The team in Detective Comics will be changing over the next few months — as Batwoman gets her own title and Azrael joins the team. And writer James Tynion IV says he's not quite done writing Tim Drake.
The series surprised readers by ending its first story arc with the surprise "removal" of Tim Drake from the DCU at the hands of Mr. Oz. Although the Batman characters believe Tim is dead, Tynion revealed that he is actually being imprisoned by Mr. Oz.
The characters in Detective — including Batwoman, Batman, Spoiler, Orphan (Cassandra Cain's new mantle) and Clayface — have been dealing with the ramifications of Tim's death while also being attacked by The Victim Syndicate. Made up of people who were negatively affected by Batman's presence in Gotham, the Victim Syndicate has been pointing out to Batman characters that there's collateral damage when they battle villains.
The story of "The Victim Syndicate" will finish up in December, followed by a January focus on Batwoman that's being co-written by Batwoman author Marguerite Bennett. Then Azrael will joint the team for a new story arc in February, "The League of Shadows."
Newsarama talked to Tynion to find out more about the team's future, the status of the artists on Detective and what readers can expect next from the book.
Newsarama: James, the last time we talked was before the beginning of "The Victim Syndicate." I know you really wanted to follow up on the ramifications of Tim's death (or at least the characters' belief that he'd died), but there are definitely other themes here related to the damage that surrounds Batman. It's kind of hard to read sometimes. Did you feel like this was something that needed to be addressed?
James Tynion IV: Absolutely. When I started building this story, I knew we were going to have the death of Tim Drake. That was going to be one of the key pieces — at least to the perception of the Bat-family. They all believe Tim's dead right now.
There are two ways you can go about it. There are a lot of really deep, dark emotions you have to address after something like that. And rather than wallowing in the specific darkness of Tim Drake's death, I wanted to sort of attack the team with an argument against what Batman does — one that Tim Drake would be able to fight in a way that, without Tim, the team can't.
Tim is such an optimist. He's a futurist. He sees the future in everything. The rest of the characters are formed from so much darkness that ripping out the optimistic heart of the team and attacking them with a really substantial concept is really difficult to counter.
It's not just that Batman creates his villains, it's that Batman's battles with his villains create victims all over the city, that the simple act of Batman being Batman just causes damage that wouldn't happen otherwise in Gotham.
With that idea, how do you keep fighting? When you know that's true.
I can sort of imagine the kind of conversation that Tim Drake would have with each of these characters, in the way that he had the kind of build-it-up moment with Kate Kane in the first arc. She had lost all hope; her father had just betrayed her and the whole team; and Batman had been captured and all that. And Tim was able to say the exact right thing to get the team rallied together.
So I wanted to create a moment where everything is destabilized, and then I wanted to destabilize it further and see what happens.
Honestly, I'm really proud of this storyline. It's a dark one. But I think it needed to be.
Nrama: Before we move on to the next question, I just want to clarify something, because I saw a few questions online about this. At the end of the last issue, when Tim Drake shows up and starts talking to Steph, that's the Mud Room, right? Not really Tim?
Tynion: Yeah. You can see that she's walking into a room, and you can see the puddles of mud all around. It's definitely meant to be a kind of like, "What the heck's going on?" kind of moment. But there's no dramatic reveal in the next issue that she's now talking to the real Tim.
It's bringing us back to that moment. She's looking for Tim to give her a reason why they're doing it, why what they do as a team — fighting Batman's war — is good.
And she's going to find a kind of answer in there, in the next issue.
My favorite issue of the entire arc is the next issue, Detective #946 next week. I'm very excited about it.
Nrama: OK, you just opened that door. Why is it your favorite issue?
Tynion: It's the turning point. This arc is very much a Stephanie Brown arc. And this issue is Stephane Brown's "turn." This is the moment that she's going to come to some important realizations. What she thinks is right and what she thinks is wrong is going to coalesce and guide her story forward.
And it's starting to set up the pieces toward the Stephanie Brown stories that I've been excited to tell since I first conceived of the entire Detective team.
I don't want to spoil it, but there's some really, really good stuff coming up.
One of the important things for me was to make sure every character in this story has a real place in Gotham City and what they do, and how they interact with the others. And Stephanie's role in Gotham was often based on her relationships with other people. And I leaned into that in the first arc, building her up as Tim's girlfriend. But it was all in service of leading her to this moment, where I think we're going to see her step into the spotlight as Spoiler.
I'm very excited about that.
Nrama: We know that a new Batwoman comic is launching out of your book, and we've seen Azrael mentioned in upcoming solicitations. We've seen some other Bat-characters showing up on the fringe of Detective. Is this a fluid team? Is it changing?
Tynion: This is definitely a fluid team. I wanted to play with a lot of characters. We've seen Jean Paul Valley around the edges of this arc, and he was in the first few pages of my first issue of Detective. And you can see that the cover that's been released of Detective #950 in February has Azrael as part of the team on the cover.
So yes, the team is going to shift as we move forward.
But one of the goals of the book is grounding each of these characters so that, frankly, they could all solo books. We're doing this Batwoman series, and what Marguerite and I have been building for Batwoman is something I'm really excited about.
The idea is that any of these characters have so many stories you could tell about them. And I'll keep telling their stories in Detective if they don't get their own books. But I want a robust version of Spoiler in Gotham that could have her own series. I want a robust version of Azrael that could have his own series. Batwing. Even Clayface.
I want these characters to have their own roles and their own stories that demand to be told. Thankfully, Detective comes out twice a month, so I can get through a lot of those stories. But there are always more stories.
If there were a dozen of me, I would write a separate ongoing series for each type character in the title.
But yeah, that's sort of the goal. Bringing in more characters and shaking up the core cast — it's something I wanted to do from the beginning. Arc to arc, I want to make sure there are exciting changes. And that's going to stay true as we move forward.
Nrama: There are two issues left of "The Victim Syndicate," right?
Tynion: Yes, #946, which is out next Wednesday, and then #947 at the end of the month.
That will conclude "The Victim Syndicate." So we're building up to the climax. The climax begins in #946.
Nrama: And then the Batwoman arc?
Tynion: Yes, we have the two issues that I'm co-writing with Marguerite Bennett. We're calling the arc "Batwoman Begins." That will run in January and sets the stage for her ongoing series, but also sort of brings back in some threats that have been left dangling since the "Rise of the Batmen" story arc with The Colony, and also the "Night of the Monster Men" story. Both threats guide us toward where the story goes next.
Nrama: That takes us into the "League of Shadows" storyline?
Tynion: Yes, "League of Shadows" — you can see on the cover that Cassandra Cain is kind of front and center as Orphan.
"League of Shadows" is very much a Cassandra Cain story.
It's something I've been extremely excited about. We got hints about what the League of Shadows is in our first arc, "Rise of the Batmen." And you can sort of imagine these first three arcs as a trilogy — and that is how I started thinking about it. OK, if I had one year on the book, what would it look like? And it was three arcs.
First, I wanted to do something big and expansive, with "Rise of the Batmen," that sort of set the stage for the team and introduced this militarized version of the Batman concept in The Colony. They've been fighting this secret war that we are unaware of, that all the characters in Gotham were unaware of.
Then in the second one, I wanted to go darker and more personal, with a more grounded, character-driven story, with "The Victim Syndicate."
And then I wanted to go back and do something even bigger than the first arc. And that's what you'll find in the "League of Shadows," which is probably the biggest arc we've done.
So this is big, crazy, exciting stuff. There are going to be characters coming back that have ties to — there are familiar characters that will be playing key roles in this arc that I'm very excited about bringing back in. I've been bringing in a few different heroes, but there are a few villains that I've been wanting to get around to, and they are coming up in this story.
It's also really exciting to create something new in the League of Shadows, which is a phrase that people are familiar with from the Nolan Batman films as kind of an alternate term for the League of Assassins. But the name, the League of Shadows, is just such a powerful name that it's something I've been talking about going back to.
What is the real League of Shadows? If the League of Assassins is the more obvious branch of Ra's Al Ghul's operations, is there a shadow branch? Is there something darker underneath?
We're going to see the League of Shadows' ties to Ra's Al Ghul and the League of Assassins, but it has definitely become its own entity. And how it operates is really, really, deeply terrifying.
It's all rooted in secrets, so I can't talk about too much, because I think you're going to see it all play out. But the philosophy behind them is really deeply terrifying. Their leader, I think, is one of the best adversaries in the Batman mythos, and I am extremely excited to bring them back into the fold.
Nrama: What's the status of artist Eddy Barrow going forward? Are he and Alvaro Martinez still on the book regularly? There are a few different artists on the next few issues.
Tynion: Oh, they're definitely going to be back. In "The Victim Syndicate," you can see that we've had some different artists, and that is entirely a symptom of the twice-weekly schedule.
What we've done for "The League of Shadows" is to bring in a couple of artists for that storyline, so that in the future, Alvaro and Eddy can do complete storylines, more like how they're doing it in Batman right now, where David Finch did a complete storyline, and then Mikel Janín did a full story arc. That was always the goal.
Both Alvaro and Eddy are doing absolutely phenomenal work, and I could not be more honored to be working with them on this, and they will be back in the pages of Detective Comics. This is a deliberate choice to get the reader more bang for their buck in terms of consistency arc to arc. But I'm extraordinarily lucky that I get to work with so many amazing artists.
Nrama: It was surprising to see Mr. Oz suddenly invade Detective Comics. Is that the way "Rebirth" will influence Detective in the future? Just these sort of inserts into the storyline? Or are you going to tackle some of this stuff head-on?
Tynion: One of the big goals right now at DC as a whole is to sort of show that this is part — that DC Comics as a whole is telling one bigger story. And it's a story that is composed of all the different titles, and different pieces will be moving forward here and there. And they are all part of one tapestry.
And you'll see Detective playing toward some of those goals, but also toward other storylines that I can't even hint at more than saying that.
And Tim is clearly tied into some of those bigger stories.
I will say that I have definitely written more Tim Drake. And you guys will have to find out whether that's in flashback or in the present day.
Tim's one of my favorite characters, and it's been extremely gratifying getting a chance to remind everyone what is great about that character, and why I loved him from the time I started reading comics as a kid in the '90s.
Being able to make him central to the Gotham mythos of the modern day is something I'm extraordinarily proud of, and it's definitely something that is building toward big, crazy, amazing stories in which Tim will be up-front and center. So stay tuned.