Prodigal Father: Chuck Dixon Returns to "Robin"

What writer Chuck Dixon has in store for "Robin," as the prolific writer returns to the title in 2008 after nearly a six-year hiatus, will leave fans stunned.

But, Dixon told CBR News, it's a good kind of stunned.

"Anyone who knows me knows I'm not one for the hyperbole," said Dixon, whose last issue on his original run of "Robin" was #100 in 2001. "But this one is a big deal. Other than that, we have some fights, chases, traps, really bad, bad guys, there's some fun stuff.

"And Tim's private life gets a lot messier," continued Dixon. "He has major secret identity issues. The boy gets no rest."

The Boy Wonder, that is.

More specifically, Dixon teased that there's a new vigilante in town for Robin to face-- a female vigilante. "But she doesn't share the same lofty goals as Batman and Robin," laughed Dixon. "We also see the return of an old friend, a villain we haven't seen in a few years and there's also a big change in Robin's status with the Gotham City Police Department. But that big event I mentioned, it will dominate the book for the first year."

In the 1990s, Dixon's name was synonymous with the Bat-books, and he enjoyed lengthy runs on all the titles including "Nightwing," "Detective Comics," "Batman," "Batgirl," "Catwoman" and "Birds of Prey." Looking forward, Dixon would love nothing more than matching his previous mark of eight years on "Robin." "I'm on the book for the long haul," said Dixon. "Another hundred issues, why not?"

Dixon, who hinted that readers should expect to see more of the Teen Titans than his during previous run, continued, "Robin has really moved up to the big leagues since I left him and his solo book will reflect that."

And while Dixon has not read the book religiously since he left, he has been keeping up to speed with young Tim Drake in a variety of ways, including his own website www.dixonverse.net. "I read issues here and there, and folks would come to my message board and tell me the gist of what was going on in the stories," said Dixon. "Of course, I heard about the big stuff like Tim's dad dying and the Spoiler being murdered. Of course, once I took the book on, I read the year or more of issues leading up to my re-start. Adam [Beechen] was pacing his stories much like I did and had some very cool stuff going on. I liked his cop stuff a lot."

In terms of what's changed since he has been away, Dixon said, "Well, obviously, he's had a few bad years, lots of death around him. The DCU in general went through dark years in this period."

Dixon, himself, admitted he was a "little nervous" about returning to "Robin," but once he started writing for character, those worries sped away faster than the Batmobile. "No one wants to come back and make a bad second impression," said Dixon. "'Oh, his first run is so much better.' Then, there's always going to be a few people to say things like, 'Beethoven? I stopped listening after his third symphony.' But it's actually going amazingly well. I shouldn't really be surprised that I hadn't lost my touch for this book after writing 120-plus scripts for this character. But I worried anyway. Freelancer paranoia and the naturally suspicious nature of a writer, I guess. Once I was past the opening sequence of the first issue it was like riding a bike. I was back in Gotham and it all seemed real to me again.

"I'm further along the road as a writer now so I feel even more confident in the material. And it's always a big help when your editors have faith in you. [Editor] Mike Marts has been very encouraging and open to new stuff. And my immediate editor, Jeanine Schaefer, is quite amazing. She and I share the same ideas about what the book should be and she challenges me to take chances I might not have with a less enthusiastic editor."

Dixon loves the security of being the writer of a popular ongoing series because it allows the creator the opportunity to truly explore the titular characters. "I hadn't been on a regular monthly in a few years," Dixon said. "I've been busy with other work and when I was writing comics it was limited series or one-shots or the like. That's all well and good. But my favorite assignment is doing long runs on monthly titles. I have the security to create more complex work and really get into characterization."

Dixon simply let DC know he would be interested in a return and a couple weeks later he was back on "Robin." "I heard that Adam was leaving and dropped Mike an e-mail. He called back a couple of weeks later and offered me a chance to return."

Dixon, who calls Robin a pop culture icon, says Tim Drake's incarnation of the masked do-gooder "serves the purpose of being the gateway character to the Dark Knight world. He's a household name character. Everyone knows who he is. And he's a necessary component to the Batman mythos. He's as close to a normal person as anyone who's ever joined the Batman family and he's kind of the eyes and the conscience of the whole thing,"

Tim's relationship with Bruce Wayne is "even more parental than it had been before," said Dixon. "With Tim's dad gone, that's a natural development. But it's also more complex than that. Tim and Bruce also work in the family business together and that creates different tensions than the usual father/son deal."

And Robin and Nightwing's relationship? "That one I'm less sure of," Dixon confessed. "There are far more momentous changes over on Nightwing's book and I'm still finding my way along that one."

Chuck Dixon returns to "Robin" with issue #170 in January, 2008.

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