One of the biggest points of speculation about DC’s next big event, Future State, was who would be wearing the Batman cape and cowl. Well, the fox is now out of the bag: the star of John Ridley, Nick Derington, and Laura Braga’s Future State: The Next Batman is none other than…Tim Fox!
Tim Fox, Lucius Fox’s OTHER son, is an odd choice to head up the Bat-family, in part because he hasn’t really been seen in 40 years. So why is the second most popular Fox child taking over as Batman after not showing up in the comics for the better part of 40 (Yes, I know he was an unnamed participant in Devin Grayson’s final Gotham Nights issue, but I don’t think that’s the same Tim. We’re what, three crises past that now?) years? The clues might be in his first (and only) story arc.
Tim’s first appearance was in 1981’s Batman #313, created by Len Wein and Irv Novick. He is almost immediately established as a young man who isn’t exactly a huge fan of his father.
He’s first seen storming off as Lucius asks him how college is going, and it doesn’t get much better for him from there. For someone with very little screen time, Tim is surprisingly three-dimensional: his conflict with his father seems to stem from resentment for Lucius’ job. He sees his dad as beholden to “the man” (in this case Bruce Wayne), and he resents Bruce for overworking his father, and Lucius for agreeing to it.
At one point, Tim takes off on his family and joins up with a street gang. Those same street toughs are hired by a local crime boss, Gregorian Falstaff (think Captain Kangaroo if he was the Kingpin), to run a scam on Bruce Wayne. Falstaff, it turns out, is a League of Assassins cutout working to strip Bruce of all his wealth, and they’re successful. The gang convinces Tim of their righteousness by showing him doctored evidence that Bruce is a slumlord, and he gets caught by Batman and Robin with the group trying to (reluctantly, on Tim’s part) plant a bomb at Wayne Enterprises headquarters.
Batman, knowing who Tim is, holds back on beating Tim up, but scolds the living hell out of Tim while he beats the other gangsters. Interestingly, Robin stands up for Tim during the fight. Robin is going through similar personal difficulties at the time, having dropped out of college himself and dealing with Bruce’s disapproval as fallout. So Robin stands up for Tim in order to continue an argument he and Bruce have been having for several issues, and it seems to endear the two.
Falstaff is eventually captured, and confesses to the whole charade in front of Tim under pretty relaxed questioning (Falstaff is an all around awful person). However, his capture didn’t prevent the League from gaining control of the Wayne fortune, something paralleled in the present continuity, where Bruce has lost control of the vast majority of his wealth (he’s still very rich, but Lucius controls billions of his old money).
Tim would return in Ridley and Olivier Coipel’s story in Batman: The Joker War Zone, and again in Batman #101, but those are just about his only appearances throughout DC Universe history.
In addition to mining obscure continuity to create this future version of Batman, Ridley is also currently showing off a detailed, fascinating take on the sweep of DC continuity in The Other History of the DC Universe. So it’s not a surprise to see him dig deep to find Tim. And it won’t be a surprise if it’s very good.
Tim Fox will be revealed in Future State: The Next Batman #2, which arrives on Jan. 19.