Let’s be honest, it’s time for a new Robin ongoing series. Damian Wayne hasn’t headlined a book on his own since the 2015-2016 series Robin: Son of Batman and knowing him, he’s probably a little impatient about it.
Luckily, a fresh Robin #1 debuts on April 27 as part of DC’s ongoing Infinite Frontier initiative pushing familiar heroes in bold new directions. Robin, from writer Joshua Williamson and artist Gleb Melnikov, picks up where the “Demon or Detective” two-part teaser story (recently seen in the pages of Batman #106 and Detective Comics #1034) left off—with Damian discovering the mysterious League of Lazarus and determined to enter their deadly tournament. But if Damian wants to prove that he’s the greatest fighter in the DC Universe, he’ll have to make his way through some pretty formidable competition—including the recently returned Connor Hawke.
DC Nation spoke with Williamson and Melnikov about what they find special about Damian Wayne, the type of opponents he can expect to face in the tournament and their new character Flatline—who has already created buzz among fans after just a handful of social media teasers from the Robin creative team.
It’s fair to say Damian Wayne has had a rough past couple of years. Where do we find him as Robin #1 opens?
Joshua Williamson: He’s on his own again, but with a new mission. He wants to know who he is away from his father and mother and the Teen Titans. For so long he’s found himself as part of some kind of unit and now he wants to find a new path for himself. The path of a hero.
Now, after hearing about the League of Lazarus, he has a new case. A new mystery to explore. Why and how was this kept from him? It’s a very exciting time for Damian.
Gleb Melnikov: Damian is alone now. After the events of "Demon or Detective" he just can't ignore the League of Lazarus. He never heard of them before, how is this even possible? Of course, he has to participate. For Damian, this is the chance to find out who he really is, without the influence of Batman or Talia.
What do you both like about Damian as a character? What are you looking forward to exploring in this series that we haven’t seen before?
Melnikov: He's my favorite Robin, plain and simple. When I first read “Batman and Son,” Damian instantly became my favorite character. He’s cocky, smart, deadly. He's a punk rock Robin.
Our series has a lot of shōnen manga influence, so you can expect an equal amount of coolness and heart. I think Robin is a comic about growing up.
Williamson: From the moment he was introduced in Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert’s Batman run, I’ve loved him. His attitude drew me in. He sees what Batman is, and how cool it all is, and revels in it. He loves it. He’s that part of Batman that knows how cool he is, how skilled. That smile Batman gets every once in a while when he knows he’s going to win, given life. It’s like he gets how cool it is to be the son of Batman.
Damian is this amazing killer and cocky, but he has a lot of heart. He looks out for people and because of his experiences has a lot to offer the world.
How important is it to tell a Damian Wayne story where he’s on his own, away from either side of his family?
Williamson: Damian needs to be on his own to grow as a character. To show that he isn’t just the son of Batman or the grandson of the Demon. For so long he’s been part of these bigger groups that it becomes so much of his character. I want to get into new situations with a new cast.
Menikov: Imagine being a teenage son of Batman and Talia. There's a constant urge to rebel against them, but at the same time it's impossible not to be inspired by them. It's stressful! It's time for Damian to find his own path. But hey, it's a small world. Family can be anywhere...
What can you share about the other participants in the League of Lazarus tournament?
Williamson: The participants in the League of Lazarus tournament are a blend of classic and new characters along with some surprises, but they all have one thing in common—they are deadly killers.
I looked into all the fighter characters in DC history and pulled together a group that I felt would actually want to go to the tournament. A few who still have something to prove. It’s been fun grabbing all of these characters that I love but then creating a few new ones to mix things up. For example, we have Ravager, Raptor, Nite-Wing and Lady Vic, alongside new ones like Respawn, XXL, Black Swan and Flatline.
Melnikov: There are new characters and the old ones. It's about 50/50. But all of them are worthy opponents for Damian. Well, maybe not all. But he'll learn soon enough that he needs to step up his game. And also, he needs friends!
Fans are already excited to see the debut of Flatline. How did her (immediately striking!) design come together? What can you tease about her role in the series?
Melnikov: I always thought that Lord Death Man's design is sick. So, when Josh said there's going to be a Lord Death Man sidekick in Robin, I flipped! Teenage goth aesthetics, what can be better?
She has this flatline on the back of her jacket—that's where the name came from. She’s already my favorite and you're going to scream when you'll see the last page of the first issue.
Williamson: Flatline has a major role in the series. She was created to be Lord Death Man’s sidekick and has really taken on a life of her own. I had a loose idea in mind for her that I sent over to Gleb, and then he really ran with it. His design became her character. The moment I saw Gleb’s design, I could hear her voice.
Robin #1 by Joshua Williamson, Gleb Melnikov and Troy Peteri is available on April 27 in print and as a digital comic book.