Since the death of DC character Damian Wayne, Peter Tomasi has been writing his Batman comic without half of his lead cast.
Although that looks like it's going to change soon.
Currently, there isn't a Robin, so the Batman and Robin comic has been exploring the effects of Bruce Wayne losing his son. Yet the comic has also started highlighting a planned slate of guest stars as it builds toward Batman finding a new Robin.
First on the list was a surprise guest: Carrie Kelley, a Robin from an alternate future who was known by fans from an out-of-continuity graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns. (For more on who she is, check out our examination of the character's history and why she's so compelling as a possible new Robin.)Tomasi has promised that Carrie is sticking around, although neither he nor DC's publicity folks are confirming that she's the next Robin. And readers are also aware that Carrie is not the only viable candidate in Gotham City for the position of Robin — not even the only female one. Another leading guess from fans is that a character who recently showed up in Batman, Harper Row, might be the new Robin (although recent DC hype about Joker's daughter has us wondering if Harper's got another fate.
Since February's death of Robin, Newsarama has talked in detail to Tomasi about how Bruce's grieving process will affect the Batman and Robin title.
Now we talk to the writer briefly about the addition of Carrie Kelley to his roster, and we find out that even Tomasi is hinting that Bruce will likely "change his mind" about whether to recruit a new sidekick, giving Batman and Robin back its Robin.
Newsarama: Pete, I know last time we talked, you bemoaned how early people know about story surprises these days, but it must have been hard to keep this one under your hat, huh?
Peter Tomasi: Actually, it wasn't too hard on this one, Vaneta and that's because I think people didn't see this coming. Pat and I were even laughing that in issue 18 when Bruce found the list in Damian's room that people thought the CK initials meant Clark Kent instead of Carrie Kelley. Pat and I let out a relieved sigh and were happy that the "WTF" in issue #19 would be a surprise.
Nrama: Does the fact that Tim wasn't the "surprise guest" in this issue mean future issues might not be "as advertised" with Jason and Barbara?
Tomasi: As you saw in issue #19, Tim Drake/Red Robin did make an appearance; it was small, but it was forceful. I'm approaching these issues with the Bat family in an organic way instead of just having them come on stage for no reason whatsoever. But I would say that Tim Drake's appearance is the smallest of the upcoming issues as compared to Red Hood, Batgirl and Catwoman and Nightwing.
Nrama: Have you always been a Carrie Kelley fan? When did you first take notice of her?
Tomasi: Well, I first took notice when I read Dark Knight Returns, lo' those many moons ago. I definitely loved the fact that she was a redheaded livewire and I really enjoyed the way Frank Miller juxtaposed her youth and vitality against Bruce's world-weary age as he built up the relationship between them so that they trusted each other implicitly.
Nrama: As you write the character in Batman and Robin, what makes this character special, not only to Bruce Wayne but to you as a writer?
Tomasi: Carrie's a beam of light in a time of darkness in Bruce's life. I like her spunk and I'm looking forward to exploring her creative streak, which is something you don't see as much in comics. There's some other stuff coming down the pike with her of course, too, but not much I can get into this early.
Nrama: Was there any hesitation about bringing her into DC continuity?
Tomasi: None whatsoever. Introducing a character like Carrie into the current continuity is a win-win. You can never have enough strong supporting characters especially ones that a lot of readers are familiar with and have a connection to.
Nrama: In the first issue, it was clear this was a revamp, but are you trying to keep the Dark Knight version of Carrie intact within these tweaks?
Tomasi: It's a New 52 revamp but not so drastic that she's unrecognizable. Obviously her physical template hasn't changed much; we did make her taller and a little older, but any Dark Knight Returns fans would recognize her immediately. Her background will also be different but that discussion's for another day.
Nrama: Can you give us a hint on what Bruce might be thinking of her now?
Tomasi: I'll give you more than a hint, Vaneta: at the moment Bruce is looking at Carrie as someone who reminds him of what he's lost.
Nrama: I know you guys aren't confirming that Carrie is the next Robin, but in general terms, is Bruce in a hurry to get a new sidekick? What are his feelings on that idea?
Tomasi: Bruce is psychologically nowhere near letting anyone take over the role of Robin and rushing into that situation again — but I'd be remiss in saying that sometimes a situation presents itself that can change your mind.
Nrama: Whether Carrie is ultimately the new Robin or not, can you talk about how this was or is being worked out between you and the other Bat-writers, in terms of who the next Robin will be, if there will even be another Robin?
Tomasi: Let's be honest, Vaneta, Robin is a character with a long publishing history and it'd be crazy to think that any company would leave such a much-loved and commercial character lying fallow for a great deal of time. I can reasonably look into my crystal ball and say that one day there will be another Robin, and who, when and where is anybody's guess.