By Andrea Towers
June 24, 2015 at 07:30 PM EDT

Superheroes and sidekicks are an age-old staple of comics. But just as the industry has changed over the years, so have the stories — which is why DC is turning the common sidekick idea on its head with a new series, We Are…Robin!

Written by Lee Bermejo (Joker, Suiciders) with art by Jorge Corona, Rob Haynes and Khary Randolph, We Are…Robin! stars a host of young Gotham teens who carry the famous Robin mantle and set out to save the city.

“The kind of germ of the book came out of me trying to solve the whole side kick conundrum,” Bermejo admitted with a laugh. “It’s a concept that never really worked for me…it never really made sense, and I felt like it was aggregated from an idea that comes from 1940s pop culture. The idea of a teenage sidekick always felt odd, so I wanted to try to find a way to make it work and modernize the idea and help a little bit.”

He went on to reveal that out of that idea came a pitch that he created initially to be used for a graphic novel. “At the time, Mark Doyle was at Vertigo Editorial, and I had spoken to him and other editors about the idea, and it just didn’t work,” he admitted. “It just didn’t fit into the continuity. They were just starting to do the ‘New 52’ stuff, and this idea itself was a little bit too detached from where they were going for the rest of the books. So the idea sort of sat, and I guess last year at some point, Mark called me up and asked me if I’d be interested in revisiting the idea from a different point of view. And both he and I together sculpted this idea of there being multiple characters out there who are all inspired by Robin.”

Although We Are…Robin! will focus on various characters, its main protagonist will be Duke Thomas, who was first introduced in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “New 52” Batman storyline, Zero Year. Why Duke? “I just felt like Duke was a good entry point into the story,” Bermejo shared. “Number one, readers know him. And number two, there’s a great scene with him in Snyder and Capullo’s run, where he’s solving the puzzle and trying to defeat the Riddler. And I think he has Bruce Wayne in the apartment and stuff, and it’s just this great scene of this ten-year-old kid trying to solve a puzzle, because he wants to defeat a supervillain. I thought that was so telling of his character, and what could be done in the future. So I liked this idea that the person who introduces readers to this whole concept is that kind of thinker.”

Bermejo hopes that ideal of Duke will provide an entryway for readers to become invested. “This is a book where you’re dealing with multiple characters, so I like the idea of introducing the reader to one character,” he continued. “And that brings us to the group, and that group will eventually bring us to all these other kids on the streets doing something similar.”

One of the most prominent features of We Are…Robin! is that the book deals heavily with diversity in a way that DC hasn’t really been explored yet. “I think it’s a good way to look at what’s going on in comics in general right now,” Bermejo noted. “The industry is kind of opening up more to all these other ideas, and specifically from groups that have been marginalized in the past.” Among the fact is the very real parallel of We Are…Robin! to the evolving comics industry — doors being opened to a younger community and a new generation of readers across the board, thanks to new takes on classic characters and more inventive, creator-driven stories. “I think it’s a great time, it’s a really exciting time to have all these different idea starting to be circulating and starting to be seen,” said Bermejo. “Just, you know, talking about purely based on story content, you’re starting to get people who are interested in stories that maybe ten years ago would never have flown and ideas that wouldn’t have been approved. We’re starting kind of to blow the top off a little bit of what people are used to seeing.”

We Are…Robin! encompasses a strong creative team whose previous works collectively include Spider-Man, X-Men, Quicksilver and Teen Titans GO! And when Bermejo speaks about them, it’s clear that DC has put together a team that is not only talented, but also the right fit for bringing these kids’ stories to life.

“Rob Haynes is doing layouts for the book and I think he’s just one of the best storytellers out there. The guy’s just amazing. He really has an eye for movement, and he is the kind of one-two punch between him and Jorge Corona, who’s doing pencils and is kind of finishing Rob’s layout. He brings this kind of grit and a little bit more of a darkness, which really works for a book and for the tone of the book very well. And then Trish [Mulvihill] on colors, what she’s doing…keeping things really de-saturated but popping out the Robin colors, and it really is coming together nicely. And Khary’s doing the backups for each issue, and his stuff is just so dynamic and they all just kind of fit, specifically tone wise.”

While today may be the first day on the job for Gotham’s young heroes, Bermejo is excited to see where the journey takes them. “We’re got a pretty solid first year planned for the book, so I’m really excited to kind of spoon-feed people bits of this story. It’s gonna be exciting to see how people react to it,” he said. “I think the first issue’s going to introduce them to Duke specifically, and by the end of that issue, they’re going to…I can’t say introduce, because people have already seen them in the eight page preview we did and a couple of them have already shown up in Endgame, but you’re definitely going to see an escalation,” he continued. “You’re definitely going to get to know these characters a little better, this core group of six kids that we’re focusing on. And then the third issue just blows the roof off. You kind of see that it’s not just these kids doing what they’re doing, but the youth of the city becomes very much a part of the book.”

We Are…Robin! #1 is on sale now in comic shops and you can view a sample of the variant cover and first look below.

DC Comics

DC Comics