Peter Tomasi has spent many days and nights poring over scripts in his personal Batcave. Before leaving his staff position at DC Comics in 2007 to return to his writing roots, Tomasi served as the editor of Grant Morrison’s run on “Batman.” Since then, Tomasi wrote an extremely well-received year-long run on “Nightwing,” the three-issue miniseries “Blackest Night: Batman” and, after being hand-picked by Morrison, three issues of the best-selling “Batman and Robin.”
The common denominator of the aforementioned projects is the fact that Dick Grayson, the original Robin, was the featured Dark Knight, not the iconic Bruce Wayne. But Tomasi gets his chance at scripting the world’s greatest detective this fall as the writer of the new “Batman and Robin” series, which launches as part of DC Comics’ trailblazing “New 52” rebranding. Joining Tomasi on the title is fan-favorite artist Patrick Gleason, his collaborator on the “Batman and Robin” volume 1 arc and “Green Lantern Corps.”
Riding shotgun with dear ol’ dad is Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce and the supervillainess Talia al Ghul. But the family tree ends there. Tomasi told Comic Book Resources exclusively that despite his appearance in “Flashpoint” as the Batman of that altered universe, Bruce’s dad Thomas Wayne has “no role whatsoever” in his run on “Batman and Robin.”
Tomasi, who draws inspiration from his relationship with his own young son, says Bruce may indeed be the world’s greatest detective, but he’s not the world’s greatest dad, and exploring the Waynes’ relationship will be as compelling as the adventures the caped crusaders undertake on the streets of Gotham.
CBR News: Before we dig into your new series, we wanted to get your overall thoughts on the DC relaunch coming this September. The move is obviously historic for its sheer breadth, but is it a big gamble or something that was necessary to expand readership and interest?
Peter Tomasi: Hate to start off the Q&A this way, but you really answered the question at the tail end there. Those are the two major factors when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of the relaunch, and they converge into one Ã¼ber-factor which is simply more eyeballs on a new line of high-quality, cool-ass books.
Fair enough. You have a long history working within Gotham, but this time it’s very different as you get to explore the adventures — and more importantly, the relationship — of Bruce Wayne and his son, Damian. What have you learned about how these two interrelate, and how, after coming back from the dead(ish), has Bruce changed?
Having done three issues of “Batman and Robin” (#20-22) and three issues of “Blackest Night: Batman” before the New 52, the dynamic was Dick Grayson and Damian, which I approached as a big brother/little brother feel. With Bruce being back, the dynamic is obviously different now that it’s a father/son relationship. We’re four issues in as I answer your questions, and my take on Bruce at this moment, now that he’s returned, is that all parents have a nagging thought in the back of their heads: What if I die or am unable to impart to my child the life lessons I hope will make him a happy and healthy person not only in body and mind, but also in spirit? I feel Bruce is having these thoughts regarding Damian. He may be the world’s greatest detective, but he’s not the world’s greatest dad by any stretch, which makes it all the more interesting to write.
Has the Bruce Wayne we know from 70-plus years of continuity changed at all coming out of the relaunch?
In terms of the relaunch, Bruce Wayne/Batman is iconic. He doesn’t need to be changed. He’s not broken, and he doesn’t need to be fixed or tweaked. Everything that you need to tell a good Batman story is all right there. It simply boils down to who is doing the character/story mining at the moment. Every writer has his own take on Batman, but the bedrock and what makes the character great has been and will always there. We lucky Batman writers through the years just pick different ores or stones to polish and hope we leave the mythology a little richer during our time on the book.
Does Bruce treat Damian any differently than Dick or Tim, or were those two former Robins just as much sons to Bruce — if not more — than Damian?
Bruce inherently treats Damian differently simply based on Damian’s own upbringing. Damian’s cut from a different cloth. His formative years are a complete polar opposite to the type of love and caring Dick and Tim experienced in their early years. Damian was born and bred to be warrior right from the start, so that automatically changes the template that Bruce was used to regarding his previous wards.
Damian obviously doesn’t have the history or Bruce Wayne, but he has garnered a huge following since he was re-introduced by Grant Morrison in 2006. Why do you think fans have responded so well to the character, and what is it about Damian you like most?
It boils down to one word: unpredictable. I like Damian being in the mix because he adds an element of “what the hell is this kid going to do or say next?” Damian’s whole existence has stirred the Bat-family’s pot, and a character like that adds a lot of drama to the story. When you bring a 12-year-old kid who’s already got his own specific world view and opinion into a room with adults saddled with their own perspective, the atmosphere of the room’s gonna take a wild turn.
I know it’s early, but can you give us a tease of what we will see in the opening arc and beyond? Will we be seeing a healthy dose of classic rogues, or will new villains come to the table?
I don’t want to give away too much this early, but Bruce and Damian are at odds with each other. Bruce struggles to get a handle on Damian and his past, trying his best to teach his son what it means to be a just and moral person but making plenty of parental mistakes along the way. Bruce sees Damian as being broken and is on a mission to fix him. Damian, on the other hand, only wants to be accepted by his father for who he is; he doesn’t want to be looked at as some science project that needs to be modified. Deep down, though, Damian’s conflicted himself as his past and present are locked in a constant battle that threatens to take a terrible toll on him. In the end, this series will be about two people trying to not only understand each other, but also a part of themselves they haven’t come to terms with yet.
And regarding classic rogues, I’m gonna continue to introduce new villains as much as possible. The first arc begins with a new character called NoBody who has ties to Bruce’s past. I have some ideas about bringing in a classic rogue or two, but that may be a little further down the road.
How tightly will “Batman and Robin” tie into the other Bat-verse books?
Each of the Bat-books are working on distinct stories, and each of them has a different feel, a different tone. My book’s angled with keeping the relationship of Bruce and Damian, in uniform and out, front and center. With that aside, there are building blocks going on within the story that will have some resonance at a later date.
Once again, you get to work with Patrick Gleason on this title. What is about your relationship that translates so well to the printed — and now digital — page?
I simply love the guy’s work. He gets me, and I get him. We complete each other, as the music rises. His ability to convey subtle emotion along with big emotional moments is great, and his action is always incredibly kinetic. I’ve been working with Pat for a long time, from my days as an editor when I hired him for his first DC job till now, and he’s grown by leaps and bounds. He’s a creative artist — and sometimes those two don’t always go hand in hand, by the way — and a consummate pro. I really couldn’t see doing the book without him. And I also wanted to add that we are very fortunate to have Mick Gray inking Pat’s pencils and John Kalisz as our colorist, another two guys who bring a lot to the table. We’ve simply got a great team on this title.
Before we let you go, you’re also writing Guy Gardner in “Green Lantern Corps” as part of New 52 relaunch. Next year marks the 25th anniversary of the infamous “one punch” from “Justice League” #5. Any chance we’ll see a crossover between your two titles so Guy and Bruce can face off again?
No signs of a crossover to celebrate the epic punch next year, but if you check out “Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors” #13 later this month, you’ll get your fix and see Guy and Bats team up along with a nod to the classic nose pop.
“Batman and Robin” #1 by Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray is scheduled for release on September 14, 2011