Grant Morrison: The Batman and Robin to Come
Dan DiDio: 20 Answers, 1 Question
Grant Morrison: It’s different because Batman is a different person under the cowl. I don’t want to stray too far from what makes the character successful, so this has all the action, adventure and excitement you’d expect from a Batman book, although with perhaps a slightly more upbeat tone than we’ve seen for a while. The darks are very dark, but the light is neon-bright. It’s always important to remember that Gotham isn’t some derelict hellhole, it’s the most larger-than-life, exciting city in the world. It has to be like New York plus or no-one would want to live there, so we’re emphasizing the excitement and color and buzz of the place, as well as its more familiar gloomy and gargoyle-y shadows. Gotham is where Crime becomes Art, after all. NRAMA: With Batman RIP, you deconstructed Batman down to his absolute core, similar to his arc in 52. Now, obviously there's a while before Bruce Wayne comes back, but you do have this rebirth of Batman and Robin in the new series. Aside from what we've seen in Battle for the Cowl, what is the status quo we're looking at for the new series? GM: The status quo is fiendishly simple: The ex-Robin is now Batman and Batman’s evil son is now Robin. They’re based at Wayne Tower in Gotham City’s midtown, and use the subterranean Bat-Bunker as a base of operations rather than the Batcave. And they have a flying Batmobile, as well as lots of other new vehicles and gadgets. Their mission, however, is the same as it’s always been - protect the innocent and rid the streets of weird criminal scum. NRAMA: Dick Grayson as Batman was briefly done in 1994, with the moral of that story being that Dick felt better off being his own man and forging his own legacy. What is your take on Dick as Batman? He knows Bruce better than perhaps anyone (well, maybe not Alfred), but at the same time, there is a sense that he's playing a role, rather than being the Bat Bruce was. What is your take on Dick in this role? GM: A lot of the first arc is about how Dick responds to “playing the role”, as you say. I think he’d much rather be Nightwing, ultimately, but he’s known all his life that if anything ever happened to Bruce, this is what he‘d have to do. In the Prodigal storyline, Dick knew Batman was still alive and determined to recover, but this time, he has convincing evidence that Bruce is dead, which makes it all a bit more serious. Dick Grayson knows Batman is more important than Nightwing in the long run and, quite simply, he doesn’t want anyone tarnishing the legacy of Batman - especially not Jason Todd.
The name ‘Professor Pyg’ comes from “Pygmalism,” a Kahimi Karie song written by Momus (who also has a song entitled “Three Devils” which, quite coincidentally, is the name of a group of Batman foes from the 1940s). “Pyg”, short for “Pygmalion,” refers to George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, which was turned into the musical film My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn.
I know Frazer Irving’s coming on to do an arc and I’m very excited about working with him again. I’ve been dreaming of how the Frazer Irving Batman could look since we first worked together.NRAMA: There have been some classic Bat-foes reinvented the last few years -- Gail Simone has made Cat-Man a player, for example. Are there any oddball Bat-villains you'd like to remold, such as Dr. Double X or the Signalman? Dare I ask, the KGBeast? GM: I’m doing a bit of a reinvention on the Red Hood but that’s about it. Didn’t James Robinson kill the KGBeast ? (I like names like that - the CIAlien, the FBIdol, the PTApe…) NRAMA: Well, the Beast’s head was seen floating around in a jar in Nightwing, so his self-dismembering menace could always return…! For that matter, you brought to light some forgotten classics of Bat-lore with The Black Casebook. Any other eras of Bat-history you'll be drawing from for this story, or are there any periods of Batman stories that you feel have been unfairly neglected? GM: Not so much with this one. We’ve borrowed and updated the Pop Art sensibility and the self-aware sound effects from the ‘60s TV sho, but other than that, these stories don’t refer much to the past. They don’t rely on any knowledge of anything more than the cultural basics of Batman and Robin. This run is quite different in tone from RIP and is not as somber or gothic. It’s more like a bad trip on a funhouse ride, I like to think. NRAMA: What can you tell us about your arcs on the series? GM: Geoff Johns and I were talking last year about the unstoppable popularity of “event” comics, and we decided the only way forward in this Darwinian scenario was to make every story arc an “event” of its own - then make every page, every panel an event!!!! - until all comics explode on contact with human flesh, pulsing with the sheer radiant energy of their own importance! Batman and Robin is an attempt by my artistic collaborators and myself to realize that dreadful dream. The “Batman Reborn” opener introduces the new Batman and Robin team as in a first movie. The second is “Revenge of the Red Hood.” The third one deals with the mystery of what happened to Bruce Wayne, and it‘s our big DCU superhero team-up arc, including a visit from Batwoman and a return for Squire and Knight. As for the final arc of the year… NRAMA: You've spoken of your enjoyment of The Dark Kmight, which has helped shape the perception of Batman for many audiences. Yet, it's also a more "real-world" take on Batman, contrasting the mythological figures with a "how could someone realistically be a superhero?" type of story. This is somewhat in contrast to your most recent run on Batman, where you're embracing more fantastic elements, ranging from Man-Bats to Bat-Mite. This is all a rather long-winded way of asking if The Dark Knight has influenced your take on the Batman comic, or if you're going in another direction (or perhaps embracing aspects of the film, but applying them to a different, more fantastic aesthetic). GM: I’ve been influenced by all the different takes on Batman. As far as I’m concerned, RIP wasn’t too far in tone from the recent Batman movies. Even Man-Bat could fit into the Christopher Nolan world, and although I used Bat-Mite, it was pretty clear he was being deployed in a very different context from any of the more openly “magical” Batman stories of the 1950s. By making some of these alien worlds and impossible creatures into drug hallucinations or products of abnormal psychology, I was actually trying to bring an entire rejected era back into canon ,and ground Batman’s ‘50s world in a more emotionally believable place a la The Dark Knight. Otherwise, I know I’m often wasting my breath and electronic ink saying this, but the “real-world” is a pretty weird place where lots of inexplicable things happen all the time, and I like to catch the flavor of that too. It just seems more modern and authentic to me as a storyteller. The “real world” doesn’t come with the neat thee-act structures and resolutions we love to impose on it, and if repeated doses of movie and TV-storytelling have convinced anyone that it does, it‘s time to get out and about a bit. The real world is filled with ghost stories, non sequiturs, inexplicable mysteries, dead ends and absurdities, and I think it’s cool to season our comfortable fictions with at least a little taste of what actual reality is like. NRAMA: Tells us about some of your upcoming projects – many readers are particularly interested in Multiversity. GM: I don’t want to say anymore about The Multiversity until nearer the release date - way off in 2010, where they made that film. I’m currently wrapping up issue 5 – “Captain Marvel and The Day That Never Was!” - but beyond that last word, my lips are sealed until next year! NRAMA: Any final words for our readers on Batman and Robin? GM: I’d just like to thank all the enthusiastic readers who’ve helped make the Batman titles some of the most successful I’ve ever worked on. Thanks for supporting the books ,and hope you enjoy the upcoming madness. The advance orders for Batman and Robin have been DC’s highest in years and the Batman RIP hardcover has been floating with the creamy bits at the top of the New York Times graphic novel hardcover bestseller list since March 2009. Every-bloody-body loves Batman! Oh, and at the opposite end of the popularity scale, check out Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye!, my Vertigo book. It’s got a reputation for being “weird,” and since “weird” is apparently the worst thing a superhero comic can possibly be these days, it’s flying so far under the radar it‘s like black ops. If you sometimes tire of the usual amusements, and yearn for a dark, satirical Philip K. Dick-ish/Prisoner-ish take on superheroes and life as we know it, with astonishingly good artwork by Cameron Stewart, theme parks in ruins and cartoon characters on fire, then there’s really only one comic that can satisfy your need, and Praise the Almighty, it‘s here! That’s S.E.A.G.U.Y. Seaguy. You have been plugged. Batman and Robin (not to mention Seaguy) can be found in comic shops now.