Although Tim Drake's abduction was a surprise to readers, DC Comics made it clear that the hero is destined to escape in the next few months.
And it's about time. Tim Drake had already been established as a brilliant detective, one who would surely be able to figure out a way to escape most any cell, and he was already shown having succeeded in breaking out of his cell temporarily.
And even if he couldn't escape, Batman would surely go after him somehow. In August 9's Detective Comics #962, Batman found out that Tim Drake is alive (after having believed for the last year that the character was dead).
How He Got Here
Nearly one year ago in Detective Comics #940, Tim Drake sacrificed himself to save hundreds of people in Gotham City, reprogramming a slew of missiles to aim directly at him (instead of the potentially innocent people they'd originally been designed to kill).
But - as the missiles impacted the teen hero - Tim was teleported away by Mr. Oz, the recurring character who's been shown in "Rebirth" titles to have been "watching" DC characters. (Readers previously suspected that Oz was from the Watchmen universe, but it's now looking like he's Superman's father, Jor-El - the reveal will happen soon in Action Comics #987.)
Tim is now trapped in a prison cell that's being controlled by Mr. Oz.
That mystery still hasn't been addressed. Why did Oz pick on Tim Drake? The best clues were:
- Oz told Tim at the time of his imprisonment, "You were reconnecting threads that could not be reconnected. You're so loved, so deeply intertwined, it became crucial that we take you off the field. And that's where you are, Tim. Off the field."
- Readers were recently reminded again that Tim Drake was intending to quit the superhero game and go off to college at Ivy University. He had just decided to make the switch when he was grabbed by Mr. Oz. Ivy University is the same location where DC readers can find a teacher named Ray Palmer and a student named Ryan Choi, the heroes who both operate as the Atom.
- Tim had also just started a relationship with Stephanie Brown (a.k.a. Spoiler). This was a relationship that was being re-established from the from before the "New 52." When Tim was abducted (and everyone thought he had died), that relationship was effectively terminated and Steph's grief weakened the team.
- A version of Tim Drake from the future also disappeared from DC books around the same time at the end of Batman Beyond #16, taking up the mantle of Batman in that era. Dan Jurgens, the Batman Beyond writer who portrayed Tim's mysterious disappearance, was asked by Newsarama, is the older version of Tim's disappearance from September's Batman Beyond related to the younger Tim's disappearance from Detective Comics the same month? "Yes," Jurgens confirmed. So it appears that Oz removed Tim from the current-day playing "field" and the future one as well.
- Mr. Oz has been collecting and imprisoning other DC characters, including Doomsday, Prophecy, and Mr. Mxyzptlk (who escaped). And readers were shown that there are specifically two other doors (with two other nondescript shapes) in the same hallway of the prison as Tim.
When Tim tried to escape during a recent scene, he was surprised by something he saw within the prison. His exact words were: "What…that's not possible. That's…I don't…I don't understand." It wasn't clear if he uttered the words as he looked at Mr. Oz or as he looked at one or more of the other prisoners, but he was unfortunately transported back into his cell.
What His Escape Tells Us
Beginning in September, a storyline titled "A Lonely Place of Living" in Detective Comics will portray the escape of Tim Drake from Mr. Oz's prison. However, solicitations for upcoming issues make it sound like Tim has to "choose" whether or not to leave.
Why would he even consider staying? "When he finds out just who is locked in there with him, Tim's world will change in ways he never imagined," the solicitation text for Detective Comics #965 reads.
So the identity of his fellow prisoners appears to be greatly important to Tim's escape from the prison, even to the point of making him choose whether to leave.
Once he escapes and returns to Gotham City, the cover to Detective Comics #967 showcases someone wearing a Batman cowl holding a gun to Tim Drake's head. Are Batman and Tim at odds when he returns to Gotham City?
November's Detective Comics #968 flat-out spoils that Tim's going to escape and return to Gotham City, but copy also reveals that a "deadly threat" escapes the prison with him.
By the time Tim escapes, readers will have learned the story of Mr. Oz and will see him confronting Superman. But there are still plenty of mysteries surrounding his strange jail and the imprisonment of Tim Drake, even if we already know about the character's escape.