ORIGIN, EARLY YEARS Expanded in DETECTIVE, DARK KNIGHT #0's

Detective Comics #0

Among the most anticipated issues from DC Comics in September's "Zero Month" are the books that will pull back the curtain to reveal Bruce Wayne's past in the New 52.

We've already talked with Scott Snyder about what he'll be exploring in Batman #0, but two other comics in September will be tied to that issue as Gregg Hurwitz writes Detective Comics #0 and Batman: The Dark Knight #0.

DC is obviously impressed enough with the work that Hurwitz is doing on Batman: The Dark Knight to hand over two important parts of Bruce Wayne's history to the writer: the murder of his parents at the hands of Joe Chill, and his subsequent travels as he honed his fighting skills before becoming Batman.

What's so special about Joe Chill in the New 52 universe? And what does Bruce Wayne discover during his travels that helps define his role in the relaunched universe?

In part two of our interview with the new writer of The Dark Knight, Newsarama talked to Hurwitz to find out.

Newsarama: Gregg, how did it come about that you were writing an issue of Detective Comics for September?

Gregg Hurwitz: I've long wanted to work with Tony Daniel, and he's had his hands full with a bunch of different projects, and he's writing and drawing. I have no idea how he does that. I'm sort of in awe of that. And I had handed in an issue #0 for Batman: The Dark Knight, and it was a lot of fun for me. I mean, it was one of my favorite comics I've ever written. And Tony was so busy on so many different fronts that we thought it could be really fun for us to collaborate, with him handling the art and me handling the story on this one. And so we just jumped in.

And what I wrote in Detective #0 ended up being influenced by what I'd written in The Dark Knight #0.

Nrama: Then let's start by talking about that story for The Dark Knight #0. We've already heard from Batman writer Scott Snyder about his #0 issue, and what era it covers in Bruce Wayne's history. What does Batman: The Dark Knight cover?

Hurwitz: For The Dark Knight, I wanted to write and show, finally, the story that's beneath the story to what happened in that alley outside the movie theater.

I wanted to show, finally, who Joe Chill is. What is the mystery that's behind him? And how did that comprehensively redefine Bruce Wayne's worldview?

It's a young man who is scarred and defined by this enormous childhood loss and is obsessed with finding the answers that are beneath it.

And what those answers are will prove completely defining for him and his mission and world view for the rest of his life.

Nrama: And you're covering all that in one issue?

Hurwitz: Yeah, because these #0 issues are these encapsulations of these key moments in Bruce Wayne's life.

So what that story is, and the outcome of it... I mean, I don't then take it through his whole life. I don't show him in all these different phases of his life. But I show him through discovering that answer.

And what that answer is, we will be able to project forward to the future and everything that we know about him.

Nrama: When you were exploring this story, were you able to change a little bit of what had been told before about Joe Chill and the events surrounding his parents' murder, since this is the New 52?

Hurwitz: Yeah. Absolutely. It's a new Joe Chill. There's new information that's discovered. There are new types of encounters and questions that are raised. And there's a new outcome.

Nrama: And you're working with David on that issue, right?

Hurwitz: Oh yeah. It's been a dream working with David. He's going to design these characters and everything. You know, it's not just his pencils and his art that blow me away. His design capability is jaw-dropping. And he's got such directorial savvy. He's just got a perfect sense of where to put the camera. It's things like that that make working with him such a pleasure as a collaborator and as a fellow storyteller.

Nrama: Let's talk about Detective #0. What story will you be telling in that issue?

Hurwitz: I wanted to do something in that story that focuses on Bruce during his period of traveling to Tibet and around the world.

The Joe Chill story I'm telling in Dark Knight hooks into Batman's psychological underpinnings around loss and grief. But I wanted to tell a story in Detective that's a very action-geared, thriller-geared story that solidifies his views on intimacy and relationship. That's one of the things that I think is so defining of Bruce Wayne. He's kind of in a castle on a hill, you know? No one can touch him. He stands alone.

 

I wanted to show a story about how, at the hands of a former master, and a former Buddhist warrior, he took in some lessons while he was traveling, becoming who we know as Bruce Wayne. But what are some of those other lessons that he might have learned about what human closeness means?

And it has to be overlaid on top of what he's already learned human closeness means from his parents and what he also learned the cost of that can be outside that movie theater on the fateful day.

Nrama: So it all kind of connects, as you move from the Joe Chill story in The Dark Knight to the story in Detective?

Hurwitz: Yes.

Nrama: It's probably a little early to have seen any of Tony Daniel's art, but I assume you're talking with him about the story already?

Hurwitz: Yeah, Tony and I have talked about the broad strokes of the approach. But he's finished something up before he jumps into doing the art.

Nrama: We're seeing several other DC titles in September that are telling Bruce Wayne-before-Batman stories. Are you guys all coordinating these #0 issues to make sure the timeline works?

Hurwitz: Absolutely. I'm on the phone with [Batman and Robin writer Peter] Tomasi. I'm on the phone with Scott Snyder. And we're figuring out how to make these stories fit together, and who has what piece in the order, and what things that we might be writing that could step on something else, and what thing we might do instead that might enhance another story. And so we've been in close touch in terms of having this be an organized narrative that is set forth by DC.

Now, that said, each of these are distinct stories; each of these can stand on their own two legs.

But they're coordinated. They're sort of a series of essential hits that fill in aspects of the back-story of Bruce Wayne's life.

And I've looked at the other ones too, and they're fantastic. I read Snyder's and I can tell you that it's going to be a really exciting month.

The Dark Knight #0 ends right before the story in Detective #0, which comes before the story in Batman #0.

Nrama: They don't come out in that order, but you're saying that they tell a non-linear story? That in these three issues, you get a picture of how Batman's origin defined him as this character we're seeing in the new DCU?

Hurwitz: Yeah, and each one of these is uncovering this idea of showing these new pearls from that biography. And Scott is playing with this as well.

Nrama: What do you mean by a new pearls?

Hurwitz: Well, for example, everybody knows that Bruce had to grapple with the death of his parents when he was a kid. But I have the actual scene in The Dark Knight where he's coming home from the funeral for the first time. That's what I mean. We have these new "pearls" from all these times in his life that are set around these key elements and events.

 

Everybody knows that he went off and traveled, and we've seen some stories about it. Well, this is a really key story that defined his worldview and defined who he is, and defined his views on human closeness.

And so we're choosing these things that people are familiar with, but we're rounding them out into definable stories that are really important. They're sort of the stories in between the stories you know, but they're not throwaway moments. These are key moments, and the themes and ideas you'll see us playing with in these #0 issues are important to not only Bruce's history, but they play into who this Bruce Wayne is that you'll be reading about in our ongoing stories. 

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