Now that readers are seeing the extensive scope of Batman Eternal, it should come as no surprise that Kyle Higgins, the latest addition to the weekly series' writing team, is getting to play with a Gotham character he created that hasn't been part of the New 52.
Higgins will introduce the steampunk-inspired villain known as The Architect, a character co-created by Higgins, Scott Snyder and Trevor McCarthy in the 2011 mini-series Gates of Gotham. Although his first issues won't be released for a few months, Higgins has already written the issue that re-introduces The Architect into the New 52 landscape.
For Higgins, the job on Batman Eternal came after the departure of John Layman from the project. And while DC readers know Higgins best as the writer on Nightwing for the last few years, the writer left that series in March as the character's status was changed by DC from superhero to super-spy.
At the same time as his Eternal gig, Higgins is working on DC's hit digital-first series, Batman Beyond 2.0 and is just about to release a much-anticipated Image Comics series, C.O.W.L.
Newsarama talked to Higgins to find out more about his approach to Batman Eternal.
Newsarama: Kyle, your first issues on Batman Eternal don't come up for awhile, but I assume you've started on your initial issues. What's the process been like working with the other writers?
Kyle Higgins: It's been cool. There are a lot of mass emails. Everyone involved is really a joy to work with, and there's just so much material. It's a big, huge, sprawling story, in the best way possible. The stuff that I'm getting into has been pretty cool, but there's quite a few months before my stuff starts coming out.
Nrama: Wow, it's crazy to think you guys are that far ahead. I assume you guys know the ending already?
Higgins: Yeah we do! We know the ending.
Nrama: Anything you can tell us about the story that you’re writing?
Higgins: Well, the story that I kick off with involves a character that I'm a big fan of.
Nrama: It's not Nightwing obviously (since the character will be presumed dead by most of the Bat-family). Any way you can tell us who this favorite character is?
Higgins: I suppose it won't spoil anything to say it's The Architect from my Gates of Gotham book [from summer 2011, co-written by Scott Snyder].
Nrama: Oh, yeah! The steampunk guy from the past of Gotham City? So he's in your first issue of Batman Eternal?
Higgins: Yeah, he's in my first issue. It's really cool to get to play with him again. I love the design that Trevor [McCarthy, artist on Gates of Gotham] did for him — like you said, the steampunk look, with the diver suit and the trench coat. It's a favorite of mine, so it was cool to work on some stuff with him.
Nrama: So can you describe his role in the story?
Higgins: We're a little too far out to talk about that. I can't say what he's doing or why he's there. But I guess it shows how big in scope the weekly is.
Nrama: Remind us again about his story. He's connected to the original architects of Gotham, right?
Higgins: Yeah, his name is Zachary Gate, and he's a descendent of Nicholas Gate, who helped build Gotham City — the two Gate brothers were involved in the original construction of Gotham City, building the original skyscrapers in the late 1800's, and the bridges in the city. And ultimately, Robert Kane Memorial Bridge came out of a tragedy that involved Nicholas Gate as the architect, murdering Cameron Kane's son. It's a part of Gotham's history that influenced the power structure in the city today.
Nrama: So the Architect has a role in the ongoing weekly story?
Nrama: Each of the writers I've spoken to about Batman Eternal has described their approach in certain terms — some of them different from others. Do you have a certain approach you're taking? Is it similar to other things we've seen from you, Kyle?
Higgins: Yeah, I think I tend to approach things from kind of a cinema background, kind of a cinematic approach, in that there's a lot of — especially in the action — there's a lot of cross cutting on the page. I tend to not write voiceover, or avoid it. I mean, I do, but I think the remnants of the screenwriter in my doesn't really use that as much. With Eternal, none of us are writing voiceover. We're writing the whole series without voiceover, as a stylistic choice, keeping consistent. So it's been great for me, because that plays to what I like to do. I think each of us is very different — I totally agree with that. We all have different things that interest us, and our styles are a little bit different. Like I read some of the stuff that Ray does, and I'm just jealous and I wish my mind worked that way. So it's just about being open to different points of view and collaboration, and that's why the series is so much fun.
Nrama: The neat thing about a weekly is that it has a lot of room and gets a lot of attention — so you can go very big and epic and blockbuster, but you have the time and space to be very character-focused within that.
Higgins: Yeah, yeah, exactly. In my first issue, there's a scene that's between… I can't say who it's between. But there's definitely a nice arc that is very character driven. So it's cool to be able to do that sort of thing within the context of what the issue is. The issue's crazy. The action is huge. And so to be able to still drive a very big character arc through that is very nice, and it's not always possible. So that really plays to what I think my strengths are. It's a great vehicle for me in that way and it's been a lot of fun working as part of the team on this series.