June 1’s Batman Rebirth #1 by writers Tom King and Scott Snyder and artist Mikel Janin will not only kick off DC's new approach to Batman, but will introduce new elements to the Batman mythology - including a new role for Duke Thomas and a return to some of the classic aspects of Batman's world.
King, who's best known to DC fans for his revamp of Dick Grayson as co-writer of Grayson, will re-launch the Batman title on two weeks after the Batman Rebirth issue, working with rotating artists David Finch and Mikel Janín as the comic book ships twice a month.
According to King, Finch will draw Batman’s first arc, with Janín drawing the second arc — all as part of a year-long trilogy.
Snyder, who has been on the Batman title since the last time it relaunched in 2011, will be working with a list of superstar artists on a new Batman title, All-Star Batman, which launches in August.
Both writers emphasized that Snyder's All-Star Batman is in continuity, and King went one step further and said that not only is it "not some side project" but "it's the center of the Batman universe."
The pair are working together to coordinate the events in Batman and All-Star Batman, and also hinted that readers would see the Bat-writers doing coordinated stories in the future. As Snyder said, Bat-office writers would be "doing some storytelling together in ways that will fun."
For their co-written Batman Rebirth issue, the pair are revamping the Batman villain Calendar Man. Newsarama talked to Snyder and King to find out more.
Newsarama: Tom and Scott, I feel like this issue is — not to be too cliché — passing the baton on the Batman relay. Is that what this issue represents? Or is it more that you both had an idea and wanted to co-write?
Scott Snyder: I had kidded around that my original plan was just to leave everybody dead for Tom, and just be like, here you go! Have Batman and everyone just totally dead.
Tom King: [Laughs.] It would be just, like, Commissioner Gordon.
Snyder: Yeah, Commissioner Gordon and Leslie Thompkins. That would be it. It would be, like, go! [Laughs.] It would be the best hand-off.
King: Leslie Thompkins as Robin.
Snyder: It would be the opposite of "Rebirth," where it's just death everywhere.
No, but it really is the passing of the torch. I was incredibly honored to take the main series pretty much — not exactly directly — but to take the flagship sort of from Grant Morrison when I first came on. Our writing is very different and all that stuff, but the thing I love about Grant's work, always — I'm a huge admirer of his — is his daring and his visionary energy.
And we tried to do our own version of that on the book. And one thing I know, having become friends with Tom over the last year, and really, before we even knew there'd ever be a Rebirth or there'd be a switching of books or any of that stuff, I wasn't sure if I would just take some time off or what, that his writing is in that spirit entirely, from Sheriff of Babylon and Omega Men and everything I read by him. It's really uncompromising and personal. And that's what I knew he'd bring to Batman.
When we started looking for someone to take the series, he was certainly at the top of my list. He is, to me, the best writer in comics right now, hands down.
So it's the passing of the torch in the way that his ideas and what he's going to do with the character will be really his own, and yet at the same time, I do feel like he's a great spiritual successor for the book, in the way that I know he's going to try stuff that's daring and personal. And that's what we tried to do, in some way at least, while we were on it.
And I'm so excited for fans, because the series couldn't be in better hands with this guy.
Nrama: Tom, do you want to add anything about taking that baton? Or do you just want to bask in the glory for a minute after those praises?
King: Yeah, no, I'm just basking. I'm just sitting here being like, yeah, yeah, totally agree with all that. I rock.
Snyder: He just owes me 20 bucks later.
King: That's how cheap you are, is a 20.
Snyder: Right. I'm super cheap.
King: I just have to name a lot of things in Gotham after him. Like, every other street is Snyder Avenue, Snyder Street, Snyder Boulevard.
King: In slightly more seriousness, it's very intimidating. Taking over from what I would consider to be the best Batman run of all time, that could overwhelm me, and I could say, "I just can't do that." I mean, I had friends who were calling me and saying, "Don't do it!" You know, "let someone else fail, then you come in five years later."
But what made it possible was that Scott has reached out to me and said, let's do this as friends, and let's do this together. And he's still going to be in the Bat-universe writing this insanely great All-Star Batman thing. He's like, let's take this character, who's at the center of American pop culture, and together raise him up and make him even better than he's ever been.
I was like, “Yeah, OK. If you're in, I'm in.” He's like, “I'm in.”
Nrama: So this one issue you're co-writing, who came up with the idea? Is it a segue between one run and the other?
Snyder: I asked Tom if he wanted to co-write Batman #52 originally, before there was a Rebirth. I thought it would be a fun way to pass the torch, to do it in the main series.
And then when Rebirth came along and we realized there'd be these issues, we thought it would be even more perfect to kind of do it here.
So we always planned on doing some kind of co-writing to sort of turn the wheel a bit and hand the series from one person to the next.
But I think it got really exciting when we talked about the ideas for the issue and the different options. You know, one option is to just go really bombastic and make it something that would be like, "and coming up in All-Star and coming up in Batman!" And we both opted not to do that, and instead to try to show that we have priorities that are really about showing the fans in this issue that there are some new elements in the mythology that should really excite them — like Duke Thomas and his role coming up — but Tom also wanted to show very much, I think, that a lot of the classic elements are back in cool ways, stronger than ever — the Cave, Alfred, the money, the gadgets, Batman himself.
And so we really had the same idea. You know, we had this idea that we could do bombastic and use Calendar Man and reinvent that character and give all the fun to the blockbuster thing, or do something a little more poetic that isn't just a hook for our series, but instead says, "You have two writers here that have similar priorities for this character and for the fans, that want to show not so much that we need to hook you to get you to come back by plot devices, but instead say we want to show you how much we love this character, and how we think about him, and hopefully that's enough to get you to come back."
And Tom had the best idea for Calendar Man ever, by the way. And I was super into it. I'm giving him credit where it's due even though I would be happy to take credit for it, because it's so good. But it was totally his. He had a take for Calendar Man that just got me so excited about it, and I was like, “This is going to be really fun.”
King: And for me, it was a straight Ghostbuster moment, like, when someone asks you to be god, you say “Yes.” When Scott Snyder asks you to co-write an issue of Batman, you say yes. You find a way to make it happen.
And then when we started talking about all these themes. And if you know my work, I love one-and-dones, and I think so much can be done with them. And Scott feels the same way. And the chance to build one of those together, and have the theme of that issue be this idea of adventures that never end, and yet they always have to end — and that sort of contradiction creating the irony of the story.
And that's what a calendar is — it's both the optimism of something coming and the pessimism of knowing that something's going to finally end someday.
Nrama: So do you feel like this issue kicks off or sets the tone for your run? Or do people really need to look toward your Batman #1 for that?
King: For me, Batman #1 is such a collaborative effort with what Dave Finch and Jordie Bellaire and John Workman are all doing together, that they're creating a tone and a Gotham that hopefully people haven't seen before, that builds on the past but also takes it to a new place.
I think this builds into it, this sets the stage. But I don't think it's the same thing, just because, what Batman #1 is, it's so much Dave and Jordie and John that I can't say it sets the tone.
Nrama: Since you two are working so closely, and you both have the new Batman series launching this summer — and knowing that editors are usually tasked with coordinating such things — is there even more coordination between your books because you talk to each other so much? Like, do you say between the two of you, "OK, I'm using this villain, and you're using that one?" Both Batman and All-Star Batman are in continuity, so you have to talk about those things, right?
Snyder: Yeah, we definitely do that stuff. We were joking earlier that, you know, I'm like, “I have Two-Face, you have Firebug,” or whatever, and I feel guilty because I scooped up — I had a plan to use some of the classic villains for a while. But then, there are a lot that I'm not using that are some of the biggest, that Tom's going to be using in all kinds of great ways.
But it runs deeper than that, I think, in that we're certainly collaborating in terms of the Bat-line, and I think there's stuff that isn't announced yet that will be a lot of fun for people, where all the writers have stuff lined up, doing some storytelling together in ways that will fun.
But in terms of collaborating with Tom, I called him yesterday just to run stuff by him and to commiserate about stress when it comes to new projects, and all kinds of stuff outside of Batman entirely.
I show him everything that I write. And he's been showing me all of his scripts. But we talk writing, we talk character, we talk as friends a lot. So it is very much a collaboration in that regard.
His series will be completely his own and singular and wonderful for that. And hopefully, All-Star Batman will be singular as well.
I love that we have an equal collaboration as we do, meaning, like, it extends beyond Batman. He's one of my very close friends at this point. And on top of that, as a creative partner, he's a writer I admire and look up to and share everything with.
I could point to places in Batman #48, #49, #50, #51 where Tom has suggestions that I took. I restructured part of #50 based on the advice he gave me. You know what I mean.
So it's a collaboration that's very deep, I think, in a meaningful way that goes beyond just continuity.
King: Yeah, to me, the Bat-office, and especially Scott and I, I feel like we're what the Marvel bullpen was supposed to be (and apparently wasn't, but what I thought it was when I was a kid) — that idea of just a bunch of friends that bounce ideas off each other and laugh and joke and know each other’s spouses and just share this very unique experience.
I mean, there's so few professional comic book writers. It's ridiculous. It's less than professional athletes. We know we're in this together, and we can go forward together, and I think that's the strength of the entire line.
And you'll start seeing that and how tightly we're working together and how tightly our universe ties together, both thematically and in terms of, you know, who's using who.
Nrama: Let's talk about who's drawing Batman: Rebirth #1. Is it Mikel?
King: Yeah, Mikel Janín, who I worked with in Grayson and who is going to do the second arc on Batman — the second part of what's going to be a year-long trilogy, is handling the art, and it's gorgeous. I know everyone's going to say that about their artist.
Nrama: I think everyone can agree that Mikel's work on Grayson was exceptionally good.
King: You know, Scott and I, we had an ongoing competition over who could have the sexiest character, because he had Bruce and I had Dick. Now I feel like I've switched sides. So super-sexy Bruce, we're putting right at the center of Rebirth.
Snyder: In his part of the script, he's like, "Mikel, this is me. Super-sexy Bruce doing a handstand." Literally. And I was like, you really need to say this is you? I'm like, everyone knows this is you! You wrote, like, the sexiest character in comics and like killed it! Like, did the best job.
So anytime Bruce shows up looking awesome, it's obvious it's you.
I tried. I fought that losing battle for years. It was because I took Dick Grayson for granted, because I had him when I was with Jock and Francesco, and everyone was always like, "more chest shots! More butt shots!" And I was like, "this is a very serious book!" You know what I mean? And I never did it. And I totally missed my opportunity.
And then I got on Bruce, and I was like, hey! Shirtless Bruce! And it was like crickets. And I've always been chasing that ghost.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Batman: Rebirth or your collaboration on Batman starting this summer?
Snyder: I'd just like to say to anybody out there that likes Batman remotely, or does not like Batman, please go pick up Tom and David and Jordie's run. He's got terrific ideas. The series couldn't be in better hands. Anyone who likes the character remotely will be very, very proud. And I'm very proud to be writing with him. I just would like fans to go out and make their Batman run as successful or more successful as we were on the book.
King: And since he's shilling for me, I've got to shill for him. All-Star Batman is not some side project. It's the center of the Batman universe. And I've read the first issue, and it's astounding. And I think it's going to be the defining Batman story for quite some time. And it's in continuity.
Snyder: It is! When we get closer to August, I'll be singing that tune a lot. It's in continuity! But it'll be fun. We've got a lot of fun stuff coming up.