The following interview contains major spoilers for "Teen Titans" #0.
Over the course of DC Comics' zero month, readers have had the chance to experience a number of different origin stories, including that of Tim Drake in "Teen Titans" #0. In the New 52 incarnation of Batman's third Robin, writer Scott Lobdell made a few massive changes to the character's past. Although the creator previously revealed Tim was always known as "Red Robin", never "Robin," this issue revealed new pieces of the character's past. Not only are his parents currently alive and in witness protection following a desperate bid from Tim for Batman's attention, but his last name may not even be "Drake."
To shed some light on the situation, CBR News reached out to Scott Lobdell about his take on the one-time Boy Wonder, the impact of Tim's parents' survival on the character, why he chose to bring them back for the New 52, how Tim's past will affect his future and bridging the gap between the origin story and present day events.
CBR News: Scott, this month's "Teen Titans" #0 contained a huge reveal about the New 52 Tim Drake: not only are his parents still alive, they're currently in witness protection. Obviously, this is a big change from the previous DCU status quo. How will this effect his portrayal in future appearances?
Scott Lobdell: I really feel one of the most important and unique aspects of Tim's history is that he was the one member of the extended Bat-family who had truly loving and supportive parents. I felt that when they died, a little part of him that was so interesting in comics died along with them.
We have plans to see them again in the relative near future. And, for CBR fans only -- I'll tell you that Tim was watching them by satellite in a recent issue of "Teen Titans" -- the issue where he is in the back of the limo with his laptop! Being away from his parents is painful, for Tim, but he realizes that in order to do his job to the best of his capabilities, he needs to put some distance between him and them.
Beyond the reveal of witness protection, it almost seems like there's something fans might have missed in Batman's ending line involving Tim's name -- anything you can tease about that?
I'm going to tell you something here -- for CBR fans only -- that I don't think will upset anyone editorially -- but I'll guess we'll find out!
After I finished the script and I believed it was sent off to the printers, I got a text from Editorial saying, "Loved the witness protection thing. We think it works better if we reveal Drake was never has last name. Took care of it."
Now, some writers fly into a rage when their work is rewritten -- and it only rarely every happens to me! -- but I thought, "Okay, I can see that. I can see all the potential for future storylines that can come from that, mysteries that ultimately need to be revealed."
So in some ways, I was as surprised by the last page as everyone else who read it. I dig it.
Tim has definitely been a fan-favorite character ever since his introduction in 1989. Considering these changes to the character's backstory, how are you sticking to what made the character so popular in the first place?
I think when push comes to shove, Tim is still a young detective with skills that even Batman finds impressive. He is still Batman's partner (not really a sidekick, admittedly) and he still came on screen with an independent streak that I don't think the other "Robins" shared. He is also the only "Robin" that came to the job as a choice and not as the result of a tragedy.
Tim also had a smaller origin story in "Batman" #0 this month, but he's primarily been getting panel time in "Teen Titans." Moving forward, can readers expect to see gaps bridged from the "Batman" #0 origin, the details in "Teen Titans" #0 and what's coming up next in "Teen Titans?"
No to "Batman" #0 and yes to the feature events in "Teen Titans." The team is being pulled head first into the "Death Of The Family" story, and the events that happen there are going to shake this young team to its core!
Also, I think James [Tynion IV] did a great job on that story -- I just don't see how I would use it or reference it again going forward.
Jason Todd may not have physically appeared in "Teen Titans" #0, but his spirit was definitely felt. Will Tim's relationship with Jason ever be explored in-depth?
Oh, yeah -- for sure. I love the two of them together, the breakfast in "Outlaws" was one of my many favorite moments of the series so far! I think these two outsiders share more in common in the Bat Family than any others.
There is an upcoming issue where it is pretty much just Jason and Tim on panel together. (That is the plan, anyway -- we'll see if I can get away with it!)
As you continue to develop and build Tim as a character, should readers expect more surprises and changes along the way? Is there anything you can tell us about those changes? And what sort of obstacles will Tim face in the second year of the New 52?
Gosh, they've been so vocal about the changes so far -- I am afraid if I talk about any future changes, heads across the internet will start exploding.
That said, Tim is not going to escape "Death Of The Family" unscathed. That's really all I can say about that without incurring the wrath of the Other Scott.
[As for obstacles], I really can't say -- other than the fact that Joker's machinations will effect Tim on the most personal level imaginable. Maybe short of a crowbar, it may be the worst thing Joker can do to Tim.
"Teen Titans" #0, written by Scott Lobdell with art by Tyler Kirkham, is available now.