Batman in Barcelona: Dragon's Knight #1Mark Waid returns to the DC Universe in May with Batman in Barcelona: Dragon's Knight #1, a story of the Spanish myths and high adventure Batman faces when he leaves Gotham City for the historic streets of Barcelona.
Now the Editor-in-Chief at Boom! Studios, Waid was a DC exclusive writer until he took the E-i-C job in 2007. Since then, the writer finished out his run on DC titles like The Flash and Brave and the Bold, with his last issue of that series shipping in August of 2008. Now the writer is releasing new series for Boom!, including an Incredibles comic and several original series to debut this spring, while also serving as part of the team of self-proclaimed "webheads" who write Amazing Spider-Man three times a month for Marvel.
With this comic, Waid once again dabbles in the DCU, only this time it's in Spain. Newsarama talked to the writer to find out what motivated him to create this Batman story and how it all fits in with the Battle for the Cowl.
Newsarama: Mark, before we get into the details and behind the scenes stuff, what's the story in this issue, and how does Batman end up in Barcelona?
Mark Waid: Essentially, what has happened is Killer Croc has been brainwashed by Scarecrow and the Mad Hatter into believing he is the reincarnation of the dragon that slew St. George in the original myths.
The myth of St. George and the dragon is one of the great stories of all time in Spanish culture. It's about the gallant knight who slew the dragon that was preying upon women of the countryside and killing a woman a day until the great knight showed up to save the country.
So Mad Hatter and Scarecrow convinced brainwashed Croc into believing he's the reincarnation of that dragon, and it's his destiny to kill the great knight, which in his eyes is Batman.
The story takes place in Barcelona because that's where the Festival of St. George is going on. It's a real holiday like our St. Valentine's Day times 10. It's one of the great holidays in Spain and it is a day of lovers, a day of romance, and like I said, it's also a day of honoring the great mythical victory of the knight over the dragon. So Killer Croc is making it all play out in modern times.
NRAMA: Where did the motivation for this type of story come from, Mark?
MW: It came from having been contacted by David Macho Gomez, who is their super agent over there, and a great guy. He manages a bunch of their artists. And he had made arrangements with DC to have it in time for the Barcelona convention. So my understanding is that it will premier during the Barcelona convention and be published internationally. When I took the gig, the idea was that it was to be published internationally, which is a big deal because that international release of one comic is something that hasn't really been done.
NRAMA: So when you heard about this opportunity, you did research on Barcelona and Spanish myths, with a Batman story in mind?
MW: Yeah. And I had been to Barcelona before for one of their conventions. I think it was 2004. And I had a really great time and loved the city. And again, inspired by that amazing gothic architecture, which is not too far off from Gotham itself.
And then David and his lovely bride sent me tons and tons and tons of internet research just to bring me up to speed with developments in the city. And I did my own research. And we found a lot of really great set pieces for someone like Batman to take on Killer Croc. And buildings that are not too far a cry from Gotham, but at the same time have a distinctly Spanish flavor to them.
One of my favorite moments in the whole book is that we established that in this day of Homeland Security and so forth, even Bruce Wayne with his private jet can't easily smuggle the tools that he needs to be Batman across international waters. So what he's done in the pre-emption is he's set up a series of Batcaves -- small auxiliary Batcaves across the world in major cities. And one of them is in Barcelona under one of the museums.
NRAMA: This obviously doesn't take place in current continuity, since Batman not around right now, right?
MW: WHAT???!!! [laughs] No, this was planned some time ago, so I suppose we should clarify that this takes place before Battle for the Cowl.
NRAMA: What can you tell us about the artist? He's a Spanish artist?
MW: Yes. A native of the area named Diego Olmos. He's really terrific. There's a little bit of Michael Lark to him. There's a little bit of David Mazzucchelli to him. And he's real good at the moody storytelling. So he's doing a great job.
And then Jim Lee on the cover. Some people may have heard of that Jim Lee guy. He's going places. Mark my word. That Jim Lee fellow is going places.
NRAMA: You mention the "moody storytelling." Is that the feeling of this story? Is it a darker style?
MW: Well, it's not a Brian Azzarello comic, but neither is it a Bronze Age pastiche. It's really a sort of hardcore pulp adventure.
Batman's big Achilles heel -- Batman's big problem -- is he's used to working in Gotham where people know who he is to some degree. Or at least the police. He works at least in some concert with the police. When he goes to Barcelona, they treat him the same way they treat Killer Croc. He's a winged freak prowling the streets. So he's actually in more danger than Killer Croc from the authorities.
NRAMA: Seeing your name on a Batman book, Mark, is this a sign we might see more of your work at DC?
MW: The door is open, as far as I know. It seems to be one of those things where I think DC is kind of afraid to bother me right now because I'm busy doing other stuff. But again, I'm freelance. My day belongs to Boom! Studios, but my nights and weekends are free. I'm a gun for hire.