GUGGENHEIM Explores Why BATMAN Donned a Cowl, Joined the JLA
Beginning in November, readers will find out why a lone hero like Batman would wear a costume and join the Justice League.
Writer Marc Guggenheim brings the story to the Batman Confidential title with the help of artist Jerry Bingham, best known for his work on Batman: Son of the Demon. The five-issue tale, which flashes back to different eras in Batman's early career, will also feature Bingham using a variety of artistic techniques to illustrate the many timelines.
While it may seem that Guggenheim is writing multiple titles for DC right now, since he's also taking over Justice Society of America in October. But the writer actually penned the Batman Confidential story years ago, when his comic career was just starting.
These days, Guggenheim is not only experienced in writing comic books like Amazing Spider-Man and The Flash, but he's also co-writer of the upcoming Green Lantern film starring Ryan Reynolds. And Guggenheim has a few other projects going right now, including work as consulting producer on the superpowered family television show No Ordinary Family and a co-writing gig on movie treatments for The Flash and Green Lantern 2.
Now that this unique Batman Confidential story is finally hitting print, Newsarama talked with the writer to find out more about the story.
Newsarama: Marc, is this something you just wrote, or did you write this a while ago?
Marc Guggenheim: This is something I wrote a very long time ago. This is my third comic book story I ever wrote. I like to say it's for all my readers who think my older stuff is better.
Nrama: Was this written before you did The Flash?
Guggenheim: Yeah, this was written when I was on a show called Injustice, and it was written right after my Aquaman two-parter had been published. Believe it or not, I have a longer gestating project for Marvel, a Punisher story, that was actually written before Batman Confidential. But this one has been there awhile. I was teasing Mike Carlin for the longest time that if he didn't publish it this year, I was going to re-title it Teen Titans: Games.
Nrama: And the solicitation says this is a younger, more "maverick" Batman?
Guggenheim: Yeah. Back when I wrote the story, Batman Confidential was literally starting publication. And this is one of the very first arcs commissioned for the book. The mission statement for the book was stories from Batman's seminal moments.
I had always been intrigued by the notion of why a character like Batman joins the Justice League.
I'm of the opinion that, if you didn't have Batman being such a big commercial success, he wouldn't be a member of the Justice League. He's on that team because of marketing. But his nature is to be a loner. He's not the type to join a team.
So I get a lot of ideas from having a question like that and trying to answer it. So I tried to come up with a story that would help me explain to myself why Batman would join a team of superheroes.
I don't want to spoil the answer too much, but it struck me that the explanation would have something to do with the fact that there would be things that even Batman alone couldn't fight, couldn't stop. So I came up with a story that basically put Batman in conflict with a character that he couldn't beat by himself.
One of the other things that evolved as I wrote this story was, well, why does Batman even dress up in a costume? Because the truth of the matter is, yes, we know that he's taken on this mission to strike terror into the hearts of criminals, but there are other ways of doing that without a chest symbol, or the earlier iterations of his costume, which were much more superhero in nature. What are the origins of that?
So this story tries to provide insight into why Batman has so many superhero trappings -- the costume, the membership in a super team, and things of that nature.
It was fun to do. To me, it was a fun question to explore.
Nrama: And there's a lost tale of the JLA? Is that part of the story?
Guggenheim: It is! It may very well be the 22 comic book pages that I'm most proud of.
Originally, when we had talked about doing the story, we talked about it being 5 issues of Batman Confidential and one issue of JLA Classified, because Mike Carlin, the editor, felt, very correctly, that because this story invokes the story of the JLA, it would be nice if there were some sort of JLA presence.
So I did a JLA story set during the Silver Age, but to do the entire issue as if it was a Silver Age issue. So the writing style, the narrative style, the art, the coloring, the lettering -- every element of the comic is our attempt to pay homage to that era of the Justice League's publication.
I approached it with a lot of trepidation. This was early in my comic career, and I was concerned about how I was going to pull off the voice of the Silver Age. But it was great fun.
One of the things I found most satisfying was to see how the other people who came after me, Jerry Bingham, the artist, and the letterer and the colorist, and seeing how everyone got into the spirit of it. For example, Jerry adapted his style to match the Silver Age, even down to the panel layouts.
I think one of the things that will be fun about Batman Confidential #50 is that you'll get everyone writing and producing and creating from a 21st Century perspective, but then the next 22 pages, it's all the same people doing their best to channel the Silver Age.
Nrama: How was it working with Jerry?
Guggenheim: When I wrote it, I didn't know Jerry would be the artist. When Mike Carlin told me, it was like a dream come true. Batman: Son of the Demon is one of my all-time favorite Batman stories. And Jerry is one of the all-time great Batman artists.
If I have any regret at all, it's that if I'd known Jerry would be drawing it, I wouldn't have set half the story in Bruce Wayne's pre-Batman past. The story takes place in different time frames: It takes place in year three of Batman's career, but also in that period when Bruce Wayne was in Asia, learning how to be the Batman.
Jerry draws such an amazing Batman in costume that it more than makes up for the lack of a Batman costume in segments of the story. All the "flashback" sequences, all the moments with Bruce Wayne in Asia, Jerry painted. So the book has this really amazing and unique look to it, with Jerry penciling and inking the "Year Three" portions of the story, but painting the Asia portions of the story.
What makes that even cooler is that the time frames shift within panels, and within the same page. So you've got on the same page, the pencils and inks, and the paintings. So the visual look of the book is incredibly unique, and I'm in awe of how Jerry pulled it off.