It's been one year since "Red Robin" #1 hit the stands and introduced readers to a no-nonsense Tim Wayne who held the utmost faith that his adoptive father Bruce Wayne was still alive somewhere in the DC Universe. Since then, Tim has faced off against Ra's Al Ghul's League of Assassins, navigated the uncharted waters of self-imposed exile and discovered new romance all while on his one-man quest to find irrefutable proof that Bruce Wayne is alive. This week, Tim's faith (and the readers') was rewarded in the conclusion to the yearlong storyarc with a final showdown between Tim and the conniving, cunning, immortal Ra's Al Ghul. While the readers might be stunned and speechless about the conclusion to Red Robin's journey thus far, series writer Christopher Yost's reaction is more along the lines of jubilant.
"I'm so happy with 'Red Robin.' Of everything I've done, this is my first solo ongoing story and I'm pretty pleased," Yost said. "The journey that Tim Drake got to take throughout the entire thing from Issue #1 to Issue #12…not to pat myself on the back, but I'm pretty happy about it! I'm really satisfied with how it came out. Ramon [Bachs] and Marcus [To] did amazing work on the book and it all came together in the end."
Yost's endgame tied up every plot thread that the writer had been weaving over the last twelve months, using resources from the Bat-universe and beyond to resolve his story with Tim's final showdown with Ra's Al Ghul, including bringing in Tim's friends on the Teen Titans, integrating element's from Paul Dini's run on "Detective Comics" and paving the way for Grant Morrison's "The Return of Bruce Wayne" – and it was all part of the master plan.
"Honest to God, it was planned from the very beginning," Yost told CBR News. "[Batman Editor] Mike Marts and I sat down and figured it all out. We knew that Grant [Morrison] would be introducing the concept of these portraits of the Wayne ancestors and them all essentially being Bruce Wayne on a journey through time. In issue #1, we asked why Tim would believe this – he saw all these pictures and put it together, with everything that happened with Darkseid, the pictures and the resemblance – Tim had this theory, but it was so crazy that he had to have proof. He went out to find the proof to find what he believed was in those pictures."
"We did a master outline for the entire year, breaking it down into the acts and chapters," Yost continued. "It really did take a lot of planning with me and Mike Marts. We pulled in Paul Dini stuff with Hush in it, we pulled Morrison stuff with – obviously – Bruce Wayne into it. It definitely took some planning. There were definitely some twists and turns along the way as far as Tim showing up in other books and stuff and just trying to make it work. But the beautiful thing is, when it works, it works! The stars kind of align sometimes and this is one of those times."
Readers may have been thinking that Red Robin versus Ra's Al Ghul is a laughable match-up, heavily favoring the Demon. But longtime readers know that Tim Drake always has a plan and his exhausting battle with Ra's was no different, and Christopher Yost wouldn't have Red Robin fight anybody else. "For me, you've got to go big. If I'm going to put Tim up against someone, I'm going to put him up against the biggest guy I've got," he said. "Ra's Al Ghul is it for me. He's more of a villain for Tim anyway because they're both master planners." Indeed, while Tim might not have been able to beat the Demon in a physical contest, he does beat him considerably by disrupting Ra's plans beyond salvage. "What I like about Issue #12 going in, I didn't want to have Tim just go in and beat him up because Ra's Al Ghul is the guy that can go toe-to-toe with Batman!" he said. "It wouldn't have been true if Tim went in and just kicked his ass, but Tim beat him in his own way."
The end of "Red Robin" #12 saw a dramatic shift in how Tim Drake has looked at the world for the past year and according to Yost, this was his plan all along. "Tim Drake as Robin was the guy that figured out that Batman and Robin were Bruce and Dick," Yost said of Tim's beginnings. "Being Robin to him was the most important thing in the world. This is a kid that, who over the years was the light to Batman's dark, progressively got darker and darker. By the time you got to 'Batman R.I.P,' he'd been through so much. His parent and his best friend dead, Kid Flash dead, Batman dead – there's only so much any human being can take. He'd become, I'd say, almost darker than Batman, you know? He'd lost so much more and had more to lose because Bruce Wayne lost his parents as a child and it changed his entire life, but Tim was a fairly normal, well-adjusted kid. The insanity of Batman's universe started coming down on him. So the goal from day one was always to try to find a way to get Tim back to the light, cheer him up, put a smile on his face. Yeah, we put him through hell to do that, but by the end of the day, when Fabian opens with Issue #13, he can rest easier a bit. Tim Drake is now back to the Tim Drake we know and love."
"My vision of Tim Drake has always been [that he is] the smartest kid in the DC Universe," he continued. "The one who is the kindest, upstanding – a true hero through and through. In issue #1, that kid is still in there, but there' s just a giant pile of horribleness stacked on him. It was kind of like peeling away the bad and leaving the good."
While issue #13 might see Tim resting a little easier, fans already know that it won't be under Yost's watch. Fabian Nicieza takes over writing duties next month with the start of a new storyline continuing Tim's journey as Red Robin, picking right up where issue #12 leaves off. "I'm so sad to [leave] too," Yost said. "Because now Tim's in that place where you can really have some fun with him and mess with him in new and exciting ways, but I had an opportunity outside of comics that I couldn't say no to."
"Obviously when I was doing all this, I intended to go on with the book, but if you're going to have anybody take over the book, Fabian's the guy to do it," Yost continued. "Fabian loves Tim Drake, knows him inside and out, and he's a fantastic writer. He and I have talked a few times now and he's the kind of writer who respects what's gone on before and is going to pick up the ball and run with it to even better places. All the threads that you see, all the changes in issue #12 are not going to disappear in issue #13."
"The best news about [my departure from the book] is that Marcus is staying," he continued. "Marcus is just amazing. He's a superstar. His last few issues – all of his issues – have just been astonishing to look at and I'm lucky to have worked with him."
Looking back over the year, Yost's believes that his biggest challenge was an essential, but very direct aspect of Robin's character. "He didn't have any powers!" Yost said. "Mike Marts gave me call and said, 'Hey, you thinking about doing anything at DC?' I said, 'Yes! That's amazing! It's the most powerful characters in the comic world. That's great! I love powers!' And then Mike said, 'What about Robin?' [Laughs] I was like, 'Dammit! Alright!' But no, I love Robin! I was onboard from the Tim Drake miniseries, "Robin" 1, 2, 3 – Chuck Dixon did an amazing thing crafting that character and I would do the book again in a heartbeat – powers or not! Issue #13 was actually me giving him powers!"
"That's the great thing about Batman, and Robin for that matter," Yost explained. "They can stand toe-to-toe with these gods! Tim Drake doesn't hold a candle power-wise to Superboy or Kid Flash or Wonder Girl, but he's the leader. He's the one they all go to. The respect for these characters within that community is just amazing."
Red Robin #12 heralds Christopher Yost's departure not only from the title but from the DC Universe as well. Additionally, the writer has just two other books currently solicited from Marvel before his departure from the Marvel Universe following the involvement of "X-Force" in "Second Coming:" "X-Men: Second Coming Hellbound" and "X-Force: Sex and Violence" before writer departs there as well for a new opportunity. But what is this strange force that has pulled Christopher Yost away from comics? "I cannot talk about it," he said. "At the same time though, I'm working on the Avengers animated series, which is going to be phenomenal! It's going great, we're wrapping up writing the second season now. I've got to say that, as a fan, it's everything you want out of an Avengers series."
As for "Red Robin," the writer is extremely happy with the way his run concluded and is especially appreciative for all the help from the fans and his editorial team. "I really want to thank everybody for giving it a try," Yost said. "When they relaunched all the Bat-titles, 'Red Robin' seemed like the one that people were unsure of. People gave it a try and they hung in there and were really supportive of it. It's done really well and I can't thank everyone enough for being a part of it. From Mike Marts to Ramon and Marcus and Janelle Siegel and the fans! I've been really lucky to have people really respond to it."