When it comes to the pages of DC Comics — and the streets of Gotham City in particular — shocking character deaths are somewhat par for the course. But every so often a dark fate will befall a major player and while their status remains in the balance at issue's end, the implications for the entire story from that point forward and the characters in their orbit are huge. Such is the case with this week's Batman #125 and we're not talking about that major, surprising death. Another character's life was on the line in the issue, not only dragging Batman back to one of his greatest traumas, but stunning readers at the same time.
Warning: spoilers for this week's Batman #125 beyond this point.
Written by Chip Zdarsky, Batman #125 begins with Bruce Wayne having a nightmare where he sees three Jokers and the bodies of various people he cares about — including various Robins — dead at their feet. It's revealed that Bruce only dreams when he lets himself because he uses dreams to process things. It is an interesting detail, but it becomes important later in the issue. We learn that Tim is working with Bruce these days and that Bruce sees him as both a good man and a good Robin and the pair are working well together as Batman and Robin when they head to a gala to take down The Penguin, who has been murdering Gotham's elite. Unfortunately, their efforts go awry. They find themselves walking into a trap and in the process, Tim ends up shot in the neck, the bullet hitting a major artery.
It's a very grave injury and even Bruce recognizes that there's no time to waste. Tim will have to be taken to the hospital, which means that he's going to have to change Tim from his Robin costume in order to preserve both of their identities. For Bruce, this brings back a massive amount of trauma as it brings back memories of the death of Jason Todd. It's revealed that when Jason died and he had to remove Jason's costume, Bruce nearly gave up being Batman and revealed his identity to the world. But he didn't. In the present, Bruce gets Tim changed and gets him to the hospital. The young man's fate is never fully clarified, though it's suggested that he remains in the hospital — and that Bruce hasn't visited him.
Realistically, Tim is likely not dead. Not only does that mention by Barbara suggest that he survived, but the character is getting his own series, Tim Drake: Robin, which debuts in September. That said, the brush with death is itself enough to be an issue for Batman. Not only does this issue see Batman considered a murderer for The Penguin's death and set up the introduction of Failsafe, but the character seems like he's in an already fragile place. He doesn't have his wealth, his relationship with Selina is clearly strained, and one of the murdered elite was a friend. Bruce has had better days. The near loss of one of his sons is just one more thing and it will be very interesting to see how it plays out.
Batman #125 is on sale now.