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Tom King on Taking Over BATMAN and How Creepy Things Will Get

What and who can we expect in the Rebirth issue and new Batman series?

Back in March, DC Comics announced the details for Rebirth, including the new creative teams for the titles. We spoke to Tom King about taking over the series from Scott Snyder. You can watch that interview here.

Now that some time has passed since the announcement and the release of the new books looming, we spoke to King once again to get more details on the Rebirth issue and new #1.

Comic Vine: Now that the announcement of you taking over Batman has sunk in, and you've working on it for a little, how are you feeling about it all?

Cover by Mikel Janin.
Cover by Mikel Janin.

Tom King: I'm nervous, I'm excited, I'm scared, I'm happy, I'm crying, I'm laughing…I'm basically living the life everyone lives everyday, you know? I have a ton of emotions about it. I'm insanely proud about the material both in this Rebirth issue and what's coming up in Batman #1. I think we're doing something special, and I think we're honoring the best running comic that Scott [Snyder] and Greg [Capullo] just put together. I'm super-scared because this is a big stage and a character I love. I want to do both the stage and the character right. You have to be scared otherwise you're not doing it right.

What can you tell us about how you're going to start things off?

The whole thing kicks off with Rebirth #1, which is this big issue Scott and I worked on together. We've been working on this issue for months when we found out he was moving on to what became his All-Star Batman. We wanted to do something that sort of symbolized both the transition of Batman moving from one era to another and it going between Scott and I. We wanted to do a story that was both about Batman and that transition. It starts with Rebirth #1 which is about Calendar Man. It's about the idea of the scariest thing in the world isn't a joke or a riddle but a calendar. It's the idea that days pass. Sometimes those days end or alternatively, the days pass and they're all the same days. Both those things are horribly frightening. That's what you're facing if you're in a Batman comic. You either look at it as the end of the Scott/Greg era or you look at is as a Rebirth. There's also another side to it. It's exciting. It's about renewal. That's what life is because it has that calendar aspect. That all takes place in Rebirth #1. Plus there's a lot of punching and half-naked Bruce.

How would you describe the tone of your Batman series?

I think I'm starting off with a Batman who is comfortable with himself. I take inspiration, my guys are Alan Moore and Frank Miller. I think they wrote some fantastic comics. But this Batman, he's not that dark. He's not in a bad place. He trusts himself, and he trusts his team. He trusts Alfred, and he trusts Duke Thomas who is in the cave with him now. He trusts his partners who are going to be featured in Detective Comics. He's stronger than he's ever been. All that put together, we're going to ask, if Batman's at his best, is that enough? He's still a man. He's still a human. He can't stop an asteroid from crashing into the Earth. If a train leaps the tracks and is about to go into a bunch of people, Batman can't just jump over and lift it into the air. I think that will be the central question. If you have a Batman that's confident, that's good. Is that enough to save Gotham City?

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What sort of coordination are all of you doing? In the past year, DC focused on the stories and kind of took things in different…I don't want to say continuities…

No, no, you can say it.

With you doing two books a month and other titles doing the same thing and sharing characters, is there going to be a lot of coordination or will you each focus on your own stories?

To me, it almost like the Marvel Bullpen kind of feel. It's like that early 60s feel with those first eight Marvel titles. I know it was actually this way, but it's how I always imagined it. It was just a bunch of friends making comics together. Because they were together, they could go, "Hey, are you using that guy? I'm using this guy. I can make your story better, and you can make my story better. Let's share scripts, and swap them back and forth." That's what the Bat-office is now. In a sense, that's what DC Comics is becoming.

Continuity, I think a lot of people scoff at it. "Oh that's so stupid. Story is more important than continuity." To me, continuity is the heart of comic books. That's what makes it real. If you're not telling a story that stands on the shoulders of the giants before you, it's not real. You're just writing into the air. That stuff is very important to me, that sort of coordination. We have to make sure that the Batman in this book is the Batman that lives in the DC Universe. He's the Batman that is a member of the JLA. He's the Batman who is leading a team of superheroes in Detective Comics. He's the Batman who has to face all the villains and everything coming up in Scott's All-Star Batman. All that stuff affects him and affects my book.

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With the schedule, are you looking forward to have the ability to tell two stories a month or is that "more work"?

[Laughs] Any time someone says you get to write another issue of Batman, you look forward to it. So if they say, you get to write twice as many issues of Batman, it's a good thing. I feel the challenge goes up, in terms of cliffhangers and stuff. Since I got into this industry, I came in two or three years ago, it was just when the TV shows were just starting to blossom into what it's become. The idea of shows like Game of Thrones, The Wire, and Breaking Bad where every week is an event for those shows. Every week takes your breath away. You have to come away from it and go,"Did you see what just happened? Let's go write about it. Let's blog about it." That's what comics have to be. Working on a two-week, it just reinforces that. I want to compete with television. Game of Thrones is one once a week, but come the next day, I'm hungry for it again. I want Batman to be that way too. By the time you get to two weeks, you should be itching. It shouldn't be, "Oh my god, another Batman book? I didn't want that." It should be, "I need that next Batman!" That has to be the attitude.

Do you think it's going to change your storytelling compared to what you've been doing on Grayson or Vision because you can make things happen a lot faster?

I don't know. It should change my storytelling, but I don't think I know how to change my storytelling. I do the same thing on those comics that I do on this one. I think you are who you are when you write. I'm not sure if it's going to change. We have a great schedule worked out. What I'm basically doing is, over the year that's coming, the 24 issues, you're going to get like a trilogy of comics. As if you're watching three different movies, they're all linked together, but all have a beginning, middle, and end. So the first one is David Finch and I. The second will be Mikel Janin and I. The third will be David Finch coming back. If I just think of it that way, I'm just writing this trilogy of comics. I focus on that and not the two-week thing. I want to make it as good as it can be.

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Will things ever get as dark and creepy and slightly disturbing as they are in Vision [at Marvel]?

[Laughs] Yes. Yes they will. [Laughs] The thing with Vision, he was a nice happy character that I did this horribly dark and disturbing thing to. Now they've given me the character who lives in the darkest soul of the DC Universe. That said, I think what makes Batman good is and what I think this run is about is he can experience that. He can go into that darkness and come out of it. I'm going to try to get into why that is. Even though there's going to be dark and horrible, there's this man with this indelible will that's based on the death of his parents. It's a sad story. Underneath all of that, inside Batman, there is some sort of hope, you know? There is some sort of optimism. There is some sort of idea that the good guy is going to win at the end of the day, and that good guy is Batman. This is not the Punisher. He's the good guy of this story. He's the man who, when you're down, picks you up and hits the guy who hit you.

That's good. That's all the questions I have…for now!

Thanks man. "For now," right. I'll be back.

Batman: Rebirth #1, with art by Mikel Janin, is on sale June 1. Batman #1, with art by David Finch, is on sale June 15.