Joe Casey Talks "Superman/Batman"

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Please see the end of this story for an important correction.]

When DC Comics announced that "Superman/Batman" would be taking a bit of a different turn when it came to new story arcs-filling in the blocks of time between major events-fans were incredibly excited, even more so when it was revealed first up at bat (no pun intended) was a follow-up to "Our Worlds at War" written by the Man of Action himself, Joe Casey beginning in #69. But according to Casey, he wasn't even aware that his "Superman/Batman" story was meant to be an aftermath of an event he himself wrote for years ago.

"Our Worlds at War" was DC's major crossover of 2001, overseen primarily by the Superman writers of the time, which included Casey and Jeph Loeb. In it, galactic villain Imperiex, who intended to use Earth as a base from which to annihilate the universe. Aquaman, Maxima, and Wonder Woman's mother Hippolyta died in the war, though some have since returned. CBR News spoke with Casey about his inadvertent return to this conflict.

"Actually, I was shocked when I saw the printed comic and that 'Our Worlds at War Aftermath' trade dress on the cover," Casey told CBR News. "I mean, come on... was anyone clamoring for a return visit to that story? I wasn't, and I worked on the original! So, as anyone who's read the first two issues can attest to, I don't really reference it at all, other than the fact that there was a big super-war and things are being rebuilt... but, y'know, that kind of sh-- happens every day in the DCU, right?  The way I wrote it, it might as well have been a bunch of Black Lanterns that tore the sh-- out of everything. It's just a simple backdrop for the real story we're telling."

Considering this, it's no surprise that fans don't need to be intimately familiar with the events of "Our Worlds at War" to enjoy the current story. ("I barely acknowledge it, if at all," Casey said.) As previously mentioned, Casey worked on the original "Our Worlds at War" event back in 2001, and although part of the reason that DC is running the "aftermath" stories is to answer any lingering questions and tie up possible loose ends, the writer admitted that there were very few of those to address. "The thing is, as far as I'm concerned, there were no loose ends when we first wrote 'Our Worlds at War,'" he said. "For better or worse, that story was pretty damn tight. It was like an old school Marvel epic, no story beat or character detail left unturned. Despite my rampant drug intake at the time, between editors Eddie Berganza, Tom Palmer Jr. and the writers, we were a goddamned well-oiled machine.  So with this story, there was really nothing to follow up on. My poor editor was so swamped with other work, and had been struggling for months to try to make this book into something cool, something that would sell better, I think it was a case of grasping at straws to find a sales hook for a book that's clearly struggling by not being tied in to current events in the DCU.  So, even in light of that, I certainly didn't write it to tie into anything... I just wrote a cool 'Superman/Batman' story that'll be able to stand on its own and left it at that."

While Casey may be one of the only writers currently penning an in-continuity Bruce Wayne, he's much more excited about Bruce's successor. "Honestly, I'm nuts about what Grant [Morrison] is doing in 'Batman and Robin.'  It's one of my favorite superhero books right now.  I love the Dick Grayson/Damian Wayne team and I kind of wish it would last a lot longer than it's probably going to."

Casey's current tale does stand well on its own, but he was quick to say that there are other stories bounding in his brain involving the Caped Crusader and the Man of Tomorrow - stories that he hopes would put "Superman/Batman" back on fans' radars as a top-notch book from DC. "Well, to be perfectly honest, I had other 'Superman/Batman' stories that I wanted to do, stories that I felt would really fulfill the promise of the book having to be 'outside' current continuity but would still get readers pumped," he said. "So the most exciting thing about this story was getting to the end of it so I could possibly move on to writing the next ones. This is one of those rare opportunities where you've got a top-flight book that no one is paying attention to!!! My feeling in those situations is to always push the envelope and be f---in' bold.  And the fact that it's a book with Superman and Batman in it... it's almost too good to be true.  But, I hear the book is changing editors so I have no idea if I'll ever get the chance to do those stories.  But I'd like to."

Despite Casey's eager and positive attitude to push the envelope, he made his opinion of the "aftermath" labeling of "Superman/Batman" perfectly clear. "Anyone with a brain knows that the 'Superman/Batman' book needs a big kick in the ass," he said. "I never thought an 'Our Worlds at War' tie-in was going to do it, but in this case DC editorial seemed really stoked on the idea and I was happy to do them a solid. Besides, I looked at it as an opportunity to write two classic characters that I've always loved. And, to put the final nail in this interview, this whole 'Aftermath' term that certain books-two that I've written for DC in the past year-have been saddled with as a marketing angle... let's put it on the scrap heap with 'Year One,' 'widescreen,' 'Ultimate,' 'New (fill-in-the-blank),' 'brain trust,' 'secret (fill-in-the-blank),' 'Absolute,' 'rebirth,' '(fill-in-the-blank) crisis' and other similarly overused terms that have wormed their way into the comic book lexicon and worn out their welcome.  At the very least, replace anything with 'aftermath' in the title with a more appropriate word... like 'hangover.' I hope readers check out the book despite the 'Our Worlds at War' branding.  Just think of it as unfortunate cover art... it's what inside that counts."

"Superman/Batman" #69 is in stores February 17.

UPDATE 2/6/10 11:30 AM: CBR was contacted by Joe Casey after this article went to press with a correction on the interpretation of his quotes. Mr. Casey did know that the "Superman/Batman" arc was meant to be an "Our Worlds at War" follow-up, but his main goal was to write an excellent "Superman/Batman" story. He was simply surprised by the branding used on the cover after the first issue of his "Superman/Batman" story hit shelves.

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