THE BAT SIGNAL: Tony Daniel Enters Night of the Owls

Batman's corner of the DC Universe is made up of one of DC Comics' largest groups of interrelated books. Among them is "Detective Comics," one of the oldest and longest continually-published and consecutively-numbered comics in the United States before last September's New 52 relaunch.

Written and drawn by Tony S. Daniel, the new "Detective" follows the exploits of Bruce Wayne as Batman. The most recent arc in Daniel's series pitted the Dark Knight him against the Penguin, his henchmen on the Iceberg Casino and an unexpected foe -- Jill, the sister of Charlotte Rivers, Bruce Wayne's current love interest.

One of three DC books starring Batman as the sole protagonist, Daniel's "Detective Comics" takes part in the Night of the Owls May event impacting the entire line of Bat-titles, despite initial plans for the series to sit the contained event out.

On the eve of the Owls, THE BAT SIGNAL spoke with Daniel about the decision to participate in the event, how he and "Batman" writer Scott Snyder balanced writing the same hero over the course of the Snyder-envisioned storyline and what's coming up for the Dark Knight after May.

CBR News: You just finished your Penguin arc and your next issue will take "Detective Comics" into the Night Of The Owls. Originally, "Detective" was not going to be part of the event -- when did you decide that your corner of the Batman universe would be joining in the fight against the Talons?

Tony S. Daniel: It was just a matter of logistics, I guess. I was happy to join in the big arc.

Along those lines, while "Detective" features Bruce as the protagonist, so does Snyder's "Batman," which is the book leading the Night Of The Owls event. Because both your books involve Bruce, how do the two of you make sure the stories are distinct without having Bruce essentially be in two contradictory places doing two completely different things at the same exact time?

That's exactly what the challenge was. Night of the Owls is Scott's story. For this month, "Detective" plays a complimentary role to the bigger story, which is happening in "Batman." Scott figured out a good way for us to include both books into the storyline. This is his baby, so we talked beforehand and he read my plot to make sure it all fit perfectly with "Batman."

The original story solicited for May is one with the villain Mr. Toxic -- will this story be pushed back thanks to the crossover and shipped out in April instead?

Yes, that's pushed to the next issue.

Many of the other books in the Owls crossover are getting their own Talon, designed by "Batman" artist Greg Capullo. Did Greg create the Talon for "Detective" as well, or did you tackle that job yourself?

I pretty much designed my own Talons for this, though I tried to keep the style in the same vein as what Greg had produced.

Story wise, what can you tell us about your story for the Night Of The Owls issue? Who is the Talon Bruce will be facing off against?

Essentially, the story revolves around Dr. Jeremiah Arkham, whose name is on the Talon hit list, and Batman has to save his life. There are three Talons to deal with, so Batman has triple the trouble!

Will you also be exploring a specific period of Gotham history in your issue, or in form is "Detective" going to be different than the other books participating in the crossover?

"Detective's" role was to connect a segment in between Scott's "Batman" issues, but we get to see and learn a bit about Dr. Arkham and his mindset, so it's different in that he's more of the focus this issue as opposed to Batman. The length of the story, twenty pages, means there's a lot to squeeze in there.

Will the Two-Face backup story with art by Szymon Kudrankski continue in your Night Of The Owls issue?

Yes, it does.

Does the Night Of The Owls lead directly into your next arc? What's next for "Detective" after the event?

The end of "Detective Comics" #9 leads directly into Scott's "Batman" issue. The next issue of "Detective" starts a new story arc that features the art of Ed Benes. We wrap up a few personal relationships I've inserted since the beginning, like Charlotte and Hugh Marder.

There's more of a science fiction take to this arc, something a bit different than the horror angle of the first arc, and different from the straight Penguin story arc. It comes to a head with the reintroduction of an old foe, Professor Radium.

Has Benes joined "Detective" on a permanent basis, or is he just signing on for this arc?

Ed is coming on for the arc, three issues, to help me to get ahead of my work. It's been a big help and it's looking great; I think the end result will be enjoyed by "Detective Comics" readers.

Charlotte and her sister, Jill, were the big focus of the Penguin arc that just finished, and we're left with a question as to what will happen to them. Will this be a thread you pick back up on in the near future?

Yes, we get back to Charlotte in issue 10. We'll have to see what happens during this coming arc in regard to her relationship with Bruce Wayne!

What was the inspiration behind the creation of Charlotte? What does she bring out in Bruce as a character?

When we started brainstorming ideas for the New 52's "Detective Comics," we decided to give [Bruce] a new girlfriend, someone who can challenge Bruce and almost mirror him in a way. I wanted to create a match for him that was interesting for him, a self-sufficient woman who's a type-A personality. I think I have my most fun when writing the two of them together.

Along those lines, what gave you the idea for her one-eyed, double-crossing, thieving sister?

Don't we all have one of those in our family? Seriously though, I liked the idea of having two sisters separated at birth and leading two completely different lives -- sort of a nature vs. nurture situation.

Finally, for your last arc, you created some crazy-looking new villains like Snakeface, Hypnotic, Combustible and the other crooks, all of whom were looking to Penguin for protection. For you, both as artist and writer, is the idea to switch back and forth between playing with established villains and introducing new ones in each arc? And will we get to see some of those villains popping up again soon?

Exactly. I want to bring in some new villains to keep from leaning on the old established ones too much. I think it can be refreshing to introduce some new concepts to Gotham City. Some of the characters I had the most fun with were semi-obscure characters at one point themselves. Like Fright, for instance, and now Professor Radium. So maybe one day twenty years from now, a new writer might dig out some of my guys.

As for seeing some of those characters again, yes we will, actually, and sooner than you think!

Tony S. Daniel descends into the Night of the Owls in "Detective Comics" #9, on sale May 2.

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