Pulp Classic BLACK BAT Resurrected by Flash Co-Writer

Move over Batman, there’s another detective on the beat.

Exclusive Black Bat

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Earlier this year at New York Comicon, New Jersey-based publisher Dynamite announced that it had enlisted Flash co-writer Brian Buccellato to revive and revamp the classic pulp hero the Black Bat for an all-new comic series scheduled to debut in 2013.

Originally created back in 1933 by William Jenkins (under the pen name of Murray Leinster), Black Bat was a dark vigilante who fought crime under the anonymity of a black cape and cowl. Sound familiar? Created years before Batman, the Black Bat cast a similar shadow to DC’s Batman but underneath the mask was a U.S. District Attorney who was blinded and disfigured by acid.

In this new rendition of the dark detective, Buccellato is taking a second look at the origins and early stories of the Black Bat and finding the essential hero beneath the history and what makes him unique. Plus, we have the exclusive first look at the new designs for Black Bat as drawn by Buccellato himself.

Newsarama: The Black Bat is a major figure in pulp heroes and directly inspired Bob Kane and others in the creation and evolution of Batman, but how do you see Black Bat as a character and a concept?

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Brian Buccellato: He's a classic hero who has all of the pulp hero tropes. The Black Bat readily wields guns, has a trusty sidekick, and uses his affluence to fund a hero's campaign against crime. There is also the archetypal crime boss that he has vowed to take down. Since there are elements that have inspired so many well-known characters, the challenge becomes how does one set him apart from those that followed. Despite built-in familiarity with the character's origin, I believe there is still a lot of places to go with him.

Nrama: In the novels there were several men who took the name Black Bat – who is he in your comic series?

Buccellato: Tony Quinn is our hero. He is still a lawyer, but instead of being a prosecutor, I chose to make him a defense attorney who made questionable life choices that are the springboard for the story.

Nrama: What kind of adventures does Black Bat get into? 

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Black Bat Sketch

Buccellato: Tony's decision to defend guilty criminals with deep pockets takes a turn for the worse when he is asked to cross a clear moral line. The decision to become the Black Bat is an outgrowth from the consequence of those choices.

Nrama: In the pulp novels, Black Bat had a great collection of supporters and confidantes to help him out with what he was going for. Can we expect that here?

Buccellato: I am definitely pulling from his rich supporting cast, including his trusted ally in former criminal Silk Kirby and Carol Baldwin, who plays a major part in his life.

Nrama: Blindness and (feigning it) was a big part of those original Black Bat stories. How are you handling that in this new comic series?

Buccellato: Much of Tony's origin and his blindness remains intact, however I have tweaked it to reflect a more modern take on the character.

Nrama: Will he still be disfigured and blinded by acid? 

 

Buccellato: Spoiler alert... he does NOT have acid thrown in his face while in court. His blindness is caused by the same villain, but done in a different (hopefully more believable) way... a way that leaves him seriously scarred. And just as in the pulp, not only does he regain his sight, but he also acquires the ability to see in the dark. Once Tony regains his sight, he continues to feign blindness so that he can operate as Black Bat without drawing suspicion. I know this has some striking similarities to the Man Without Fear, but I felt it was important to keep this key component of his origin in place.

Nrama: What’s your perspective on Black Bat as a solo character?

Buccellato: My take on Tony is less pure hero and more vigilante looking to pay down a moral debt built up through his selfish choices. Unlike Batman and Daredevil, our Black Bat is in search of redemption... and at the same time he still wrestles with the morality of his decisions. Thematically, I am trying to explore how a vigilante deals with "drawing the line" between heroism and vengeance. This is a dramatic departure from the almost simplistic hero he was in the original pulps, but I felt it was a necessary change to make him someone I wanted to write.

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