Larry Hama returns to the scene of the crime when April's Convergence event takes the writer back to the "Shadow of the Bat” universe he helped create in the early '90s.
Convergence: Shadow of the Bat, featuring art by Philip Tan, is one of the two-issue tie-ins to the weekly Convergence title that will run through April and May, replacing DC's comics line.
Set during the "Knightfall" era of Batman's history, the story takes place just after Bruce Wayne was disabled by Bane with a broken back. And as long-time fans know, Jean-Paul Valley, better known as Azrael, replaced Wayne as Batman during "Knightfall."
Yet according to Hama and Tan, the Convergence story comes after Bruce Wayne's recovery, when he's infiltrating the organized crime underworld.
"He’s still recovering from breaking his back, he’s cut off from his home, support and funds," Hama said, "but still carrying on being what he is, but in a covert way."
"From my perspective, he is still broken, and trying to get back," Tan said.
Hama said he took the opportunity of a "domed" Metropolis to imagine what would happen to the areas where the dome cut through. He placed Bruce Wayne in one of those areas, stuck in a commuter train.
"Bruce Wayne is tied up in an El train that was cut in half by the dome on the edge of Metropolis," Hama said, "and being worked over by thugs from the criminal organization he was trying to infiltrate."
The dome makes his job difficult, the writer said, but "he’s improvising! And being his bad-ass self."
That's when Azrael gets involved, as Hama gets the chance to bring back a character that hasn't been seen for years in the Batman books.
And what's the nature of the relationship between Batman and Azrael as we see them meet in the first issue?
"Confrontational, and antagonistic," the writer said. "An allegiance of opportunity and convenience."
The alliance comes because Batman and Azrael are forced to team up against the original Wetworks line-up from the WildStorm Universe. "It's the first in a long time anyone has seen these golden warriors," Tan said.
Although Hama scripted Batman from #575 to #581 and worked on other Bat-related series, he never worked on Azrael before, but he "liked the concept, and saw plenty to play with there."
"I'm not sure if any creators working for DC right now is a fan of Azrael, but I might be the biggest Azrael fan here," Tan said. "Jean-Paul Valley is my absolute top favorite DC character!"
Tan said he got some help with references from the "Shadow of the Bat" time period from editor Marie Javins, and Hama admitted he also had to do some research.
"It’s amazing what you forget, what you choose to retain, and what you remember incorrectly!" he said.