Comic-Con 2015: Lee Bermejo Takes Us Inside We Are Robin


As Batman group editor Mark Doyle explained at Comic-Con this year, We Are Robin was born from one of those rare moments of dual serendipity. While he and some of the other folks at DC were already discussing how the concept of Robin could be expanded to make it larger than one person wearing a mask, Lee Bermejo was also coming to the same conclusion on his own.

RELATED: We Are Robin #1 Review

Bermejo is a true dual threat comics creator known more for his art than his writing to date, but he was hatching a very similar idea to Doyle and company completely unbeknownst to each other. One phone call changed that, and it was enough to convince everyone it was an idea worth exploring.

“I got on the phone with Mark, and was like, ‘Hey man, I think I’ve been thinking about this story too small,'” Bermejo said to Bam Smack Pow at SDCC 2015. “‘There should be more than one, there should be multiple Robins.'”

After Doyle told him that same concept had arisen from a talk he had with Scott Snyder, Bermejo figured someone else was already working on it. But after his editor encouraged him to make his pitch, it was enough to convince DC he was the right man to tackle a story that obviously had some merit if multiple people already had it floating around in their heads.

“There’s something in the zeitgeist, you know what I mean?” Bermejo said. “These ideas often happen at the same time for a reason.”

In this case, that reason is pretty clear. With DC engaged in efforts to diversify and broaden the reach of its super hero titles — particularly in the Batman line, which already boasts books with very different tones and styles like Batgirl and Gotham Academy — it’s not too much of a logical leap to introduce a series that focuses on youth empowerment on a larger scale. It’s not that anyone can be Robin, but in a Gotham City and a world with so many issues and threats, maybe people don’t need to have the Dark Knight personally tap them on the shoulder to lend a hand.

It’s also a chance to turn what has traditionally been a solo role into a team book, albeit one where almost all of the characters are completely new to the audience. Bermejo described that as the biggest challenge in writing We Are Robin, but one that also grants him a tremendous opportunity to flex his creative muscles.

“How do you get people invested in these characters who are brand new?” he said. “From a certain aspect, it unties me, because I can just create these characters from the ground up, but also, you don’t have that safety net of a character like Batman or Superman that people know intimately. It’s definitely a challenge, but a lot more freedom.”

The exception to that rule is Duke Thomas, who made his memorable debut from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo during the “Endgame” arc in Batman. Thomas wasn’t in Bermejo’s original pitch for the series, and it was a different character who was supposed to fill the role of the narrator in the first issue.

Ultimately, though, the collaborative meetings that led to We Are Robin convinced all involved that he would be the person that could anchor the book from a storytelling perspective.

“He’s not a believer, necessarily. He wants to see what’s behind the curtain.” — Lee Bermejo on Duke Thomas.

“Duke was just a great character,” Bermejo said. “I needed someone who was directly affected by recent events, and Duke fit that bill perfectly. He’s also such a smart, cerebral character. I knew that readers could empathize with that really well.”

Another facet that makes Thomas an intriguing lead is that he has his own agenda, something that Bermejo promises will continue to play out as the book moves forward. Even though he finds himself aligned with the other Robins, who will also get their turns in the spotlight, fans can expect that Duke will remain something of a skeptic.

“He’s not a believer, necessarily,” Bermejo said. “He wants to see what’s behind the curtain.”

There’s no such mystery involved in what goes into the team process in creating each issue of We Are Robin. Even though Bermejo doesn’t have a ton of experience writing while other people handle the visuals, he’s effusive in his praise for artists Rob Haynes (“an amazing storyteller”) and Jorge Corona (“a young, new artist who just blew me away”).

Bermejo says he’s having a blast providing the series’ strikingly dramatic covers, but he’s already found a comfort zone with his art team when it comes to the interiors.

“Those guys make it easy,” he said. “When you work with the right people, it changes everything. I’m giving them a blueprint, and they have to build a house. So if they can come up with a better solution to build that house, I’m all ears.”

For the actual Robins, the foundations of their house will be tested by both familiar and new adversaries, including a returning “villain concept” in the series’ second arc that Bermejo is excited to be bringing back. We Are Robin will also be part of “Robin War,” a crossover event announced at Comic-Con that will answer the question of what Damien Wayne thinks of a whole bunch of teens assuming the same mantle. And if that’s not enough, Batgirl will be dropping in for issue #4.

In the meantime, the story will progress incrementally, with the hope that more readers can get on board with the book the same way that Thomas and others join the movement in its pages.

“In the first issue, you get introduced to these characters, who you learn more about in the second issue,” Bermejo said. “By the third issue, things get bigger. So the idea is to really have people get to know these characters before things really explode.”

We Are Robin #2 is in stores now.

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