There's a new threat in Gotham City. Batman realizes it's time to call everyone in to make sure they're all ready. Teaming up with Batwoman, the two will train Spoiler (Stephanie Brown), Orphan (Cassandra Cain), and Clayface, with Tim Drake's help as well. It's an interesting gathering, and they might have less time to prepare than they thought.
We had the chance to talk to James Tynion IV to find out where they'll be training, how much can they trust Clayface, and will there be any reference to the characters past relationships in the pre-New 52 universe?
Comic Vine: First question: Who is the big threat against Batman and the others?
James Tynion IV: Well, we are introducing a new group in the DCU, an organization that is called Colony, and in our second issue we're going to start learning a bit more about this group. It is a huge militarized army of Batmen. We're going to see, as the story develops, that this is an organization that was built on the same model as Batman. When Batman first got started it was like the entire world would have taken notice that one man in a costume was able to do what an entire army could not. In the current continuity going back to Zero Year, terrorists had taken over an entire city, and it came down to Batman to stop it. So we are seeing a new organization called the Colony that is meant to take that concept and multiply it to an army of one-man armies. We're going to see what exactly pits them head-to-head with our core group in Detective as the story moves forward.
Okay. I didn't think you were going to answer me. I was trying to trick you.
Well, you know? You see them at the end of the first issue. I think I can give a little bit of information. There's definitely a lot more to it that I can't say yet.
Yeah, definitely. It is good to know that we're going to start to get some answers. It's not like, "This is going to be a five-year string-along," to find out what's going on. That's cool. I'm more excited.
How much of struggle is it for Batman to admit that he needs help from Batwoman and Tim [Drake]?
That's a really good question, and it's one I sort of sat with a lot. Batman is such a singular force, and he does close himself off. He does hold certain amounts of information and all that, but at the same time he's never struck me as selfish. It doesn't come from the same place of pride when he holds information from a group; it comes from a desire to protect people. He wants to bear the weight of it himself so other people don't have to bear the weight, but when he's not capable of something, I do think he is willing to reach out and ask for help. Particularly in his group. I think he would rather go to Nightwing or Batwoman or Tim, the people he's worked with in the direct family, before he would go to one of the other members of the Justice League, but he is willing to reach out.
That was a big thing that I actually spoke about with Geoff Johns right at the beginning of the development of this project. Everyone always says that Batman's a lone wolf, but literally two years into the creation of Batman they introduced Robin. Ever since then he has had a huge supporting cast all around him. One of the big decisions, right at the start of this book, was making sure that we weren't going down the path of, "This is Batman resisting the idea of having allies." We wanted Batman to be all-in because he knows it is the best way to face what's coming. He is a pragmatist. He does see the landscape. He is overprotective of his people. He wants them to be the best prepared, and he's willing to go to extreme lengths to do that, but he is not someone who's just going to be closed off for no reason.
Where are they going to be operating and training, since obviously it's not going to be in the Batcave?
Honestly, the most fun thing in developing this series has been creating a new secondary Bat-base in Gotham City, which folks will see in issue 935 coming out next week.
Basically I really wanted to create ... It's a real team base. Obviously, you can't have Clayface go into the Batcave. Batman's letting Clayface in, bringing him in as part of the training, but he's also not going to just let him go into the basement of Wayne Manor. That's another step.
So we knew we wanted to create something new and, honestly, that was one of the first ideas. I had a whole three-page document that I sent my editors and my artists about, "This is the Belfry. This is the new Gotham base." Frankly, I hope that this is a new location in Gotham that will be one of the defining locations of Gotham City for the next era of Batman comics. It will be very central to this book. This is the core base of operations, designed by Tim Drake and Batman, for the operations group. It's got lots of weird little surprises. Batman's very utilitarian, but this is designed by Tim, who has a bit more of a flair to him. Every issue from here on out is going to show off a different aspect of how they fight crime using the Belfry in Gotham.
You mentioned Clayface. Is that's something that we'll see, like, "How much can they trust him?" Is that something that they're going to be working with him on?
Oh, yeah. I mean, that's the biggest question. Honestly, I think the question isn't so much, "Is he trustworthy?" now. I think you can take Clayface at his words, that he is there for the reasons he says he's there. The thing is that what we know from his past is that on the worst day of his life, when he went through a horrifying accident that turned him into a monster, he allowed the darkness in him to steer him towards a darker path, or an easier path. The fact that he skewed that way, in that moment, is the thing that... Batman believes that he can do better, and he hopes he can but he might not. He might just be the sort of person who will always take the easy way out, and that's something we're going to see play out as we dig into his story moving forward.
So for now everyone's going to have to not say each other's real names, protect secret identities?
Yes. That is definitely a concern. I think it's more centered around Batman than the individuals in the group. He's working side-by-side with them. He has worked with Batwoman in the past. It's like he has a kind of awareness of them, but it's more the big secret is the connection between Bruce Wayne and Batman. That is not something that's open to negotiation.
What about Tim and Stephanie? Are we're going to see their relationship go further?
Oh, yes. Honestly, one of the big things in this book is I wanted to really dig back into the core relationship between Tim and Steph because that was how I met Stephanie Brown. That's how I fell in love with that character, back in the [Chuck] Dixon Robin series in the '90s. That's where I fell in love with both of those characters, so this is my digging back into the Steph that I really fell in love with as a character. With Batman Eternal, we were able to really introduce her back into the mix, into DC continuity. There really haven't been a lot of big stories with her. She's had small appearances here and there, and those all contribute to the larger picture. One of my primary focuses in this book is giving Steph her place in the larger mythos of Gotham City.
I don't mean to say that as her place is as a partner to Tim Drake, because it's a bigger issue than that. That's not what my goal is at all, but there are things that come out of that relationship, especially at the end of this arc, that really set her in motion. Our second arc, which will start this fall, is going to be a very Spoiler-centric arc. I am very, very excited for that. We have a huge, huge plan for Stephanie Brown, and then also huge plans for Tim Drake in this series. Everyone's just going to have to wait and see what they are.
Are we're going to see others get trained? Where's Harper Row in all this?
You see a little mention of her. At the end of Batman and Robin Eternal, Harper Row sort of said she's taking some time off. She will appear in this book. I've actually already blocked in exactly where her first appearance is in this book, but for the moment the role she's going to play in the series is someone who's stepped away from the crime fighting life, who's still in a very active role and helping people in Gotham City but in her own way.
Harper Row has always been a character who has found her own way to do things, and this is sort of the next step in her story. Harper Row is one of my favorite characters that I've ever had the chance to work on. Fans of the character: "No need to worry, she is a part of that's book moving forward." Even though she is not one of the main cast members, she will be part of the recurring cast.
Okay. Awesome. Sounds great.
Detective Comics #935 is on sale June 22, 2016.