In March, the duo of Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown will reunite, but this time as Red Robin and Batgirl.
Beginning with Batgirl #8 and continuing into Red Robin #10, the crossover will pit the two against Ra's Al Ghul as the Bat-titles speed toward the return of Bruce Wayne.
Batgirl, the new series that launched last year with writer Bryan Q. Miller and artist Lee Garbett, surprised fans when Steph, formerly known as "Spoiler," showed up in the lead role as Gotham's young protector.
Tim, in the meantime, has been away from Gotham City, discarding his role as Robin to search for the truth behind Bruce Wayne's apparent death. As he began his mission to find Bruce, believing him alive, the young hero also began starring in the comic Red Robin, written by Christopher Yost with art by Marcus To.
Now the two young heroes – and their young comics – will cross paths, something many fans have been anticipating, since the two share a mixed and tragic past. Besides their personal relationship, they both once wore the Robin mantle, and Tim went through a tragic loss when he believed Steph had died.
Newsarama talked to Yost and Miller about what readers can expect when Tim and Steph, and their rocky past, meet again.
Newsarama: Chris and Bryan, how did the idea to cross over these two comics come about?
Miller: I know from my end, Siglain and I had always talked about this day coming – when Steph and Tim would eventually cross paths again. As luck would have it, over on his side of the world, the talented Mr. Yost was building a Tim arc that just so happened to include a visit through the pages of .
Yost: The Tim/Steph relationship is too big for the characters to ignore, and too much fun. editor Mike Marts asked if I was interested, and I was. I love crossovers. And the timing was perfect, with Red Robin coming back to Gotham City for the first time in almost a year.
Nrama: Where are Steph and Tim's heads as we begin this crossover?
Miller: Steph's just finished her "Core Requirements" arc at this point, so she's actually at a pretty nice jumping on point in the continuity of the book. She's coming even more into her own. She wants to be better at what she does – she's hungry for it. Really, the only thing that could derail her a little bit would be the reappearance of a certain someone from her past.
Yost: And Tim's coming out of his battle with the Council of Spiders and the League of Assassins, where he got a substantial win. Tim's head is clear for the first time in a long time. It would appear the brooding, the darkness, all the moral compromises... Tim wants that to be done. And then of course, the first person he runs into is Stephanie.
Nrama: Because of Tim's romantic involvement in his own series, it seems like they're going to have to work as "just friends" for the first time. What has their relationship been like and where does it stand now? And how will it evolve in the story?
Miller: Tim and Steph weren't on the best of terms when he left town a while back, 'cause Steph worked against Robin at the behest of the "late" Batman. When she tried to explain herself, Tim was understandably cross. sees the push and pull of the comfortable/familiar with the two, versus who they've both started to grow into since Tim left Gotham.
Yost: Yeah, and Tim was kind of a jerk last time they saw each other. And she has no idea what he's been going through. I think both characters have every right to be wary of one another. So when Tim sees Steph dressed as Batgirl, having taken over the Batcave, well... it's feasible Tim might be a little cranky about it.
Nrama: What brings them together for this story? What's the set-up for crossing over the comics?
Miller: Chris got this ball rolling over in Red Robin, so... Chris?
Yost: Red Robin dealt the League of Assassins a major blow by crippling their world-wide computer network and doing a fair amount of damage to Ra's al Ghul's real estate holdings globally. And Ra's isn't so happy about it. So he's going 'eye for an eye' with the Bat-family. As Red Robin attacked Ra's world, Ra's is going to attack Gotham.
He's not even being coy about it. He flat out tells Red Robin that he's coming after everything and specifically every that Bruce Wayne ever cared about. He's going to assassinate key figures in Bruce and Tim's lives. And Tim knows he could use some help. And who does he find in the Batcave?
Nrama: That sounds convenient, but I'm thinking there's more to this team-up. What can you tell us about the story you'll be telling?
Miller: At its heart, it's when your ex shows up right when you're ready to turn a page on the "old" you. Wackiness ensues. We'll only be touching on the crossover story in issue #8 on my side. Then we're back up and running with a new arc starting in #9.
Yost: It's two young heroes having to deal with their insane lives and rocky relationship and find a way to work together. It's about seeing someone in a new light, and about second chances.
With ninjas and assassins and explosions and kung fu.
Nrama: What's it been like writing Ra's Al Ghul in this story? And what threat does he offer to these characters?
Yost: Ra's is incredibly fun to write because he's always a dozen steps ahead. It's fun to see the effects of his smallest actions create huge ripples. The threat he offers is of course the final threat... death. But as always with Ra's, there's more going on than there might seem. Ra's isn't a blunt instrument.
Nrama: What other characters are involved, and how has it been working on those characters together as your books get to touch different corners of the bat-world?
Miller: By design, this piece of Red Robin's story passes through using the character set I've been playing with since . Except for Prudence, who shows up at one point. And she doesn't talk. So writing her was a . Regarding Tim, Chris has been kind enough to leaf through what I'm doing with him over on my side – which he seems to be fine with (I mean, I'm not there, so he could very well be throwing things.)
Yost: This was a disaster. [laughs] No... is one of the most fun books DC is putting out right now, and Steph is like a bright light compared to what Tim's been slogging through. So to see the two together has been exactly what Red Robin needed at exactly the right time.
As to what characters are involved, a lot. Everyone is a target, and Ra's has a special crew in place to take down Tim and Steph. Things get rough.
Nrama: Will the search for Bruce Wayne play a role in this crossover at all? Will Steph be a part of it?
Miller: Tim and Steph have a more immediate concern in .
Yost: Yeah. And telling Steph that Bruce is alive isn't the first reaction he has to her. He's more concerned about making sure Bruce Wayne has a Gotham to come back to.
Nrama: Is this indicative of more crossovers to come in the Bat-world? Will your comics be playing a role in everything else going on in the bat universe?
Miller: If it's organic to the story and the book, I don't see why not. Tim and Steph bumping into one another is super-rich, and wholeheartedly merits a crossover.
Yost: As a reader, I always loved a crossover, but things get crossover crazy sometimes. But this felt right.
Nrama: What comes next after the crossover? Anything you can tell us about what Steph and Tim have coming up in the future?
Miller: Over on Steph's side of Gotham: Batgirl. Oracle. Torrential rain. Mysterious suicides. Same 'ole, same 'ole.
Yost: Batman and Robin. Red Robin vs. Ra's al Ghul. And the answer to why Tim believed so certainly that Bruce Wayne was alive.