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Dan Jurgens “Fixes” Hawkman, Robin in “Bat-Mite”

by  in Comic News Comment
Dan Jurgens “Fixes” Hawkman, Robin in “Bat-Mite”

Dan Jurgens jokes that he’s to blame for DC Comics launching a “Bat-Mite” miniseries in June after the “Convergence” event ends. The fan-favorite industry veteran was pitching DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio some ideas and themes he wanted to explore but didn’t know which character would work best to tell the story. With a POP!, much like how the impish character oft appears out of nowhere in comics, Jurgens blurted out Bat-Mite and DiDio replied, “I wouldn’t say no.” Thus “Bat-Mite,” a new all-ages series illustrated by relative newcomer Corin Howell, was born.

While he remains relatively unknown (beyond name recognition) even to the most ardent members of DC Nation, Bat-Mite actually has a long history dating back to 1959 and his first appearance in “Detective Comics” #267 by Batman co-creator Bill Finger and Inkpot Award-winner Sheldon Moldoff. Jurgens admitted he didn’t realize how old Bat-Mite was but once he started prepping for his latest series he quickly fell in love with the character.

CONVERSATIONS OF CONVERGENCE: DiDio & Jurgens on “Death of Superman,” “Zero Hour,” 1990s DC & More

Jurgens told CBR News that “Bat-Mite,” planned as a six-issue miniseries and set to debut June 3 following the completion of the line-wide “Convergence” event, will feature the reimagined imp fixin’ iconic superheroes like Batman, Robin and Hawkman.

CBR News: Bat-Mite has been around for 56 years, and while he may not have the same complex history as Mister Mxyzptlk, thanks in large part to the animated series, Bat-fans do have a familiarity with the character. Will his secret origin be explored in this series or are readers expected to know him and understand his modus operandi when the new series opens?

Dan Jurgens: Whenever I start a new series, for the most part, I am always going to assume that the readers aren’t going to know whom the character or characters are. I always try to fill in some of that as appropriate. With “Bat-Mite” #1, we are going to open with some hints as to his background, as well as some hints as to why he is here. We’re going to start playing with that right away.

Will he have a new secret origin?

This is set up totally to be a little new and a little different. That’s the fairest way to play. As you said, the character is 56 years old. And frankly, I didn’t even realize it he’d been around quite that long though I’d seen him in various places. What we wanted to do was treat him as a brand new guy and even though fans might have seen him on one of the animated shows or something like that, the idea was to treat him as a brand new character and let’s try and serve him up in as fresh a away as possible.

It sound like this is what you’re going to explore in the series, but who or what is Bat-Mite?

Bat-Mite is a bit of mystery. [Laughs] And that’s part of the fun of the series. We’ll start to deal with that in the first couple of pages of the first issue. The idea is that we get the sense that Bat-Mite has been exiled here. He’s here just doing his thing and he just happens to have this crazy idea that he is going to take heroes and make them better.

I read a story this morning by Jeff Jensen over at Entertainment Weekly about NBC’s lack of comedy for next season and entertainment president Jennifer Salke is quoted as saying, “Comedy is so challenged, in general.” Do you think the same can be said about comedy in comics?

One of the things that I worry about all of the time that I write is that I think that it’s funny [Laughs] but is everybody else going to think that, as well. One of the things that I talk to the editorial staff, who are currently Jim Chadwick and David Piña, about is whether or not the comedy is coming through. Are you guys seeing this the same way that I am or that I intended it? It does require a bit of a sharper look.

There is a methodology to writing a straight superhero story that works. You understand what the parameters are. With comedy, you are really starting to put yourself in a smaller box. When you do something like that, you really have to make sure that it works on a consistent level. You have to make sure that you aren’t the only one in the room that’s getting it.

How will Bat-Mite’s inherent silliness be minimized or maximized in this new series?

It depends on which character you are looking at. Bat-Mite himself is somewhat, and I emphasize somewhat, of an absurdist character. He is a guy that no one understands. Everyone around him is the straight man. It’s only Bat-Mite that is out there and that off the wall. It’s also about more than comedy. We are also going to touch on a little bit of satire and social commentary and things like that all at the same time because we are seeing the world through Bat-Mite’s eyes and his vision is decidedly different than ours.

In the Sneak Peek preview pages, we see Bat-Mite coming to the “rescue” — and I am doing air quotes here — of Batman. Does Batman have a recurring role in this series or is it Bat-Mite with a rotating cast of co-stars?

Yes to all of the above. [Laughs] You are going to see Batman again in “Bat-Mite” #1. We have Robin coming up a couple of issue after that. Obviously, if you look at the name — Bat-Mite — there is a connection to Batman some way some how that we want to play with a little bit but we also want to work beyond that. In “Bat-Mite” #2, for example, we have Bat-Mite and Hawkman. We do mix things up.

Are these done-in-one adventures or is there an ongoing storyline?

Each issue is a self-contained story but there is a thread that runs through each of the six issues of the miniseries. So yes, there is going to be a larger arc that takes place, too.

Obviously, this series is set in the DCU but how tightly does it tie into the other series and specifically, the Bat-books?

We’re in the DCU but we’re pretty well self-contained.

Jurgens & Chang Send “Batman Beyond” into a “Grittier” Version of DC’s Future

Coming out of “Convergence,” you are also writing “Batman Beyond.” Will we see Bat-Mite connect with Tim Drake and/or a presumed dead Terry McGinnis?

There is nothing in the offing on that one. The tone between the two books is very much different and I think, right now, each of them deserves a proper launch and to be their own thing.

Finally, you are working with Corin Howell on this project. How did you two connect and what does she bring to the series?

When we first started talking about “Bat-Mite,” we were talking about various art styles and different things that might work and who would be right for it and one of the things that we were struggling with was that DC didn’t have a book like “Bat-Mite” that we could point to and say that works and that doesn’t.

It was actually [DC Editorial Director] Bobbie Chase who first brought Corin to my attention and we looked at her work, which is wonderfully expressive, and one of the things that I had always been talking about was the need for Bat-Mite to be a really, really expressive character in the book. To a certain extent, his face and his reactions to events and the various expressions that he was going to have was going to have to push the character and her work certainly had that so we said let’s give this a try and she’s been doing a wonderful job. Her work is remarkably pliable and expressive, which makes it just perfect for “Bat-Mite.”

“Bat-Mite” #1 by Dan Jurgens and Corin Howell pops into existence on June 3.

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