One thing which I have noticed about the new 52 is that the comics often make reference to contemporary issues. For instance Voodoo looked at strip clubs but from the point of view of the women who are essentially being exploited and Firestorm touched on both race relations and gun violence in high schools. Most interestingly for me Tim Drake was shown as at least in part a comic book version of Julian Assange, hacking into secure computers and leaking the information via blogs and wikis. Is this a moral action for a superhero though? In real life there is some debate on the subject, and equally here it does not seem as clear. The characters shown in this issue are either reckless (Kid Flash) or criminals (Wonder Girl) so being included in that group sort of adds a bit of moral ambiguity to his actions. Of course computer hacking is nothing new in comics, and there have been many famous ones. The most famous is probably Oracle (who no longer really exists in the new continuity) but she never partook in such actions, primarily because it has only been a contemporary thing in the past couple of years. The website Wikileaks has been one which is very much controversial, some claim that it endangers the lives of those in harm’s way, others claim that it saves many other by forcing more transparency on governments. At one point in 2010, two thirds of Americans felt that Wikileaks had hurt the American public image, with some claiming that Assange should be tried for treason (despite the fact that he is not American.)
Where does this leave Tim Drake? Well certainly his actions could very well make him unpopular with the voting public, but he is a superhero and thus isn’t really concerned what the public thinks. Thus it is only his actual actions which can be judged in this context. The idea behind Wikileaks is to force governments to act responsibly after informants refuse to be complicit in the government’s actions, but in doing so it is also quite possible that innocents will be in harm’s way as a result. A leaked document which forces a government to reconsider its policies doesn’t compare in real time to for instance the backlash against American troops after the Abu Ghraib incident. There are those who could argue greater good is done by potentially stopping future wars, but in terms of superheroes and especially the Bat family killing is not sanctioned or accepted thus this seems an unlikely course of action. Thus what to assume what is being leaked is either the mundane or stuff intended specifically to advance Tim’s mission (which appears to be helping teen heroes against an unfolding plot). In the event that Tim did not have qualms about potentially being responsible for deaths, there is no easy answer. Suffice to say that he would not be popular but he might be doing some good, which is after all what a hero does.