SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Detective Comics” #951, on sale Wednesday.
“Detective Comics” writer James Tynion IV says Batman is “an overcompensation,” a possible outcome of what happens when the worst thing in the world happens to someone. As he explains, you can either collapse in the face of it or, if you’re Bruce Wayne, you can build yourself into the perfect being in order to prevent that “worst thing” from ever happening again.
Now that Batman has found his skewed version of a happy place, he’s assembling an army of likeminded crimefighters for a coming war — a war against a soldier who wears a button with a smiling face on it and, of course, some smeared blood. Over the course of our conversation, the writer discussed his excitement for the upcoming “Batman”/”The Flash” crossover, “The Button,” promising that the events of the DC Universe/Watchmen event will “absolutely” resonate in “Detective Comics” and beyond.
Tynion shared many details of the core figures in his DC Comics’ series, namely Clayface, Batwoman, Orphan and Spoiler, as well as teased upcoming plot details for both “Detective Comics,” currently illustrated by Christian Duce Fernandez, and “Batwoman,” the new series he’s co-writing with Marguerite Bennett, which is drawn by Steve Epting.
CBR: There is a line in “Detective Comics” #950 when Tim asks Bruce quite bluntly, “Why are you preparing for a war?” Is he talking about events coming in the “League of Shadows” arc, or something bigger — perhaps involving Mr. Oz and a certain button with a smiley face and blood splatter on it?
James Tynion IV: There are all of these very dark things on the horizon that Batman sees coming. I can’t really hint what those things are, but I will say that it’s not just what’s coming in the pages of “Detective Comics.” This is what’s coming across the entire DC Universe.
Orphan, Spoiler, Clayface even Batwoman are all broken or at least have relationship issues that are severely strained. When building an army for this coming war, why does Batman decide to surround himself with broken soldiers?
When I was choosing the members for his team, I thought Batman was very much about choosing people who he sees elements of himself in. Those are the people that he trusts. Gotham is a dark place, and a lot of bad things have happened to a lot of these Gotham characters. Each one of them represents a different aspect of Batman, and there is no character that represents that more than the original Robin. They each have a core piece of tragedy or pathos in them that they share. That’s why they were able to form such a powerful relationship.
With Batwoman, Spoiler, Orphan, and even Azrael and Batwing, all of these characters have the drive that comes from overcompensating from a point, which is what Batman is. At the end of the day, Batman is an overcompensation. He’s what happens when the worst thing in the world happens to you. You can either collapse in the face of that, or you can build yourself into the perfect being in order to prevent that from ever happening again. Each of these people is doing that in different ways and is currently on different steps in the path.
When you look at a character like Clayface, he had something horrible happen to him and that horrible thing made everyone see him as a monster and then he allowed himself to become a monster. And Batman recognized this. At this moment, Batman is at an even higher point of awareness and he needs to see that people can overcome these parts of themselves for reasons… for reasons that I can’t share just yet. [Laughs]
Let’s leave the Watchmen and those who will be watching the Watchmen behind for now. No spoilers here, because she’s featured on the cover of “Detective Comics” #951, but Shiva is back in Gotham and she appears to be connected to Cassandra Cain. This is DC Rebirth, so things might be different, but pre-Rebirth, Shiva was Cassandra’s mother. Is that still the case?
You’re right. You saw in “Detective Comics” #950 that Shiva still has some designs on Cassandra. In the current continuity, those two characters have not shown up together yet. You guys are going to have to go along for the ride, but you’re right — in classic DCU continuity, Shiva was Cassandra’s mother. This is the story that will answer the question of whether or not that is currently true, and what that means to Orphan if it is true.
What we know about the League of Shadows so far is that it was basically a myth that Ra’s al Ghul propagated. It was conceived as an idea that would let him take credit for terrorist attacks all over the world and all of these other things. He hinted that it was this shadowy cabal, which allowed him total control. It’s something Batman has gone out and searched for and, to his knowledge, he has no proof that the League actually exists. So when the Colony came in during my first arc, “Rise of the Batmen,” to eliminate these sleepers, Batman saw it as Jacob Kane basically buying into a conspiracy in order to enact his dark agenda. And we’re going to discover exactly who’s been right and who’s been wrong and how all of these characters connect to one another. But the League of Shadows is an independent group of the League of Assassins, and we’re going to slowly understand more and more exactly how dangerous they are, and how they’ve they operating from the outside in the DC Universe.
If we go by the solicitations, it appears that Batman and Ra’s may be joining forces in this arc. Is this a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend?
[Laughs] We’ll definitely see them interacting. I don’t want to tip my hand just yet. The relationship between Ra’s and Batman is one of the most interesting relationships between any nemesis and hero in all of comics. Ra’s is a character that I have been fascinated by since I first started writing so bringing him into this story and exploring the ways in which he is connected to the League of Shadows and the ways in which he isn’t is a lot if fun. I can’t go into specifics just yet but he will definitely play a very major part as the story reaches its climax.
Again, you mentioned Jacob Kane and he is, of course, the father of Kate Kane. Now that you are writing a new “Batwoman” series with Marguerite Bennett, will Kate be leaving “Detective Comics”?
No, she will absolutely be a part of both series. Kate’s day job is working with the Batman Family in “Detective Comics,” and her own private missions that take her all over the world in between her missions in “Detective” are what will be covered in the “Batwoman” series. “Detective” will remain a fairly Gotham-centric book, while “Batwoman” will be very global in its scope.
I think Kate Kane is one of the most fascinating characters in the DC Universe. I love how she plays on the core Batman mythos, but she also has some very big differences right in the heart of the character. Batman’s parents were killed when he was just a kid and then he set out to become the perfect thing to fight that specific crime. He set out across the world to train and build himself to this point where he is the Batman – this real force of nature.
A similar thing happened to Kate. Her mother was killed and she believed at the time that her sister was killed, as well, and she started building herself to become the perfect soldier to fight the kind of terror that killed her parent. But the thing that’s different in her character is that there came a point where she was about to achieve what she wanted to achieve. She was about to graduate from West Point and actually become a real soldier and she would have been one of the best soldiers of all-time – she was on the path to being DC’s Captain America – but that path was ripped away from her and then she was lost. She then stumbled through the world for a few years. And that is the thing that Kate has that Bruce doesn’t. She knew what she needed to become, there was a single drive to her path, but then that was no longer an option. She had nothing to become anymore. And it’s that lost period, before she came back to Gotham and saw Batman for the first time and realized the costume could be the way that she served, which is wholly unique to her. She has the same drive as Bruce, the same ferocity as Bruce. But she can see failure in a way that Bruce can’t. And that can give her incredible strength in a wholly different way. And that’s something that Marguerite and I are very interested in exploring. And we really needed a singular series to explore it to its full extent because at the end of the day, her role in “Detective” will always be about her relationships with Batman and the other characters, including her father, around her. “Batwoman,” the ongoing series, is about her relationship with herself. And the fact that she knows that the path can get ripped away from her so that’s why in “Batwoman Rebirth,” we see a glimpse of what would happen if that path was ripped away from her again, what could she become and would it become something good or would it become something really frightening. There is so much material [Laughs] There could be five years of “Batwoman” stories just based on the my first conversation with Marguerite so I am very excited for everyone to see what we’ve got cooking.
Can Batman/Bruce and Spoiler/Stephanie repair their relationship or are we past the point of no return?
I very pleased with the final speech that Bruce gave at the end of “Detective Comics” #947. That when he said that he’s not willing to go out there and cut her down. He disagrees with the points that Spoiler is making but he sees why she’s doing it. She hasn’t just made the switch and become an unrepentant villain. She just doesn’t agree with how Batman operates in Gotham City. And that launches her into the next part of her story that we’ll be picking up on right after the “League of Shadows” arc. Spoiler will definitely continue to be a part of this book, especially as we move forward with the dangling thread of where is Tim Drake and what’s up with him.
That’s a nice place to end, because I wanted to ask you about Tim Drake. I know you can’t talk about the war that’s coming, but all points are leading to the fact that Tim is going to be a part of it, as is the mysterious character that is holding Tim captive. Will those events and the upcoming “Batman/The Flash” crossover “The Button” tie-into “Detective Comics”?
I will definitely say that fans of “Detective Comics” should absolutely read “The Button” when it comes out. Fans of DC Comics, really everyone, should pick up “The Button.” This is the first of a few launching points that will send us into the next year of stories. I’m very excited for everyone to see what we’ve got cooking but at this point, I can’t even hint at the shapes coming in the dark but there are shapes in the dark and they are coming. [Laughs] There are going to be a lot of really big, really cool stories coming up that I’m very excited to take part in.
“Detective Comics” #951 goes on sale February 22.
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