’t essentially replicate these of DC Leisure or Warner Bros.