Chris Yost has been given the auspicious task of penning the further adventures of one of DC Comics’ most popular heroes, former Robin, Tim Drake. Now calling himself Red Robin, Tim Drake has alienated himself from all of his peers and loved ones in order to find Bruce Wayne, whom everyone else believes to be dead.
Josh Green recently got the opportunity to catch up with Chris Yost, who gives us some insight into the world of Red Robin.
Josh Green: Red Robin is your first ongoing series with DC Comics. Considering you are mostly known for your Marvel work, how did you get the Red Robin assignment?
Chris Yost: Editor Mike Marts promised me I could make Tim Drake a late blooming mutant, so look for that coming up in the book. In all honestly, Mike and I had worked together on New X-Men back in the day, and we kept in touch here and there. He knew they were doing their big Batman reboot, and approached me for Red Robin.
JG: Was it difficult acclimating to the DC Universe considering how different it is from Marvel? Also, who are your favorite DC characters?
CY: It definitely is taking a lot more research. But since research in this case is reading comics, I can’t complain. I’ve worked on Batman before in animation, but for sure the DC Comics universe is a different place than the Marvel Universe. And that’s a good thing; it’s been fun to play in a different sandbox.
My favorite characters? Wow. Robin, Supergirl, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Green Lantern, Firestorm…a ton.
JG: How familiar were you with the character of Tim Drake before you got this assignment? What do you think was Tim’s most defining moment in his twenty-year history?
CY: As a reader, I was there for Tim’s first appearance in the Batman books, and have all of his mini-series, probably the first 20 issues of his ongoing as well. In many ways, Tim’s realization that Bruce Wayne was Batman is his defining moment, as well as him knowing that Batman NEEDS a Robin. But of late, Tim’s defining moments have all been tragic ones. Death, loss, betrayal…the works.
JG: You have referred to the previous Red Robins in your book; Jason Todd and Ulysses Armstrong. However, the Red Robin identity was first used by Dick Grayson in the Elseworlds classic, Kingdom Come. Are there any plans to somehow incorporate the Kingdom Come universe into your book? Perhaps there could be a meeting of Red Robins on Earth-22?
CY: Probably not. We’re trying to stay a bit grounded, give or take the odd time travel discussion.
JG: Your first Red Robin story arc concluded with Tim finding Bruce’s cave drawings from Final Crisis. Will this discovery be the catalyst that brings Tim back to his former less angsty personality?
CY: Tim’s realization that Bruce is alive, that Conner and Bart are alive…these things are all very much helping. But Tim’s been walking a very gray, very compromised road for a long time now — since well before the “death” of Batman. But a situation is coming that’s going to force a choice on him, that will make him decide what kind of person he’s going to be. You saw at the end of issue #5 he was making a stand, but things get (even more) difficult starting in issue #6.
JG: You have shown brief glimpses of Tim’s former supporting cast, such as Alvin Draper and Stephanie Brown. But Red Robin’s new supporting cast consists of two new characters, Tam Fox (Lucius Fox’s daughter) and Pru, as well as the classic villain Ra’s al Ghul. Tell me about these characters and their relationship to Tim in Red Robin.
CY: Ra’s is the devil tempting Tim. Tam and Pru symbolize the choices to a certain extent. Tam was brought in as a lighter element, Pru as a darker one. We’ll see the effect they have on Tim, and in Pru’s case, the effect Tim has on her. And in the third arc, “Collision,” Ra’s al Ghul himself is going to step in and take action, and it’s going to make the entire Bat-family sit up and take notice.
JG: Red Robin recently went through an artistic change, with Marcus To coming on board as the new artist. What can you tell me about working with Marcus?
CY: I’ve seen three issues from Marcus already, and they’re flat out incredible. He’s gotten three issues in a row of complicated action, with multiple characters, and he’s kicked incredible amounts of butt.
JG: What’s coming up in your second Red Robin arc?
CY: Tim Drake leading the League of Assassins against the Council of Spiders. Should be fun.
JG: Will you stay with Red Robin past its first twelve issues? If so, will the direction of the book change in its second year?
CY: Tim has to survive quite a bit to get to that point.
JG: You always seem to write an unbelievable amount of comic books on top of your television work. What other projects do you have coming out in the near future?
CY: The second part of my Huntress/Man-Bat story hits soon in Streets of Gotham, and a few books here and there for the Marvelous competition.