Wednesday marks the release of “Detective Comics” #965, the first part of ‘A Lonely Place of Living,’ a Tim Drake-centric arc that reincorporates Red Robin back in the DC Universe. Writer James Tynion IV has been building to this in his year plus “Detective Comics” run, and the issue acts as both the start of the story, as well as a reintroduction of Tim Drake to DC readers. Since we are the official landing spot for all ‘A Lonely Place of Living’-related business, we are thrilled to share both a short interview with Tynion, as well as an exclusive preview of the issue.
The complete interview – which is more than twice as long as this excerpt – will be released in full on the October 4 installment of the DC3cast, where spoilers will be discussed. This portion of the interview has been edited to avoid any spoilers.
This issue is the beginning of this story that’s been building almost for the entirety of ‘Rebirth.’ It’s been a really great thing to see the little pieces coming together. When did you have the sort of skeletal structure of this story in place and have a lot of elements changed, or come and gone, since ‘Rebirth’ has grown?
James Tynion IV: That’s a great question. I mean, I’d say it’s a bit of both. I knew very early on in the process of developing my “Detective” run. I went into the offices to have my first long chat with Geoff [Johns, DC’s Chief Creative Officer] about this series, and particularly how to lay out the death of Tim Drake, and how that would connect into the larger ‘Rebirth’ narrative. I said very bluntly in that meeting “Geoff, I’m so honored to be a part of this, but I have like one thing that I want to request more than anything else, which is when Tim Drake comes back, I want to be the one who tells that story.”
And Geoff was good on his word there, and I’m extremely grateful for that, because Tim Drake really is my favorite character. There were a few different ways that I could see [the story] playing out, and earlier this year [DC] brought me and Dan Jurgens in to have another long conversation and lay out this storyline, and at first I think we were sort of kicking around ideas about how to sort of maybe do a connected story that actually would be like, part one in “Action,” part two in “Detective,” so on and so forth. But we realized very early on that both of these stories would be incredibly personal stories and that the Superman story was going to be very personal with him and Jor-El, the revealed Mr. Oz. “Detective” was going to be a very personal story about Tim.
So, that lens allowed me to actually tell the more personal version of what I was gonna do, because I was building the personal arc of the story I wanted to tell, but I kind of figured that I would need to kind of couch it in the middle of a kind of “event comic.” But because, you know, right now at DC we’re right in the verge of two incredible events with, like, “Doomsday Clock” around the corner and “Metal” running currently, that we actually get to kind of tell an epic-level story that is very deeply personal and very much about Tim Drake. So I’m incredibly happy with what we’ve been able to do here, and, really, ‘A Lonely Place of Living’ is kind of the culmination of everything in my “Detective” run to this point.
I was about the age that Tim Drake was when he became Robin, so I was reading it and I was seeing a kid that was my age becoming Robin. It was this incredibly formative moment for me, and I think that Tim is, in many ways, the ultimate fan. He figures out Batman’s secret identity; he’s this person who thinks about Batman like we do, in a way. The issue is full of this stuff that’s been such a part of Tim’s history, but you approach it in this really fresh, really direct way that I think for somebody who picks up this book for the first time, maybe without a lot of Tim history, instantly gets who the character is … instantly understands what his motivations are.Continued below
So having said that, how important was it for you to introduce Tim to a new generation? Because, you know, I think for a lot of folks, myself included, maybe the ‘New 52’ Tim Drake didn’t feel quite as much like … I hate when people say this, but “my Tim Drake.” So how did feel it was your responsibility to bring your version of Tim Drake to a reader in this issue in a clear and concise way?
JT: You kind of nailed my thought process right there because it really did come down to the fact that if I were to tell a story that really encapsulates what I think is special about this character and why I think Tim Drake is one of the best characters that has ever been created at DC, I knew I needed to ground him back in the origins that I grew up with, because the origin of the original storyline, ‘A Lonely Place of Dying,’ builds Tim perfectly. Everything that you can build this character up with is there right at the beginning, down to the fact that this 13-year-old kid solves the greatest mystery in the world, which is the identity of Batman and Robin, and he does it not … and the amazing thing about that story is that he solves that in a passive way. He had that solved, and he was kind of happy knowing it.
He didn’t try to do anything with that information, but it was once he actually saw Batman flailing after the death of Jason Todd that he knew something was wrong, and he knew he needed to act, and he knew he needed to save the concept of Batman, because the strongest thing about Tim – and this is what I was trying to get into with how I was writing the character in the first half of this issue – is his greatest strength is that he sees Batman and the mythos of Batman in the same way us as readers and us as fans see Batman. He can take that kind of aerial view and and kind of see that “Oh, Batman needs people. He pushes them away all the time but he needs them.”
It’s that insight and that understanding of human character and also just his incredible detective skills, which are very people-centric. He understands how people work, and how people connect, and what they need, and what they’re going to do. That’s really powerful. So yeah, that’s what I was trying to evoke and I’m happy to hear that it sounds like I did.
Yeah. The relationship between Superman and Robin has always been a lot of fun. I particularly love the Dick Grayson/Clark relationship. We haven’t seen it as much with Tim and Clark, but I think that there’s a really interesting parallel between both of them. Clark stands for this idea of what Superman is. I think Clark would be the first to tell you that the idea of Superman is as important as Superman is, and I think Tim feels that same way about Batman, that it’s the idea that matters so much. So when you’re putting Tim into the Superman world, do you find that there are natural connections that you’re making between these characters, or is it more difficult to integrate him into things like Jor-El, like Doomsday. How do you feel that works?
JT: I mean I think that that’s an incredible point, and I was almost surprised how easily connected was the back and forth between Jor-El and Tim, because now knowing that Mr. Oz is Jor-El, knowing what’s in his mind as he’s speaking to this young boy who puts the entire world on his shoulders, because that’s the other aspect of Tim that I think is incredibly important. When nobody else acts, because he knows what needs to be done, he does it. It’s almost a “with great power comes great responsibility” because he has the answer of how to do it right, and if no one else is going to do it, then he has to do it. There’s no question in him.
The thing that Jor-El kind of represents is that that path of knowing the right thing when nobody else is kind of willing to act can be a lonely path. It can be a path that ends with your entire world turning against you, and no one believing you, and everyone calling you insane, and then end with you having to send your son off-planet from this dying world that you’ve spent your entire life trying to protect. The tenderness there between him seeing himself in Tim was really powerful. I didn’t see so much from the aerial view of the story until I really got down and started writing it. But yeah, the ties between the two great families of the DC universe; it’s very palpable, and it’s very powerful.Continued below
Written by James Tynion IV
Penciled by Eddy Barrows
Inked by Eber Ferreira
Colored by Adriano Lucas
Lettered by Sal Cipriano
“A Lonely Place Of Living” part one! It’s the story you’ve demanded: Where in the world (or otherwise) is Tim Drake? Red Robin faces a crossroads…escape the most devious prison ever devised, or find himself abandoned beyond time and space for all eternity! Not much of a choice, right? But when he finds out just who is locked in there with him, Tim’s world will change in ways he never imagined! This is one of the biggest stories of the REBIRTH era, setting the stage for an explosive DETECTIVE COMICS epic!