Nobody puts Batman in a dome.
Well, it turns out that's not exactly true. In Convergence: Batman and Robin, readers will learn just how far the older, wiser, pre-Flashpoint Batman will go as he protects a domed Gotham City from other threats — and why his relationship with Damian Wayne and Jason Todd may be his biggest problem.
Featuring art by Denys Cowan and Klaus Janson, Convergence: Batman and Robin is being written by Ron Marz, who's probably best known to DC readers for his Green Lantern run that made a fan-favorite out of Kyle Rayner.
And although Marz was among the creators who helped restructure the DCU in September 2011, he told Newsarama that he likes the idea of bringing back concepts from the past for Convergence, calling the event a "backward glance" that naturally follows change.
In our ongoing discussions with the creators behind the two-issue Convergence tie-in series that make up DC's entire line during April and May, we talked to Marz about his domed Batman, why Damian and Jason are at odds, and what happens when the Extremists come into Batman's domed Gotham.
Newsarama: Ron, as someone who was involved with the beginnings of the New 52, what do you think of this revival of the pre-Flashpoint characters, and why do you think now is the right time to do something like this?
Ron Marz: I think one of the things that has differentiated DC from Marvel is that it has such a rich tradition of various timelines or universes, however you want to term it. So to me, this kind of story follows right in those footsteps.
Comics should be about crazy, imaginative ideas, especially superhero comics. The Convergence event is definitely a Big Idea comic, but with individual titles that are very much character-driven.
Nrama: Very little changed with the Bat-family when the New 52 launched, so what's your story going to highlight about these "pre-Flashpoint" characters?
Marz: The story really gets at the core of the relationships between Bruce Wayne, Damian Wayne and Jason Todd. There's so much to be mined there.
Stories about fathers and sons are some of the most primal stories you can tell. The conflict between Damian and Jason is really a joy to write. "Dad likes you best!"
Nrama: What's Batman like in this story?
Marz: I guess my smart-ass answer would be he's Batman. He's what Batman is always like. But digging a little deeper, the real answer is he's been pushed to the brink of his ingenuity by the Convergence events. He's trying to keep Gotham City together, even under these insane circumstances.
Batman's pretty unflappable, but even he has his limits.
Nrama: OK, you have to explain that. How does the situation of Convergence get to him? Or rather, how does it inform your portrayal of him?
Marz: In some ways, Batman's just doing what he always does, he's protecting Gotham City at all costs. But this is even a heightened version of that. Gotham City has literally been picked up and transported elsewhere. His mission of protecting his city has intensified tenfold.
So the question becomes, what is Batman willing to do to protect Gotham? How far will he go?
Nrama: Let's talk about Batman's relationship with these two "sons" who are co-starring in the comic. What's his relationship like with Robin and Jason?
Marz: In a word ... complicated. One's his biological son, who is frankly not exactly a model child. The other is essentially an adopted son who paid the price for being part of Bruce's world. Bruce still harbors huge guilt over what happened to Jason. There's a lot of emotional baggage for everybody in this situation.
Nrama: OK, so we've got these three characters bumping up against each other, but what's the main threat to them in this story?
Marz: The overriding threat is probably more existential — the very fact that this Gotham City has been picked up and plopped down in an alien landscape. But the more specific threat is the arrival of the Extremists, who have every intention of taking out Batman, Robin, and Red Hood, so that they can save their own skins.
The larger mission of protecting Gotham is symbolized in the conflict with the Extremists.
Nrama: And you're working with Denys Cowan and Klaus Janson? What can you tell us about what they're bringing to Convergence: Batman and Robin?
Marz: Those guys are both legendary talents in this business, and I'm very flattered to be working with them. Writing Batman is always a privilege. Writing Batman and having it drawn by Denys and Klaus is a rare gift. The pages are stunning. If the readers are even half as pleased as I am, they're going to love these issues.
Nrama: Let's talk about the overall concept of Convergence. What do you think of having characters from these different domed cities represented in one place like this?
Marz: It's fun. It's a big sandbox with a lot of different toys in it. It gives readers a chance to see some toys they haven't seen in a while, and to see some toys that haven't ever been in the same place at the same time.
Convergence really shows off the vast array of creativity that DC has been responsible for. If you've read comics at any point during the last 30 or 40 years, your favorites are here somewhere.
Nrama: But I'm sure you've noticed that there's more than one publishing company doing this sort of "revisiting" of alternate timelines and characters. Why do you think writers and readers seem to be so interested these days in revisiting alternate versions of characters? Or is that something that's always been a part of comics?
Marz: Alternate realities and alternate characters seem like they're part of the DNA of comics. I think any time you move into a new era, like the New 52, there are always some backward glances to previous eras by the readers. And I really don't think there's anything wrong with that.
Yes, comics should move forward and break new ground. But the past is always there. Those stories always remain. Paying them a visit is a natural impulse.