It's been over a year since Batman lost his Robin. But beginning this month, Batman begins the journey toward getting a Robin again — with very few clues about the identity of the new sidekick.
Kicking off next week with the Andy Kubert-drawn issue Robin Rises: Omega #1, the storyline that introduces Batman's future Robin continues through December in Batman and Robin, the monthly series by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. Then Kubert returns for the story's conclusion with Robin Rises: Alpha #2, with a new Robin at Batman's side.
According to Tomasi, the Robin Rises story is a great jumping-on point for new readers who are curious about which young hero will take over the mantle.
But the biggest question on the minds of Batman fans is, will this story somehow resurrect Damian Wayne, the Robin who died in February 2013? Or will DC give the mantle of Robin to an entirely different (or even new) character?
There's evidence for both scenarios, and Tomasi isn't spilling quite yet — although he's sticking to his statement that he's bringing Robin "back."
In the following interview with Tomasi, we get clarification on just when the new Robin will appear, how long the Robin Rises story continues, whether we've seen Robin in the Batcave before (in Batman #28?), and why it makes sense for Batman to have a Robin again.
Newsarama: Pete, you've stated several times that next week's Robin Rises: Omega #1 is a good "jumping-on" point for new readers. Why do you feel like it's specifically a good starting point?
Peter Tomasi: Simply put, Vaneta, because Robin Rises and Batman and Robin are the only two books that you'll be able to see Batman go to great lengths to once again have a Robin fighting by his side, and also, I wanted this storyline to be an open door for new readers so they could connect to the story and characters right away in not just a linear fashion, but also emotionally.
The way I thought was best to achieve this, was to have the opening pages of Robin Rises: Omega give us a quick recap without getting too bogged down in minutiae and really drive home what's at stake emotionally and physically for Batman as we spent the next five months on the insane mission of restoring the Dynamic Duo, with the awesome visuals of Andy Kubert and Patrick Gleason. So new readers and even our regular readers can be up to speed and still be plugged into the interpersonal relationships between all the characters of our story.
Nrama: Just looking at the descriptions of the first couple issues, the story feels more epic and DCU-wide than what we saw at the beginning of Batman and Robin in the New 52. Is that perception accurate? How would you describe this story?
Tomasi: Yep, your perception is 100 percent accurate, Vaneta. It's always been the plan that our story would take us from the streets of Gotham to the tropical sands of Paradise Island to the snow-capped peaks of Nanda Parbat, along with some other special stops on our roller coaster ride.
It was important to show that Batman's loss and current mission reverberate across not just the Bat Family, but also the other people that Batman interacts with on a regular basis, with the Justice League being a prime example. Something that affects Batman so deeply should also affect everyone else in his life.
Nrama: How would you describe the first few issues of the Robin Rises storyline? And it's a story over several issues, right?
Tomasi: It's tough to describe the first few issues without giving too much away, but let's just say that we wanted to push Batman/Bruce to the edge emotionally and physically along with everybody else around him.
And I'm glad you asked this question, Vaneta, because I think there was some confusion at first that Robin Rises: Omega was the issue that a Robin would be back at Batman's side. That is not the case.
Nrama: What issues do people need to pick-up? For example, it looks like it runs through two issues in July, but is September's Futures End issue part of it? Or is that an unrelated one-shot, as it appears?
Tomasi: Here's the quick issue checklist: Robin Rises: Omega #1 by Andy Kubert and Batman and Robin #33 in July, followed by Batman and Robin #34 thru #37 in August through December all by Patrick Gleason, then followed by the conclusion in Robin Rises: Alpha #2, again by Andy Kubert. The DCU-wide September Futures End issue does not play into our story.
Nrama: This storyline kicks off with the involvement of the New Gods. We've seen a few of them in the New 52 so far, but the first you're utilizing (according to the last Batman and… issue) is Glorious Godfrey. What can you tell us about why you picked this character, what we can expect of this revamped version, and how he kicks off the story in Robin Rises?
Tomasi: As you mentioned, in the final splash page of Batman and Ra's as Ghul #32, we're left with the image of Glorious Godfrey emerging from a Boom Tube with some Apokolyptian buddies, and all I can say is that he ends up wanting something that Batman doesn't want to give him — and all hell breaks loose in Robin Rises: Omega #1.
Nrama: But I can't help asking this, Pete — what does Darkseid have to do with a story called Robin Rises?
Tomasi: Darkseid? Who said anything about Darkseid, Vaneta? Are you jumping to conclusions based on the facial texture on the cover of Robin Rises #1 and the fact that denizens of Apokolips have entered our story?!? Are you trying to trick me?
Nrama: Uh… yes!! OK, then what's the meaning of the "Omega" part of the title? I was assuming that, because Apokolips is involved, it pays homage to Darkseid, but also to the idea that this is the end of a story?
Tomasi: You're really trying to make a Darkseid connection here, aren't ya, Vaneta? Did you just get a detective badge in your Cracker Jacks?!? The actual purpose of putting the "Omega" and "Alpha" on the Robin Rises books was simply to denote that from endings come beginnings; our story is about a certain part of Batman's journey coming to a close until a Robin 'rises' and a new chapter of his life starts.
Nrama: OK, then let's stick to the facts we've been told. Solicitations say this story takes Bruce into consultation with Lex Luthor, who's now part of the Justice League. We've heard a little from Geoff about how Bruce and Lex provide some fun scenes in Justice League, but what's their interaction like in your upcoming Batman and Robin issue?
Tomasi: I wouldn't say Batman and Lex "consult" with each other, that's for sure, but I would say that the scenes I've had with them um…"interacting" have been a helluva lotta fun to write. The way they approach each other is a blast, and the dialogue between them seems to write itself. I've seen the pages of the scenes from Pat Gleason and they look great. These two men don't trust each other, but they may have to rely on each other.
Nrama: OK, now I'm going to deluge you with a few questions about the broader DCU. First off, does your story tie into Batman Eternal at all?
Tomasi: Actually no, it doesn't tie into Eternal, Vaneta. Scott, James and the rest of the crew have their story to tell and we have ours, and especially when it comes to a weekly book meeting a monthly book, the opportunity to try and make the schedules work and tie in simply wasn't an option.
Nrama: What about the Earth 2: World's End weekly series, which has been teased as relating to Apokolips?
Tomasi: Yeah, kinda a ditto on this one, Vaneta. Weekly books and monthly books, especially one like ours where our story elements were planned out well over a year ago, don't line up schedule-wise. Which is not to say that I wasn't in contact with the New Gods editors to make sure we were all on the same page, cause I was, and it resulted in coming up with some elements that I was able to utilize in Robin Rises in an organic way that makes sense.
Nrama: Batman #28 featured someone in the Batcave. Someone new. Someone young-looking. Someone who looked female. Point blank: Is that the Robin you're introducing?
Nrama: Does the character (from Batman #28 in the Batcave) have anything to do with the story you're telling in your books?
Nrama: OK, very honest answers. Obviously, everyone is excited about the idea of Batman having a Robin again. But one of the key phrases that people latched onto after your initial announcement (including myself, I admit), was the statement you made that you're bringing "back" a Robin. Should we read much into the word "back?" Were you referring to a character coming "back" into the role, or coming "back" from elsewhere?
Tomasi: Hmm, let me play it just a little cryptic and simply say: Yes.
Nrama: Ah! That's so sneaky. But Pete, let's talk about the broader idea of Batman having a Robin. Why do you feel like Bruce Wayne's ready to have a Robin again? The "Hunt for Robin" storyline seemed to indicate that he's not interested in bringing back Damian. And after experiencing the death of Damian, wouldn't he be less inclined to put a sidekick in harm's way — or is that something you address in the story?
Tomasi: I'm kinda of the opinion that Batman needs a Robin. I like the dynamic between the characters and the way it humanizes him, and I like the stories that come out of having a Robin at Batman's side.
With a nice selection of Bat books that all offer something different in their approach, the distinct feel that comes with a Batman and Robin title is unique and one that should always be fostered.
Regarding a partner in harms way, I most definitely do address why Batman would allow a Robin to hit the mean streets again.
Nrama: OK, let's specifically talk about Damian, because one thing that was so important to Bruce's time with Damian was honoring/respecting Bruce's parents and their death. And "The Hunt for Robin" storyline made it clear that Bruce is trying to do the same for Damian (and his "soul"). With that established, what's pulling at Bruce in this story? Is there a new force/motivation, or is he simply missing Damian and having a Robin? Can you address the theme and/or conflict for Batman?
Tomasi: All of the above, Vaneta. Of course the pull of trying to retrieve Damian's body is a driving force, but Robin Rises #1 shakes things up, and the story takes an unexpected turn when Batman gleans info that changes everything and locks into what you mentioned in your question, which is a "new force/motivation" that alters Batman's perception of his ongoing mission.
Nrama: OK, fair enough. But have there been clues already about the identity of the new Robin? Or is this something that's going to just come out of the upcoming story only?
Tomasi: There are some subtle clues throughout, but they will only come into play once the story concludes.
Nrama: Then to finish up, any parting words for Batman fans who are anticipating this uber-story you've been promising?
Tomasi: Well, to be honest, and trying not to spoil anything, Vaneta, I truly think when all is said and done, new readers, regular readers, and those that pick up our previous collections, (and hopefully an omnibus one day), will hopefully look back and see that Pat Gleason and I, along with Andy Kubert, have delivered on the promise of an uber-story these past 39 issues when Batman and Robin are Gotham's sentinels once again.