There are certainly a few books in DC Comics’ June mini-relaunch that come a bit out of field. Well, playing left field and batting cleanup…Bat-Mite.
The six-issue series is written by DC veteran Dan Jurgens, with art by recent SCAD graduate Corin Howell. When asked about the origin of the series as a project, Jurgens said it came out of a conversation he had with DC Co-Publisher Dan Didio about doing something about the “absurdity of life.”
“I was having conversations with Dan about what I wanted to do next, and I told him that there were themes and stories I wanted to explore, but I didn’t know what DC had that would fit the format,” said Jurgens, who has worked on and off for the publisher for over 30 years. “I’m certainly not the first person to observe that if you sit back and look at it, life can be strangely absurd at times, so I wanted to do something that touches on the absurdity of life, and I also wanted to explore some aspects of satire.”
Jurgins was surprised when Didio gave him the go-ahead, but they couldn’t settle on a character for two days until, as he puts it, it hit him.
“It was the proverbial light bulb that went off over my head. So I called Dan back and said, ‘I guarantee: I’m going to say this, and you’ll either love it or hate it. Bat-Mite!’ To Dan’s credit, he said ‘Go for it.’ And here we are.”
This Bat-Mite series comes on the heels of a rejuvenated emphasis on humor as seen in the titles of the DC, led by the Harley Quinn series. For decades the idea of humor and light-heated comics has been downplayed by the mainstream direct market, but Jurgens says DC has caught on to his long-held idea that “fun is okay.”
"I’ve always thought fun is okay. But I think what’s happening as we see the comic market evolve, is we hear a lot about ‘diversity,’” said the comics veteran. ”This is diversity of thought, style, and approach. I think fun is okay, dark is okay, and everything in-between can be okay, if you do it well.”
Jurgens agreed that the recent success DC had with Harley Quinn and Marvel’s Deadpool helped in making something like Bat-Mite get approved, saying it’s “opened up” what the superhero publishers and readers see as viable.
"It certainly doesn’t hurt, and…yeah, it probably does help,” Jurgens tells Newsarama. “And just as we see more and more variety of books coming into the market, we don’t have to have every new book focused on a Justice League frontliner. I think we—and by that I mean me, DC, the readers, everybody—have a sense that things have opened up a bit.”
Speaking specifically about Bat-Mite’s titular star, Jurgens said his first time running aross the character was in a cartoon appearance but what brought him to the character now is how his “goofy element” can relate to the standard DCU.
“What I really wanted here was the chance to find a goofy element that we can introduce into the DCU so we can take a different look at things,” says the writer. “I think Bat-Mite gives us a different way to analyze what’s out there, so that’s what we’ll be doing here.”
So how can someone like Bat-Mite exist in the same world of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman and other hallmarks of DC’s comic verse? Good question, says Jurgens.
“We’re going to meet that one head-on, right out of the gate. It seems mandatory that Bat-Mite will have to meet his namesake. And that will be a crazy moment,” say Jurgens. “And we’re very fortunate to have Corin Howell drawing the book. She has this wonderful, very expressive style that I think readers are really going to latch on to in a very big way. She’s the one who’s going to determine if Bat-Mite lands in people’s hearts.”