THE BAT SIGNAL: Nicieza Travels To Africa For "Batwing"

Though DC Comics' ongoing monthly series "Batwing" is losing its current creative team as writer Judd Winick steps down from the title after issue #14, David Zavimbe's crime-fighting career will soldier on under the pen of "Red Robin" and "DC Universe Presents: Kid Flash" writer Fabian Nicieza!

Nicieza will be steps in as the series' new ongoing writer starting next month, finishing Winick's recently-begun "Father Lost" story arc with artist Marcus To, as well as writing a police corruption tale that begins in "Batwing" #16 and takes the title into 2013.

THE BAT SIGNAL spoke with Nicieza about "Batwing" and all things David Zavimbe, including why the police force has turned against the Congolese vigilante and Nicieza's take on the Batman of Africa.

CBR News: Fabian, you're coming on a the ongoing writer for "Batwing" -- how did you come on to the book?

Fabian Nicieza: Editor Harvey Richards asked if I could finish the "Father Lost" storyline that Judd Winick had begun, which I did for issue #15. I thought that would be that; I love those kind of one issue under-the-fire kind of jobs. Then Harvey asked if I could do a one-and-done issue for #16 since they were still determining who would be the regular writer.

I wrote that script, which was real fun to do -- less a superhero story and more of a crime cop drama about police corruption in David Zavimbe's precinct.

After that, Harvey asked me if I wanted to write the entire next story arc, and after much discussion about it, including who would be the artist, I said I would. And here we are, it looks like I'll write the next arc and #16 will be sort of the prologue to that storyline.

What's your take on David/Batwing? What are the similarities and difference from the other Bat characters you've written in the past?

I really like David Zavimbe's character and I think Judd did a great job establishing the character's conflict and the interesting city of Tinasha. I think the most interesting facet about him compared to others in the Bat-Family is where they are all looking to stop criminals as a result of harm that was done to them (or their family), David is looking to atone for harm he did to others.

I love that he has all this anger buried inside him, dying to get out. But David knows that if he releases it, he'd be returning to the kind of an unfeeling killing machine that he was as a child-soldier. He represses so much; he tries so hard to be civil in a very uncivil city. His past and his choices have denied himself love, friendship and comfort.

And the making the right decision in issue #16 is going to make things a whole lot more complicated for both David and Batwing.

You mentioned David's anger and repression issues -- to your mind, is that driving darkness what makes him a perfect recruit for both Batman Inc. and the Bat family?

Yes, but the fact it's almost a reversal of the Bruce/Dick/Tim dynamic is what makes David unique and lets you approach him differently.

Getting down to basics, what's your story about? What can you say about your villains and plot?

My story arc is about corruption, how it affects individuals and how systemic corruption destroys a society. Tinasha and the Congo are rife with corruption across all strata of its society, but there are plenty of people who struggle with its effects internally as they figure out how to fight it externally.

David fights the corrupt police force of Tinasha beginning in issue #16. After operating unopposed as Batwing for so long, why is this the tipping point for the police going after him?

Issue #16 is about money trading hands, evidence being "misplaced" and a young man arrested for murder walking free, only to kill again. That the murderer is the son of a heavy-duty African industrialist buying his way through the system is what drives David to action.

But finding evidence that will keep the son in prison is hard for David to do when the father is paying the police to stop him.

Will we get to see a more in-depth glimpse into David's life as a police officer rather than just his life as Batwing?

Yes. Although Batwing gets plenty of exciting action in this arc against some interesting new opponents -- as well as absorbing a lot of punishment -- the real story is about David Zavimbe and how he will choose to continue his fight as part of Batman Inc.

Along those lines Judd Winick's "Batwing" has been a blend of super heroics and actual issues in real-world Africa -- did you also do a lot of research on Africa and the Democratic Republic Of Congo for your story?

Working on it. This hit kind of unexpectedly.

When coming on to a book like "Batwing," what are the biggest challenges for you as a writer?

Trying to maintain the voice of the regular writer or do justice to the ongoing storyline they had started. I always like to try and plant seeds that other writers can build on. Ironically, in this case, that writer was me!

Finally, besides taking on Batwing at this point you've been writing various members of the Bat family on and off for years. What interests you in the Bat group of characters specifically?

It's a simple combination of two things: #1) the Bat-Family are generally "normal level" characters with great minds and greater internal conflicts, that's been refreshing to write after having dealt with mutants and super villains for years at Marvel. #2) the editors ask.

"Batwing" #15 hits shelves December 5; Nicieza's brand new arc begins with issue #16 out January 9, 2013.

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