"Rebirth"'s Batman writerTom King has already revealed (and explained to Newsarama) a future for his new character Gotham Girl that includes a marriage to Duke Thomas and an eventual death of Batman.
King has also said that the superpowered character, who just lost her brother in issue #5, will be an important part of his three-part run on Batman over the coming months - helping to link together King's first arc, "I Am Gotham," with the second, "I Am Suicide," and third, "I Am Bane."
In this month's Batman #6 with guest artist Ivan Reis, in what King calls a "one-and-done," the writer will explore what comes next for the character as she grieves for her brother, and how Batman will deal with the character's grief.
Newsarama talked to King to find out more about September 7's Batman #6, how Gotham Girl's story eventually leads Batman to face Bane, and what King believes about the way both Batman and Gotham Girl are able to grieve.
Newsarama: Tom, we already discussed the narration from the end of Batman #5 about Gotham Girl marrying Duke Thomas and Batman dying. But as we look at the preview for Batman #6 - and knowing what Gotham Girl is going through - it appears that this issue dealing with grief?
Tom King: Yeah, yeah. I love to do one-and-dones; I love to do one-and-dones with big themes. And I've gone through some grieving myself in my life, and I wanted to talk about what that's like, grieving. And how people can help and how people can't help, and what Batman's reaction to it was.
And what it feels like to lose someone - it feels like you go a little bit crazy - and to try to come back from that.
Nrama: You and I have joked a bit about the poor orphans of Gotham, but there is kind of a shared grief there.
King: Yeah, and that's what makes the issue powerful. Batman can't punch his way out of this one. He can't somehow just solve it like a detective would solve a mystery. And I think that's what it feels like when you lose someone. You look it up on the internet or you buy some books - it's like, what five things do I do to make myself feel better? And you just can't find them. There's no answer.
It's like, four billion people have gone through this and no one has discovered the steps to happiness afterwards. The best you can do is sort of say, you know, I'm going through something four billion people have gone through. I guess I'll just ride along with them.
I think that's what Batman has. He's like, yeah, this is what it means to live in Gotham, this kind of pain. But you can come back from it. You can be good again.
And that's what the story is.
Nrama: Before Gotham died, you had told Newsarama that the Gotham/Gotham Girl story would continue past the first story arc. So is this an important issue? Is she going to play a part in the future, in your ongoing plans for Batman?
King: Yeah. It was revealed in Batman #5 that Gotham Girl has been infected by Psycho Pirate. And the only way to cure her is to have Psycho Pirate cure her.
And Batman has invested so much in this Gotham family. At one point he thought that these people might save the city. And he met the parents and he couldn't save the parents. And he admired the son, and he couldn't save the son.
And all that's left is the daughter... this noble, broken girl. And he is desperate to save her. He has all that hope.
It goes right back to that moment on the plane when he's about the crash and he realizes that he's mortal. And you know, he wanted to find somewhere to put those fears, and he put them in this Gotham family.
That motivation - his motivation to find Psycho Pirate, to do whatever he can to get Gotham Girl cured - is going to be the driving motivation that pushes the ball forward in the next arc, "I Am Suicide."
And then that leads us to our conclusion, which will be "I Am Bane."
So Gotham Girl's the uniting force behind the trilogy of books.
Nrama: The first arc, and this being the end to it, you mentioned how on the airplane in the very first issue, Batman had a thought about his mortality. How does Batman #6 put the other bookend on that story arc?
King: I generally work in circles. So you see the circle in the first five issues is that Batman #1 concludes with Batman sacrificing himself for the city, and Batman #5 concludes in that same way - that same idea that Batman is willing to die for us in a way that Superman and Green Lantern and none of them will know - that absolute mortal fear of "death is coming and I'm willing to accept it to save you."
I think as we get to Batman #6, we start to talk about what Batman's humanity means to him as a superhero, and that the way he eventually gets to Gotham Girl is not through punching and running and throwing, but in sharing his common humanity with her, and sort of saying, "I'm vulnerable in the way you're vulnerable, but together, we can be better."
I think that gets at the aspect of what makes Batman the hero that Gotham deserves.