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Subj: If anyone is interested . . . here's what I said in 2005 on this confusing subject
Posted: Fri Jun 06, 2008 at 08:46:55 pm EDT (Viewed 2 times)
Reply Subj: Bruce and Tim's mixed-up age [SPOILERS]
Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 06:58:21 pm EDT (Viewed 1 times)

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Edit: Please delete the below thread, mods.

So Jezebel Jet comments that Bruce is "in his thirties now," seeming to indicate that Bruce is in his early 30s. I assume that Bruce was de-aged by a "Superboy-Prime Punch" as this doesn't gel with what we already know:

1. Bruce is stated as being 25 in Batman: Year One.

2. Zero Hour established that ten years had gone by since Bruce's debut as Batman, Bruce would thus be 35 at the time of Zero Hour.

3. Zatanna has previously shown to be a lover of John Constantine when both were in college. Constantine is now in his late forties, having aged in real-time for the most part. Zatanna would thus be in her late forties as well.

4. Bruce and Zatanna are said to be "childhood friends," meaning they're pretty much the same age unless an 18-year old Zatanna enjoyed playing with five-year old kids.

Then there's Tim Drake:

1. Tim was in the audience when Dick's parents died, but their has traditionally shown to be a sizeable age gap between the two. TIm was probably only five when Dick's parents died.

2. Tim was only able to drive the Redbird in its civilian form because he was granted a special underage Driver's License so he could drive his crippled father around. But no one is going to give a 12-year old a driver's license under any circumstances, so Tim was probably 14-15 at the start of his solo series.

3. Tim had at least three summer vacations in his solo series, he would have been 18-19 during One Year Later, yet he and Steph are shown as probably being juniors.

4. The current "Robin" artist and the current "Teen Titans" artist draw Tim, Steph and friends as pumped-up 18-19 year olds, yet in R.I.P., Robin Spoiler Special and Gotham Underground they're drawn as 15-16 year olds.

Everything below this introductory paragraph I'm typing right now -- including the title in boldface, modest warning and all -- is what I wrote and posted on the subject in September 2005, around the time Infinite Crisis was just getting started and none of us knew what further retcons it might be used to "justify" after it ended. By the same token, these were my "personal guesses" before the OYL thing should have added an extra year to everybody's age.

My Timeline for Batman's Age (and why it's probably wrong!)

One of the arguments that never seems to go out of style on comic book forums is the one that starts with questions such as these:

How old is Batman?

How long has Bruce been wearing the Batman costume, anyway?

How old is Dick Grayson? How long has he been in the costumed crimefighter business?

I've participated in several such threads, on various forums. A few months ago I finally got around to quickly typing an approximate timeline of the answers that I personally favor; then I'll turn around and explain why you don't have to believe any of it if you don't want to! \:\)


I'm numbering key years, but not necessarily referring to the events that have been published under the titles "Year One," "Year Two," and "Year Three." "Year Two" was written by Mike Barr and is way outside of continuity these days. "Year Three" was written by Marv Wolfman but I don't think it ever got much respect from any other writer, either - and it seemed like half of it was set in the present day, with only the other half being flashbacks to the days when Bruce first met Dick and started training him.

Year One: Bruce is 25. He invents the persona of Batman.

Year Three: Bruce is 27. He takes Dick Grayson under his wing and Dick becomes the first Robin after some training. Dick is 13 when he is orphaned. For the next five years they are the Dynamic Duo of Gotham; meanwhile, Dick co-founds the Teen Titans with other costumed characters in his own age group.

Year Eight: Bruce is 32. Dick is 18. Dick goes off to college, but initially keeps the identity of "Robin," sometimes operating alone, sometimes working with Batman again when feasible. Shortly after that, Batman meets Talia, and then her daddy, Ra's al Ghul, for the first time, as shown in reprinted stories in "Tales of the Demon."

Year Nine: Bruce is 33. Dick is 19. Dick gives up the Robin identity and becomes Nightwing. Jason Todd becomes Robin. Jason is about 13 at the time.

Year Ten: Bruce is 34, Dick is 20, Jason is probably 14; Jason dies in "A Death in the Family." Within a few months, Tim Drake pops up out of thin air and ends up in training to be the next Robin. ("A Lonely Place of Dying.") Tim is 13.

Year Eleven: A timeline published in the last issue of the "Zero Hour" miniseries in 1994 states that Batman and Superman both began their superhero careers "Ten Years Ago." Zero Hour happened immediately after the Bat-titles had just spent more than a year telling us all the stories that were part of Knightfall, Knightquest, and Knightsend. (Although I think all of that happened in just a few months from the point of view of the characters.) Bruce Wayne is 35, Dick is 21, Tim is 14.

Year Thirteen (give or take a year): "Today." Bruce is at least 37. Dick is 23 or 24. I heard that Tim - fairly recently - had his 16th Birthday Party, so he's 16.

***** TIMELINE ENDS *****

I admit, looking back on it, that my timeline gets a little crowded toward the end when you consider the way DC hit us over the head, again and again, with the idea that No Man's Land lasted for a solid year. And personally I have no problem with the idea that Bruce could well be at least 38 by now after all he's been through, instead of 37 as my old timeline suggests.

Now for a bit of humility: The above timeline is a summary of what I personally "feel comfortable with" when I look at Bruce, Dick, or Tim in my comics and try to estimate their ages, whether in something published this year or in something I'm rereading from a previous decade. But you may wonder: Am I saying that I think I could "prove" to the satisfaction of any intelligent and open-minded person that my Timeline "must be" correct, or at least with a margin of error no greater than one year at any given point on it? Absolutely not! \:\)

I personally think Bruce must be at least 37 or 38 after all he's gone through (particularly considering how much Dick Grayson has aged since he was orphaned). However, I don't try to hold a gun to other people's heads to force them to accept my figures as being the only possible way to interpret the "evidence."

For one thing, I cannot recall ever reading a Batman comic book that was set in the present day, in "modern continuity," that had anything so simple and straightforward as Bruce saying, "You know, Alfred - I don't heal from bullet wounds and broken bones as fast as I did ten years ago, when I was starting out at the age of 25." And I'm certain I've never seen a "modern continuity" story where Batman's friends throw him a birthday party to celebrate when he turns 35 - or any other age "right here and now." (Contrary to what several of the modern crop of DC writers would have you believe, there have been times in Bruce's life when he was entitled to call many other superheroes his "friends"; not just allies of convenience who tolerated his grim-and-gritty attitude for the sake of his superb detective skills.) DC apparently works very hard to leave Batman's exact age up in the air. The editors may actually be happy when one writer contradicts another writer on the details, because that emphasizes the idea that pinning Batman down to an unambiguous exact age at any given time is an exercise in futility!

A while back, in another thread (not the same one I first wrote the above timeline for), I put it this way:

For a long, long time I have been absolutely positively unshakeably certain that Batman is thirtysomething years old.

If we try to pin it down closer than being in that decade of his life, then we run into all sorts of contradictions and other problems.

For instance, Frank Miller in "Year One" made it clear that Bruce was 25 when he first created the Batman identity. Considering how much Dick has aged since he met Bruce, it seems that Batman must be at least in his late 30s - around 38 or 39. (I favor 38, for various reasons, but that is not set in stone.)

On the other hand, in his recent "Death and the Maidens" Greg Rucka stated in dialogue that Batman's parents died twenty-five years ago. If he was only 8 at the time (which is generally accepted as the correct age when he was orphaned) then he could still be only 33 today. He would have had to start his Batman career quite a bit sooner than Miller stated, of course.

Somewhere in Ed Brubaker's run on "Batman," I believe he had a character refer to the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne as "over twenty years ago." Isn't that beautifully vague? \:\) For instance, 21 years ago is "over twenty." So is 29. (So is 500, for that matter - it is a larger number than 20, therefore it is "over twenty." Most people would not phrase it that way, but if I said "over twenty" when I meant "five hundred" I would not actually be lying. Misleading, perhaps, but not untruthful.)

Some Post-Crisis writers have stated or implied that Dick was about 13 when he became Robin, but in "Gotham Knights" - I think toward the end of her run on it? - Devin Grayson had an old Gypsy show up at Wayne Manor claiming to be Dick's long-lost grandfather (he wasn't), and at one point, when he suggested perhaps Dick had only moved into Bruce's house to case the joint before taking off with lots of money and valuables, Dick laughed in honest surprise and said something like, "I've known Bruce since I was EIGHT - how bad a thief would I have to be?"

If you want to take that reference to being 8 "more seriously" than the suggestions that he was actually 13 when he moved into the Manor, and if you decide Dick must be at least 25 by now (and you could probably make a case for that too if you tried), then you could take this as "proof" that it's been a full 17 years since Bruce first met Dick and started training him, and "therefore" Bruce must have created the Batman identity at least 18 or 19 years ago. You may not find many people to agree with you, but you could say with a straight face that your figures were based on "evidence" in comic books that appeared to be "in continuity," couldn't you? \:\)

(Incidentally, I believe that for a long time, eight years old was the well-established Pre-Crisis Version of how old Dick Grayson was when he was orphaned and moved into Wayne Manor to start training as Batman's junior partner. But I can see why some writers have retconned that in their Post-Crisis stories. In this more politically correct age, the idea of deliberately taking an eight-year-old child into harm's way is harder to swallow even though intellectually we all know it's "escape literature" anyway, instead of being meant to seriously encourage us to put our own eight-year-olds in costume and send them out to fight muggers twice their size in the real world.)

During and after No Man's Land, for a few years there DC was proudly trying to sell us the idea that Batman and his supporting cast were growing older at the same rate we were - in "realtime," as some call it. Each year for us was a year for them. I think that lasted at least two and a half years, maybe longer, before someone came to his senses and the whole idea quietly faded away . . . and I am not sure it ever had much effect on the thinking of the writers and editors on other DCU titles, such as Green Lantern or Wonder Woman. I strongly suspect that if you had asked those other guys, back around the start of 2001, "Have your superheroes aged a full two years in the last 24 monthly issues of their respective titles, the same way Batman allegedly has?" then you would have gotten your answer in the form of watching those editors and writers laughing their heads off at such a silly idea. (I admit I could be wrong - I wasn't buying Diana's title or Kyle's title at the time, but I sure haven't heard anybody talking about the idea that they were supposed to be aging at the exact same rate as their faithful readers during that period!)

One way to work out Batman's "current age" would go like this:

Decide how old he was when he first became Batman. (Frank Miller said 25, but not everybody agrees with him.) Add two years to that, because it seems to be generally conceded that he had been Batman for approximately two years when he first met Dick. Decide how old you think Dick was at the time his parents were killed. Decide how old you think Dick is right now. Subtract Dick's "orphaned age" from his "current age" to get how many years you think it's been since he first met Batman, and then add the result to how old you think Batman already was when he met Dick. Or, to put it a bit more elegantly as a formula:

Batman's Age in "Year One" + 2 + ((Dick's age today) — (Dick's age when he was orphaned)) = Batman's Age today.

(Give or take several months as a margin of error.)

The only problem is that three different variables are in that short formula, and unless we can all agree on exactly what values ought to be plugged into the equation for each of those three variables, then we're stuck with a wide range of disagreement. (What are the chances of getting a bunch of Batman and Nightwing fans to specifically agree on anything at all? ;\) )

I could go on and on. There's no single, official, absolutely consistent answer that all Batman writers have agreed to respect. There's no single answer that Batman editors have consistently forced the writers to respect throughout the entire Post-Crisis era. Instead, you can pick almost any age you want to believe Batman is, and dig around until you find some evidence that seems to support what you had already decided the "correct" answer was, and then you just ignore any other evidence that contradicts what you want to believe!

So I play it safe by saying that he usually comes across as being "thirtysomething" years old, and leave it at that! DC has heroes who are definitely "thirtysomething" (most of the early members of the Silver Age JLA, for instance), "twentysomething" (most of the people who were Teen Titans in the 60s, 70s, or the early 80s when Marv Wolfman and George Perez did their classic run on the group), and then it has its "teenagers" (characters who were in Young Justice until it got cancelled, for instance). I can usually feel certain that I know which decade of his life a particular character is supposed to be in; but trying to narrow it down any further than that gets problematic, either because DC wants it to be confusing or just because editors don't try very hard to make writers be consistent on the subject.

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