WINICK: DARK KNIGHT's OWLS Tie-in Reveals BATMAN-TALON Past

As Newsarama readers learned last week, the Talons who will be featured in May's Batman event "Night of the Owls" are not ordinary assassins.

They're all reanimated corpses from different points in history, which means each Talon has a healing ability — and a completely different point of view.

In May, readers will get to see the "point of view" one Talon in particular in Batman: The Dark Knight #9. Told from the perspective of the most recent Talon who works for the Court of Owls, the issue will reveal that Batman has actually met this Talon before within Batman continuity.

Although the issue is the brainchild of Batman writer Scott Snyder, who wanted this particular Talon's story to be told, it will be written by Judd Winick with art by the title's regular artist, David Finch.

Batman: The Dark Knight #9 will fall just before new writer Gregg Hurwitz comes on board with #10.

As such, Winick told Newsarama he's doing a one-issue story that not only shows the more human side of the villainous Talons, but also plants seeds for stories that will come later in the Batman universe.

The issue also represents the first time readers will see long-time Batman writer Winick teamed with superstar artist Finch, and according to the writer, issue #9's story plays to the dynamic artist's strengths.

In May, Winick is writing three different "Night of the Owls" tie-in issues: Catwoman #9, Batwing #9 and Batman: The Dark Knight #9. (See our interviews with Winick for more details on the Batwing and Catwoman tie-ins.)

Now that we know more about the Talons who will participate in "Night of the Owls," Newsarama asked Winick to clarify what we'll see in his villain-centered single-issue story in Batman: The Dark Knight #9.

Newsarama: Judd, we just had a lengthy interview with Scott Snyder, and he revealed that all the Talons who will show up in "The Night of the Owls" are from different time periods. In your story for Batman: The Dark Knight, what Talon will we meet?

Judd Winick: This Talon is the last one who held the mantle. There have been many Talons, but this is the last one to be the assassin for the Court of Owls. So he has a more recent history.

As it turns out, he has some history with Batman. Formative history. We see his past, and how it affects his present, and specifically, how it affects his "rematch" with Batman. So the idea is that this is a Talon who actually met up with Batman before.

Nrama: So is this another story from Batman's point of view?

Winick: No. The story is from the point of view of the Talon, from the point of view of the assassin.

It's a very human story for these very inhuman characters, these monsters that Scott has created. And Scott and I really like that idea. We like the idea of telling a story about the Talons that make them sympathetic, particularly this one. And it's really interesting to have a story told from the point of view of the Talon. It's something we don't get to see. And it's cool.

We all feel that it's most personal story of all the Talons.

Nrama: You said this is a "rematch." So we're going to see how the Talons might have played a part in Batman's history?

Winick: Exactly. It's steeped in canon, which is really Scott's masterstroke with this entire crossover. He's managed to tap in a little bit, just in this amazing sort of way, that he taps into Batman canon, that it sort of treads into things a little bit without actually upturning the apple cart at all.

And it really feels like it counts. It feels like Batman's past has been added to without pulling anything out or changing anything in a big way. Adding to canon is the best way I can describe it. Scott managed to do that, and this story is a fun way of fleshing that out.

Nrama: What characters show up in the issue?

Winick: Batman's there, and there's Nightwing, Red Robin and Robin in the issue. The gang's all there, as they all work to fight the Talons on this one night.

But this story really is from the point of view of the villain. It's his story.

Nrama: How did you end up getting to tell this story?

Winick: It came about very organically. Scott Snyder, who is creator of this crossover, had this story floating around in the back of head about the origin of the current Talon.

 

I'd already done two tie-in stories for this event that everyone seemed to like, in Batwing and Catwoman. So I was already writing about the Talons in my other books, and we'd already been working on the overall story of "Night of the Owls."

There was an opening provided in Batman: The Dark Knight because of the change that's going on with the writers. So I could come in and tell this one-issue story.

This was a story that Scott wanted to tell. We got together and we talked about it, and I really dug the idea of it. And thankfully, David was available for the issue, as far as the schedule.

Nrama: Even though David's drawing it, it sounds like it's a bit of a one-shot within the series?

Winick: It is somewhat of a stand-alone, in that it could be read on its own, but I will tell you that it spirals off into something else that will be picked up later. There are things in here that plant seeds for something else.

And I think it fits into the idea of the Dark Knight series, because Batman in The Dark Knight is supposed to be a little bit off the beaten path. Yes, these are still stories within continuity, but they're from an alternate point of view. And in this case, this was a story basically from a villain's point of view. So I think it fits with the title.

And it certainly fits with David's art. It's just going to be a gorgeous issue. And it's going to be very powerful.

You know, I actually like it when you can tell a powerful one-issue story. Those really stand out, you know what I mean?

I hear from readers all the time about my one-issue stories. I get people who come up to me at cons and say things like, "you know that one issue you did in Outsiders where Roy gets shot and then there's this issue where it's his first day back at work and he and Dick are sparring and what-not and..."

Nrama: Oh, yeah. That was Outsiders #11. I'll never forget that issue. That was fantastic.

Winick: Wow. Thanks. But yeah, see?

Nrama: Yeah, people remember the one-issue story. It's one of my favorites.

Winick: Yeah, people remember the one-issue story. That's exactly what I mean. It's been years later, and people bring that one up. That was kind of a fill-in issue. I was between artists, so I decided to just do this one issue story.

Another one I hear about is this one-issue story I told after the death of Bruce Wayne where I answer the question, how did Dick and everyone handle the fact that Bruce was dead? It was an issue of Superman/Batman, and people bring that one up to me all the time.

So Batman: The Dark Knight #9 might be a stand-alone issue, but it's a cool story. And it definitely weaves into the overall story of "The Night of the Owls."

Nrama: It's interesting for readers to hear about how this Batman event is being handled, in the New 52 Universe. I think we can't help but listen to see if things have changed from the way crossovers were presented in the past. What do you think of the way they're approaching this crossover, compared to things you've worked on in the Batman universe before?

Winick: I've been writing for superhero comics for about 11 or 12 years at this point, and I've been involved in a lot of crossovers. So I've done some that I thought were fantastic, and I've done others that weren't. I think a lot of us writers would be willing to say that there have been crossovers in the past that were kind of dumped on us. And when that happens, it shows.

Even if someone is building a good story and the decision is made at a late date that everybody has to be involved with it, it can be really disruptive if you're in the middle of a story arc. And depending on how much you have to get involved, it can completely disrupt the flow of the character. It's like "stop the presses! Drop this in there now!" And you're like, "aw, man, but my guys are in space!"

But that's opposed to crossovers I've done in the past where they've been done right. And in those cases, everything is looked at well before. It's planned ahead and you really get a sense as a writer of what you're doing. And then everybody involved can utilize it as part of their story. Not only will their issue hit and feel like it is part of the event, but it becomes a part of the monthly too. It's worked into the overall building story.

That's what we're able to do with this one. With "Night of the Owls," Scott had this in the works since before the New 52 launched, since before September. If you read his comic, this storyline is seeded in the first issue.

So we all knew it was coming and we've been planning toward it. Some books had a big lead-in to it, and others have just a seamless entry into the story. But it all came from the planning.

Nrama: There are also Batman related issues that aren't a part of the crossover, by choice, right?

Winick: Right, right. With a title like Batwoman, the storyline they were doing was such that they just couldn't work the "Night of the Owls" into it. And the attitude was like, OK, then we won't do it. I think it says a lot for DC that, despite the fact Batwoman is one of their best-sellers, they're not just forcing that comic into this crossover to grab some money. They're following the story.

That's been the attitude for a long time, actually. And as you can tell, I prefer it that way.

And obviously, I work well in that atmosphere, because not only have I found a way to make "Night of the Owls" work with my stories in Batwing and Catwoman, but I've come on board for this issue of Batman: The Dark Knight.

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And Catwoman is really not a part of Batman day-in, day-out. She's a bad guy. She's a thief. So Batman's not going to call her because there's trouble. It's not like she's going to be part of the gang who battles the bad guys. So she had to be brought into "The Night of the Owls" in a way that felt organic and interesting creatively. And it worked. I was able to work up to it.

With Batwing, we had just come to the point where he just happens to be in Gotham. So it was super good timing for that comic.

With Dark Knight, this story was just sitting there and it had no place, it had nowhere to fit. But it was a great story that we really wanted to tell. It's just this really terrific perspective.

And having such a powerhouse of David drawing it — I've been getting pages and it's like Christmas every time it comes. He's such a powerful artist.

Nrama: You haven't worked with him before, have you? I'm trying to think back to your titles at Marvel.

Winick: No, no, no. So I was absolutely thrilled to get the chance to work with him.

As I've been working on this issue, I've been playing to his strengths. I've been amping up the drama and the action, to make sure he has these shots that really show off what David can do and how he can do it. It's going to be this really wonderfully dramatic issue.

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