That's because this summer, writer Peter J. Tomasi's work with Bruce Wayne will shift from the globe-trotting hunt for the deceased Robin's remains and into a search for a new Boy Wonder with "Robin Rises: Omega." The one-shot drawn by Andy Kubert will serve both as a capstone for the current battle between Bruce Wayne and Ra's Al Ghul over Damian's legacy and as a new beginning for the dynamic duo. But readers are left to wonder: who will be donning the red-breasted costume at the end of 2014?
For its latest installment of THE BAT SIGNAL, our ongoing discussion of the Dark Knight's world, CBR News spoke with Tomasi about how he plans to push the emotional arc of the book currently called "Batman and..." away from the grieving process and towards a future for Robin as an identity. Below, the writer talks about the need for a dynamic duo, the reason behind the long fallout from Damian's death and the shape of "Robin Rises" as the story rushes towards a December reintroduction for the teen hero.
CBR News: Peter, the last time a Robin died in action and there was a gap in that role, Tim Drake came along and made the case that "Batman needs a Robin." Is that an ethos you yourself subscribe to?
Peter Tomasi: Not only is that an ethos I subscribe to, but I subscribed to it long before Tim Drake ever said it! [Laughter] To me, I love the lonely aspect of Batman when he's just a lone crusader out there in Gotham doing his thing, but I like the dramatic possibilities that are inherent when you have someone else to bounce stuff off of. Now especially with someone who's his son and with the shared history between Batman and Talia and all the R'as Al Ghul stuff, I just think it just kicks it up a notch when the dynamic duo is right there.
It must have been tough because the end of Grant Morrison's story was emotional and necessary for what he'd planned, but we all know you loved writing Damian as well. Have you now gotten to the point in the post-Damian life of "Batman and..." where that absence has been stretched long enough?
It's actually been a very organic process. I knew for a very long time from when I was editor of "Batman" what Grant's plans were for Damian. It kind of went back and forth for a bit. Originally, he was going to die earlier back when he was doing the book with Andy Kubert, but it kept changing and evolving. When I came on board as a writer is when he finally pulled the trigger. Thanks a lot! [Laughs] But it did all fit together in a big tapestry, and we were able to make it work, I think.
You didn't immediately go for the angle of "Batman is out to resurrect his son" that was a possibility for the book, but that also set up the series for Ra's to come in and throw a wrench in the works.
Yeah. He pulled the scab right off. You never heal from something obviously so traumatic as a father. But once that scab was pulled, it was on a different level. We'd spent all this time getting Bruce to a point where he was able to bury those feelings a little bit, and then when it all got pulled open again, he just wants to be able to bury his son. He wants his son to be at peace so he can be at peace. That's what it boils down to right now.
So as you step into the "Omega" issue, which has a lot of expectation for what it can do for the future, what is your goal in terms of setting a final chapter to the story you've been telling?
Well, it's a one-shot in a way that's also an opening salvo. In July when "Robin Rises: Omega" ships, it'll be the start of a story that ends in December where we will discover who the new Robin is. I sometimes here people say, "Why is Bruce going on and on about this death?" And when I hear that, I think people have no concept of losing someone close to them like that. It's like, "Okay, we buried him. He's dead. Let's move on and kick some ass." I wanted to approach this with a much more humanistic manner. Each of the Bat books have their own distinctive style and approach to the family and the character, so I wanted our book to be about the interpersonal stuff. I wanted to approach grief in a more real way -- as much as I could in comics. And now we're having something happen that's gotten Batman back to a point where he's trying to bury his son, and it'll take us into this story that is "Robin Rises" where we'll open up a whole huge can of worms. Andy Kubert's stuff looks awesome, and it's going to be this whole epic storyline of how Batman gets a new Robin. It's pretty cool. December will see "Robin Rises: Alpha" which is really the beginning. This period in July with "Omega" is an ending of sorts for the emotional story, but we'll be taking it a step forward as we bring a new Robin into the universe.
One element of your run with Patrick Gleason for the past few years that's struck a chord with fans was your treatment of Two-Face, and over the years he's often been tied to the origins and introductions of new Robins. Will that also be the case for "Robin Rises"?
It won't. The Two-Face story was Pat and I wanting to tackle a classic character and put a New 52 spin on him. Batman at that point was in a different place, and we didn't mention Robin a lot in those issues. It was still obviously bothering him, but we wanted that story to be a straight through line of Batman tackling a villain, and I didn't want to tie Robin back in to Two-Face's origin this time. I think that's gotten a little played out at this point.
"Robin Rises: Omega" ships this July from DC Comics.