When most people think of the DC Comics superhero Robin, usually the image that comes to mind isn't very flattering -- more often then not you picture some scrawny kid in dorky tights clinging to Batman's heels while he's trying to be dark and gritty. But the new comic series "We Are Robin" is going to challenge all of your preconceptions about the Boy Wonder in the best way possible.
Written by Lee Bermejo with stunning art by Jorge Corona, Rob Haynes, and Khary Randolph, the first issue hits comic book stores today and follows Duke Thomas (a high schooler who's crossed paths with Batman before) as he encounters a group of teenagers that takes on Robin's symbol and colors to fight crime in Gotham -- and believe us, these kids aren't anyone's sidekick.
"I always had a problem with the concept of the sidekick," author Lee Bermejo told MTV News over the phone. "It’s something that feels really antiquated at this point. Obviously, a product of 1940s pop culture doesn’t really reflect what’s going on these days so much."
But that doesn't mean that Robin should be retired -- to Bermejo, he's essential to making the grey world of Gotham City just a little brighter. "When you think of that world, you don’t think of it being a colorful place," he said. "And that’s what Robin represents to me, he’s a ray of light in a place that is otherwise dark. So that to me provides a great counterpoint, thematically, for the Bat universe in general, and a kind of interesting starting point then to introduce a bunch of characters from different backgrounds and ethnicities into the world as well."
"These characters want to do something good," he added. "They want to make their city a better place. And I think this concept of bringing some color to is a great way of looking at it, to brighten a dark world."
"We Are Robin" has also been heavily promoted as part of DC Entertainment's new advertising campaign, which they're calling DC YOU. Their stated goal is to move beyond the stereotypical expectations of comic book heroes -- that they're white, straight, male, and generally pretty grim -- and introduce readers to bolder art styles, a wider range of stories, and diverse, relatable characters.
"There’s something about this moment in time that in comics, you’re starting to have some voices that have been marginalized in the past and are starting to be heard," Bermejo said. "I think that’s an important shift in focus and the books as well, you can see that starting to happen across the board as well, providing for some new ideas. It’s an exciting time."
His ultimate dream for "We Are Robin," he says, is "for people to walk away with a different concept of what Robin could be. If we get a lot of people cosplaying as Robin, that’s awesome, but going forward, [for] people to start going like, ‘Well, why does there have to be just one type of character who looks a certain way [or] be this character?' I think that’s an important issue and comics are just starting to explore that issue now. I’d definitely like it to come to the forefront."
Want to learn more about these new Robins? MTV News has exclusive character art and bios written by Lee Bermejo himself for each member of the team. Start taking notes now, cosplay fanatics.
Duke ThomasDC Comics
“My shoe shines in your eye accurate, you never seen a leather jacket with lights in the back of it.”
Age 16. Currently a student at West Robinson High. Subject to change. GPA does not reflect potential. Needs to be challenged frequently.
Hobbies include collectible card games, puzzles, and film. Shows potential as a writer. Poetry, although will never admit it.
Ran track first year. Tried out for soccer, but disagreement with strength trainer resulted in expulsion from the team. Athletic, but not driven by competition. Motivations are internal.
Parents' current whereabouts unknown. Temporary foster parent is Raymond Mendez.
Riko SheridenDC Comics
“I shy away in my mind, in hopes in that I could share this place with you. You'll be the first one to find, the shadows that make the girl you undo.”
Age 16. Current student at Middletown North. 4.2 GPA. Marching band freshman year. Quit because of performance anxiety. Drama student, but refuses to perform. Excels at art and English. Struggles with math and science despite excellent performance.
Hobbies include costume design, sewing, manga, anime, music, wing chu, kung fu san zoo, and singing, although will never sing outside the safety of her room.
Adoptive parents are David and Rita Harris-Sheridan. Birth parents killed in auto accident. Riko, an infant at the time, miraculously survived without a scratch.
Daxton "Dax" ChillDC Comics
“It's like screaming at a wall, someday it's gonna fall.”
Age 17. Current student at Miller Varley Technical High School. 2.7 GPA. Discipline problem. Two suspensions: One for fighting and the second for disturbance in class. Attendance nightmare. Lacks drive/interest. Shows incredible loyalty and dedication to friends. A believer.
Hobbies include mechanics, motor cross, and NASCAR. Plays guitar (badly). Briefly performed in hardcore band, Scuzzy Muff. Left to join punk group, The Frown Clown. Physical disagreement with lead singer led to group’s dissolution.
Parents are [REDACTED]. Father's whereabouts unknown. Mother suffers from frequent migraines due to alcohol abuse.
Isabella OrtizDC Comics
“Nada cambiara con un aviso de curvas, ya no hay fabulas en la ciudad de la furia”
Age 17. Current student at Middletown South. GPA 3.2. Transferred to Gotham sophomore year. Excels at language. Bilingual, but also studying French and Latin. Attendance problems sophomore year. Suspected gang activity. Erroneous after hospitalization at the hands of her best friends for not joining the Latin Kings. Notable recent improvement overall scholastically.
Hobbies include dancing, gymnastics, singing, Judo, and kick-boxing.
Parents are Umberto Ortiz and Maria Fernanda Santiago. Two siblings. Older brother, Hector, and younger sister, Mia.
Troy WalkerDC Comics
“You've gotta risk it to get the biscuit.”
Age 17. Current student at Middletown South. GPA 3.5. Star athlete. Varsity Strong Safety for the Middletown Cougars. All-State two years in a row. Hoping to play for Duke and eventually go pro. Above average student with interests in political activism, history, and philosophy.
Hobbies include football, baseball, video games, and cross-fit.
Parents are Stephen and Joyce Walker. Stephen Walker, construction worker, injured on the job during Joker Toxin incident. Receiving disability.
Andre 'Dre' CiprianiDC Comics
“Show me the dirt pile that I will pray that the soul can take three stowaways.”
AGE 17. Current student at Middletown South. GPA 2.5. One suspension for fighting. Written up multiple times for aggressive displays of disobedience. Argumentative. Arrogant. Emotional problems and anger issues. Could excel at math but has no drive.
Hobbies include MMA, boxing, true crime novels, forensic science, and cooking. As a child was a musical prodigy. Piano. Completely abandoned music after his father's murder.
Parents are Gianfranco Cipriani (deceased) and Angela Mancuso. Father, a “made” member of the Maroni crime family, murdered by the Falcones when Dre was 8.
"We Are Robin #1" hits comic book store shelves today.