Fans outraged by the current state of DC characters should be pleased. Bat-Mite is here to "fix" the broken heroes of the DCU.
As writer Dan Jurgens launches the new Bat-Mite series June 3 (which he calls the "most important book DC will be publishing"), he admits there's "a certain kind of out-there crazy" to the character, but it's all under the umbrella of Bat-Mite trying to improve the heroes of the DCU.
Or as Jurgens puts it, Bat-Mite is "an editor gone berserk."
The character, who first appeared in 1959, has always provided a bit of levity to the usual seriousness world of Batman. Coming from the "fifth dimension," Bat-Mite is a super-fan of Batman, idolizing him (even though, coming from the fifth dimension, Bat-Mite has amazing powers of his own).
The title, which features a unique visual style from series artist Corin Howell, is currently scheduled as an all-ages, six-issue mini-series. But Jurgens is hoping the recent fan enthusiasm for "fun" comics — which drove Harley Quinn to the top of the sales charts — might spill over a little to Bat-Mite and allow the story to continue for longer.
Bat-Mite is one of two titles Jurgens is launching in June, with his Batman Beyond book spinning out of the Futures End weekly he co-wrote. The writer is also an important part of the current Convergence storyline, not only helping with the main title, but writing the Convergence: Booster Gold story that looks like it will heavily tie into the conclusion of the event.
With Bat-Mite set to launch the first week of June, Newsarama talked with Jurgens to find out more about his plans for the character, how he found artist Corin Howell for the title, and how Bat-Mite is the single most important title DC will be publishing this year. No, really.
Newsarama: Dan, can we just start out by talking about Corin Howell's work? Who discovered her and teamed her up with you on Bat-Mite? And what did you think of her work?
Dan Jurgens: When we first decided the book would be a go, we then had to find an artist.
We talked about several different possibilities and I kept keying in on a certain type of expressiveness that we'd need to make the stories work. Bobbie Chase asked me to look at Corin's work and I said, "Sold!"
Nrama: How much does her artwork, and your understanding of her style, define the type of things you're writing into the story?
Jurgens: I think the process works a little differently than that.
It might sound strange, but the story has to dictate the story. However, the book has to be cast with the talent to make that process work.? What I've talked to Corin about is somewhat along those lines: We picked you because your style fits what we want — push it and make it yours. Create that visual vernacular that makes the book and Bat-Mite yours. Ideally, readers would be unable to envision Bat-Mite as drawn by anybody else.?
We're have great fun with it. Corin is very talented and is giving Bat-Mite exactly the quality we're looking for. The range of expressiveness she's giving him is fantastic.
Nrama: OK, let's talk about the tone of this comic. Obviously DC is more open to humor comics these days. But is Bat-Mite from the same vein as Harley Quinn and other humor comics?
Jurgens: Mmm... not quite. Bat-Mite and Harley are similar in that they inhabit the DCU. But Bat-Mite is a very different character with a very different mission. The book is still going to feature a certain kind of "out there crazy," but the flavor will be a bit different than Harley's.
Nrama: OK, then let's discuss what makes Bat-Mite different. Most people are at least a little familiar with Bat-Mite from either the comics or the animated universe. But who is he in your comic? How do you introduce him?
Jurgens: Bat-Mite will first be introduced in an 8-page ”sneak peek” in issue #2 of Convergence: Supergirl: Matrix in May.
As for what he's doing here?
Bat-Mite is here to "fix" the broken heroes of the DCU. No matter who they are, he finds them flawed. Think of him as a personal life coach who's here to show them how to improve their lives.
Of course, he finds all of them broken somehow — even Batman.
To a certain extent, he's an editor gone berserk.
Nrama: With an all-ages label, there might be expectations of the type of "cute" character he'll be, and the type of goofy situations he might find himself in. How much does this comic meet those expectations — and in what ways is it breaking them?
Jurgens: Yeah, I wouldn't say "cute" is a word that quite applies.
Bat-Mite, in some ways, is the 2nd cousin that shows up at the family reunion and causes everyone to groan because he has no concept of social niceties. He insults everyone in the room without meaning to, eats all the shrimp before anyone else gets to the buffet table and if he has a drink-- well, it's Katie-bar-the-door.
He's the guy you don't want to talk to but can't avoid him. You want him to leave but he overstays his welcome. And just when you want him banished forever... he does something that makes you think differently.
Nrama: You mentioned that he's like an editor gone berserk, and that kind of leads into what I was going to ask next. Bat-Mite has often been portrayed as a sort of "super fan" of Batman's. Does this lend itself to commentary or satire regarding fandom and the comics industry?
Jurgens: Of course!
To Bat-Mite, every other hero should be more like Batman. As well as every villain and civilian.
Given the fact that he thinks of Batman as his own sidekick, it can make for awkward problems and strange circumstances.
Nrama: As one of the Futures End writers and the writer of the Batman Beyond series, it's obvious that you're up-to-date on everything happening in the DCU these days. How much is Bat-Mite going to be tied to continuity?
Jurgens: I see Bat-Mite as being a strong part of the DCU.
It's the single, most important book DC will be publishing and everyone should buy five copies. Maybe more.