Boy Wonder: Adam Beechen talks "Robin"

Wed, December 7th, 2005 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Arune Singh, Staff Writer

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Remember when CBR News told you that writer Adam Beechen, of "Justice League Unlimited," would be a big name pretty soon?

Now we're not the kind of people to…nah, we are. Told you so.

Announced recently by DC Comics, the fallout out from the "Infinite Crisis" mini-series will involve new creative teams on some of their most well-known books. Taking over "Robin" will be Beechen, in his first major super-hero "in continuity" project. Tackling the solo adventures of Batman's on again/off again partner isn't easy, but Beechen is sure having fun, as he told CBR News. And no, he won't tell us who will be under the mask.

"I just finished my first draft of my first script for the six-issue arc I'm writing for 'Robin,' and now I'm waiting for Editor Eddie Berganza's notes and thoughts," Beechen revealed when speaking with CBR News. "I hope they come soon, because I'm champing at the bit to get started on the second script...Writing those first 22 pages was that much fun!

"The "big moment" of the first arc -- the shocking event that sets the whole storyline in motion and starts to change everything as far as Robin is concerned -- happens on page four of that first issue, and as soon as I wrote that page, everything after was a blur. The voice of Robin suddenly felt a lot clearer in my head, I started to really see and feel the world of the book, and the remaining eighteen pages just came pouring out. Having written for television for a bunch of years, and comics for the last couple, I can tell you that some writing assignments are really a slog, and some don't even feel like assignments, they're so much fun. 'Robin' is definitely proving to be in the latter category.

"Now I'm dying -- dying -- for the first issue to come out because I so badly want to talk about what's going on and hear what people think of what penciler Karl Kerschl and I will have going on in the book. But of course I can't -- don't want to spoil any surprises. I know there are many readers out there with lots of questions as to where 'Infinite Crisis' will leave Robin, and there's lots of speculation about it. I can only stand by what I've said elsewhere: the person in the Robin suit will be familiar to DC readers, will still be a member of the Titans, will have a rocky relationship with Batman, and will be working primarily out of Gotham City. And the Robin suit will be modified."

For the cynical folks out there, no, it's not the paycheck that has Beechen excited: it's something much more rich, at least to him. "I'll tell you what's really got me excited -- the characters. Don't get me wrong, the plot's very, very cool, but it's the characters that really move the thing and give it resonance with an audience. You can shake up the continuity in a character's comic all you want, and often it's a good idea -- change a costume, give a character a new job, introduce a tragic event -- but if the readers don't care about that character in the first place, then it's just a stunt that injects temporary interest. If, as a writer, you've managed to get your audience really invested in a character -- if they feel like they can relate to and/or sympathize with them -- then the changes really mean something. I feel like I lucked out and found the voice of Robin pretty early, and now I'm sympathizing and relating to the character...which hopefully means I'll be able to translate that to the readers.

"Character is everything. Looking back, my favorite comics when I started reading were favorites not because of the powers the characters had, but because of who the characters were: Miller's 'Daredevil.' Byrne and Claremont's 'X-Men.' Levitz and Giffen's 'Legion of Super-Heroes.' My favorite television shows were and are about characters more than settings: 'Hill street Blues,' 'St. Elsewhere,' 'My So-Called Life,' 'Wiseguy,' 'The West Wing' and others. I'm hoping to bring some of the sensibilities I found so compelling in those shows to my work on 'Robin': distinct voices, relatively realistic situations and relatable emotions.

"But that's all behind-the-scenes stuff. There'll still be all the action, costumes, DC continuity and tradition that the readers expect. There'll be mystery, combat, high stakes, a few laughs, and maybe even romance along the way. We're going to try to tell the best stories possible, ones that keep readers anxiously coming back month after month to see what their favorite characters are up to. But it all starts with those characters, as far as I'm concerned, and now that I feel like I'm locking in on them, I'm about six times as excited as I was before I started putting the words of the script on paper...and I was plenty excited before."

As Beechen mentioned, his partner in crime is artist Karl Kerschl, whose work on "Adventures of Superman" has earned him universal acclaim from fans and critics alike. "Karl and I had a lengthy phone conversation before I started on the script, talking about what we like about the idea of Robin, the Bat-Universe, what we like and don't like about superheroes and comics today in general, and we're on the same page on a lot of things, I think," says Beechen of the duo. I'm anxious to see how he approaches the script, and can't wait to see the results. Beyond that, I'm just a huge fan of his work, and I feel really lucky we've been paired up!"

His enthusiasm may be infectious, but there's more to Beechen's love for super-heroes than simple nostalgia: it's a product of deeper thinking. "Obviously, it started out being about the fantasy and wish-fulfillment element of superheroes -- the 'what if' questions we all ask ourselves...what if I could fly, or turn invisible, how would my life be different? And the simple, kinetic action of them was also really appealing. Now, I think, another aspect I find so appealing is asking myself what might be going on in their heads, and exploring the detail aspects of lives that are so incredibly different from my own. That's one of the things I like so much about writing -- that I get to explore lives and situations that are outrageously different and fantastic and somehow try to find things inside them that I can relate to."

When asked about the tone of his "Robin," beyond his "teenage CSI comments" on previous occasions, and inspiration behind his upcoming run, Beechen lets his trademark sense of humor come out, replying, "Our version will be a musical -- lots and lots of dancing."

 
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