The creator of hits like “Hack/Slash” and (with Mike Norton) “Revival” is slowly adding to his workload in Batman’s corner of the DC Universe with the final two issues of “Talon” –Â #16 is on sale now and #17 arrives later this month –Â before joining an all-star writing team for the weekly series “Batman: Eternal” in April. The gigs don’t come completely out of the blue for Seeley who’s taken on a number of superhero gigs as writer and artist in recent years, including a shot at “Killer Croc” during DC’s Villains Month. But these jobs do up his output in the Dark Knight’s world considerably.
CBR News spoke to the writer about his plans in Gotham, and below Seeley describes his intent to send Talon off with a Grant Morrison-esque bang in the form of Lord Death Man, why collaborating with Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes and the rest of the “Batman Eternal” team has been an equal and easy task and how after all these years, his choice characters for “Eternal” are the kind that won’t surprise his longtime fans.
CBR News: Tim, you’ve been doing a lot of the creator-owned front of late, but you’ve also picked up some more work at DC to go alongside it –Â especially in the Batman world. First there was your Killer Croc Villains Month issue and then a send off story for the “Talon” monthly. How did you approach the latter considering that James Tynion IV seemed to complete Calvin’s big story with his own run?
Tim Seeley: Yeah, James really finished the story that he and Scott [Snyder] had conceived from the start of that book. So my take when I was asked to pitch a story was “Let’s do something that’s completely outside the realm of the nicely contained story that those guys did.” This was Talon stepping into the rest of the DC Universe while also picking up some threads from “Batman Inc.” Mostly, I just wanted to have a really good time having him fight Lord Death Man who is this crazy Grant Morrison character that I really wanted to work with. I concocted this tale that hinged on Calvin living in a world where his story is kind of over. [Laughs] He figured out his origins, so now what does he do? Mostly it’s about a big crazy fight between two zombie guys, but it’s also about that.
Well there is a classic horror tone that Court of Owls/Talon setup that seems to match your interests really well. What was the conceptual hook that made you interested in playing in that world?
I really loved the fact that he was an escape artist. At some point he’d become a full Talon –Â which basically means undead –Â and I thought that was interesting because if you were an escape artist, being dead and getting resurrected means you’d no longer be interested in that job. What being an escape artist is all about, to me, is challenging the fact that you might die. Once that’s removed, what’s it do to a man who was trained to escape death? Because you didn’t escape death — you died! Sure, you also came back, but I think it opens up some questions that get me excited in superhero terms. You can tell the story of this crazy scenario via guys dressed as birds versus guys dressed as skeletons.
This run is being drawn by “Talon” regular Jorge Lucas. I wonder when you come into gigs like this how much communication you have with your artists up front of how much you’re surprised by the final results.
In every book I’ve worked on with DC so far, I’ve been looped in with the artist as I work. I always get an e-mail to my artist saying, “If you have any questions or things you want me to do, let me know,” and then we can just talk it out. I see everything before it comes in. I see the layouts on through, just as if I’m doing a book for myself. That makes it a lot easier. I can catch things before the process gets too far along. I never have to fix the story in dialogue if the artist misunderstood me. It’s been really easy.
So how has that all led into the mass collaboration that is “Batman Eternal”? I know you’ve done shared universe stories and crossover stories before now, but I feel like this must be a different level of engagement in that sense. Was that part of the draw?
People don’t believe this, but it was actually way easier than I thought. When they asked me about doing this, I said, “You guys are crazy. Yes, I’ll sign on because it’s Batman and because I love Scott’s stuff a lot and all those guys, but this is nuts. It’s going to be so hard to do!” But now that we’ve done it, it’s weirdly easy. We’ve finished 34 scripts so far, and the only thing that surprised me about the process is how long it takes to read everybody’s scripts and notes. I’m reading maybe two or three “Batman Eternal” scripts a week at this point. It’s strange. It’s a very simple, flexible thing where we all get along, and everyone defers to Scott being the Batman expert. No one feels the need to correct anything because it’s Scott Snyder! [Laughs] It’s all worked well. If someone sees something in my scripts and goes, “You could use this to set up something for me” then I just change it for them.
You’ve been a Batman fan forever, I’m sure. So stepping into this series, have you had a fan’s checklist of things you want to get to write or pieces of the universe to play with?
Oh yeah. That’s the coolest thing about this. James and Scott wrote an outline that we generally follow, but there’s so much room in that outline to bring stuff in that we want to work on. I really wanted to do more with Croc after Villains Month, so they let me bring him into the story. And there are different parts of the story that each of us will naturally gravitate towards. We’re able to pick those up. I have a really big affection for Catwoman, and so they let me do a lot of Catwoman stuff. So far, there’s not been a lot of clashes on the characters we like. No one has fought over getting their grubby mitts on a character exclusively. It’s all worked out really well. James is the Red Robin guy and the Harper Row guy. Ray [Fawkes] is the supernatural guy. Somehow it all comes together. I’m writing the ladies and Killer Croc. [Laughs] Ladies and monsters! It’s still my thing after all these years.
“Talon” #17 arrives March 26. “Batman Eternal” #1 ships this April from DC Comics.