James Tynion IV has been hard at work in 2013 and 2014 looks to be an even busier year with the upcoming "Batman: Eternal" weekly series. James talks to us about some of the books he's been working on as well what we can expect from "Batman: Eternal."
Charlie Chang: Let’s start with Talon since you’ve been writing this book for the greater part of a year now. How did this book originate coming out of the Court of Owls story arc in Batman?
James Tynion IV: Well, in talking to Scott we realized there were a lot of ideas we had about the Court of Owls that we never got to explore in the original storyline because the Court of Owls are so mysterious and in the shadows which they need to be. Especially as it relates to Batman, so I wanted to create a character that could approach the Court of Owls from a totally different perspective. Someone who was on the inside of the court but in a much different way is still afraid of them because these people have literally ripped his life apart.
CC: How would you describe Calvin Rose aside from him being a Talon?
JT: Calvin Rose is an escape artist and the big theme of the series is him learning that escape is strength of his. It’s about him slowly starting to cope with the fact that it doesn’t necessarily mean he always has to run away when a problem rears its head. We had a storyline with Bane that really accentuated that idea where he was up against a guy who broke Batman’s back and someone who is a terrifying fighter and the most dangerous guy to engage in hand to hand combat with in the DCU. He runs a prison state out of the prison he was raised in so it’s the perfect foil for Calvin because Calvin was raised in a cage by his father and Bane was also raised in a cage much turned out much different. That’s been really great because that’s the dichotomy and range of this character that I set out to write, the differences between your standard “stand your ground and fight” superhero versus Calvin who can demonstrate that running away can be a strength and doesn’t have to be something cowardly. I’ve just been having a lot of fun with the series in general.
CC: That’s awesome and I’ve personally been enjoying Talon for a while now. Let’s switch gears to Red Hood and the Outlaws. How were you approached to take over this book and what is the most exciting aspect for you as the writer.
JT: I was approached to do Red Hood and the Outlaws because it’s no secret within the DC offices that my favorite characters are Batman’s supporting cast. I love the Bat family, I really do. In the backup story in Batman #0 I was able to touch on each of the Robins and that caught the eye of the Red Hood and the Outlaws editor, so when Scott Lobdell left the book they asked me if I’d be interested in taking it on and I said yes instantly. I love the younger generation of heroes in the DCU and the Outlaws are a really interesting group because they’re all the messed up guys who had the chance to be big heroes but they screwed it up for one reason or another and so they’re fighting their way back to the good side which isn’t to say they’re bad but they definitely exist in this morally gray area. Starfire (Koriand'r), she was a princess who was cast into slavery who then had to become an outlaw against her own people. Roy Harper was Green Arrow’s partner and he screwed that up royally to the point where they can barely stand each other anymore. We have these great relationships and it all comes together with Jason Todd. If those other guys had these great potential futures that were lost, Jason has the greatest loss because he was one of Batman’s heirs. He was Batman’s son who died and came back really angry because he had lost so much in terms of how he viewed the world and what right and wrong was. That’s really what I wanted to explore, the dynamics between these three characters so in my storyline I wanted to throw a wrench into that relationship and we’ve been telling a story where Jason Todd loses his memory and it proves that he’s the lynchpin of this group because once he loses his memory the group sort of falls away and the group starts to crumble. We’ve reached the end of that story and it’ll all come together as they have to come together and face a very big threat. Now that I’ve torn everything down I can tell a story about three really great friends fighting side by side and I can’t wait to show the fans that.
CC: Very cool, now let’s switch gears to Batman: Eternal. This sounds like a very exciting and massive undertaking for you and the entire team on the project, what can you share with us about Eternal and this weekly Batman book for 2014?
JT: The big thing with the Batman weekly project I’m most excited about is the world building. That’s what I love, I love exploring the strange corners of Gotham City and that’s what I was able to do in both Talon and in some ways Red Hood. This is going to be something where we can cast light into all the weird shadows of Gotham. In 20 pages a month of Batman you can’t really get to all of the perspectives and the entire supporting cast that this universe has to offer. We’re going to take that and we’re going to tie it all together. We’re going to be focusing a lot on the Gotham Central Police Department and some of the characters there. Introducing a few new characters and re-introducing some old ones. We’re going to be digging into the Gotham Gazette which is a personal favorite of mine because I worked briefly in journalism. I love creating these casts of characters that can be used across all of the books and be reflected there.
CC: Can you tell us about any of the specific characters?
JT: Well, the only member of the Gazette that ever gets any attention is Vicki Vale but I really wanted to go beyond that. Vicki will be a very central character in this story but around her we’ll be introducing the new Editor-in-Chief of the Gazette. Imagine if the Editor-in-Chief of Gawker in the real world took over a newspaper like the New York Post. He’s trying to go for page hits and all of that, trying to be big and splashy. The other character we’re going to be introducing is the guy who’s been working the crime beat in Gotham for all these years. The question I kept asking myself was, “Who’s the guy who actually wrote the book on the Joker?” or “Who’s the reporter who broke The Joker’s story?” He’s in there and he’s going to be a supporting cast member and its things like that, the little glimpses into places like Arkham and others that I’m not even allowed to hint at. We’ll be shining the light on a lot of the relationships between these supporting characters that we normally wouldn’t see. We’re going to bring them together including re-introducing Stephanie Brown into the DC Universe and the way we’re doing that is going to be right at the top of the story and she’ll have a key role over the first year of this story. I’m really excited for fans to see what we have in store. The other thing about Batman: Eternal is we’ve got this incredible group of writers that are coming together on this project. Scott Snyder is working with me to shape the larger skeleton of the story but the people we’ve brought together to round everything out has been incredible. We’ve got John Layman, Tim Seeley, Ray Fawkes, and we’ve been working together on this for a few months now and I could not be happier with our team. Jason Fabok is doing the initial arc and I’m thrilled for the chance to work with him again.
This review was written by Amazon editor Alex Carr. Interested in comics and graphic novels? Sign up for Comics Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in comics each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from creators.