With the big Batman "War Games" event hitting next month, things will change quite dramatically in Gotham City and a whole new era will begin for the character. While life in the big city may provide a few new challenges for the Dark Knight Detective, he'll at least have one familiar face to look forward to: Judd Winick.
DC Comics announced today, during the "Batman: War Games" panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego, that Judd Winick has been named the permanent writer of "Batman" with his return to the book set for November's issue #634. This is Winick's second run on the title. The writer will be joined on "Batman" by artist Doug Mahnke. CBR News spoke with Winick about the decision, how this all came to be and what he has planned for his first story arc post "War Games."
"Many years ago, when this was all being planned out, after Jim Lee finished up his run on the book it was decided that Brian [Azzarello] and Mr. Risso would take over for an arc, then I would do an arc, then we were coming up on this 'Batman: War Games' event. It was somewhere during all that that Bob Schreck and Dan Didio came to me and said we'd like to put you on 'Batman' as permanent writer. They said, 'We had kind of three at bats of people coming in for arcs and we want to get back to doing long term story arcs with a long term writer. How would you feel about writing 'Batman' monthly?' Well, duh! Or course I'd like to write 'Batman' monthly. We all want to write 'Batman' monthly. It's Batman! And that's how that was born."
Winick noted that he's basically on the title for as long as he wishes ("Till I quit or they fire me," he said) and that's he's just begun writing the first issue of his new arc.
"I usually try to plan only six issues ahead at a time. Beyond that I think it just gets a little bit contrived. Also, we like to keep a bit of a synergy going between the books. Not to hamstring any of the stories, but at the same time we don't want six issues where Batman's going to be in Thailand or what have you."
The story arc he's building springs directly out of the events of "War Games," which he noted comes to a definitive conclusion and properly sets up an environment which he can build on. His first story arc will last either three or four issues.
"It isn't like there are unanswered questions or something like that [when 'War Games' concludes], it's more like coming to the end of a very dark period and where do we go from here," said Winick. "There's a new dynamic now at play in Gotham City which is something you just can't take care of in two issues. So the ramifications are long term. Some of the conclusions of 'War Games' will be affecting the story for many months to come and isn't a quick fix.
"[The story I'm writing is] called 'Under the Hood.' It's about the return of the Red Hood. This is not your Dad's Red Hood! This is a very different take on him. What's always been fascinating as a character about the Red Hood is that it can and should be anybody. This is a character originally conceived by Bob Wayne way back when. In the original story, way back when, the Red Hood that Batman was chasing throughout the issue was revealed to be the Joker. The Joker explains to him that he's not the only Red Hood, that there's been many of them and how a year ago when you dropped the Red Hood into a vat of acid, that was me. With the idea that the Red Hood can be anybody this is a newly formed, newly fashioned, Red Hood. It's not going to be the guy with the red cape, the three-piece suit and bow tie. It's more like a bit of a Man in the Iron Mask type of look, a bit more contemporary and a lot more dangerous. And I promise to reveal who he is quite quickly. By the end of this arc you will know. I don't plan on letting you guess forever, that's not a lot of fun and it's kind of a cheat because then it could be anybody and who cares.
"A lot of what the Red Hood does springs out of the after math of 'War Games.' There are new people in charge in Gotham City after 'War Games' and he'll be one of those players in that."
As noted earlier, Winick is joined by artist Doug Mahnke. Mahnke's made a name for himself around the DCU on books like "Superman: Man of Steel" or currently "Justice League Elite." This is his first regular Batman gig and Winick tells us he's in for the long haul.
"Doug's a solid artist," said Winick. "His pages are dynamic, they're clean and he has a really excellent sense of story telling. Right now he's doing some of the best work of his life. His 'JLA' stuff and some things that fans haven't seen yet are unbelievably solid. From that, Bob and Dan decided he could do a really good Batman. His characters are more like actors, much more so that just talking heads and guys in costume. Doug attains tone and he attains a lot of emotion. He's really good with the violence, too!
"This is not going to be a talking head book. There is going to be a lot of action and a lot of fights. We're hoping to bridge the gap a bit between Batman the superhero and Batman the gangster fighter. There's a whole lot of running around, screaming and shooting at things. People getting knocked off building roof tops and what not. This is Batman for God's sake! "