In November, Batman & Robin gets a new creative team, but it's a duo that's familiar to DC readers.
Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason, the collaborators that took Green Lantern Corps through Blackest Night, will take over Batman & Robin right as the DCU gets two Batmen, Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne.
Batman & Robin, the book launched by Grant Morrison last year, will continue to star Dick Grayson in the lead role with Damian Wayne as his young sidekick Robin.
Newsarama spoke with Tomasi about the comic just in time to debut some new artwork from Gleason, plus we got an update from the writer on his bi-weekly series, Brightest Day.
Newsarama: How does the presence of two Batmen affect your comic?
Peter Tomasi: As they say, two Batmen are better than one! But Bruce being back is definitely a factor that affects the entire Bat-family of course on many different levels. In Batman & Robin though, I’ll be mainly dealing with Dick Grayson as Batman and Damien Wayne as Robin. That’s not to say that Bruce won’t be around in our pages, he most definitely will, but as people’ll see, we'll open the book addressing Bruce's return in a very personal way and take it from there.
Nrama: Since you're keeping Dick Grayson as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin, will the dynamic between them be the same in Batman & Robin as it has been?
Tomasi: Their dynamic is evolving and growing. There's still a lot to explore in their relationship and how they view each other, but the basis of their interpersonal and crime-fighting foundation was nicely set up by Grant, so there’s no reason to deviate from it. These are two very different people, they think differently and they kick-ass differently.
Also, the fact that Bruce is back from his ‘travels’ so to speak, is going to affect Damian in many ways. This is a kid who, in the space of a very short time, learned Bruce was his father, started to develop a relationship with him, had him die, and now has him suddenly back from the ‘dead’. An emotional rollercoaster for any kid, to say the least.
Nrama: Will the tone of the book be the same, or are you bringing your own Pete Tomasi feel to it?
Tomasi: I think the tone of the book will be similar, but there’ll be no getting around the fact it will have a different feel since Grant’s a god and I’m a lowly demi-god, so purely on that basis alone it will be a Peter Tomasi book. But I do want to mention that I have no intention of coming on the book and people saying "Whoa! What is this? Where's the Batman & Robin we know and love?" That’s not going to happen. I’m not trying to recreate the wheel here. My mission on this book is no different than Grant’s. I want to tell cool stories and blow stuff up while also learning more about these great characters. I also want to try and keep introducing some new villains along the way too. So, let’s just say I'm not here to derail Batman & Robin with some avant-garde perspective, though the first issue takes place entirely in a box filled with parrots.
Nrama: A lot of us are familiar with your take on Dick Grayson when he was Nightwing, since you were the last writer on that title. How will your take on Dick as Batman be the same and how will it be different as you write him in Batman & Robin?
Tomasi: Dick Grayson is Dick Grayson. The core of who he is and what makes him tick is quite different than Bruce. Dick simply processes life through his own unique filter. But having said that, there’s something about the cape and the cowl that does bring with it a uniformity of perspective. Being Nightwing is simply not the same as being Batman and Dick is smart enough to know that. Nightwing was who he is, there was no ‘mask’ he put on, he simply changed into his working clothes and went to work, no muss, no fuss. Being Batman for him is like putting on a different mask, one that he can handle for sure, but I think it puts him on the fence regarding his approach, because in my mind, Dick isn’t someone who can submerge completely into a role like Batman. He can try and he can succeed to a great extent at many different times and scenarios, but who he is will always come through and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And it really boils down to the fact that I had a blast writing Nightwing, and I’m gonna have an even bigger blast writing him as Batman.And since you mentioned my Nightwing series, Vaneta, fans of that run will find me making a nod to an important scene at the end of Nightwing #151 and using it as an emotional springboard to Batman & Robin. You don’t’ have to read it to enjoy the new scene in Batman & Robin, but for my ol’ Nightwing readers I think they’ll get a kick out of it.
Nrama: I don't know how much you can tell me about the "Batmen," but will anyone in the public know the different between the Bruce Wayne Batman and the Dick Grayson Batman? Are they trying to be the same hero publicly, or are they two different personas?
Tomasi: There's not much I can say about that at this point. Grant has some mega-plans that will be pretty spectacular and played out in his new book Batman Inc., and reverberations from that will be felt throughout the Batman universe. By the time our run starts on Batman & Robin everyone will have a clear sense of how two Batmen will co-exist in the DCU.
Nrama: Will we find that out when this event happens in October?
Tomasi: Yeah. Before the end of the year, everyone will definitely know the new status quo for Batman and the entire Bat-family.
Nrama: Let's back up a minute, now that we've talked about the story, and talk about how this all happened. Was the Batman & Robin title something you wanted or something DC came to you and asked you to do?
Tomasi: Well, everybody at DC liked what I did on NIGHTWING, and everyone also enjoyed the three-issue Batman: Blackest Night mini-series which was where I first got to play with Dick and Damien as Batman and Robin. Grant was leaving Batman & Robin to move on to his new Bat book and one day I got a call from Dan Didio saying, "Grant specifically wants you to take over Batman & Robin after he leaves.” So I did what any normal chucklehead would do when an opportunity like that arises. I put on my Batman Halloween mask and started writing. And just to say, it was sure as hell nice to have Grant toss me the baton. It’s much appreciated and kind of comes full circle from when I was the Batman editor and spent an hour on the phone with him one day convincing him that he should add Batman to his already hectic schedule, pitching him the idea of how cool it would be for a writer to be doing Batman and Superman at the same time (he was just beginning All-Star Superman).
Nrama: Was Pat Gleason's involvement in the series your idea?
Tomasi: Yeah, that was me calling my better half and saying, "Hey, what do you think? Batman & Robin? You want to play?" And Pat was all for it, especially since he had a helluva run on Green Lantern Corps (he drew 28 of 30 issues of my run – not sure how many artists you can point to today that’s done that and done it well, but it’s not freakin’ many) and doing this allowed him to draw a little less than the thousand characters he was expected to draw month in and month out.
It’s really my privilege to have Pat on this book. He's grown so much over the years and has become this phenomenal artist. I think when people see his Batman & Robin stuff, they're going to be blown away.
Nrama: What about when you found out there were going to be two Batmen? What were your original thoughts on it? And what convinced you this could work?
Tomasi: Again, I can't go too much into it, but I do have to say that when I saw the document from Grant on what his plans were, it was pretty wild and pretty cool. But I do want to say that all the Bat books can be enjoyed on their own. They’ve all got distinctive stories to tell.
Nrama: A quick question about Brightest Day, since I know you guys are way ahead on the series. Are you close to being done, or at least at the halfway point?Tomasi: We're in the home stretch script-wise. It's all pretty cool. We're clicking along, and I know response to the last couple issues has been really good as we're picking up speed and hitting the halfway mark soon.
Brightest Day has been a great experience and a real pleasure. Writing with Geoff is always great – we always have a blast working together. Wait till they see the spectacular ending. We’ve got some big stuff planned.
Nrama: I think it was Judd Winick that told us you guys were getting together for a big meeting on how the ending of the bi-weeklies would be coordinated. Did you guys nail down the ending?
Tomasi: Actually, Geoff and I nailed down the ending of Brightest Day before we started writing it. It's always nice to work backward. But the journey to get to that ending has evolved and grown bigger as we've talked about it these last two years.