Comic Vine News


James Tynion IV & Marguerite Bennett Talk Detective Comics and Batwoman Begins

The upcoming "Batwoman Begins" story arc sets the stage for her upcoming solo title as they investigate Monstertown.

Batwoman made her debut in the DC Universe back in 2006. Kate Kane is the second person to use the identity. With a military background, she developed a different approach to crime-fighting, compared to Batman. The two have recently joined forces to ensure the next wave of vigilantes in Gotham are properly trained.

With the recent story arc, Night of the Monster Men, a new threat has developed. Batman and Batwoman have to find out who's trying to weaponize blood from the giant corpse of a megamonster that fell in Gotham Harbor. We talked to writers James Tynion IV and Marguerite Bennett about the new story and the lead-in to Batwoman's upcoming solo series.

Detective Comics #948 by Ben Oliver
Detective Comics #948 by Ben Oliver

Comic Vine: How heavily is this two-part arc in Detective Comics #948-#949 going to be setting up the next Batwoman series?

James Tynion IV: There are sort of two levels to the question. For one, we wanted to kind of set the stage for what we were going to do on a thematic level. First off, there's a question that Jacob Kane in the past asks Kate in this first part, which is, "What makes Batwoman different from Batman?" That's sort of the question of these two issues. That's what we wanted to dig into. Yes, we are setting up some of the plot. We are setting up the fact that there's monster venom being proliferated, it's starting to be sold on the black market out there and that is a plot thread that will then lead us into the Many Arms of Death, which is the big story we're gong to be telling over in the Batwoman series.

More importantly here, what we wanted to do, especially in the pages of Detective, was encapsulate what's been happening in Kate's life that has gotten her to this moment. It's bringing back the Colony and really putting the focus on Kate being tugged between these two poles, which are Jacob Kane and what she originally wanted, her original plan in life, which was to become this super soldier. Not in the Marvel Comics term of the word, but to become the best soldier that's ever existed. She's been sort of shaping herself off of Batman's mission, which is what we've seen in the pages of Detective Comics and also ever since she became Batwoman. It was playing with those dynamics and then also getting back to the start of it and not doing the kind of pure origin story, but just seeing Kate back when she was still figuring out how to be Batwoman and showing her first few interactions with Batman while she was a crime fighter. We'll see what that meant to her and what it means to her now. That's how it's going to play out over these two issues.

Marguerite, anything you can add?

Marguerite Bennett: Oh no. It's been fun. How we coordinate is James takes the lead on these issues, and I take the lead in the active series. It's been delightful because we'll go to a Mediterranean restaurant and order a few drinks and talk about it all.

Tynion: It's been a working process.

Bennett: Yes, oh yes.

For those who know not too much about the character, what would you guys say makes her an interesting character and makes her awesome to want to work with?

Bennett: I love her because she's so screwed up. Let me elaborate a little bit. Forgive me if I'm repeating myself at all. My gateway drug into comics was Batman: The Animated Series when I was five years old, which is going to make some of your readers feel pretty old. I apologize. People ask me in interviews, especially when I was first breaking in, like who was my favorite superhero when I was growing up. Was it Batgirl, Supergirl, Wonder Woman? To be quite honest, I kind of struggled with that question because I didn't imprint on a superhero, I imprinted on villains.

On Batman: The Animated Series, I imprinted on Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman because they were so radically different than female characters that I'd been presented with at that age. You have a media for children, but especially media for little girls, that all the heroines, all the female characters, period, have to be very aspirational. You know, everyone has to be sweet and polite and kind and gracious and kind of a doormat, or you have the other version of, "Oh, she's a princess, and she conforms to all the standard forms of femininity, but she also has a sword!" I just got so bored of that so quickly, even as a child. With Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and Catwoman, it was so exciting because they did not have to be aspirational, they just have to be themselves.

Batwoman: Rebirth #1 by Steve Epting
Batwoman: Rebirth #1 by Steve Epting

Fast forward 13 years and I was in high school when Batwoman was announced. You have this very exciting and queer character in a major publication. I was so excited and went and picked it up, yeah, because of that announcement, admittedly. Then I fell in love with her on her own terms because of how honestly flawed she was. She did not have to be an icon who came in as a perfect example. It didn't have to be the pendulum swing where after years of horrible queer representation, we have a queer character who is nothing but a paradigm that is a collection of excellent virtues. She got to be a fully-realized human with feelings. Honestly, that was the thing that delighted me so much. She was human. That's what I love most about writing her and that's what I love most about reading her.

Tynion: Yeah. That really is, I think, the heart of her character because if you look at the moment that made Batman, you look at the fact Bruce Wayne's parents were killed by a faceless crime. He built himself up to be the perfect crime fighter in order to prevent that from ever happening again. Kate's story is similar but different. It puts her on a parallel track, which was that her family was basically taken away from her, particularly her mother, by faceless terror. She decided to build herself into the perfect soldier to fight that war. It's similar, but it is inherently different, especially because partly that Kate was on that path. Kate was there and dogged and determined and she was going to be the best soldier you ever see. Then, simply because she had a moment where she had to decide, "Am I going to be myself and be kicked out of the military, or do I reject myself in order to continue to achieve the goal that I've set out to match in my life?" She decided to be herself, and then on top of that, she still then, after struggling through it, found a way to achieve her goal.

She is flawed and she has had a less clear path. She didn't disappear when she was a teenager to travel eight years around the world with all of the ninja masters. She has the training part of her story, but she already had the training. She was training herself from a younger age to become a fighter, but then she had that path ripped away from her, and then she had to build a new path. That's right at the heart of the character, to me. I grew up an X-Kid in addition to the Bat Family and a lot of times, I sort of think of Kate as the Wolverine of the Detective Comics team just in the fact that she has this mysterious past and she has a dogged sense of morals, but she is just purely herself. Purely, unapologetically herself, and that never changes. That's right at the heart of the character, and then on top of that, she has a really cool costume, and she kicks a lot of ass. It's like everything you'd want in a superhero character.

Detective Comics #948 variant by Rafael Albuquerque
Detective Comics #948 variant by Rafael Albuquerque

Getting a little bit more specific within this Detective run and then the upcoming series, do Batwoman and Batman have long term plans for Jacob Kane? How long are they willing to keep him locked up?

Tynion: Well, I think the heart of it right now is that Jacob won't reveal anything about the existence of the Colony, how many members there are, or where it exists in the world. We know for a fact that it's still out there because they caught two members of Colony who were in their headquarters, the Belfry, and then they got Jacob. There are three members of Colony that they caught, but we've seen dozens of them: enough to fill an entire military Batcave right outside of the city. We know that there's a lot more of them out there, so right now, Batman is still trying to get that information out of him, but Jacob is very firm in the fact that he won't talk to Bruce. He'll only talk to Kate, and Kate's not willing to face him after his betrayal.

Right now, they're working through it a bit. We saw in the last issue of Detective where Batman tells Kate, "You need to talk to Jacob. Not for us to find out information or all of that, but you need to do it for yourself." Batman starts to see her shutting people off and becoming a colder version of herself in a way that he does. He can see it because they're cousins. They have similar flaws and strengths. It's just like he sees her starting to go down this colder, darker path and he's just like, "You need to be able to talk to your father." We're going to see some of that come into especially the next issue because we're going to be introducing a key new member of Colony, which is their top agent, Colony Prime. We did not see him in the Rise of the Batman storyline. This is the person who is frustrated because he was trained to be their top agent, but Jacob, on the side, was training a new top agent to come in and replace him, and that was Kate. He definitely has some issues with Kate. This is going to be a fun, new antagonist for Kate moving forward.

Moving into the solo Batwoman series, because Kate has been a part of a team in Detective Comics recently, are we going to be seeing those teammates within the series, or is this primarily going to focus on Kate as a solo star?

Bennett: She's going to have a supporting cast of her own, but we definitely want to see that Detective Comics is Gotham-centric. This is where the Bat Family is. This is where their heart is, it's where their home is, this is where all of the things that they're defending and believe in are. The development of the series is way more international. It's going to have her, eventually, on like a Black Ops, globetrotting mission. It's like tracking down these various threats. While she's definitely not going to be isolated, because Kate thinks that she can be alone, I would like to sit her down over some drinks and talk to her about that. The adventures of the Bat Family is still going to be be essentially rooted in Detective. However, you will see a certain Gotham face, who I am delighted to get to have as essentially Kate's right hand man.

Tynion: I spoiled that on Twitter.

Bennett: Oh, did you? Oh, yeah.

Batwoman #1 by Steve Epting
Batwoman #1 by Steve Epting

Tynion: Yeah, we're bringing Julia Pennyworth, Alfred's daughter, back in. She played a major role in Batman Eternal and then in the Endgame and Superheavy storylines. She's a character that we've been very excited that we've found a real place for her. Pennyworths look good in a tuxedo. That's her on the cover to issue one. The dynamic between the two of them is really, really fun. I'm really excited for people to see it.

In the Batwoman series, what kind of villains are we going to be seeing Batwoman up against? Will they be familiar Gotham or Batman villains? Are we having kind of a whole new lineup for her?

Bennett: The major villain is Kate's bad decisions. There's a lot of stuff coming out of Kate's history, stuff that she, in the multiple reinventions of herself, she thought she could leave behind. You really can't do that with your past when it comes to that you've affected other people with your actions. We're going to see a lot of stuff dragging out of her past. She'd been kicked out of West Point [because she was a lesbian] and was scraping the bottom of the barrel here as far as her options for feelings of self-worth and she runs pretty far to escape that. Some of the things that she did when she was at this low period in her life are going to start trickling back in. She's going have to face the things that she got entangled with. We're going to start on this international mystery that's going to lead us through Kate Kane's least greatest hits.

Tynion: The big piece of that, we're introducing the new location in the DCU, Coryana, which is a place that has a tremendous weight for Kate, and I sort of think of it as the Casablanca of the DC universe. It's a small island nation in the Mediterranean. It's part of no other country and it's part of all countries. It's a transitional place and one that is very, very dangerous. We're going to see some new, big forces in the DC universe that are going to play off of what she's going to be able to find out through her connections with her father and Colony. That takes us to the title of the first arc, The Many Arms of Death, which is the name of a pretty terrifying organization that deals with arms deals on a level, not just selling guns and traditional weapons, but dealing with new, experimental bio-weapons and all of that. That's how the thread from monster venom picks up there. There's a lot of good stuff coming.

For those, again, who are very new to this character, what really separates Batwoman from Batman other than the fact that it's another person in a bat suit. Why should people be drawn to this new series?

Bennett: I mean, it was honestly the time we were talking about, while we were in Mexico, James. We correspond about this all the time, is that what happened to Batman when he was a child set him on this almost this irrevocable course. He's not Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne is the mask that he puts on. He's Batman. That this was something, like a force of nature, that happened to him. Whereas Kate had time, had a past, was exploring her options with trying to do other things, whether or not she was doing them well, and that she circled back and circled back on the decision to become Batwoman. For Batman, it was a force of nature, it was, yeah, this was, from the beginning, going to be what he turned himself into. With her, she chose it, and because she made it a choice that she can choose wrong. She comes back to it again and again and there's a fallibility in her that is so human and so beautifully bittersweet that I can't wait to explore, and to a degree, exploit.

Detective Comics #943 by Eddy Barrows
Detective Comics #943 by Eddy Barrows

Tynion: Yeah. She's also a bit more comfortable in moral grays, I would say. She has a different perspective on the world, and it isn't the perspective of ... It isn't the morality you build in the face of privileged child who's parents were killed. It's someone who's seen the darkest corners of the world, and so has Bruce, in a lot of ways. I don't want to minimize Batman because Batman's Batman and he's freaking awesome. Kate has the potential to be so many different things and Batwoman, as a concept, has the potential to be so many different things. Her finding herself and finding her path, a Batwoman story, I think, is always going to be a kind of story about self-discovery, but it's also going to be a story about war. War is always a kind of story about self-discovery because that was the real thing.

If you look at all of Batman's villains, they are all the different faces of crime and the different reasons people commit crime kind of given faces. Kate's villains, therefore, need to be the different faces of war and the different ways that war shapes and changes people. That really changes the center of the book and that's part of why Kate's mission will always go more international. That's why it is much more about the world and her standing there and her relationship in it and her mission of trying to create a world in which what happened to her could never happen again. She is trying to find the best way to do that. Unlike Batman, she's not sure she has all the right answers, but because of that, she's out searching for it.

We are tremendously delighted with the artists on these issues and what people are about to see is going to be... There's a tradition of beautiful Batwoman art, and it was very important to us that we keep that going. I think we're succeeding with flying colors and it's all thanks to these guys.

Detective Comics #948 is on sale Wednesday, January 11, and Batwoman: Rebirth #1 is on sale February 15.