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Bernard Dowd

Bernard Dowd has an outgoing personality, maybe a bit over the top if you ask Tim Drake who crosses paths with Bernard on his first day as a transfer student to Louis E Grieve Memorial High School. Bernard — “Bernard, got it? Never Bernie. Call me Bernie and I’ll have to punish you.” — welcomes Tim and gives Drake a once over trying to figure out which clique the new student fits in with. As the self appointed “roving ambassador between all cliques”, Dowd pronounces his newly made friend “an enigma” and jokingly warns never to date any girl he likes.

An interest in women comes up when Bernard confesses wanting to date a girl named Darla Aquista (daughter of a minor crime boss) to Tim while hanging out at fast food joint Tweedy D’s. Another facet of Dowds’ character is conveyed when writer Bill Willingham shows Dowd as being timid and fearing rejection by Darla which comically happens when Darla in turn confesses an interest in Tim to her admirer. Several issues later Dowd is invited to dinner at the Drake home and crushing hard on Tim’s step mother Dana to the point of making Tim uncomfortable.

In what was then the character’s final appearance in Robin #140 before being sent to comics limbo Darla, the girl who Bernard had crushed on, is searching for Drake and intercepts Bernard (using powers she gained in a plot development irrelevant to this profile’s purpose) hoping to learn where Drake is. It’s a vain attempt as we learn Bernard’s and Tim’s friendship abruptly ended in the wake of a school shooting incident. The two teens lose contact when Bernard’s parents use settlement money from the incident to send him to a private school. Despite the down beat tone of the conversation and circumstances, Bernard shows empathy and a little of his humorous sensibility.

Nearly a full sixteen years will pass before writer Meghan Fitzmartin brings back the character in the three chapter Sum of Our Parts story that runs runs in Batman: Urban Legends #4 – 6. Fitzmartin writes Bernard as excited to have Tim in his life again. Their reunion is interrupted when the Chaos Monster villain attacks the restaurant where they’ve met and kidnaps Bernard. Without giving more away, the plot of Bernard’s kidnapping and those of another dozen or so young adults alludes to LGBTQA teens being at risk of homelessness and abuse. Fitzmartin and Ortega portray Bernard as strong and courageous in fighting back against his kidnappers.

In an interview with the BBC shortly after the comic’s publication Fitzmartin stated that Tim Drake “will continue to go on his own journey of personal discovery, while also focusing on his day job as a crime fighting caped crusader” as presumably will Dowd’s story and any relationship between Dowd and Drake. Whether Bernard is gay, bi, pan, or something else remains to be told. It isn’t uncommon for men of any age to brag about women and sexualize them to distract other people and often themselves from learning they’re either curious or not a hundred percent straight.

Read Tim Drake’s profile!

Bill Willingham and Rick Mays are Bernard Dowds’ creators. Meghan Fitzmartin and Belen Ortega build upon the character’s foundation. Bernard’s first appearance is Robin #121 vol 2 and then in #122, #123, #126, #127, and #140.

Art by Belen Ortega and Alejandro Sanchez from Batman: Urban Legends #6.

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September 6, 2021
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