As DC announced on Monday, when Bruce Wayne returns from his presumed death in November, there will be two Batmen in the DCU.
Beginning that month, two Batman comics will feature Bruce Wayne in the lead role: Batman Inc. by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette, and Batman: The Dark Knight by writer/artist David Finch.
Meanwhile, three comics will feature Dick Grayson in the lead role: Batman by writer/artist Tony Daniel, Detective Comics by Scott Snyder and Jock, and Batman & Robin by Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason.
Bruce Wayne has been absent from the Batman role since early 2009, when he was presumably killed within the pages of Morrison's Final Crisis. But readers soon found out the hero wasn't actually dead, but jumping through time. Morrison has been telling the story of how he gets back to the current DCU within the mini-series, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne.
In the meantime, Batman's former sidekick, Dick Grayson, has taken on the mantle of Batman. And according to DC, he'll stay in that role alongside his former mentor and adopted father when he returns.
Newsarama talked with DC editor Mike Marts about the line-up in November and what readers can expect from a universe with two Batmen.
Newsarama: Mike, was this idea to have two Batmen something Grant conceived?
Mike Marts: Yeah. Like most of the big things we've been doing with the Batman group over the last few years, most of the big ideas are coming from Grant Morrison's direction. And that includes this idea of more than one Batman that we're rolling out.
Nrama: Since their costumes are a little different, are they two different Batmen in public? Can people within the DCU tell there are two different Batmen?
Marts: That's not quite revealed yet. That's something that will become apparent in the first few issues of our Batman Inc. in November.
Nrama: Can you tell us anything about what this means to Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne as individuals?
Marts: That's something the two of them are going to have to figure out themselves. But it will definitely require a re-examining of their individual roles as heroes. And also what the whole concept and idea of Batman means to not only Gotham City, but the world as well.
Nrama: So is this an internal examination on the part of Dick and Bruce, or more about the external perception of Batman?
Marts: It's more about what Batman means to the world than what it means to these two individuals. They've been heroes for so long that they don't take it personal. Whatever happens along the way. They're able to roll with the punches and able to adapt.
Their goal is going to be more global. It's going to be bigger than just what Batman means to them personally.
Nrama: Global. Got it. Let's talk about the fact that Dick Grayson has three books and Bruce Wayne has two books. Is there a reason for that difference?
Marts: You know, that's a loose line-up. Moving forward, we'll definitely have the flexibility to play with that a little bit. But at least at the onset, in November, that's the way we're dividing things up.Nrama: If we're going to learn about the two Batmen once the Batman Inc. comic begins, then what is the purpose of the event in October, "Bruce Wayne - The Road Home?"
Marts: "The Road Home" is really a chance for reader to catch their breath and cleanse their palate before we dive head first into the deep pool that is Batman Inc. and all the other great things that are coming out in November.
"The Road Home" is a celebration of the legacy of Bruce Wayne, a celebration of what Bruce Wayne has meant as Batman, as the protector of Gotham City. We've been building toward Bruce's return for many months now, in The Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman & Robin, and once Bruce Wayne has returned, that's going to mean very different things to the people in his life -- the heroes, the villains, the allies, the lovers.
So this is a chance for us to stop in with each of those supporting characters who have meant so much to Bruce Wayne and really examine what Bruce Wayne has meant to their lives, and either their roles as heroes or villains. So we'll get to stop in with Tim Drake, we'll get to stop in with Dick Grayson and Damian, we'll see Catwoman, we'll see Commissioner Gordon, we'll see Barbara Gordon, we'll se Ra's Al Ghul, and we'll see the Outsiders as well.
Nrama: I'm wondering about the evolution of this idea for two Batmen. Was this concept for two Batmen in place before everyone got comfortable with Dick Grayson as Batman? Or was it a reaction to stories going so well with Dick Grayson as Batman?
Marts: That's probably a better question for Grant. But I do know that in our experience over the last few years of building this epic storyline, sometimes story ideas are in place and we stick to it and we see them through, and other times, it depends on what type of reaction there's been out in the reading community, and sometimes we adapt toward what we see out there and what the readers want to see.
This time, one of the advantages of working with Grant long-term on these books is that we have the flexibility to move and adjust, and sometimes along the way, what we thought was a good idea, maybe we realize it's best used at a later date. But on the flip side, something unexpected can happen, like people reacting to a character like Damian Wayne, and we decide it's time to do something more with this character or with a specific story idea.
So it's a little mixing and matching of long-term plans and adapting. We always have a road map in place that we try to follow. We know our starting point and we know our end point. But sometimes we veer off a little bit, and things might go right instead of left at a specific point, just based on what our instincts are telling us.Nrama: You mentioned Damian Wayne, and that's something that we've been told will be dealt with as Bruce returns. Can you tell me where that's going to take place, and also describe a little of what's coming for Damian?
Marts: It's such a big moment for both of the characters, Damian and Bruce, that I don't think we'll be able to pinpoint it to one specific issue or one story point. Their relationship with each other is complex, and I'm sure it will take time to explore fully what this means to both of them. But it's really just saying a lot about the character, Damian Wayne, that when he first came on the scene in the early days of Grant's run, you could almost look at him as a one-dimensional character. But he's grown and evolved so much since then that where this next phase of their lives takes him is anyone's guess.
Nrama: What does this mean for Tim Drake?
Marts: Just like with the other characters, like with Damian and Dick, this is a transition point in all of their lives. So I would say that anything's up for grabs. Anything's possible. And anything can happen. But yes, Tim Drake will be affected by the events coming up.
Nrama: Well, that doesn't really say much, but I guess we'll take it. At least you're not hinting that he dies in October.
Marts: We hope not.
Nrama: We've had the opportunity to hear a little about each of the main Batman titles in November, having talked to most of the writers about their upcoming stories. But as the editor, where do you see each of these five Batman books fitting into your publishing plan for covering these two Batmen?
Marts: The great thing about the Batman group of titles is that we've been able to manage a group of books that centers around basically one character. For the last year or two, we've kind of expanded that to Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne. But for the most part, we've been dealing with one character: Batman. With multiple titles, we've been able to maintain individual voices and flavors on each of the titles over the past several years, which I think has been a real success and says a lot about the creative talent we have on the books.Grant Morrison, if he's writing Batman or he's writing Batman & Robin or he's writing Batman Inc., his storylines will deal with the big concepts and the epic storyline, and the multi-layered, bigger story. That's Grant's strong point. So that's what Batman Inc. is about. It's about expanding the Batman universe and the Batman line and the Batman cast of characters.
The Batman core monthly, which we've had Tony Daniel primarily shepherding over the last year or so -- that's the soap opera book, that's the high adventure book, that's the continuing adventures book. If you want to see Batman in his purest superhero form, that's the book we want to steer people toward.
Batman & Robin, whether it's Grant writing it or Peter Tomasi writing it, that's the team dynamic book. That's the superhero and the sidekick. That's the father and the son. That's the older brother and the younger brother. This is the family dynamic book. That's what we've been trying to do with that title.Detective Comics has always been a book where we try to focus on the crime aspect of Batman's character, and the Detective aspect of his character, now, we have Scott Snyder coming in and doing great work on the title. That book is really about the crime stories that come out of Gotham City, and which Batman has to deal with.
With The Dark Knight, this is an opportunity where we're fortunate enough to get a comic superstar in David Finch, who is a fantastic creator, and we're able to turn to him and say, "Let's do those Batman stories that you've always wanted to tell. So it's a combination of a talent showcase book, but at the same time, it follows Batman's solo adventures, which are firmly rooted within the grand picture of the rest of the Batman titles.
Nrama: Having just recently talked with J.H. Williams, Tony Daniel and David Finch, it's interesting to note that the Bat-office has several people who were known as artists, but became writers in the Batman universe. Did Tony Daniel pave this way? Or are you in particular interested in exploring this route? Or did you just happen to have some really creative artists approach you?
Marts: You know, it kind of happened and evolved that way. Tony was actually the second guy I tried this out with. The first one was Andy Kubert. And Andy and I worked on a four-issue Batman story that we hope to put out in the near future.
When I did it with Andy, it was so successful and was such a rewarding experience that I knew I wanted to try it again.
With Tony Daniel, it really came about when we were working on Battle for the Cowl. We knew Tony was drawing it. But he seemed to be right on the same page with where we wanted the project to be, and we knew he had experience writing in the past. And we offered it to him, and it turned out to be a great experience.
With David coming in, that was something he was interested in. He wanted to contribute to the DC Universe in a big way, but he wanted to do more than just lending his artistic talents. He wanted to lend his storytelling talents and his writing talents to the DC Universe as well. So that was something we were talking to David about right from the beginning when he agreed to join DC.Now J.H. Williams is doing it as well, and that's working out fantastically.
I think it just says a lot about the individual creators themselves and what they're able to bring to the table. And it's been really rewarding to us so far.
Nrama: Mike, you have a lot of new titles coming up in November, and new creators. Is there one final statement you want to give readers about what's coming?
Marts: With Bruce Wayne going away a year-and-a-half ago, and then leading up to his eventual return, most readers had a pretty good idea of where we were going with the story, at least with the intent of where we were going.
With what we have coming up this November, specifically with Batman Inc., I don't think anyone's expecting this. The stories that Grant will be giving to the readers will be a surprise to everyone.