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Batman: New Comic Asks If He's Actually the Hero Gotham Deserves

Batman is the hero Gotham needs but is he the one they deserve?

DC Rebirth is giving their comics a bit of a face lift, making their books more accessible to new readers and getting back to the core of what makes the company's characters great.

Batman returns to Gotham City, but this time, he's not the only hero fighting to be its savior. Writer Tom King (Vision, Omega Men) is joined by artist David Finch (Wonder Woman, Batman: The Dark Knight) on this brand new series. The duo talked to us about their upcoming series and what we can expect to see.

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Comic Vine: What's going on in the new Batman series?

Tom King: I went over this, back and forth. "What's my great theme going to be?" I was thinking about this. I did these very artsy kinda key comics with Sheriff [of Babylon], Vision, and Omega Men. I did these big themes. I don't want to do any of those themes. Really, it's "F*** yeah Batman." I wanted to do something about how amazing Batman is as a hero. What makes him awesome? What makes him cool?

I think the best thing a Batman book can do is take you out of your day for 15 minutes and give you that buzz you had at 11 years old. When you read a comic, you put it down, and you felt like you could punch a bully, he'd fall back, and everyone would cheer. That's what the series is about. Bringing back that classic Batman and making you cheer for him.

David Finch: I agree. That's great.

A big part of any Batman series is that Gotham is this living, breathing city. David, what inspired you for your designs of this city?

Finch: I have a few. I got a whole bunch of art deco buildings from New York. There [are] some amazing ones from all around the world. It's pretty cool. Also, Mike Mignola is a huge influence on me and his [book] Gotham by Gaslight has buildings that had so much character in them. That's a big one. Tim Sale is a big one for me. I could go on all day.

Greg Capullo did some beautiful stuff with Gotham City. He took a lot of that classic and some modern and really put it together in a nice way. So it's a mixture, for sure. Jordie Bellaire, the colorist [of Batman], made such a huge difference when it comes to Gotham City, making it vibrant and spooky and put it in a really interesting place.

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Tonally, what are you aiming for in this new series, aside from "F*** Yeah Batman?"

King: This is my first time playing with Batman. I wrote on Grayson for two years, so I know the side characters, but I never wrote Batman. There are so many things I wanted to do. I wanted to draw out the humor in the Alfred and Bruce relationship. I wanted to introduce romantic elements to Bruce and why those work or don't work.

I wanted to do some redefining of classic villains, which you'll see over the next two years. I wanted to bring back some of the crazy, C & Z-level villains, like Calendar Man, and make them as frightening as The Joker and Riddler can be. I feel like a lot of people start their runs creating a new villain or rogue gallery. I wanted to come off that and start my run by creating a new hero or heroes, Gotham and Gotham Girl, rather than creating a new villain.

Finch: This is my second shot at Batman. It's my first time ever going back to something. I never really believed in going back because you're better off looking forward than back. Batman is an exception for me. He's my favorite character, and I just didn't have enough. I think I would have been reluctant to do it except that I'm working with Tom King. It's a whole other thing for me. The stories are incredible and I think it's bringing out a lot of things in my art.

Writing is one of the defining things in any comic. It all comes down to the story. When that's there, and that's strong, and the characters are real, it's a different experience. It's really all about that for me, just trying to get it all across, visually, as well as I can.

King: That's definitely not true. Writing is not the defining part of a comic. At the least, they're symbiotic to each other.

Finch: Without a good story, it's just a bunch of pictures. Not only is it a bunch of pictures... I'll draw the same picture of Batman on a gargoyle, each and every day.

King: [laughs] We've got our opening splash for issue ten.

Finch: [laughs] It is a part of the story. That's what I'm excited about.

King: That's the challenge with Batman. Comics are a super-visual medium, and I never get sucked into the words of it, but every visual of Batman has been done over the past 75 years and finding different angles and different ways to look at it is what makes it fun.

Finch: Issue one, especially. It's incredibly inventive; things I've never done before and things I really had to stretch to figure out how to do. I'm so glad we did it, but there were times I would shake my fist because it was hard to draw. That's what you want. You want something that stretches boundaries a bit.

King: Jim Lee called me after we sent him the script and said "This one is going to be a little bit of a challenge for Dave."

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Keeping in mind that Rebirth is all about being new reader friendly while maintaining the core readers, what challenges do you have for reaching both those audiences?

King: Batman's one of those characters that lives in the folds of America, possibly the world. I have a two year old who knows who Batman is and his powers, which is ridiculous because he can barely talk. Somehow we're just born with that knowledge, so anyone can approach a Batman comic and basically know the facts. People know who Alfred is. They know [Batman] fights crime and his origin story. It's nice to go in and not have to explain everything.

When I wrote Grayson, I had to explain who Dick Grayson was, but with Batman, people get it right off the bat, so you have a leg up. I think the challenge is that you have to respect that and put him back to where everyone knows he is, which is basically Batman: The Animated Series, the first season. You can't keep him there though because that's not how stories work. You build tension by going away from that and coming back to it. It's how far away can you stretch it before you lose the core without losing tension in the story. I think that's doable, and that's what makes him cool. He can be stretched and always tends to bounce back.

What can you tell us about Gotham and Gotham Girl, the new heroes that want to be the saviors of Gotham?

King: The basic idea was that everyone says, "Batman's the hero Gotham deserves." That's the classic cliche. The idea is that's not true. What if Batman deserves someone better? What if Gotham deserves a Superman? What if Gotham deserves a Supergirl? Wouldn't they be better at saving Gotham than Batman? Batman's fantastic. He can defeat whomever he wants, but if an asteroid is headed to the city or a train, there's a limitation to what you can do with a batarang. That's the central question we reach at the end of Batman #1. "What makes Batman the hero Gotham City needs and deserve?"

David, what was the process for the character design of Gotham and Gotham Girl?

Finch: There are times where I'll spend hours and do a bunch of different designs. It can be really tough. I think those times I don't really know who the character is. Then there are times that I can just see them in my head. It's very clear. When I read the script, it was so clear. I knew who they were and what they were about. It's Gotham City, so I wanted them to be a little dark. They're supposed to be a positive presence so I didn't want to make them evil either. I could just see them. I drew them, and in a way, I didn't really have a process for this one. I didn't really draw a lot of loose sketches for this one.

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Is it challenging working on an antagonist that's a positive force for the people of Gotham?

King: That's a great question. First of all, there are a lot of twists and turns, and I'm not about to give stuff away. There are other antagonists, and there is a villain that is going to run through the entire year that's going to lead to the greatest battle in the history of Batman, if David and I can pull it off. There are these huge villains that are still at work. Batman fights villains. That's what Batman does. The question is how does the existence of these two heroes affect that dynamic? Do they make Batman a better man, a better fighter? What does it bring out in him when honest Gothamites, with super powers, try to save the city?

For both of you, what's the most exciting part about working on this new series?

King: Honestly, the moments that make me laugh are the most exciting to me. I didn't expect Batman to be so funny. I was thinking I'll write him dark and dank, but there's so much humor in this character. When I looked back at the stuff I liked from the movies and the cartoon, he's got his moments that were so serious, and you have this atmosphere where there are these little jokes that have such an impact. Those moments exist in Batman and can make you gut laugh.

Finch: Certainly it's the chance to be able to draw Batman again, a main Batman title. I think it's rare, as an artist, to be a part of something that people remember that has an impact, long-term, and that's always my goal. I think all the elements are there with what Tom's doing, so I'm excited about that.

Thanks to David Finch and Tom King for answering our questions. Batman #1 is currently on sale.

35 Comments

Avatar image for apokos7
Posted By apokos7

Nice interview, both the writing and the art were really great on Batman. I'm really excited about this arc.

Avatar image for nightfang3
Edited By NightFang3

So what i'm getting from this is Gotham needs a Superman for falling planes and asteroids, but only a Batman can deal with the Joker and Court of Owls type story.

Avatar image for devil_driver
Posted By Devil_Driver

I'd love to see Batman pick up an entirely new rogues gallery with Court of Owls in the mix, I mean being completely done with his old rogues, that would be exciting and give me a reason to read his comics again, as the Court of Owls run are the only ones I've bought.

Avatar image for black_arrow
Posted By Black_Arrow

The first issue was very strange way to start this if that's going to be the point of the story. He did manage to stop the plane from hitting the city, without the help from any Superman like character. So yes he is the hero they deserve, he can stop a plane if necessary. Also another problem with that issue is that he surrendered way to easy, after all of the fantastic things he did to save the plane. To save himself, he could just have sent the Batwing to follow the plane so that he could escape at the last second.

Avatar image for rustyshackleford
Posted By RustyShackleford

I think it would be cool if Gotham and Gotham Girl were a part of the court of owls sent to unseat Batman. I know it might not be the most original idea, but I think it could be done here really well.

Avatar image for the_man_with_questions
Posted By The_Man_With_Questions

Eh. Something I never understood is why Batman never just went Iron-Man on his opponents, and wore an advance armor. He'd basically demolish most his rogues.

Avatar image for captainmarvel4ever
Posted By CaptainMarvel4Ever

First time I'm really looking forward to Batman. Love Finch, love King, and I love the tone/direction.

This is exactly what I want from Batman, super hero excitement that feels like it's part of the DCU, and not it's own separate thing.

Avatar image for jtmac005
Posted By JTMac005

this interview got me even more hyped than I was. I think King really knows what he's doing with this

Avatar image for batman3000
Posted By Batman3000

@black_arrow: Yeah but if Gotham and Gotham Girl hadn't had saved him he would've died.

Avatar image for adrikito
Edited By adrikito

More accessible to new readers...There is some difficulty in this.. Only comics without crazy changes.

Unfortunately Titans Rebirth did not make sense to me... I should have waited until the next chapter.. This was a chapter for an old fans, for the joy of recover Wally.

These 2 does have superpowers..

Avatar image for superior_prime_maybe
Posted By superior_prime_maybe

to be fair in a lot of people almost killed everyone in Gotham because of a personal fight against batman.

Like Court of owl, Talia, then Batman eternal, and then Joker... followed by Mr Bloom. I feel like im forgetting someone.
There was also that atlantis flood.

Avatar image for jsphsmth
Edited By jsphsmth

I am not sure about the Batman/Gotham question but King is the writer DC fans deserve. I am so glad he signed exclusive with DC.

Avatar image for casper4690
Posted By casper4690

In King I trust . Looking forward to the direction the team has in store for him . I definitely enjoyed the book

Avatar image for 2099man
Posted By 2099man

I'll be really disappointing if Gotham and Gotham Girl turn out to be temporary or worse still, villains. I'd love for them to stick around in the city and maybe help out the Bat family sometimes.

Avatar image for alexgeorgevich
Posted By AlexGeorgevich

Great interview. Thanks.

Avatar image for ultimatepower6
Posted By UltimatePower6

So...King definitely says that he's on the book for two years. With double shipping that's, 48 issues and say 2 annuals with a total of 50. Theoretically, King would have nine trades of batman going into year 3. That's exciting :D

Avatar image for rainshadow777
Posted By Rainshadow777

I haven't read issue 1 (I'll wait for the trade) but I presume there is no word on three jokers, the letter from Bruce's father or the Watchmen symbol that was so awesome and spine tingling in Geoff Johns' DC Universe Rebirth. The difference in quality between Johns' DC Universe Rebirth and King/Snyder's Batman Rebirth #1 was like Leonardo da Vinci to my stick figure drawings. I was really unimpressed basically. Calendar Man (I guess there was some symbolism in him shedding his skin and renewing, but its relevance to plot development remains elusive), Batman swimming in cold water, avocados being thrown into Batcaves. All very bewildering.

It must be really hard to say impressive things in interviews like these. I'm approaching this series with a lot of caution after my mixed experiences with Snyder. Gotham and Gotham Girl...let's hope they turn out better than their names which I presume will have some greater significance as things unfold.

King is definitely correct when he says everyone knows the Batman origin story (I've seen Bruce's parents die way too many times quite frankly), but I thought Batman Rebirth 1 was pretty confusing and strange if it was meant to be an easy way for non-readers to orientate themselves. I'd argue it wasn't a rebirth at all but a general continuation, and I love DC and can forgive all sorts of revenue raising measures, but re-numbering to #1 for no apparent narrative reason is annoying.

Avatar image for ultimatepower6
Posted By UltimatePower6

@rainshadow777: No, in a different interview for another site King said that he can't say anything about when the three jokers come into the story. So, I think he might but not for some time.

As for Batman Rebirth, it's totally not a good representation of Tom King's work. After reading Batman 1 I seriously can't believe how different it is to Rebirth's. You can tell that Snyder had his hands all into that Rebirth issue, and Snyder's tone mixed with King's just doesn't mix. Batman 1 is actually really good.

Avatar image for mr___death
Posted By Mr___death

@apokos7 said:

Nice interview, both the writing and the art were really great on Batman. I'm really excited about this arc.

Avatar image for dernman
Edited By Dernman

I'll be disappointed if this is anything other than a confirmation for Batman. If you stick with the heart of the Batman universe and Gotham that's the way it should be. It's one thing to challenge something it's another to break away from it.

The city should break down these types of heroes and devour these character up. I'm also not fond of having meta heroes in Gotham.

Gotham is the night and Metropolis is the day. That's how it should be.

Avatar image for sp4rt4n
Posted By SP4RT4N

I like the idea of a meta hero or two in Gotham. This will most likely be the Bat title I try and follow. King mentioned Batman TAS, so I think Bats is in good hands.

Avatar image for neongamewave
Posted By NeonGameWave

Interesting.

Avatar image for 2cool4fun
Posted By 2cool4fun

@2099man said:

I'll be really disappointing if Gotham and Gotham Girl turn out to be temporary or worse still, villains. I'd love for them to stick around in the city and maybe help out the Bat family sometimes.

Way, too, many, bat, family, members, really, we don't need more, just last issue they introduced Snyder's 3rd unneeded & unwanted add to the family, we are at 13 people now, I hope to god they are temporary.

Avatar image for 2099man
Edited By 2099man

@2cool4fun said:
@2099man said:

I'll be really disappointing if Gotham and Gotham Girl turn out to be temporary or worse still, villains. I'd love for them to stick around in the city and maybe help out the Bat family sometimes.

Way, too, many, bat, family, members, really, we don't need more, just last issue they introduced Snyder's 3rd unneeded & unwanted add to the family, we are at 13 people now, I hope to god they are temporary.

I said help the Bat Family not be part of it. These guys just wouldn't fit in on the team. They don't even have bat/bird emblems and that's pretty much mandatory for getting into the club unless you happen to be Robin. No, what should happen is while the bat family patrol the night, these two patrol the day. It would be an interesting concept. I mean are we really supposed to believe all of Gotham's crime happens when the sun goes down? The idea of Gotham City having round the clock protection would be an interesting concept.

Avatar image for rainshadow777
Edited By Rainshadow777

@ultimatepower6 said:

@rainshadow777: No, in a different interview for another site King said that he can't say anything about when the three jokers come into the story. So, I think he might but not for some time.

So many really interesting and enticing teasers, like the three jokers, letter from his father and Watchmen badge, but Batman is all like, "Well, Duke, not much happening around here so let's go kick a tree in the backyard." And Alfred is all like, "Why did I cut open this avocado, I'm not even hungry, lol. I'll throw it down this hole and see if Bruce notices."

Seriously though, glad to hear issue 1 is good - I'll get back to you in a year once the trade paperback comes out and let you know how I found it haha.

Avatar image for adrikito
Edited By adrikito

@dernman said:

The city should break down these types of heroes and devour these character up. I'm also not fond of having meta heroes in Gotham.

Gotham is the night and Metropolis is the day. That's how it should be.

Yes. We do not need heroes with superpowers, this is Gotham City no Metropolis..

Avatar image for 2cool4fun
Posted By 2cool4fun

@2099man: It would be interesting for gotham city to still stay the #1 most crime filled city in america if that happened. Tho tbh I still question it sometimes seeing as how many bird/bats there are.

But yeah I see what you mean. It would be interesting, but not forever, tho them being relevant at least longer would be cool.

Avatar image for deactivated-5a04a566e9ae3
Posted By deactivated-5a04a566e9ae3

#GiveBruceABoyfriend

Avatar image for 2099man
Posted By 2099man

@2099man: It would be interesting for gotham city to still stay the #1 most crime filled city in america if that happened. Tho tbh I still question it sometimes seeing as how many bird/bats there are.

But yeah I see what you mean. It would be interesting, but not forever, tho them being relevant at least longer would be cool.

Story wise, Gotham simply wouldn't be the crime infested hellhole it is if my suggestion came true. (at least not in the hands of a competent writer.) Of course, Bats would probably give them some training, get them prepared, maybe even give them the dose of reality they need to work in Gotham, but i'd love to read about a Gotham City that's relatively safer and a bit more pleasant with heroes working day and night to protect it. At any rate it's an interesting idea.

Avatar image for dernman
Posted By Dernman

@sprior93 said:

#GiveBruceABoyfriend

#HeAlreadyHasAFew

Avatar image for deactivated-5a04a566e9ae3
Posted By deactivated-5a04a566e9ae3
Avatar image for stormshadow_x
Posted By StormShadow_X

First time I'm really looking forward to Batman. Love Finch, love King, and I love the tone/direction.

This is exactly what I want from Batman, super hero excitement that feels like it's part of the DCU, and not it's own separate thing.

This, Over the years I kind of have but this more then ever.

Avatar image for nerdyusername1194
Posted By Nerdyusername1194

@the_man_with_questions: I think he prefers to work in the shadows and use fear as a weapon instead of a bright bat signal that shoots lasers and flies away.

Avatar image for the_man_with_questions
Posted By The_Man_With_Questions

@the_man_with_questions: I think he prefers to work in the shadows and use fear as a weapon instead of a bright bat signal that shoots lasers and flies away.

TBH? That's pretty stupid of him. He could still use both of those, while wearing advance tech.