Batwoman #0While J.H. Williams III has a major gig coming up next year on Sandman, the artist will also continue working on Batwoman, the series he co-writes with W. Haden Blackman.
As Batwoman hits the one-year mark next month, the creators are hoping its issue #0 will be a jumping-on point for new readers. And while the series isn't participating in the Joker storyline that will cross into many Batman books this fall, Williams and Blackman promise that Batwoman's next story arc, which starts this month, will be larger in scope.
Williams also returns to drawing the title's interiors with this month's issue #12, and fans will get to see his depiction of Batwoman teaming with Wonder Woman in the story arc. (The series was originally slated to feature Williams as rotating artist with Amy Reeder, but her sudden departure with issue #9 saw Trevor McCarthy coming on board. In San Diego, it was implied that McCarthy will continue as rotating artist on the series with Williams.)
Newsarama talked with Blackman and Williams to find out more about what's coming up in the series and how they're making their approach to Batwoman #0 unique from a similar #0 the series had in 2010.
Newsarama: While most DC storylines are finishing up in August before they do their #0 issue, Batwoman is only going to be a month into the next story arc when it has to suddenly take a break and do a #0 issue. How did you end up dealing with that problem?
J.H. Williams III: Yeah, it threw us for a bit of a loop when we were first thinking about it. But Haden and I decided our main goal would be to stay true to the #0 format, yet do some things with the narrative and some of the character points of view that makes it fit into the current storyline.Nrama: Will it stand on its own, or will readers have to go back and read #12 to understand Batwoman #0?
W. Haden Blackman: No. The #0 issue is actually a terrific jumping-on point for new readers. Kate may reference events that happened in issue #12, but you won't be lost without reading it. You won't have to have any pre-existing knowledge of Batwoman to pick up the #0 issue and enjoy it.
Nrama: But it still fits into the current storyline.
Williams: Yeah. The whole thing is from Kate's point of view, looking back on the past. She's looking from today's point of view, from the present of what's going on with her in the current storyline. To me, it feels thematically like it can fit with the narrative and be OK, yet it also works as a #0 issue.
Blackman: I think what's exciting about it is that it's a jumping on point for people. It covers some portion of her origin, although we're not retelling "Elegy." All the kind of big beats are in there, and you get all the big highlights of her origin and see some new things that you haven't seen before.
So for new readers, it's a great place to start. But for existing readers, it's going to give a lot more insight into Kate, and in particular, her relationship with her father.
And even though it's coming an issue into our new arc, there are actually some things that get set up in that #0 issue that will carry into Arc 4. So it's not just a throwaway issue at all.
I think both new and existing readers should find something of value in it.
Williams: What's really cool about the #0 issue for me is, in some ways on a visual level, I kind of have to return to a couple bits of her past that have already been covered, but we come at it from a different point of view and perspective than what we got to see in "Elegy."And in the process, we're getting to show a lot more things from her past that haven't been seen before. So there are a few things that people might be familiar with, but there's a lot of new stuff in there too.
Nrama: And it's different from the #0 that came out a couple years ago?
Blackman: Yeah, the first #0 issue was from Batman's point of view, which we thought was kind of neat as he was trying to figure out who Batwoman really was, and delving into her background that way.
This is told from her point of view in a way that we haven't done yet. We do in issue #12, but we haven't really gotten into her head as much as we're doing in the new arc, and in the new Batwoman #0.
For me, it was a lot of fun to write an entire issue that was just Kate thinking, and figuring out how she would look at all these situations and events that have happened to her, based on where she is today and what she's experienced in the last couple arcs.
Williams: We get to see Kate's point of view about different things that happened in her growing up and discovering herself and becoming Batwoman. Getting to see her first person point of view on that is pretty cool. It's something no Batwoman story has ever explored.
Nrama: The last time we talked, one of you had told me that the storyline that just finished up, "To Drown The World," would "test people's patience" a little bit because it's so non-linear. Now that the storyline just finished up and your readers have seen what you were talking about, why did you choose to do such a non-linear structure, and what do you think about the way it turned out?
Williams: The choice came from us dealing with, for lack of a better term, a James Bond-ian plot. I've read comics like that before that had that kind of story movement, and I thought it always read a little dry until it finally got until the big "bang" stuff.
So when Haden and I were talking about it, we thought there might be a way to reconfigure it so we could get a little bit of the climax for each issue. And that's how that ball got started.
Nrama: Was it challenging to put the pieces together?
Williams: Yeah, it's been a real challenge making sure everything is lining up, because each character's story beats move in a linear direction forward in time. But each character's story starts at different places in the past. So trying to make sure all that lines up was tricky. That ended up in one issue having a typo that seriously confused people. That's all going to be fixed when it's collected.
Blackman: The biggest challenge up front was trying to map out what part of which stories we were going to tell in each issue. Once we started writing it, because all the stories move forward linearly, then the challenge became, how do we get the most out of each individual scene?
In issue #11, when all the plots converged, it really set up Arc 3. There were some things that got resolved and some things that were left in place to become the focus in Arc 3.
Nrama: As you move into Arc 3, it feels like there is a lot building in the storylines of the key characters, and with the threat of Medusa. Will the next story arc be a culmination of that?
Williams: Definitely. Everything that's happening in the third arc is a culmination of all the stuff that started back in issue #1. All these plot pieces having to do with the big threat of Medusa come to a real head.
We're going to get to see this big showdown between Batwoman and Medusa and all that kind of stuff, and what that's all been about. It's going to be pretty wild.
Nrama: I know that you approach each story arc with a different style and theme in mind. What will we see as far as structure and style the next story arc starting this month?
Williams: The approach is a bit bigger in scope. It covers a lot of ground. And structurally, we set out, as far as trying to push ourselves into new territory with experimenting and narrative, we decided with this third arc to really go after captions. So we're going to be bringing lots of captions into it from Kate's point of view and Wonder Woman's point of view. And I think that's going to be exciting for longer-term readers, is to get into their headspace.
Blackman: And I think we've talked about before how the first arc was very much a supernatural horror story, and the second arc was more of a spy thriller with some of the supernatural elements continuing to run through it.
The third arc is very much inspired and influenced by high fantasy, not only in the story itself and the dialogue, but also, as Jim said, through the use of these caption blocks that will read almost more like prose. We're really trying to give it a different feel. But again, it will have those supernatural undertones on which we've founded Batwoman.
Williams: We wanted to find sections where we can take pieces of the comic and make it a bridge between comics and fantasy novels. The arc itself is also more toward the fantasy genre, which makes it unique compared to the previous arcs.
And then some of the things we've got planned for Arc 4 we could call more like a family drama.
It's pretty exciting what we've got coming up, and I think it's going to move in an interesting way and will surprise a lot of people.
Nrama: This next issue also has Jim back as artist on the comic, right? Trevor's last issue was #11?
Blackman: Yeah, and Trevor really came through for us. He had to come on so quickly and we were up against a really, really tight deadline, and he was just churning out pages. I can't believe how fast he was getting the work done, and it was all super high quality. I don't know if he was sleeping at all, because we were getting two or three pages a day there for awhile.
Williams: Scheduling conflicts come up and things happen that don't turn out the way everyone would like. But when we needed his help, it was pretty impressive what Trevor pulled off in such a short amount of time. He came on with issue #9 at the 11th hour, and I do know he lost a lot of sleep, but he really wanted to give his best on this project because he really dug what we were doing. And he does some really nice stuff.Nrama: There were hints in San Diego that Trevor McCarthy will be helping out with Batwoman next year when you're doing Sandman. Some fans have already voiced a hope that he'd be back on Batwoman the next time you take a break, Jim. Is that the plan?
Williams: I don't think we're able to talk about that yet.
Blackman: I will say that we would love for him to come back.
Nrama: Jim, are you enjoying getting back to drawing Batwoman? Have you changed things up a bit for the visuals on #12 and the next story arc?
Williams: Well, every story I tackle brings out something different in me for the visuals. I can't help but change things up and move in a different direction, depending on what the story requires. So yeah, I think people are going to see some different things. The approach that we've taken with some of the Wonder Woman stuff is different from maybe anything I've done before — some of it overt, some of it more subtle. So I'm pretty excited for people to see it.
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