As one of DC's more active writers, Ray Fawkes is no stranger to working in multi-title teams. But beginning this spring, he'll get a whole new experience as one of the scribes for the Batman: Eternal weekly — giving Batwing a new role… and a new supernatural partner.
So far, writers have told Newsarama about the roles played in the weekly by Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown, as well as an adventurous Batgirl.
Now Fawkes has revealed to Newsarama that he'll be giving Batwing a spotlight, and describes a mysterious new partner he'll get in the weekly. Fawkes, who also writes Constantine and Trinity of War: Pandora, said his part of the Eternal story will lean toward the horror of Gotham City.
In the first installment of our discussion with Fawkes, Newsarama talked to the writer about his involvement in Batman: Eternal.
Newsarama: Ray, I've spoken to a couple of the other writers on Batman: Eternal. I know you guys can't say much about what's coming, because it doesn't start until April or later, so let's just back up and talk about your involvement in the series. What was the process of you getting involved? When did you first hear about the project?
Ray Fawkes: The first time I heard about the weekly was at the same time they presented me with what the story was going to be about. They showed me the outline of the overall, top-down view, and they asked me if I wanted to be part of it.
I was totally excited. The story idea sounded amazing. They had created this really huge idea that allowed for different styles of authors to explore different parts of Gotham as this really exciting story unfolds. So I was totally into it from the first moment.
Nrama: I talked to James, and I talked to Tim Seeley about the genres they're exploring. Are you coming at it from a certain genre or a certain angle?
Fawkes: We're fleshing out the different parts of Gotham and trying to bring them to life in this weekly, and I think readers of my work know that I have a bit of a morbid sensibility, so I'm approaching it from the horror angle of Gotham City, the nightmare angle. So there's a lot of darkness in the parts of the story that I'm contributing to, and some of the aspects of the city that I'm helping to bring to life are perhaps some of the less cheerful ones.
Nrama: It's interesting to hear you talk about "the parts of the story I'm contributing to." I haven't really gotten a sense yet about how you guys are combining your stories. Are you each taking a few issues? Or are you working together each week? Can you talk to the structure part of it yet?
Fawkes: We're absolutely working together on this. We each kind of take point on different aspects of the story. When we're dealing with a part of the story where James is taking the lead, then the rest of us are each contributing our part. And then when I take over a chapter, and I take the lead on it, then the rest of the guys are putting their part in.
But you can see the flavor of each writer's domain within the story, when we take point on things.
So yeah, there's different feelings and different styles that come forward and then recede.
Because the setting is so huge, and because the Batman family is so diverse, you can have all these things side-by-side; you can have action and science fiction and horror and mystery and crime drama and all this stuff. It all comes together in this — I think — pretty awesome, synergistic whole.
Nrama: How is it different for you to write for a weekly? Compared to a monthly?
Fawkes: Well, I mean, it's a lot more work, because we all have to keep abreast of what everyone is doing, and we have to make sure everything is flowing. We're aware that readers are getting this week-by-week, and it may mean, perhaps, not quite as much recap, because there's not so much time between the chapters that they read. But it also means keeping all these threads alive. If a reader is reading one week and we switch to another viewpoint, we can't let them get lost. We need them to still have been carried along with the story lines, to understand (when they switch from one to the next) what's going on.
Nrama: How is this also a celebration of Batman? It's for the 75th anniversary, right? And there's an effort to not only look back, but make things exciting for the future?
Fawkes: Yeah, totally. When we had one of our initial meetings, we just sat down and talked about the different things that we all love about Batman and the Batman family. And of course, while there were some things where we all met in the middle, we all had something different to say.
So yeah, there's so much to him and to his mythos, and the mythos of the whole family. We all wanted to bring it all to the forward.
Readers are going to see new characters come into play. They're going to see semi-forgotten characters that we brought back because we're excited about them.
And I know on the teaser, there are a couple of unidentified characters — some of those characters may be new. I definitely know that one of them is an old character that has been remained for the New 52.
So there was a lot of discussion about, you know, these are the things we love about the Batman family: How can we celebrate it? How can we bring it to the page in a way the readers will really enjoy?
Nrama: James specifically told readers that he's working with Tim Drake and is re-introducing Stephanie Brown. And Tim Seeley said his story involves Batgirl quite a bit. So… you're kind of in a corner now, because you have to spill on what Bat-character — or characters — get the spotlight in your part of the story? Is there a certain person you can tease?
Fawkes: Aahhh… let me see now. Well, I can say that the main part of the story that I'm dealing with focuses on Batwing.
And he has a very surprising supernatural partner.
But I don't think I want to say who that is just yet.
Nrama: That makes sense, because when you said Batwing, I was honestly surprised. When I think of Ray Fawkes, or even "horror" genre, I think of DC's supernatural characters. So I didn't expect Batwing.
Fawkes: No. The thing is, Batwing is a highly technological hero. He's very science-based.
So we thought it would be very cool to present him with some of the supernatural elements of Gotham.
But yeah, he's going to have a partner in his part of the story who is a supernatural character. But I don't want to give away who it is yet, because I think it will be an awesome surprise.
Nrama: Before we switch to discussing your work on the "Forever Evil: Blight" crossover, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Batman: Eternal?
Fawkes: I think I don't want to say much more. I think this is a thing where we're going to need the fans to find out a lot of this stuff when it's unfolding in the book, because there are going to be so many surprises and shocks — and some laughs too. I don't want to give any of it away.
Check back soon with Newsarama for more from Ray Fawkes, as he discusses the "Forever Evil: Blight" storyline that's now happening in his other DC titles.