BATMAN Editor Details Origin, Structure of NIGHT OF THE OWLS
In May, Bruce Wayne will have his hands full within the pages of Batman, so the threat to Gotham City will spill over into most of the other Batman comics in "The Night of the Owls," the New 52's first Batman event.
It all spins out of the current storyline by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo in the top-selling Batman title, "Court of Owls." In the title, an evil organization has been secretly ruling over Gotham City for generations. And in issue #7, the group released dozens of trained assassins known as Talons into the streets and skies of Gotham City. Because the Talons were reanimated from the dead, they have a healing factor and a different back-story unique to the era in which they lived.
According to several of the creators involved, the "Night of the Owls" event is a little different from most comic book crossovers because creative teams were even given the choice of whether or not to participate, and they're each developing their own villainous Talon character for their stories. The stories don't actually cross, so each issue that ties into the event stands separately, but with the "Night of the Owls" as a backdrop.
Newsarama talked with Batman editor Mike Marts to find out more about next month's event and what else is coming up in the Batman universe.
Newsarama: Mike, how did you guys come up with the idea of having a different Talon for each comic?
Mike Marts: The Talons were a part of Scott's storyline from the very beginning, and we knew they were an instrumental part of the Court of Owls. They're essentially their hired assassins. Scott had created this whole complex mythology about how there was one Talon per generation and they were specially trained to become who they were. And as one was cycled out, another one would be cycled in.
We knew with only nine or 10 titles, we'd only be able to show nine or 10 of them, and not every single on that had ever lived, but we just got so excited about the idea of being able to show these Talons and their history.
Nrama: The Court of the Owls has been so important to this storyline. Assuming the Talons and the battle in the "Night of the Owls" is not the end of this story, what role does the Court play?
Marts: The Court plays a big part. They're the ones who gave the order to take back the city at the end of Batman #7, and their presence will be felt throughout the entire event. We're primarily going to be focusing on the assassins — on the Talons — in these issues. But the presence of the Court will be there the entire time.
Marts: Yes, it all takes place within Gotham. The one exception is the one issue which actually takes place in the past, which is All-Star Western. That chapter takes place in New Orleans.
Nrama: Have Talons been around that long? Will we see a Talon in that issue too?
Marts: In the "Court of Owls," we've hinted that their reach goes back into the history of Gotham City. So it's conceivable that they could have been around 100 years ago, during the time of Jonah Hex.
Nrama: Will we learn more about the involvement of Haly's Circus in the history of the Court of Owls? All of these Talons came through Haly's Circus, didn't they?
Marts: That's what we've been led to believe so far. And we're learning that Haly's Circus has a much bigger role in the history of Gotham and the history of the Batman mythology than we previously thought. I don't know if we'll get all the details on this in the month of May, but we're certainly going to learn some new things about Haly's Circus.
Marts: We'll be dealing with that basic storyline for another few issues, throughout issue #10 and into issue #11.
Nrama: Do you have a written timeline of who was a Talon when and how they all fit into the history of Batman and Gotham and the families who oversaw the city over the years?
Marts: Yeah, yeah, we do have a timeline. We've actually been building it for the last several months. It's one of those secret documents. It's kind of like the Ark of the Covenant that we keep hidden here in the DC offices. And we switch its location every week so that no one knows exactly where it is.
Marts: Yeah, this event was — unlike a lot of other events I've worked on in the past — this ended up being a real easy sell to all the writers involved. The main reason being that Scott had planned this out so well and so far in advance.
And Scott and all the writers, whether it's Pete Tomasi or Kyle Higgins or Gail [Simone], they all talk and they all share ideas. So everyone was already in the loop about Scott's ideas for the storyline. And when we went out to them and talked to them about participating, everyone was real excited about getting into that and trying to contribute.
The fact that we started this storyline so well in advance, we weren't really interrupting storylines that writers already had in place. So it was a real organic, natural way of setting up the shared storyline.
Actually, on the flip side, we had a few occasions where we had people come in and ask to play where they weren't previously: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are one example with All-Star Western, and also originally Tony Daniel had a different storyline planned, and then after seeing how much fun we were having, he came back and he was like, "Hey, guys, can I get into this party? I really want to have a good time and I really want to play into this and contribute my own ideas." So Tony was a latecomer to the party, but we were happy that he wanted to be a part of it.
Nrama: Can you give any examples of how a comic was able to incorporate the Talon into the story they were already telling in the title?
Marts: In Catwoman specifically, there is a storyline taking place right now where Penguin is involved, and Judd figured out a real clever way of tying the Penguin storyline to the Court of Owls.
So there were a few different cases where writers' storylines that they had planned were able to be incorporated into the Court of Owls storyline.
Nrama: May and June see some additions to the Batman title line-up, as you've not only got the new Batman Inc. title, but you've also got a new writer on Batman: The Dark Knight. What can you tell us about that change?
Marts: Gregg Hurwitz did such fantastic work for us on the Penguin limited series that we knew we wanted to do more work with him, and specifically Batman work. And Gregg has been outstanding.
And as you said, we've got the return of Grant Morrison to the Batman universe with Batman Inc. in May with a new #1 issue. Chris Burnham is the artist on that. We're extremely excited to have the regular Grant Morrison monthly Batman title on the stands again. So the next couple months have a lot of excitement going on in the Batman universe.