Two of the more surprising Futures End tie-in issues this week — Batman and Robin and Pandora — came from the same writer, Ray Fawkes.
In Batman and Robin: Futures End #1, there's a new Robin, Duke Thomas, the helpful kid from Batman: Zero Year. And in Trinity of Sin: Pandora — Futures End #1, the writer revealed more details of the character's mythology, beyond what he was able to reveal in her monthly series (before it ended in August).
Fawkes is well-versed in what's happening in the DCU, as he's part of the writing team on the current Batman Eternal weekly, and also writes Constantine, which not only ties into DC's supernatural universe, but will be crossing over with Earth 2: Futures End soon.
Newsarama talked to Fawkes to find out more about his inspiration for the two Futures End issues he wrote this week, and what we can read into their revelations.
Newsarama: Ray, let's start with the Pandora Futures End issue. Does this spin directly out of your ideas about Pandora (and the seven deadly sins) as you wrote her title, or did you come up with something new for the Five Years Later timeline?
Ray Fawkes: Yes, certainly. There are hints seeded throughout the first few issues of the book that lead to the conclusion shown in Future’s End. Of course, the Future’s End timeline allowed me to fully explore some of the ideas involved right out front, in a time and place where the subtext can be realized.
Nrama: Are you implying that this cycle of Pandora and the sins battling, then the winner destroying the world, is something that's happened before? Or am I reading too much into those lines about the "undying road?”
Fawkes: Countless times, yes. You’re not reading too much into it at all. Of course, for a creature that powerful to destroy and recreate the entire multiverse over and over again, she’d have to be completely insane, right? Poor thing.
Nrama: What's different this time? Is the power of hope and light?
Fawkes: Yes. This is the first time Pandora has actually assembled the broken parts of herself and come to terms with her total identity — and, I think, the first time that she gains a full understanding of the light and goodness of the universe around her before doing so. She accepts (and forgives) what she previously rejected and fought, and in so doing, Hope for the future prevails.
Nrama: How important was it for you to show that she rejected her role as "mother of sin" and took on this new job of an agent of Light?
Fawkes: Crucial. It’s what I wanted to do the moment I set pen to paper for issue #1. It’s the whole point of the book, if you ask me — that she can be saddled with responsibility for the world’s evil, and can still rise above it.
Nrama: It certainly appears, in this issue, like Pandora has the ability to destroy a whole universe, and we know she previously had influence over the creation of the New 52 universe. What does this issue say about her powers? And is she at all aware of them?
Fawkes: She must be some kind of God, right? As shown in the Future’s End issue, she becomes aware of her powers whenever her cycle comes to an end — but this is the first time she’s used them in the way we show.
Nrama: As Pandora moves on to the Trinity of Sin, what are your hopes for her and what she might discover about herself?
Fawkes: I hope — and know, because we’re talking about the talents of JM DeMatteis here — that she’ll continue to delve into her own spirituality, and follow the path of hope and light she’s started walking.
Nrama: Let's move on to the Batman and Robin issue. First off, I found myself disappointed at first that I didn't learn whether that was a clone of Damian. But then I realized.. that's not what the issue's about. It's about Bruce's lingering pain over his son's death, his over-protection of his Robin, even five years later, right?
Fawkes: You’re right. I knew, going into this, that this book, that I wanted it to mesh with the great work Peter Tomasi is doing — so I wanted to be sure to show how the event of Damian’s death will never really leave Batman, and that it will affect his relationship with every Robin in the future.
Nrama: Obviously, with you co-writing the Batman Eternal weekly and being involved with the Batman family, fans are going to think there's something to this appearance by Duke Thomas as Robin. Point blank: Is there? Does this tie into the real plans for Batman?
Fawkes: Well, uh, yeah.
Nrama: When you were developing what Duke would be like as a Robin, what were your thoughts? How did your beliefs about his evolution inform the way he was portrayed?
Fawkes: I was thinking that Duke — having had his brush with Batman back in Zero Year, would be so inspired and overawed that he'd grow up determined to fight at his side — training from the very beginning, using every resource available to get himself in fighting shape. We portrayed him as a bit of a jock, as a result.
Nrama: Why did Duke appeal to you as a Robin?
Fawkes: I loved the idea of embodying determination through him — he’s not a traumatized kid like most of the previous Robins — instead, he’s a warrior who knew he wanted to be part of this war, and made sure he could fight it effectively. He gave us the chance to add another element to the Bat Family, and to reflect one of my favorite aspects of Batman: the hero as inspiration to others.
Nrama: What were your thoughts behind utilizing Heretic?
Fawkes: With the desire to cover the subject of Damian’s lingering influence over Bruce’s relationship to a future Robin, the choice to involve the Heretic kind of made itself. It seemed the best way to bring the emotions I wanted to examine into the physical world.
Nrama: The cover of this issue had Gotham burning in the background — which implied something related to Eternal. Yet it looks like the flames within the issue are merely the Heretic burning. Are there any clues in this issue at all for the Batman weekly Eternal?
Fawkes: No clues whatsoever. Unless I did something subconscious. You think I’d risk spoiling something as huge as Eternal’s ending?