Batwing, the African superhero first introduced in Batman Inc., gets his own comic this fall as part of DC's launch of 52 new #1 issues. Long-time DC writer Judd Winick, who's also launching a new Catwoman series in September, will create the comic with artist Ben Oliver.
Not much is known about Batwing, but according to Winick, that's one of the things the writer is enjoying the most, as he builds the African corner of the DCnU.
Newsarama talked with Winick to find out more about the ideas he's bringing to Batwing.
Newsarama: Judd, let's talk now about Batwing. What interested you about writing the character?
Judd Winick: When they first ran the idea past me, I honestly wasn't sure it was something that interested me, simply because there just wasn't much there yet. We had, like, five pages with him in Batman Incorporated.
But then, as I thought about it and discussed it and started realizing how much potential this character had, things just started opening up to me, and ideas started to explode in a wonderful way.
DC hasn't necessarily done a book like this in this way. And that in itself interests me.
Nrama: We really don't know much about the character. What can you tell us about Batwing and this title?
Winick: Batwing is the Batman of Africa. And he flies. And he's a superhero, complete with supervillains and everything you would expect from a superhero book.
You'll find a lot of cool and whimsical things in the Batwing comic that you won't see anywhere else, like Batwing fighting a battle over the pyramids of Egypt. Or the beautiful landscape of rural Africa. But at the same time, you'll see superhero battles that happen in the slums of the city. So there's a lot going on here.
It's this entire world of the DCU that we have yet to explore, and we want to explore it in a real way.
Nrama: So is it like a Batman book in the more traditional sense? With the detective elements, mixed with action and villains?
Winick: Yes, but because of its setting, this is more like high adventure. It's about guys in costumes beating each other up, but it's set in this rich, tumultuous, beautiful, and violent nation.
The idea of doing a superhero book in Africa, with a blank slate of what we could create, greatly interested me. I mean, we have a whole world to create, from other superheroes to villains to politics, as well as tapping squarely into the DCU.
Nrama: So there's a big connection to the DCU?
Winick: Definitely. Batman is in our first few issues. And we'll have the Bat family coming and going from the comic as well, either getting mixed up in what the Batwing is mixed up in, or coming in to help. Batwing is very much a soldier of Batman Incorporated. So he's part of the Bat-family.
He will differ from Batman in so many ways, but he is still the protector of a city, doing what he can, just like Bruce Wayne in Gotham. And of course, Batwing is also a hero of the world, so we'll see him leaving Africa to go elsewhere for his adventures.
Nrama: You mentioned a city. Does Batwing have a base of operations?
Winick: Yes, he's based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and his city is called Tinasha, which is a fictional city based on a real city in the country.
Africa is a continent, so in comparison, think about Batman in relation to North America, and how often you see Batman in Canada or Mexico. Not often. So in that sense, Batwing will actually be localized to one city and one country in Africa, with some zipping around here and there.
Nrama: Have you been to the Congo?
Winick: No, but I'm thinking DC should send me there to check it all out. I think I'd need a month or so to really soak it up.
Nrama: I think Newsarama should send me to cover the trip.
Winick: Yeah! That'd be good! If we get people in here reading the book, who knows?
So no, I haven't gone there, but for research, I have been speaking to a number of folks who are the heads of African studies and such at universities so I get it right.
But I should emphasize again, this is a superhero book. A superhero book. Bad guys in costume, and we've got Batwing flying around in his costume. First and foremost, this is a superhero book. And yes, it's set among an enormously tumultuous political landscape that is Africa. And it's a nation that lives and breathes with death sitting shotgun. It's an unbelievable place of both beauty and horror. So we're going to try to tap into all those things.
I want it to feel as much like it's a real African city as possible. African cities differ a lot. But this is a very Western city, with buildings and cars and all the like. There are universities and office buildings, but there are also slums. And just a couple miles outside the city are rural villages. Most of the people who live in the cities are tied to the rural villages, as will Batwing be.
Nrama: Are you creating a whole rogues gallery and a supporting cast for the character?
Winick: Yep! We'll pull from familiar Batman characters you know every once in awhile, but a lot of this is about creating the new.
As I'm working on it right now, we have a very big, long-form story coming up.
In this case, as it will be also with Catwoman, I'm concentrating less on arcs and more about the ongoing story. We will have many, many satisfactory endings. You get a lot for your $2.99. Every 20 pages is going to be a big old story.
In this case, I'm working on a very sizable story to take place over many issues. And it's all about superheroes, of many shapes and sizes, who have made their lives in Africa.
Nrama: Who's your artist? Ben Oliver?
Winick: Yeah. He's done some stuff for DC and a lot of stuff for Marvel. And man does it look great. It's a very stylized reality. It has a realistic weight to it. He does really wonderful people; everyone looks different, which helps when you're introducing new characters. Great over-the-top action. He really gets it.
I think anybody who enjoys Batman would love this. In this case, all of our readers are new readers. It's all new. This is one of the few truly new titles coming out. Batwing might be the only solo title who is really "new," with a fresh landscape upon which to build.
I think fans of Batman Incorporated will like this, but if you haven't read it, you obviously have no history to catch up on because this is all brand new.
Nrama: You and I have talked before about DC's effort to add diversity to their universe. I have to assume that came into play somewhat, not only in the fact that he's a different race, but also the places within the DCU.
Winick: Yeah. I think the more it was thought about, it makes a bit of a statement. It's the first time that a black man has been Batman. It was a bit of a "eureka" moment, to realize we could actually do Batwing and have him be in Africa. Not bring him to America or something, which we never really considered it. He's an African living in Africa, fighting the fight for his country. It's a truly international book. It shouldn't feel like a book that could just happen in America. I'm hoping this feels like a book that can't happen anywhere but Africa. This is truly an African story.
Nrama: It totally removes it from that Western view of the world.
Winick: Yeah, and the volatile nature of this country lends itself really easily to the big superhero stories. Big battles are still being waged there. On this continent you have dictators and warlords and entire armies populated by children. Entire kingdoms being overthrown. These are crazy, insane ideas that are actually happening day-in and day-out, and that's non-fiction. We don't have that here in America. In our superhero stories, we have to create fabrications of criminal organizations and gangsters and battles and wars. But that's part of the fabric of Africa. So for this title, we're going to tap into that in a superheroic way.
It's also the cradle of civilization, still fertile and rich and really, in some places, untouched by humanity. So we're hoping to tap into that too.Got a comment? There's lots of Newsarama conversation on FACEBOOK and TWITTER. More on DCnU:
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