Jim Lee Talks "Dark Knight: Boy Wonder"

More than a few comic series have fallen victim to the complications of scheduling, never to be heard from again. But today, one particularly high profile comic series earned a new life...though it's one that won't start just yet.

On their official blog The Source, DC Comics announced plans that the team of Frank Miller and Jim Lee would complete the journey started in 2005 with "All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder," with a twist. In the post, Lee explained that the pair of legendary creators have six issues to go to complete their origin tale of the crimefighting partnership between Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, though for this last leg of the series, the book will be called "Dark Knight: Boy Wonder" and will ship monthly starting in February of 2011. The purpose behind the re-titling and far out launch date for "Dark Knight: Boy Wonder" was cited by its creators as both ensuring fans that they'd get the complete story they were promised, as well as a story which fits into the personal creative canon of Miller along with his classic "Batman: Year One" and futuristic "Dark Knight" collections.

CBR News reached out to Lee for further comment on what brought the series to this point, and the recently promoted DC Co-Publisher stressed that the long delays (the last "All Star" issue to ship was #10 in August of 2008) experienced by the series "had nothing to do with Frank. He's been a prince through this entire process, and I've never had to wait on him. I was swamped with several projects at the same time that went longer than anticipated, and the original intent of 'ASBR' was that it was only to be six issues. But as we got rolling, the story got bigger and grander, so I'm happy we took the time to develop the relationship between Batman in his prime and his new sidekick. Work then hit a logjam, and I was continually playing catch up. Frank told me in our last meeting that I need to stop, take a deep breath, collect myself and set a realistic date where we could come back out on a regular basis, and that's what we decided to do."

Lee explained that when it came to aligning the new "Boy Wonder" title with Miller's other Batman works, "I think Frank always wrote it with the mindset that it fit into the 'Dark Knight' mythos from the very start. From the introduction of characters like Joker's henchwoman that fans will recognize from 'DKR,' and even some of the cops mentioned by name in this series...Frank has seeded the connections all throughout. As for my part, I know that when I added the Dragon tattoo on Joker's back that I combed through all the other Frank Miller Batman stories to make sure there was never a shot which contradicted that tattoo. In fact, the only parts of Joker that were exposed and tattoo free were his face, his upper chest and his forearms and hands, so that's why I ran with the tattoo on the back after running it by Frank and then editor Bob Schreck for approval.

The artist added that when it comes to Miller's work, "I can probably tell you from memory what's on every page of those books," with a laugh, noting that the future of the book will focus on "Gotham City. Frank really uses the city as another character in the storyline, so the same way we really gave the Batcave its due, we're gonna do the same thing to Gotham. That, and showing the growing relationship between Batman and Robin. And more of the over the top Batman action that fans have loved about this book from the start."

As for why now is the time to start talking about getting "Dark Knight: Boy Wonder" off the ground, Lee said, "My work on the DCU Online game has been winding down, freeing up a chunk of time. I've also tried to become better at telling others 'no' when asked if I could do a cover here and there. The covers add up over time, and each can take a day or two or three. Days better spent drawing 'Dark Knight: Boy Wonder' pages. I still have a backlist of work I need to do that I committed to, but after that - no more side gigs. I prefer doing interiors and telling stories than doing just cover work. That said, some projects, like doing the 'American Vampire' variant cover, were impossible to turn down. It's the toughest aspect of the freelance part of my job."

Just because he's shying away from some cover work doesn't mean Lee will step away from the drawing board as his new duties as Co-Publisher take effect. The artist told CBR, "There's an overt acknowledgement by the rest of the executive team that one of the ways I help DC Comics the most is by doing creative work. The same goes for Geoff Johns, so to that purpose, we are given the latitude to take on projects and fit them into our schedules. So putting this book back on a track is the biggest part of my creative efforts this year. That, and a ten-page story I am doing with Paul Levitz featuring the Legion of Superheroes from the late 1970's that will be a centerpiece of a new art of Jim Lee book called 'Icons,' coming out this July."

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