As Robin completes his journey toward convincing others that Bruce Wayne is alive, writer Christopher Yost finishes his run on the Red Robin title he launched.
The series began last June with Tim Drake in the lead role, convinced that Bruce was alive despite everyone else refusing to believe him. Over the course of the next year, Tim was hunted by everyone from Lucius Fox to Ra's Al Ghul. But the reasons behind why he was a target, and why he was so sure Bruce was alive, were mysteries.
With this week's release of Red Robin #12, the mysteries are revealed just in time for Yost to leave the title as he takes on more work in television. Next month, Fabian Nicieza takes over the title, with a few threads left for him to pick up as the Bat-verse heads toward the return of Bruce Wayne.
In an interview filled with spoilers for this week's issue (you have been warned!), we talked to Yost about Tim's journey – and his own – over the last 12 issues of Red Robin.
Newsarama: Chris, can you believe it's been a year?
Chris Yost: I really can't. I love Red Robin, and this has been such a special comic for me. It was actually my first solo ongoing. Unfortunately, I had an opportunity outside comics come up that I couldn't say no to. So I sadly have to step away from Red Robin. But with Fabian on board, I'm not worried about the book at all.
Nrama: It must feel good, though, that you got to tell the ending of the story that you started with Issue #1.
Yost: Yeah, definitely. There was one thing that I wanted to do, and mission accomplished. As of Red Robin #1, Tim Drake was in a dark, dark place, and the entire mission was to bring him back to a better place, to become a little happier Tim. This is a kid who's had a rough, rough ride the last few years. Everybody who he loved has essentially died: His mother, his father, Conner, Bart, and now Bruce. He was in horrible place. Robin's supposed to be the light, and Batman's supposed to be the grim. So what happens when Robin is the grim?
The entire first year was about getting Tim back to that place where he could smile.
Nrama: It seems like it's also brought Tim back into the DCU. All these friends show up in this week's issue, where he was very separated from everyone at the beginning of this series. Was that also one of the goals?
Yost: Yes. That's it, really. He was isolated. Nobody believed him. Even Wonder Girl didn't believe him, and nobody was there for him. The thing about the DC Universe is that everybody dies and everybody comes back. But Batman is not some space jock, he's not an alien, he's not an Amazon, and he isn't made of clay. He's a dude, he got killed, and he's probably not coming back.
I think people are probably shocked that Batman is still alive, or I mean, that he lived as long as he did. The best line I've ever read about Batman was, I think, in one of the Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? issues, where Commissioner Gordon was reacting to the death of Batman, and I can't remember the exact line, but it was about how everybody's surprised it hadn't happened sooner. He really is just a guy going up against gods. And he paid the price.
So I think it was easy for people to believe he was dead.
Nrama: Let's talk about what happened in Red Robin #12. We found out the motivation behind everything Ra's has done. What's with this guy and his "seed?"
Yost: You know what? Damian was a disappointment. So Ra's isn't giving up. He's trying again. Or maybe he just likes kids. [laughs]
Nrama: Would it a good guess to believe the woman in the shadows is Talia? Or is there a possibility that there's someone else back there?
Yost: Oh, there are all kinds of possibilities there. That's something Fabian and I talked about. We wanted to leave it a mystery. But it's something Fabian is definitely going to be picking up and running with.
Nrama: We've also found out why Tim was so certain Bruce Wayne was alive. Was this planned all along and coordinated among the Batman writers?
Yost: Yes, and this is all playing off Grant's stuff. Grant Morrison is the amazing mastermind. He had this idea where he was going with Batman and Robin and the return of Bruce Wayne. And we definitely wanted to play into that. Of course, we had to kind of cross our fingers and hope it wasn't going to change, because these types of things are always evolving. But you know what? Grant got to that point of the story and it really worked out beautifully for me.
Nrama: With Tim controlling Wayne Enterprises, it's turned out that his two adopted sons, who were also two Robins, are overseeing the interests he had as both Batman and Bruce Wayne. Was that the idea behind all of this?
Yost: Yeah, you know, a lot of it was Bruce Wayne was going to leave the things he cared about in the hands of the people he cared about. Batman was covered and Wayne Enterprises is covered. It's all about protecting his legacy. And you know, for Tim Drake, it also puts him in a position he's never been in before. This kid is one of the most put-together teenagers on the planet. He's incredibly smart, incredibly responsible and moral, and I think it's going to be an exciting new world for him.
Nrama: Did you give readers many hints why Lucius Fox was looking for Tim Drake?
Yost: At first, no. He saw Hush on TV and it was Bruce Wayne, and he said, "Find me Tim Drake." But we were fairly vague about why. Even the characters, throughout, didn't know why. When Red Robin got back to Gotham, he wasn't particularly interested in what Lucius Fox wanted. Stopping Ra's Al Ghul was his priority. But it was all connected, which you begin to realize in Issue #10.
Nrama: Now that your run on the title is ending, looking back at a year's worth of work, and having worked with other Bat-writers yet gone solo on this title, do you feel like you've learned a lot as a writer from this experience?
Yost: You know, I learned some things along the way. I think if I had to do it all over again, I may have gotten to certain places faster. And I liked the flashbacks, and the challenge of jumping back and forth in time, but I might have pulled back on some of it. And I learned some, you know, just fine-tuning stuff. I work a lot in animation, and the first handful of episodes are always a little rocky. But in comics, especially these days, if it's not something fairly grabbing right out of the gate, it can be problematic.
But I think we had a strong start, and definitely a strong finish. At least I think so. So I'm very happen with the experience. Mike Marts and Janelle Siegel have been amazing. I've had an incredible art team, starting with Ramon Bachs, but the Marcus To came on board and just knocked it out of the park. Marcus is a superstar. I couldn't be happier with it. It was an amazing experience.
Nrama: With the aforementioned opportunity in television, are you still working on comics for Marvel?
Yost: I have a few things coming out, but they're wrapping up. I'm finishing up X-Force, which is going to end with Issue #28 in June. And I'm doing a side mini-series called X-Men: Hellbound, which will wrap up after three issues. And then the last thing I'll probably have out for awhile is something with Craig Kyle: An X-Force mini-series called X-Force: Sex & Violence, with amazing painted artwork by Gabriele Dell'Otto.
Nrama: Then to finish up, Chris, is there anything else you want to say to Red Robin readers as your run ends?Yost: I just want to thank everybody for sticking around for the ending. I know a lot of people have had hesitations. But a lot of people have been supportive of the book. Hopefully, I gave them a good run.
I definitely want to thank all the creative people who were involved in it, and the editorial staff has been great. I'm a big fan of teenage characters, and I'm a big fan of fun in comics. We had some fun too. I was really happy with how his relationship with Tam Fox turned out. And hopefully there will be even more fun down the road, because I know Fabian is going to follow up on a lot of stuff. I actually put him in the position where he had to deal with it. [laughs] I'm going to be reading it. So... Red Robin #13. Check it out