David Finch has been drawing Batman for several Grant Morrison stories over the last few months, but in November, he gets the chance to write and draw the character.
It's all part of a new era for Batman where there will be more than one caped crusader inhabiting the DC Universe -- the result of Bruce Wayne's homecoming in Batman: The Return #1 by Morrison and Finch.
Bruce Wayne will star in Finch's writing/drawing debut, Batman: The Dark Knight, along with the Morrison penned, globe-trotting series, Batman Inc. with art by Yanick Paquette.
As Newsarama readers learned from Morrison earlier this month, his comic will feature Bruce Wayne traveling around the globe to recruit international heroes into an organization of crimefighters who will work within the Batman Inc. organization.
But what is Bruce Wayne doing in Finch's The Dark Knight? As part of our "Bat-Breakdown" series, we talked to Finch to find out.
Newsarama: David, does the concept behind Batman Inc. play a role in The Dark Knight?
David Finch: It only plays a role in the sense that it's the framework Batman is operating under right now. That's the framework all the Batman books are operating under. But each one is providing something different of the overall Batman story. So while Grant's exploring the details of Bruce Wayne's travels around the globe, recruiting for Batman Inc. and turning Batman into a brand, I'll be telling more traditional Bruce Wayne Batman stories in The Dark Knight.
Nrama: So you're telling Bruce Wayne's adventures in Gotham? Kind of an old-fashioned, gritty, tough, Bruce Wayne-back-as-Batman comic?
Finch: Yeah! Batman, in my book, is entirely in Gotham City. And yeah, this is the Batman we all know and love, and have for 70 years. Although Batman is spending time all over the world, he still has Gotham City as his home base, and he still has so many connections and ties and grudges and friendships in Gotham City. He can't completely walk away.
The stories I'm telling are all about relationships and connections he has in Gotham City that he can't walk away from.
Nrama: How does this interact with Dick Grayson being in Gotham City?
Finch: Even though Dick is here, it's not easy for Bruce to completely walk away. As much as Dick has proven himself, Bruce Wayne is still Bruce Wayne. It's very difficult for Bruce to just completely walk away from a fight he's been fighting his whole life.
And then there's something in particular that keeps him interested as we kick off the series.
Nrama: Is that what your first story is about in The Dark Knight?
Finch: Yeah. He has a friendship with a girl he knew when he was very young, before his parents died. She goes missing, and he goes on the hunt for her.
During the course of his hunt for her, he runs across a lot of people who are mixed up in it. And he realizes it's something much bigger than he initially thought it was. And it ultimately takes a pretty dark turn and goes in some spiritual and occult directions.
Nrama: Then is the series a little more dark overall?
Finch: Well, that's kind of my aesthetic, you know? This book, for me, is like a dream come true. I've always had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted from a Batman book. While Batman Inc. will be more of the upbeat superhero, my book will, comparatively speaking, be going in a darker, angrier direction.
I've read a lot online about how people think that, ever since Dark Knight Returns, Batman has been to dark and gritty. But I don't agree. That's what made me love Batman. I think a Batman that is too fun and happy and has a little sidekick dog and all those types of things doesn't speak to me at all. This is the character that speaks to me: The dark, angry, vengeful, almost hateful character. That's what I love. And that's what I'm doing. I want to push that as far as editorial will let me push it.
Nrama: Since you're writing the comic, do you feel a little extra vested interest in the artwork?
Finch: Yeah. For sure. I'm finding that there are times when I hate being the writer when I'm drawing. When I'm writing, I'm really trying to keep the art side in mind, obviously. But I got really close to the story. So it got really detailed in some places, and I'm having to kind of match that with the artwork.
I mean, I hate to admit it, but working with writers, you can trim and cut here and there and tell the story in a more streamlined way, but I'm really not doing that. So it can be a little challenging at times, because I'm so close to the story.
But I can't complain about getting the chance to do this. It's been very satisfying overall. I'm getting to write and draw the Batman story I've always wanted to tell.
Nrama: It seems like it would almost help to just walk away and come back to it later with a fresh eye.
Finch: I've been able to do that, actually. I'm working on something else with a writer -- something I can't really talk about yet -- but I'm able to kind of walk away from my own book to work on that from time to time.
But drawing a story and writing it too -- it's not like it used to be in the '90s, when I wrote a few things. I could write something overnight and draw it, and there wasn't a lot to it. But nowadays, the level of the writing in this business has gotten so strong that it would be pretty foolish for me to just write something fast so I had a chance to draw what I want.
I've been putting so much effort into the writing. It's been a strain, because readers have such high expectations, and so do I. The standard is so high.
But you know, we also have readers now, which I don't think we had before. There was a long time where people just put books in bags and it was a collectors' market. I remember thinking at the time, "I wish people would start reading these books again." And now I've gotten my wish, which is great. I like that there isn't any tolerance for weak material. There shouldn't be. But it sure creates a lot of pressure!
Nrama: Getting back to Batman: The Dark Night comic, Will the idea of this being a more "traditional" Batman story mean we'll see some of the more traditional villains and settings?
Finch: Yes. Absolutely. I think it would totally fair to call this a "traditional" Batman story. But that doesn't mean it isn't updated. I designed a new Batmobile, and I designed a new Batcave, which will actually appear for the first time in Grant's Batman: The Return comic. The Batmobile first gets driven in The Dark Knight, and I'm trying to introduce a lot of new ideas into the comic. So in that sense, it's not old-fashioned or anything. It exists in a modern era.
Nrama: Is there anything you can tell us about the new Batmobile?
Finch: It's tied to something I have planned for later in the first arc, so I really want to keep it to myself.
But I guess what I'm trying to say is that this is the Batman I grew up with and always wanted to do. It's respectful of what Batman was always intended to be. Ultimately, what I want, is to do a traditional Batman story.
There are places I'd like to take the character morally. My interest is in exploring Bruce Wayne within his natural setting, within the world of his villains. And the things that make him what he is. So while Batman will be marketing the symbol on his chest in Batman Inc., that symbol is not all he is. In The Dark Knight, you'll see the man behind the symbol. There's a very strong theme to the book, and there always has been. And that's important to me.