Since Tom Taylor took over Earth 2 in November, Batman's identity has been a mystery and the last Kryptonian on Earth was evil.
But that seems to be changing now — not only has Earth 2 revealed the new identity of Batman, but there's a new Kryptonian on the planet, and writer Tom Taylor is insinuating that he'll be one of the earth's good guys.
His hints bolster the idea that the new Kryptonian character named Val be a "Super" hero soon.
Revealed in Earth 2 #19, a Kryptonian boy named Val was shown to be hidden by Terry Sloan in a cell beneath Arkham Asylum. And although Taylor is writing a couple "evil" versions of Superman in Earth 2 and Arkham Asylum, he indicated that he wants to write a good Superman — and that Val is his best hope.
Taylor has already shaken up the title with his decision to "unfridge" (resurrect) Lois Lane — this time as the Red Tornado android of Earth 2.
And last week, Earth 2 Annual #2 revealed another twist — that Thomas Wayne is the secret identity of the new Batman (after the death of Bruce Wayne). Not only did he survive the attack by Joe Chill, but Bruce discovered his dad's survival and chose to cut him out of his life.
In another strange "things-are-different-on-Earth-2" twist, Thomas Wayne uses Miraclo, a drug that gives you temporary superpowers — which he says he stole from Rex Mason (no, not Rex Tyler…) — meaning that he only has the ability to be the superpowered new Batman for an hour at a time. And this new Batman admits he's addicted to the stuff.
Newsarama talked to Taylor about the revelation of this new Batman's identity — and the hints about Val's potential to be "Super."
Newsarama: Tom, the last time we talked, you said that your editors told you, when you took over Earth 2, that everything going forward was free for you to mold to your liking. But knowing this Batman already showed up before you were on the book, how much of Batman's origin was your doing?
Tom Taylor: The identity was pretty much the only thing we knew going in. Everything else new with the origin was myself, and also talking to my editor. But the identity was known.
Nrama: So you got to come up with how this happened. You also said in our last interview that "being asked to create Batman's origin" was "ridiculous." How would you describe the feeling you had, tweaking the life of Bruce Wayne this way?
Taylor: It's exactly as I described it last time. Absolutely crazy! I'm this guy living in Melbourne, Australia, who is being asked to write an origin for a new Batman. That's not a thing that happens! Batman is a toy I played with as a kid, and watched on TV, and in movies, and pretended to be sometimes. I don't get to write his origin! But apparently I did!
Nrama: Before this, it seemed like the world of Earth 2 prior to Darkseid's attack was a sunnier, happier version than the main DCU world. This casts a rather dark pall on Bruce and Batman, seems to make it all darker – what does that darkness mean to the world going forward?
Taylor: Well, I think, for a lot of the heroes, Earth 2 seemed to be a better place. It was almost a Utopia. I mean, everybody seems happier. Superman seems happier. Batman seems happier. He had a family — he had a daughter and a wife.
But I think you see how they went out in issue #0, and that changed everything. Earth 2 wasn't a safe place anymore. Wars came. And now there's another war.
So it's not all happy, happy, joy, joy.
Nrama: Metamorpho's Civilian ID got name dropped, and of course Miraclo makes us think of the Tylers and Hourman – any plans for more roster expansion in the near future?
Taylor: It's probably too early to comment on that. And the Rex Mason versus Rex Tyler conversation — we're still getting clarification on it. So we'll let you know when we know.
Nrama: I assume you got the idea for the Miraclo from Hourman, though…
Taylor: Oh, without a doubt. And that is how Batman's powers are going to work. He's a 65-year-old guy. He can't be out literally soaring through the air and kicking parademons in the face. He needs this to be able to fight crime and to be able to fight a war.
Nrama: It was mentioned in the issue that this new Batman is probably addicted to this drug, but it also brings up the question of how long he's effective, doesn't it?
Taylor: Absolutely. It brings up both those things. I think there's no doubt he's addicted. He admits as much to Lois when she asks him. And I think there's something quite sad about that.
But he also realizes that he can't do it without this. To him, he can't honor his son's memory, he can't fight for what he fought for, without it. He can't say "sorry" to him because he's dead. So the only way he can say sorry is by fighting for what he fought for, and he cannot do that without this thing he's addicted to.
Nrama: This Batman also seems very complex. He'll kill criminals — most shockingly killing the Joker — but he has an obvious soft spot when he remembers Helena, and also when he goes out of his way to save Jimmy.
Taylor: You know, a few people have asked me about [the Joker getting killed]. It's not written in the commentary as such, but he killed the Joker because of the amount of pain that he brought his son. The Joker was Bruce's nemesis, and even on Earth 2, that comes with a lot of pain and hardship, and probably some deaths and some tragedy.
Thomas Wayne saw that opportunity to finally be rid of this man that caused so much pain to his family, and took it.
Nrama: But would you agree that he's not afraid to kill criminals?
Taylor: He's not afraid to kill criminals. Not at all. He was a killer! He was driven by revenge for awhile there, and he murdered people in cold blood. He doesn't have the morals that Bruce does — which doesn't mean that he's not coming from a place of good. It just means that he's violent and twisted in a bit..vleh. I don't know how you type vleh as a word.
Nrama: I'll do my best. But you know, I had a lengthy conversation with Scott Snyder about how he's writing, in Batman Zero Year, about the idea of vengeance versus justice. So I found it interesting that your Earth 2 Annual specifically addressed that difference, as Bruce confronted his father. You and Scott didn't talk about that, did you?
Taylor: No, we have talked a bit. But we didn't talk about this, no.
Nrama: The heroes of Earth 2 aren't really a team, not yet – does Batman's secrets being on the table make that a more likely or less likely scenario/outcome to you?
Taylor: I don't think so. What James and Nicola started was a whole new world, and they started building the whole world. And before you could build a team, you had to build the characters. And we're still in the process of doing that.
We currently have more characters than we have pages in the book. So we still want to establish them. We still want to put them through what's coming before they all form a team.
Nrama: This Batman and his "team" are fighting against a dark version of Superman. Although you didn't make the original decisions to create the two "bad" Superman characters in Injustice and Earth 2, they do seem to be part of a trend, with even Justice League 3000 featuring a jerk Superman. Why do you think creators seem to find a dark, twisted Superman such an interesting concept?
Taylor: I don't know. I have no idea.
I love Superman. I want to write him good. He's so good when he's good.
No, there's something appealing when true good gets corrupted. There's something appealing in that story, and I understand that — even if I wish it were otherwise.
It's interesting being the writer of not one, but two evil Supermen, and having my absolute hero be Superman.
Nrama: Your favorite?
Taylor: Yeah. I just want to tell the good stories about him, and have wonderful, wonderful things happen with him. I just want him to have tea parties and fight crime on the side, and have glorious, glorious days in the sun.
Nrama: Is there no chance of that happening? No hope?
Taylor: Well, I should mention that there is a new Kryptonian in all of this, and I wouldn't underestimate what's coming from either.
Nrama: So there's a chance of you writing a "good" (maybe even "Super") hero through this new Kryptonian character, Val?
Taylor: Maybe. We can only hope.
Nrama: Interesting. Let's talk about the end of issue #19, which indicated that Green Lantern is returning to the book (and April solicitations pretty much confirmed it). Without spoiling the story of his return too much, can you tease what we'll see from the new Alan Scott? Different powers?
Taylor: All I can tell you is that Alan Scott is coming back. He's coming back in a big way, and it's not far away. You will see him rise from somewhere — quite full-on.
And Nicola Scott drew his reappearance amazingly. People will like it.
Nrama: Doctor Fate's prophesy talked about the "green" quite a bit. Is that related to Alan Scott's return?
Taylor: It's probably related to Alan Scott's return. I don't know. Doctor Fate got hit in the head very, very, very hard. He could be just rambling.
Nrama: But you weren't hit in the head when you wrote his dialogue.
Taylor: That's a good point. That is a good point.
Let's just say… some of what Doctor Fate is saying relates to one thing… some of it relates to several things… some of it may relate to nothing. Without giving the game away at this stage. But pay very close attention.
And know that sometimes, he may just be rambling, because he got kicked in the head.
Nrama: Fair enough. Then to finish up, besides the return of Green Lantern, what else can people expect from the next few issues of Earth 2?
Taylor: You're going to see tomorrow — Wednesday in the States — you're going to see what Superman feels about serving Darkseid, and about there being any other gods on Earth. And whether that stands.
Nrama: I'm thinking it doesn't.
Taylor: Yeah, I'll give you a hint. It doesn't. It's quite brutal.
Nrama: Thus his name.
Taylor: Yes. And I will also say, keep your eye on Val, the brand new Kryptonian.