Spoilers: Up till the last arc of Teen Titans, the conclusion of War Games, and Identity Crisis #5.
Email: cleamajor @ yahoo.com
Personal Website: None
This was a hard essay for me to write. I fell so hard and so fast for this pairing that I never really stopped to think about what, specifically, about them did it for me; it was just a given that Tim and Kon belonged together. They’ve been tagged as partners in canon and in fandom for so long that it was a tough task to break down the pairing to really see why they worked. It was very enjoyable and even enlightening, though, and I’m glad I got the chance to write this. Many thanks to notpoetry and mizzmarvel for letting me bounce ideas off them and their enthusiastic help.
Who they are:
Tim Drake aka Robin: Tim Drake is the third boy to don the Robin suit and become the partner/sidekick to Batman. He comes from a rich family, with parents who didn’t pay much attention to him as a child and were constantly off on vacations (or just ignoring him). When he was four or so, he saw Dick Grayson performing at Haly’s Circus on the night that Dick’s parents were killed and Dick was adopted by Batman, to become the future Robin. Both Dick and Batman made a huge impression on Tim, and he became obsessed with Batman and Robin. Tim is incredibly smart and a natural detective, and when he was only nine he managed to find out what hundreds of supervillains, cops and heroes had tried and failed to: Batman’s secret identity. Tim became a bit of a stalker, tracking Batman and Robin’s moves, moods and whereabouts, and after the death of the second Robin (Jason Todd) he noticed Batman behaving differently: more self-destructive, violent and careless. He came to Dick and revealed that he knew his and Batman’s identities, begging Dick to go back to Robin, claiming that “Batman needs a Robin.” Dick, who had by then established himself as Nightwing, refused, and so Tim put on the suit himself. Batman was impressed by Tim’s detective skills and quick thinking, and after months and months of training, Tim donned the (new, improved, thankfully without panties) Robin suit and became Batman’s partner.
Tim is, to put it mildly, not a normal teenage boy. He’s a veritable genius, and his smarts combined with his parents’ neglect caused him to grow up rather alienated and reclusive (and obsessed with Batman and Dick Grayson). Unlike many teenage sidekicks, who often seem to just fall into the hero life, Tim actively sought out Batman and made a conscious decision to become Robin. He worked himself relentlessly to be the best Robin possible, touring Europe to train under famous martial artists and deadly assassins. He’s incredibly good at his job, very self-disciplined and also rather ruthless. He hid his occupation as Robin from his father and stepmother for years (the secret has recently come out, but I’ll get to that later), and because of this is an amazing liar. He’s emotionally reserved and serious, though not as much as Batman.
He’s also heroic, caring, funny and one of the best friends you could ever have.
Kon-el, aka Superboy, aka Conner Kent: Back when Superman died, Cadmus Labs used his DNA to make a clone to replace him. The exact details of what happened are rather muddled, but basically Kon was grown in a test tube using the combined DNA of Clark Kent and Lex Luthor. He was aged to sixteen and the information he would need to survive was just kind of poured into his brain. Cadmus attempted to program code words into him that would allow them to control him, but he escaped before they could succeed. Long story short, he established himself as Superboy and wound up doing the superhero gig and living large in Hawaii.
Kon doesn’t actually have Superman’s powers; rather, he has a ‘tactile telekenesis’ which allows him to imitate Supes’ powers of flight, super strength and invulnerability. He can also blow things up with his hands and control anything he touches (and yes, it’s exactly as porny as it sounds). Now that he’s growing older (for a long time, due to a genetic flaw, he was unable to age physically past sixteen), he’s developing more of Superman’s powers, such as genuine super strength, heat vision, and just recently x-ray vision.
Kon’s personality could hardly be more different from Tim’s. He’s girl-crazy, slightly cocky, slightly immature, and a bit of a dork; he’s quick to anger and quick to love. He’s lived on his own or with friends most of his life, and dated a reporter named Tana Moon for a long time. She was killed in front of him, though, and he’s never really gotten over her death.
Kon’s character has changed quite a bit in recent years. Superman decided to try and bring Kon more into his life, and he sent Kon to live with his parents in Smallville, along with giving Kon the alias of Conner Kent as his secret ID. Kon is having a lot of trouble living in Smallville: he hates going to high school and ends up skipping a lot, he’s unused to living on a farm as opposed to in a city, he’s never had to keep a secret identity before, and he’s very unused to living with full-time adult supervision. For the first time in his life, he’s having to live like a normal teenage boy (except for the occasional flying and superheroing).
Why They Work
What it comes down to is this: Kon and Tim need each other.
There’s been chemistry between them from Day One. They first met in a miniseries called World’s Finest 3: Robin and Superboy (or just WF3), when Tim called in Kon’s help to save Gotham from a supervillain while Batman and Superman were both conveniently out-of-town.
At first, Kon was skeptical of the Boy Wonder (or Wonderboy, as he likes to call Tim), but Tim quickly impressed Kon with his skills and smarts, saving him from Poison Ivy’s clutches and then saving his life. The series ends with Superboy asking Robin casually if he can come visit him in Gotham sometime, maybe see the Batcave.
The two of them, along with Bart Allen aka Impulse, formed Young Justice. Tim was the natural leader, and at first there was a lot of bickering between him and Kon, as their fighting styles are a lot different, and Kon wasn’t exactly a team player, being rather hotheaded and rebellious. But it soon became apparent that Tim knew how to handle Kon and keep him in line, as we see in this page. This is one of Young Justice’s very first missions, and already Tim knows Kon well enough to know exactly what to say to Kon to make him cooperative.
The three boys quickly bonded, Tim and Kon especially, and this bond survived and maybe even got stronger when the team expanded to include girls and other teenage heroes. There was still occasional bickering and even a few bad fights between them, which is significant in and of itself: Tim, who had trained himself to be very emotionally reserved and calm in all situations so as to be the best Robin possible, often blew up around Kon, losing his patience and releasing a passion that we’ve seen him display to very, very few people. Tim keeps up a reserved, polite front with almost everyone, even his girlfriend; the only people we’ve seen him lose control of his emotions around are Kon and Batman.
Tim’s life in Gotham is a dark one: he rarely gets any chance to unwind and just act like a teenager; he’s always protecting one secret or another; he sees everything Batman sees, which is enough to screw any kid up. There have been numerous, obvious hints that Bruce is training Tim to be the next Batman, and as you can probably imagine that’s pretty hard for Tim to deal with. Not to mention the recent deaths of his father and his girlfriend; the boy is pretty much one big bundle of repressed anger and angst right now.
Tim needs Kon because Kon is far away from Gotham and everything Gotham represents. Kon looks at Tim and sees him as a person, as just another guy (albeit one who puts on a red and green costume and fights crime every night). Kon is one of the only ties Tim has left to a world that isn’t serious and gloomy 24/7, a world that allows him to act his age and not be completely preoccupied with heroing. Kon grounds Tim, reminds him, simply by his presence, that life isn’t that bad. Tim admires Kon’s idealism and crystal-clear morals, even though he knows that he can’t be like that himself, as we see in this inner monologue from Young Justice #36:
Robin (thinking): I think about Superboy, forcing us away from our duty to follow his heart. I’m *furious* with his singlemindedness of purpose. At the same time, I envy his *pureness* of spirit. I live in a world of grays, but to him it’s black and white, right and wrong.
Immediately after that, when Tim is fighting for his life:
Robin (thinking): I know beyond question that I’m going to die. I’m *not* afraid of it. Well... maybe a *little.* I just wish I had the chance to talk to Kon one more time.
(Words bolded by me.)
Tim thinks he’s finished, and who does he think of? Batman, his mentor? Stephanie Brown, his girlfriend? His parents? No: he thinks of Kon, his best friend, one of his only remaining connections to the world outside Tim’s own “world of grays.”
Kon hasn’t had what you would call the most stable life: he’s technically only two years old, and has been bounced around from Hawaii to Metropolis to outer space to who knows where. He and Superman were never close enough to have a traditional sidekick/mentor relationship; the closest thing he’s had to a guardian (before his move to Smallvile) was a telepathic cloned alien named Dubbilex. The first real training for his powers he got from a reformed supervillainess who later turned out to be evil and tried to kill him.
Then Kon met Tim, whose life could hardly be further away from Kon’s. Tim has had extensive training from Batman, knows what he’s doing, and falls perfectly into the leader position. Though these differences in personalities sometimes led to fights between the boys, ultimately it led Tim to become one of the most stable, constant friends that Kon has ever had.
Kon needs Tim to balance him out, to keep him from being too impulsive, to help him look at things rationally, and to just be a good friend. Kon and Tim (much like Superman and Batman) are two sides of the same coin, and together they’re pretty much unstoppable.
Says notpoetry on the pairing: “I think it just comes down to the fact that they're friends, and they balance each other out, in a way not unlike Batman and Robin--except Kon is the one who keeps Tim light, and Tim is the one who keeps Kon focused.”
Young Justice, alas, is no more. Right now, Robin and Superboy are together on the Teen Titans, along with Kid Flash (formerly Impulse), Wonder Girl (technically Kon’s girlfriend, though they have all the chemistry of a wet noodle), Beast Boy, Cyborg, Raven and Starfire.
On this new team, Tim and Kon’s friendship has only intensified. In the very first plot arc, someone sends Tim an email telling him that Kon was not cloned from the DNA of Superman and a Cadmus scientist (as he has been led to believe for most of his life), but rather, his DNA is split 50/50 between Lex Luthor and Superman.
(That’s right. Canonically, Kon is the love child of Lex and Clark. You see why you should join our fandom?)
This was a pretty big deal for Kon, as he’s lived his entire life with the notion that he was the next Superman, that he was Clark’s clone and that this somehow made him worthy. He was taught to believe that his main purpose in life was to be Clark’s clone and to someday replace Clark, and now, all of a sudden, he’s told that half his DNA comes from Superman’s arch nemesis. Kon refuses to believe this, but Tim does tests on his DNA anyway, and finds that they’re accurate. (I would like to note that despite the fact that Tim went behind Kon’s back and betrayed his trust by testing his DNA, Kon only stays mad at him for this for exactly one panel.)
Tim is the only person who knows Kon’s secret (besides whoever sent the email)—Kon hasn’t even told his girlfriend, and he definitely hasn’t told Clark. This is huge for Kon, and Tim is the only person he can talk to about it. This link between them has intensified their friendship and brought them closer. Before, Tim was merely a friend of Kon’s—his best friend, a friend he admired and depended on, but nonetheless just a friend. Now, suddenly, Tim is one of the most important people in his life; he’s his confidant, his secret-keeper. They’re bound together by Kon’s secret.
Tim’s life has undergone even more drastic changes than Kon’s in recent canon: first, his dad found out he was Robin, and blackmailed him into quitting; then, when an all-city gang war broke out in Gotham, Tim put the Robin suit back on because he was needed; then, his girlfriend Stephanie was killed (FUCK YOU VERY MUCH BILL WILLINGHAM... *ahem*); and as if all that wasn’t enough, his dad was murdered, leaving him an orphan. All these events happened within a few weeks of each other.
When Tim disappeared the first time (when his dad found out he was Robin), Kon refused to accept his inexplicable absence from the Titans and tracked him down in Gotham. He faced down Batman and the new Robin, and then spent hours sitting on a gargoyle, using his super-hearing to sift through voices until he finds Tim’s location. He then flies into Tim’s bedroom:
Tim: ... What are you doing here, Conner?
Kon: You mean how did I find—Tim Drake? Do you know how many Drakes are in the Gotham area? I’ve been perched on a gargoyle all night, sifting through the voices in Gotham. I’ve never heard so many people whine in my life. Is anyone happy here?
Tim: I am.
Kon: Why didn’t you show at the Tower yesterday? And what’s with this new Robin? The girl?
Tim explains how his dad found his costume and he quit being Robin. Kon is not happy:
Kon: Come on. You can’t do this to the Titans. That girl isn’t... she’s not Robin.
Tim: I’m not doing this to anyone, Conner. I just want to try and live a normal life for once. I want to spend time with my dad while I can. In a few years, I’m going to go off to college. I don’t know what I’m going to be yet, but I’m going to make my dad proud. Besides... Gotham still has a Robin.
Kon: So you approve of this new Robin: You want her to be in the Titans?
Tim: I don’t have anything to do with it. But she’s a strong young woman. She really is.
Kon: It’s your ex-girlfriend, isn’t it? Spoiler or whatever she used to call herself.
Tim: Let it go.
Kon: You’re my best friend, Tim. How can I? The Titans aren’t the Titans without Robin. They just aren’t.
Tim: Just because I’m not wearing a cape doesn’t mean we can’t hang.
Kon: It won’t be the same. I’ve heard that from too many friends. Friends I never talk to anymore.
Then Tim’s dad walks in, and Tim turns to introduce him to Kon, but Kon has already flown out the window.
Alas, I don’t have the scans of this scene and thus you can’t see the jealous expression on Kon’s face when he mentions Tim’s girlfriend, or the hurt look in his eyes when he says ‘It won’t be the same,’ or Tim’s pleading face when he tells Kon they can ‘still hang.’ But the subtext is very much there.
Why I, Personally, Ship Them
The first piece of fanfiction I ever read in the DCU fandom was Tim/Kon porn by Te (thete1). I was only barely familiar with the characters because of scans_daily, but I was bored and procrastinating, and decided to read the fic just for the hell of it.
I was immediately captured by the dynamics and the flat-out sexiness of this pairing (two hot, athletic teenage boys with blue eyes, black hair, spandex and porny superpowers? You can’t go wrong.). They were best friends in every sense of the word; they were so intimate with each other, and the sexual chemistry practically jumped off the page.
I bought the first Teen Titans trade paperback and was immediately hooked. After I bought that book, I spent an entire weekend reading every single piece of Tim/Kon fic I could get my hands on. I was obsessed (still am, for that matter).
This pairing just works so well for me. Robin’s and Superboy’s appearances in Teen Titans and Young Justice are positively loaded with subtext, and they’re just so darn cute together. My academic language is swiftly deteriorating here, but I have to say it: They’re such woobies. They work equally well for happy fluff, sillyfic or angst; they can be seen in so many different ways.
What can I say? Their love is just so pure. (Sorry, sorry, but I had to say it!)
Simply put, I’m in love (and lust) with the DCU comics fandom. We might be relatively small, but oh, boy, do we make up for it.
The canon itself is loaded with gay subtext. There is actually a series out there right now called Superman/Batman, chronicling the
You want slash? We’ve got scads of it. You want porn? You’ve come to the right place. You want gen? We’ve got it. You want het? ...Well, we’re working on that.
Kon/Tim is one of the most popular pairings in the DCU fandom, and has been graced with many talented writers and fanartists. For the fandom’s size, it produces an amazing amount of porn, and the Kon/Tim pairing is no exception. Most of the stories I’ll be reccing for the pairing will be NC-17.
Authors on LJ:
dcfic_index--An index keeping track of all the DCU fic posted to livejournal. This is really an invaluable resource for anyone in the DC fandom, and we should all worship liviapenn for maintaining it. All of the Tim/Kon centric fic can be found in the memories under Tim/Kon.
titans_together--A community for posting fic, fanart, meta or whatever about the Teen Titans.
scans_daily--An LJ community where you can post comic scans, many of which are slashy in nature. This was where I first discovered Tim/Kon, and a lot of Tim/Kon subtexty scans get posted here.
dc_flashfiction--A flashfiction community for the DCU.
The Unofficial Guide to the DCU--a site with character bios and issue breakdowns for the entirety of the DCU. It’s kind of unorganized and not completely up-to-date, but Tim and Kon both have very detailed, full bios.
The DCU Slash Archive--There are tons of Tim/Kon stories linked here, especially the ones not posted on livejournal.
The Black Sky series, by Te. Rated NC-17.
And Take Me Worlds Away, by Te. Rated NC-17. (This was the fic that brought me into the fandom.)
Blind Date, by Shrift. Rated NC-17.
The World’s Finest Series, by Mara Greengrass. Rated PG.
Night Watch, by weirdnessmagnet. Rated NC-17
Guy Talk, by Jack. Rated NC-17.
I’ll keep it to just these for now, but I highly reccomend every Tim/Kon story archived on the dcfic_index.