Thursday, 8 September 2011

Review - Action Comics #1


I have to start by saying that over the past few years I have become increasingly anti-Morrison. Batman RIP was the last thing that had any coherance to it, since then he has become more esoteric, ego-led and, well, consistently tardy. I have suffered through throw away dialogue designed to make him seem smarter (sticking prefixes in front of words doesn't denote intelligence) and certain comic readers think that he is a genius just because they can't follow whats going on. As for having to read three different books to jigsaw together a story; don't get me started.

Having said all that, however; I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still dreading his return to Batman (at least I know it'll be the last), but golly was Action Comics #1 good. The pacing is fantastic. On the first page Superman crashes a criminal business deal, lights up those heat-vision eyes and says "Rats with guns. I'm your worst nightmare." On the first page! The action doesn't let up as this new, edgier Superman threatens a confession from....well I don't want to spill the whole plot for you. Needless to say there is a chase as they try to stop Superman, a quick fight scene, a reveal the General lane and Lex Luthor are monitoring all this and a Superman chases a bomb on the monorail moment.

I know what you're thinking; "Superman threatened a confession from someone? That's not right!" Well don't panic because three panels after he gets said confession he is advising someone to visit their doctor with a smile on his face (that x-ray vision is handy) and three pages after that he is saving innocent people from the trail of destruction that is following him. Superman is still Superman and Clark is still Clark. But in both cases you get the feeling that his childhood wan't quite as cushy as it had been pre-Flashpoint. I think that Clark has probably had to fend for himself since his teens rather than mid-twenties.

Action #1 work particularly well as a first issue because all the major players are put in their places as part of the plot. It seems to start that Luthor is rambling and that Lois and Jimmy have no reason to be where they are, but all comes to a head beautifully as we share General Lane's final page realisation of exactly what has happened.

Morrison's script is drawn with great skill by the fantastic rags Morales. His style on Action is a bit more kinetic than in Identity Crisis, but it hasn't lost any of the emotive qualites that made that book great. Both have brought their A game in order to make Superman relevent and exciting again. Well done, lads.
My rating:
Classic Superman vs Luthor freshened up with a couple of continuity tweaks, a Superman who can be hurt and a Lex Luthor who beats Superman.

Review - Batgirl #1


Of all the New 52 titles, Batgirl has had the most hype, controversy and curiosity surrounding it. Taking a character like Barbara Gordon back out of her wheelchair (and a role in which she has shone for 20 years) was always going to be tough. Gail Simone has written Babs as Oracle for years in the pages of Birds of Prey with great success, and she has done so with great love for the character. So there was no doubt that she would be the one to bring her back as Batgirl.

It's a shame then, that the first two pages of this new Batgirl series, rather than setting up a terrifying villian, come across as goofy. It's unfortunately a combination of the art (comedy eye-bulge) and the writing (yapping dog, death by hose and 'to-kill' checklist). This really is a shame because both art and writing have improved by page three.

Bab's Batgirl interrupts a gang of home invading would-be rapist-murderers (who Gail makes us want beaten up) and succeeds in taking the gang out, but at the same reveals just how rusty she has become. Batgirl has to haul the gang-leader back into the building after he nearly sends them both plummeting for the street. The middle of the issue sets up the book's supporting cast, including Jim Gordon and Barbara's new room-mate (whose name we don't get, despite her appearing on three pages) who bears a striking resemblence to Bridget Clancy (former Nightwing supporting cast).

We return to the villian, who refers to himself as Mirror, from the prologue who arrives at the hospital where the police are guarding the gang leader from earlier. Mirror storms through the hospital security and shoots the police guard. Batgirl arrives just in time to experience a crucial moment of self-doubt and fear.

Overall, the story and art do their job well, but inconsistencies and plot-holes niggle. The fact that we have referenced the Killing Joke, but not any physical therapy or recovery time (other than 'miracle') is fine, as I'm sure that will come. The bigger question is; If Mirror is hunting people who "shouldn't have survived" from a list, then how did he ge the name of, and find, the gang-leader so quickly? His fall and subsequent rescue by Batgirl was less than 24 hours previous and he's been moved to the top of the list? Odd and disappointing, as I expect so much more from Simone.

My rating:
An off-kilter start to one of the biggest hyped New52 books. There is potential here, but it doesn't hit the ground running; more a jog.

Oracle - Why they endure

Newsarama continue what I believe is their best editorial series, Why they endure, with a look at Oracle.

As a result, the newly "healed" character appears today in Batgirl #1 as a woman who can walk again. That is thrilling Batgirl fans, but the move has angered advocates for the disabled.
"[Oracle] is about as ideal a disabled character as you can find," said Neil Kapit, who writes about disabled issues and comic books on his Handi-Capeable blog. "I have the suspicion that it was an executive decision to bring Batgirl back, as these characters are meant for franchising first. They likely believe they can sell more T-Shirts, statues, graphic novels, etcetera, with an able-bodied character than with a character in a wheelchair."
James B. South, chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Marquette University, who examined the Oracle character for the book Superheroes and Philosophy, said the change from Oracle to Batgirl seems like a backward step.
"We are losing a major example of an adult woman in comics as well as an example of someone who can be a string leader while finding herself physically incapacitated in certain ways," South told Newsarama. "It does seem to be sending the message that DC thinks readers of comics are more interested in traditional superhero activities and are not able to handle a strong, disabled woman doing things in her own way."
Perhaps anticipating the anger from some fans, DC has incorporated Barbara's former disability into the new Batgirl comic. For example, Barbara Gordon will still have to undergo physical therapy, and she'll deal with her recovery within the story.
Plus, DC has tapped writer Gail Simone for the new Batgirl title, which even blogger Kapit admitted to Newsarama is a good thing, since Simone was instrumental in developing the Oracle character while she was disabled.
"Believe it or not, this was the more difficult choice to make for us, because we saw what the benefits of the Oracle character were, we saw what the challenges of making this change were going to be," DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio told Newsarama. "What we needed to do was to continue to make Barbara Gordon one of the strongest characters possible, in or out of the wheelchair. And we felt that this was a strong direction for us."
So why all the outrage? While other comic characters were maimed and killed over the last 20 years, why did Barbara Gordon endure as such a beloved icon for DC?
To understand the controversy and Oracle's endurance, it's important to review Oracle's history. After all, it was controversy that birthed Oracle in the first place.
The character's switch today to the "Batgirl" mantle is actually a return to her roots. Barbara Gordon was introduced as Batgirl in 1967, both on television's campy Batman show and in the comics, to provide a female counterpart to Batman. She was the teenage daughter of police commissioner Jim Gordon, but she secretly dressed up as Batgirl to patrol Gotham City.
Twenty years later, that all changed with the 1988 story by Alan Moore,Batman: The Killing Joke. After Barbara Gordon had become an adult and retired from crimefighting, Moore's story showed her being shot by the Joker.
While The Killing Joke was critically acclaimed, it was controversial — particularly among female readers — because it victimized a female character in order to forward the story of male heroes. That controversy moved two writers to transform her into the hero known as Oracle.
"My late wife, Kimberly Yale, and I were not crazy about how Barbara was treated in The Killing Joke," comic writer John Ostrander told Newsarama. "Since the Batman office had no further plans for her at the time, we got permission to use Barbara in Suicide Squad, [another DC title at the time]. We felt that the gunshot as seen in Killing Joke would leave her paralyzed. We felt such an act should have repercussions. So... we took some of her other talents, as with computers, and created what was essentially an Internet superhero — Oracle."
Because Barbara had been established as having a PhD in library science, Ostrander made her a genius at accessing computer information. She adopted the secret code-name "Oracle" as she used her intellect to assist heroes throughout the DCU.
Dennis O'Neil, a Batman editor for DC at the time, said Ostrander's respectful treatment of Barbara, allowing her to continue fighting crime despite her disability, made her a beloved character almost immediately among DC fans. "I think it was a real inspiration on John's part to come up with Oracle, and she became one of my favorite characters in the whole Bat-stable. She was unlike anything else," O'Neil said.
O'Neil eventually made it official in the comics that Oracle was Batman's sole source of information. "It was logical for her to be there in Batman's world," O'Neil said. "Batman would need someone like that."
The editor said he believes she has endured because with her change to Oracle, she gave the DC Universe a new type of hero.
"We had hoards of people in spandex beating up criminals," he said. "We didn't have anybody like Oracle, who overcame a disability and was just as valuable and just as effective in a way that didn't involve violence."
In the 20 years since then, Oracle has been depicted in comics and other media as a super-intelligent yet anonymous hero who supplies information and guidance to superheroes, including the Justice League. Oracle also starred in the long-running Birds of Prey comic, where she was the leader of a group of female superheroes.
"When Barbara Gordon became Oracle, she went from a character who was of neutral worth to one utterly priceless to the DCU," Kapit pointed out. "From her chair, Barbara has formed connections with the entire DCU, revolutionized the technological infrastructure of crimefighting, and helped found the all-female Birds of Prey, a team which has been consistently high-quality and beloved by men and women alike."
O'Neil said that he never considered changing Barbara Gordon back to Batgirl, despite there being the technology in comics that could have explained it. "Giving her her legs back, in addition to being a kind of deus ex machina, would have subtracted from the uniqueness of Oracle," O'Neil said. "And at the same time, I didn't see anything to be gained by bringing back that version of Batgirl. Even in the stories I wrote, Batgirl was usually just a pale carbon copy of Batman and didn't have any of that mythic back-story that gives the whole thing resonance, like Batman's, which has lasted what.. 72 years now."
Professor South agreed that Oracle's back-story as a hero who overcame disability gives her a strength that Batgirl never had.
"[Barbara's evolution] shows her developing her own way of being a superhero," he said. "While she seems to develop her own style of fighting as Batgirl, she's still basically following in Batman's footsteps. Once her life is shattered in The Killing Joke, she has to become, in some ways, a more independent woman who uses her own native skills and intelligence to develop a way of fighting crime that complements Batman's rather than copying his way. In Birds of Prey, we see Barbara Gordon as a team leader and her transformation from a girl into a woman."
But that strength isn't going away in the new Batgirl series. In today's new comic, no explanation is given for her miraculous recovery from paraplegia, but her disability is not forgotten.
But some of the character's age and years of experience are being erased with the reboot, according to writer Simone. "We are seeing Barbara at an earlier starting point," Simone explained to Newsarama when the change was announced.
"She's been removed from the action and danger for a long time," she said. "With this relaunch, she is still very much Barbara, but she can reclaim a part of her history and legacy with modern stories, in her own book and elsewhere."
DiDio said the decision to change Oracle was because, while other people had taken up the mantle of Batgirl, Barbara Gordon was the strongest character for that title with the relaunch. "When you talk about Batgirl, whether it's with a casual fan or even to somebody who just knew the Batman character, Barbara Gordon is always the one people default to as 'who Batgirl is,'" DiDio said.
O'Neil said he can understand that the icon of "Batgirl" is most associated with Barbara Gordon. "You can't ignore things like that," he said. "But it comes down to is, are we making this change because we see a brilliant way to reinvent this character? Or is it just that this is the one that we loved in the past? But Barbara Gordon's perception in the mainstream public as Batgirl would be a very valid consideration."
Even Kapit can put aside his role as an advocate of the disabled and see the business side of the decision. "I can understand, but that doesn't mean I agree even slightly," he said.
And even O'Neil admitted that, "from a fan standpoint, I'm kind of sorry to see her go."
Ostrander, who created the character, said he believes Simone will do a good job with the task of reintroducing the former Oracle as a new, younger Batgirl. "I've been quoted as saying that I think Barbara was a stronger and more effective character, a more important part of the DCU, as Oracle than she ever was as Batgirl," Ostrander said. "Do I still feel that way? Well, of course. Kim and I created Oracle.
"Times change and characters and people evolve. I changed things when I wrote characters, including changing Barbara to Oracle. Others do the same for this era," he said. "Gail Simone is a good friend and a wonderful writer and I'm sure her work will be wonderful."

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Review - Detective Comics #1


Tony Daniel's art has changed an awful lot over the last few years, to the point where I can't even tell that it is the same artist that drew Batman R.I.P, let alone Teen Titans. It isn't really a criticism of the book, but one that I feel underpins Daniel's work (both art and writing). His determination to better himself as a creator is commendable, but has often meant that he doesn't allow himself to become comfortable with one style before moving on to try something new. Unless he allows himself time to explore his own style more deeply, I feel that Daniel's best work may not be ahead of him, but behind him. That said and out of the way, I really enjoyed Detective Comics #1.

We are given a seemingly derivative plot that gives us hints at something deeper. Daniel's Bruce Wayne isn't the ultra-bat that we saw in the early 2000's. Instead this Batman shows enough self-doubt and vunerability that we are able to empathise with him, whilst showing that he is capable enough to pull off near-impossible feats.

Through the course of the book we are made aware of all the key players (Batman/Bruce, Alfred, Gordon & Joker), as well as setting up the new status quo. It appears that Gordon may now be one of Batman's only remaining allies at the GCPD, as we see a SWAT team and helicopter fire upon Batman against orders. This certainly seems to be a move toward a more dangerous Gotham for the Dark Knight - one that I approve of.

Rather than Justice League's clear cut 'first issue' feeling, Detective Comics feels like the first chapter of a Batman story. We aren't being introduced to Batman, we've known him all our lives. New readers will be able to pick this up and enjoy it with no prior knowledge, as will DC Comics veterans. Whilst the story is a little more action heavy than I'd like a Detective Comics story to be, there are still references to Batman's thought processes and deduction.

To Daniel's great credit however, the final page will make you turn back to reread the book all over again for things that you may have missed the first read through.

My rating:
Hard boiled Batman versus Joker action that we know and love with a killer ending.

Batman: Year One interview with Lauren Montgomery and Sam Liu

And in case you missed them here are the trailer and an interview with Bruce Timm, Lauren Montgomery and writer Tab Murphy done by the guys at Gotham Knights Online.

Gotham City Imposters video preview

Seriously, the more I see of this, the more my inner Bat-nerd becomes angry. I know that they aren't making Batman (or any of his allies) use a gun, but "Batman" and "First-Person Shooter" go together like "puppy" and "vat of acid". If they wanted to attach a Batman license to a FPS, then why didn't they make a Gotham City Police Department shooter? GCPD SWAT has to pick up they slack after Batman is critically injured during a crime-war. That would be worth playing; Gotham City Imposters, however, won't.

Scott Snyder talks Batman plans

ComicVine have spoken at length to former Detective Comics and current Batman writer, Scott Snyder, about his plans for the book.
Comic Vine: You mentioned in the past about completing your stories with Dick. Have you completed all the stories you had in mind with him?

Scott Snyder: Not at all. I have tons of stories in mind for him. I don't see it as a completed story so much as the beginning of material I really want to get out there with him. I mean, he's a character, to me, that has so much potential and so many variations in the Bat-universe. As Bruce's closest ally besides Alfred but somebody who Bruce probably pushes away more than any other person.
To me, one of the things that's really interesting about Dick Grayson, and this will be something, a theme that's mined in Batman too, is that relationship is pathological at times and completely endearing at others. Dick always wears his heart on his sleeve, he cares about Bruce openly. He's compassionate and empathetic. Bruce is just a darker character, and for me, he's someone who needs that connection but won't admit it. That's why he as all the Robins and so on. He needs people and he's not fully...crazy, the way you'd imagine he'd become as an old and wind up in the cave all the time.
The idea is that Dick Grayson is also the person who is his greatest tether to humanity. When I think about the future for Bruce, I think about him either very very lonely, sort of like the Batman Beyond version of him or dying in the line of duty as Batman know, there aren't a lot of good endings. Dick's the person that would pull him back from the edge, or even bring him down, honestly if he needed to if Bruce really went too far in some way and bring him in. It really wouldn't be Clark, as much as I love the stories with Clark, I feel like Clark would lose to him, to Batman. But the person that would probably really get him is Dick. That story is in the back of my head as something that might never ever happen. But if you take the characters, I love Elseworlds and futuristic versions of them. From the Dark Knight Returns to Batman Beyond to everything, even things like Red Son and all sorts of stories that imagine what would happen if you took this character through a logical extension like Kingdom Come.
My opinion is Dick would be the person to bring Bruce down. I don't mean kill him, he'd bring him back from the edge and have him locked up if he went too far in some way. He's the final battle for Bruce in that way and not Clark. I know some people think it would be Clark, Dick would be the second to last if he were doing the levels in a video game. It would be Dick Grayson and then finally Superman but to me it would be the reverse. The final guy would be Dick Grayson. I think he knows Bruce better in some ways.
I know this is a long answer but to me, Dick is an integral part of the Bat mythology and an endlessly interesting character. There's a lot of things I want to do with him and a lot of things in the works that we're doing with him. Beyond just the Nightwing book, which is going to be great. Kyle Higgins is doing a wonderful job and beyond the first and second arc of Nightwing, we just have a lot planned for that character. All of us do, in the Bat-universe. He's a huge part of it. I have a lot of stories I want to tell that I hope people will like.

CV: I'm sure they will. How will the tone of your Batman compare to Dick's in Detective Comics?
SS: The tone will be very different. In terms of the story itself, it'll be different because Detective was really a story about somebody who is stepping into the cowl, despite Batman: Prodigal, for the first time. I wanted it to be the way the city adapts to challenge him at the weakest points in his armor.
What Gotham does is try to convince you that the things that are your strengths are your weaknesses. It'll send you villains that are sort of twisted versions of the things that are your failings. Bruce gets, for all of his obsessive tunnel vision, the Joker, someone who lives in the equivalent of the Batcave in his own mind. Basically if Bruce didn't keep some tether to humanity and he fell completely into Batman, he'd almost become someone like the Joker. Two-Face is kind of the reflection of the duality of his life and all that.
I wanted it to be a story where Gotham is generating villains for Dick Grayson and changing itself to be a reflection of the things he takes pride in. It's trying to show him those are weaknesses that will make him incapable of defeating the city and the challenges the city throws at him. That's why for me, Dick Grayson is a character who is extremely optimistic. He's really social. He relies on friends. He is empathetic and compassionate. He does this not out of a sense of pathology, the way Bruce does, Bruce is really about doing this out of a sense of obsession and Dick does it more out of the goodness of his heart. He doesn't do it out of a sense of guilt or anger. He doesn't have the same baggage Bruce does. The story in TEC was more about the city changing to attack that aspect of his psychology.
Bruce is like the consummate warrior for Gotham. There's not a lot you can throw his way that would surprise him at this point. He is not someone that has the same sort of chinks in the armor that Dick has for the city to go after. Those chinks in the armor are strengths for Dick, in my opinion. That's why he wins out. They're strengths, not weaknesses. But that's what Gotham tries to do, it convinces you they're weaknesses.
For Bruce, his greatest weakness is his confidence...his faith in his own abilities. At the end of the day, it's all he has. Superman really is Clark. To me, Bruce is Batman. It's not like Bruce is some phoney thing he wears but in the scale of the superhero identity, Bruce is deeply tilted towards Batman. This story is a lot about that. He's given up so much of happiness in his life just to do this. So the way to really terrify him is to show him that his world and everything he thinks he's confident about in terms of Gotham and its villains is just a tiny little part of Gotham's scope.
Gotham is about to bring all of this crushing history to bear on him in some way that's going to shock him. The plot is about him realizing that there's a very deeply embedded mystery that's part of the folklore of Gotham. It's built into the architecture and the secret social network in Gotham. There's an enemy of the Wayne family and of Batman thats been there for a long time. It just hasn't been paying attention to him or just hasn't turned its big eye toward him in a long time. Now it's ready to fight him and the shocking thing to Bruce, that would break his heart is he investigated this thing and didn't find anything. He's confident it can't exist because he looked into it. There couldn't be something big in Gotham that he wouldn't know about. If there is, it would shatter a lot of things for him. Even if he didn't admit it. Both stories are similar in Batman's relationship with Gotham and Gotham is a character in both. They are different in theme and the way the city attacks makes for a very different reading.
In terms of the art, for Detective, I really wanted art that really matched what the story was about. In terms of being unsettling, kinetic and not superhero-ish. For this book, when I heard the possibility of getting Greg Capullo, which I'm over the moon about, I have to say a thousand times on the record how incredibly excited I am for people to see his work. It doesn't even begin to do it justice to see little snippets of it. When you see how dynamic and how energetic, how fresh and charismatic Batman is...I can't wait. He's just killing it page to page. I couldn't be more thrilled to be working together and I'm not just saying that out of PR. If I didn't really like it, I'd just focus on talking about the story. I love his stuff. He's my partner in crime on this and I couldn't be happier.
For this, it's really about Bruce being very very confident at first. He comes back from all the stuff he's doing on INC, you don't have to have read Batman Incorporated at all, you just know that he's here in Gotham. He says, 'There's no place like home. I'm here. I'm going to re-invest in the city. My interests have been a little far-flung. This is the place that made me. This is my oldest friend."
I wanted it to look really big and bold and superhero-ish at the beginning. I want you to feel like this is Batman in his element. The great thing about Greg is he can do that to a tee. He's also done Haunt and Creech and all that stuff where he does creepy and horror really really well. As the book begins to turn, in issue 1 (and 2 and 3 and 4) and as Bruce becomes aware of this thing, of this almost system of enemies that might be there behind the scenes that could really be built into the foundations of the city itself, Greg has changed the style. He's made it much darker and moodier.
Tonally, I'm really proud of the way the book is shaping up. I really feel that the art is objectively amazing. I'm also proud of it because, I think together, he and I see the way, the same way me and Jock and Francesco on Detective and the way me and Rafael on American Vampire, the point of the story. We believe in what we're doing, the whole long form narrative. In that way, he's adjusting his style, bringing it to life thematically. Tonally there will be a big difference. It'll look very different but there's a story reason for all that.

CV: How much coordination will there be with the other writers on the other Batman books?

SS: Well there's a lot right now. We all started to coordinate a few months before the New 52. We just started reading each others' stuff more because we had all been on the books for a while at that point. I just e-mailed Pete Tomasi when he got back on Batman and Robin, when he was doing his first issue and I told him how much I loved his stuff on Nightwing and how influential it was to me. When writing Dick, I tried doing some nods to it. It started us talking and he couldn't be a cooler guy. And Gail obviously is a hero of mine. I told her the same, I was reading Birds of Prey, Secret Six and all her stuff. And then we started trading. There's been a lot of coordination just as friends and Mike Marts has been great about cultivating. With Kyle on Nightwing, obviously he and I are great friends from Gates of Gotham. Tony Daniel, too, has become a very good friend. I have become I'd say there's a pretty high level of collaboration. Things that are out of play will be out of play in other books. Things that are happening in one book might be mentioned in another. There'll be moments that really cross over between Batman and Nightwing. We're all really excited about the New 52.
As someone who's read Batgirl #1 and Batman and Robin #1 and Nightwing #1 and all those, I can generally say they're terrific books. I'm proud to stand next to them in the Bat-U.

CV: What is your approach to the New 52 in general?

SS: I know there's a lot people out there afraid of it. It can be scary, the changes happening here and there. There isn't a tag. You can't say everything is different because everything isn't different. And you can't say everything is the same. Where does that leave you? The best thing I can say about it is, the best way I can describe it honestly is DC gave us creators the chance to tell whatever story we thought would be the best story with these characters that we love.
For me, this is the Batman story I'd been working on for months, just before the New 52. This is the story I wanted to tell. It's barely adjusted to be a number one except it's slightly more accessible. This is the story I'd tell about Bruce if someone gave me carte blanche. I know that's the case in a lot of these books. I know that it's the case with Jeff Lemire over in Animal Man and with his Frankenstein. I know I, Vampire is the book Josh Fialkov would do. It's what he does. He loves vampire fiction. He's written all these vampire novels as well. And I know J.T. has a love for Captain Atom, it's a character he really wanted.
What I'm saying is DC gave us an opportunity through the New 52 to tell them what we would do if we could do anything with a character, as fans of that character. Among the people I know, my friends, and what I know of this initiative, there's a tremendous excitement at this point.
All of us in the Bat-world talked about it. We talked about...should we reboot the Joker? Should we reboot Two-Face? Should we change Jason Todd's history? What we really came down on was the feeling that we love the stories that were there and the history that was there. It wasn't really worth it to change any of that stuff and wipe it out or alter certain characters. For Batman, as big fans of him, all of us working the Bat-U felt we were excited what was happening right then. That's why Batman and the immediate Bat-family, meaning Bruce, Dick, Damian, Tim, Alfred...those relationships and the stories that have happened to them are all there. Tim was Robin. Dick was Robin. Batman did die and disappear for a while. All those things are referenced in little easter eggs and open references Batman.
In Batman #1, you'll see the whole Bat-family in their tuxes. And Jason's around too. I'm not leaving him out because he wasn't Robin. Everything that happened to him happened to him. It's just that he's in another book. He wouldn't be there in a tux with them. The idea is one thing I wanted to do in Batman #1 is just show fans that if you love something about Batman, it's a pretty sure bet that we love it too. And it's a pretty sure bet that it's still there. You'll see the rogues gallery in issue 1, the whole rogues gallery. Professor Pyg, the Flamingo, Two-Face, Joker, Clayface and James Jr. too. You'll see he makes a cameo too.
I wanted it to be the issue to really get the mystery going and for you to really feel the tone of the book. It's a fresh, very high tech, tough badass Batman. That's the way Bruce is to me. He's a lone warrior with the greatest gadgets and the greatest tech in the world. But I also wanted it to be a celebration of all things Batman. There's a speech he gives in issue 1 to a bunch of rich people. In that speech he says the way to shape Gotham, instead of looking around and asking what the city is and what you like and don't like in the present, why don't we look to the future? Let's build on what's already there instead of changing things. Look to the future and ask what could tomorrow bring? That's the whole tone of the book. The history is there. The legacy is there. The continuity is there. But we also want to do something fresh and move forward with it.

CV: Bruce is going to be working with Damian in Batman and Robin, is your Batman going to be working alone or is Damian or Dick or anyone going to be popping in?

SS: Well...they pop in. Especially Dick because in a lot of ways, the story does have revelations about all of them. I also want it to be Bruce alone. It's been a long time since we've had a long form story with Bruce by himself in Gotham. I love what David [Finch] is doing in The Dark Knight. It's tough because he's also overseas in at the same time in a big way in INC. While INC is sort of on hiatus, everything in INC stands, by the way. INC is still part of continuity. The stuff happening there will be referenced. It's almost like there's going to be a big break while this stuff is happening. This is where you'll see Bruce as Batman back in Gotham. He's more confident than ever. He has new gadgets but it's the same Bruce with everything having happened.
I felt it was important to do a solo story. He's been so enmeshed in the Bat-family, which I love, but I want to see a story about Bruce all by himself. This is really Bruce versus Gotham.

CV: You made some new villains for Dick and we've seen the new villain in the solicits for Batman. Do you have other new villains planned?

SS: Oh yeah. There's a whole network of villains. [laughs] There's going to be a whole army of villains. I'm really really excited about it. I don't want to give it away at all but there's going to be an almost war for Gotham's soul with a lot of soldiers on both sides. I'm very thrilled and the designs for the villains and the things Greg is coming up with behind the scenes is going to be really fun. It's going to have a lot to do with Gotham's history as well.
I've never written a story in this structure before. TEC was built around these little mini arcs. This, even though it has smaller three-issue stories or two-issue stories, it's really one big story. But you can jump on at any point. If you haven't read issue 1, you can jump into issue 2, but you really should read issue 1 for fun because issue 1 is going to be really good [laughs]. I'm trying to make every issue accessible but it's going to be something for Bruce that's building paranoia, building fear, building an enemy. There's something in Gotham that he didn't see that now threatens to bring all the weight of history against him. Something that could crush the whole Bat-family.
It's fun in that it's one big solo story about Bruce versus Gotham. If there was a tag for it, it really would be like, "Bruce, you don't know Gotham."

CV: Has the villain's name been revealed?

SS: It hasn't been revealed and I don't wanna give it away because his name sort of ties into a lot of the stuff that's happening. The way it's discovered is part of the fun. I will say this, there's part of an old Gotham City nursery rhyme that has his name. It's stuff that Bruce doesn't believe exists, stuff from children's scary stories. He doesn't want to see it even though the ghosts of the organization are all over the place. I mean the whispers of it, not the supernatural things. There really isn't any sort of supernatural anything in this story. It's all pretty grounded.
If you look at TEC, at the end or if you look in GATES...if you want, you don't need to. You don't need to read any Batman, you don't even need to know who Batman is, you can pick up #1 and be able to read it. I promise you that. If you have been reading it, though, there'll be references and easter eggs. There's also stuff embedded in the architecture in TEC and hints in GATES about the stuff we're going to do in Batman and I'm really really excited about that too. We're trying to really build layers of history into Gotham that are going to come to bear against Bruce in some way.

CV: You kind of touched on this but are any of the villains going to get updates?

SS: The villains? No, not that I know of. I mean you see the whole rogues gallery in issue 1. Unless they're going to change it up on me and in issue 1 they're all wearing Kryptonian armor or something like that.
I don't think that's going to be the case in all seriousness because we really discussed it among the Bat-writers. There was talk about it like should we redo Two-Face in some way? There was some talk, honestly about the Riddler, maybe making him a character who is scarier in terms of the games he played. Sort of like Jigsaw from the SAW movies. But at the end of the day we really loved the characters as they are.
It came down to instead of radically changing the designs of any of them to people coming up with good stories for the characters as they are. The discussions about this stuff lead to huge fun stories that are coming with the Joker in a really big way, with lead to us saying we don't need to reboot them because this is the story I want to tell.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Wally West - Missing In Action?

It looks like Wally West, the man who has been The Flash for over 20 years, is going to be removed from the DC Universe in September's relaunch. With the marriage of Barry Allen and Iris West undone, Wally didn't grow up idolising his uncle Barry or become Kid Flash.

There is still the possibility that Wally will pop up somewhere, somehow. Time will tell.
Enjoy this selection of Flash promo art. The original quote is below as well.

The Flash is a single man. He’s a bachelor who has never been married.

I’ll give you all a few seconds to take that in and digest it.

Yes, folks — in the post-FLASHPOINT world, Barry Allen has not only never dated Iris West, but he’s dating someone else entirely in issue #1! And that someone is…his longtime coworker Patty Spivot!

If that upsets you, sorry about that. But I make no apologies for opening up a traditional storytelling avenue with our hero’s romantic life, something that’s been shut closed for a very long time now. This is no indictment of marriage. I’m a married man and wouldn’t trade it for anything. But in the realm of fiction, I feel strongly that this change to Barry opens up fresh, new creative directions and exciting new storylines.

But don’t fret—Iris West remains an active supporting cast member. And a wonderfully entertaining one, at that! Who else could possibly hit up Barry for anonymous crime-story tips to fill her blog on the Central City Citizen’s website? No one but the go-getter Iris could consume so much caffeine and live to tell about it.

And who knows, maybe someday we’ll have the opportunity to see why Barry and Iris fell in love in the first place. Or maybe not! Stay tuned — I can assure you Barry’s love life will never, ever be boring!

The life and times of Barry Allen are as familiar today as they were yesterday, but his love life is one of the things that have been freshened up for 2011. New fans will fall in love with the fastest man alive for the first time, and I guarantee that longtime Flash fans will not only still recognize the world of Barry Allen, they will be hooked like they were the first time.

Source: DC Blog