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Robin And Captain Boomerang's Surprisingly Dark History Explained

Contains spoilers for "Knight Terrors: Robin" #1

Tim Drake is facing his deepest fears in DC Comics' new two-part series, "Knight Terrors: Robin." However, Batman's former protégé's darkest nightmares don't feature the likes of The Joker, Bane, or any of Gotham City's other notable rogues. Instead, he's confronted with his history with Captain Boomerang, The Flash villain responsible for the murder of the young hero's dad. Much like Batman, Drake watched his father die in front of him, a traumatic experience which is haunting him in an all-new way in the crossover series.

In "Knight Terrors: Robin" #1, by Kenny Porter, Miguel Mendonca, and Adriano Lucas, Tim Drake and Jason Todd are the heroes and villains put into a deep sleep by the villain Insomnia, who is trying to locate a powerful artifact known as the Nightmare Stone deep within the heroes' slumbering nightmares. While Todd's horrific dream consists of him facing off against the original Red Hood and several monstrous twists on the Joker's original villainous identity, Drake is haunted by someone else entirely: Digger Harkness, aka the original Captain Boomerang.

Captain Boomerang killed Tim Drake's father

In "Identity Crisis" (by Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales, Mike Bair, Alex Sinclair, and Kenny Lopez), DC Comics dealt with the shocking murder of Sue Dibny, the wife of the stretchable Justice Leaguer known as Elongated Man. As the DCU's biggest heroes started losing trust in one another over questions of who was responsible for the murder, Tim Drake's life would be forever changed. In the event's fifth issue, Tim's father, Jack, is being protected by his son until Robin, at his father's urging, leaves Jack alone in order to go help his fellow heroes try to find out who killed Dibny.

After Robin leaves, his father finds a box with a gun and the message "protect yourself" inside. Almost immediately, Jack is attacked by Captain Boomerang, who has been hired by the story's murderer, the Atom's ex-wife, Jean Loring. Jack fires off several shots, hitting the villain in the chest. However, before he dies, Boomerang throws one of his weapons directly at Jack, killing him. Batman and Tim arrive at the scene too late to save Jack, leaving the Dark Knight powerless to do anything other than console Robin as the realization dawns that his protégé just experienced a traumatic event similar to when Bruce Wayne watched his own parents die. 

Jack's death not only impacted Tim and the superhero community, who were then living in fear of their loved ones being next to die — Captain Boomerang's death led to the villain's son, Owen Mercer, taking up the mantle of his father. This was a short-lived development, however, as Harkness' death was reversed five years later during DC Comics' "Blackest Night" event, where Owen was killed and the first Captain Boomerang returned to the living, reassuming the role he originated.

Robin almost killed Captain Boomerang

In "Red Robin" #25, by Fabian Nicieza, Marcus To, Ray McCarthy, Sal Cipriano, and Guy Major, Tim Drake defies his late father's wishes when he tries to get revenge on Captain Boomerang. In this issue, Drake goes after Digger Harkness while the villain is attempting to re-establish himself in Central City. Drake follows Captain Boomerang as he steals Black Lantern energy from S.T.A.R. Labs, in an attempt to regain some of the powers he had acquired during the "Blackest Night" crossover.

After Drake chases Harkness to a rooftop, the pair finally face off. Tim tricks Boomerang into hitting himself with one of his own lethal boomerangs, causing the villain to fall off the building — but Red Robin opts not to let him die from the plunge, saving Harkness' life at the last second. In a subsequent conversation with Batman, the Dark Knight questions the path Tim is heading down. Red Robin tells his former mentor that he's become who he has become, and the issue ends with Red Robin standing over his city, wondering what his future holds now that he's finally faced his father's killer. While he could have killed the man who murdered his dad, Tim realized it wasn't worth the price he'd pay, even when faced with the man responsible for the darkest moment in his life.

Robin is haunted by Captain Boomerang in Knight Terrors

In "Knight Terror: Robin" #1 by Kenny Porter, Miguel Mendonca, Adriano Lucas, and Tom Napolitano, the nightmare-inducing villain Insomnia makes his way to Gotham City. Despite Robin and Red Hood's attempts to avoid falling asleep, both heroes succumb to his horrifying powers. When they awaken in the nightmare realm, Tim finds himself in his dad's apartment on the day of his death. After hearing screams and finding his father dead again, Robin is forced to relive the moment over and over, with a dark version of Captain Boomerang calling out the hero each time he fails. When it appears he's finally done living through the frightening deaths, Robin meets with Batman's crew — including Nightwing, Spoiler, and Batgirl — only to see them killed as well, similarly to how his father was murdered. The issue ends with Robin's nightmares starting to overtake him as he calls out for Red Hood, who is dealing with his own dark dreams.

Nearly two decades after "Identity Crisis," Tim Drake's father's death still plagues the young hero as it maintains a serious emotional hold over him — and understandably so, as Robin's trauma shaped his career and who he has evolved into. Insomnia's attack forces Robin to relive his father's murder, bringing his greatest fear back to horrifying life again and again. Captain Boomerang might be viewed by some fans as one of the sillier villains in the Flash's rogues gallery, but to Tim Drake, he's a literal monster.

Tim Drake's nightmares unfold in "Knight Terrors' #1 by DC Comics, in comic book shops now.