Writer Christos Gage, best known for his work on the Netflix series Daredevil, hasn't forgotten that his first comic book project was a Deadshot mini-series. Now with this week's new digital-first series Batman: Sins of the Father, he feels like he's come full circle with the Deadshot.
Deadshot is the main adversary for the Dark Knight in Batman: Sins of th Father, which tells the story of what happened between the first and second season of the acclaimed video game, Batman: The Telltale Series. The series debuted digitally on Monday, with the print series launching February 21.
Working with artist Raffaele Ienco, Gage will explore what happens to Bruce Wayne as he works to rebuild his family's reputation after the shocking revelation that Thomas Wayne wasn't the heroic father people thought he was.
Newsarama talked to Gage about the Telltale version of Deadshot, what it's been like working in the video game universe, and what else readers can expect from Batman: Sins of the Father.
Newsarama: Christos, how did you hear about the path that the Telltale video game was taking with Bruce Wayne's family legacy? And what did you think of the choices made for this story?
Christos Gage: Editor Jim Chadwick asked me if I'd be interested in writing this project, so I took a look at the online playthroughs of Season 1, and I was really impressed by the bold moves Telltale made with Batman canon. It added an element that makes the Telltale Batman unique among versions of the character that I'm aware of, while still staying true to who Batman is. I thought that created a fantastic opportunity to explore a very familiar character, Batman/Bruce Wayne, in a situation we haven't seen before, and I jumped at the chance.
Nrama: The legacy of Bruce's father is tarnished in the video game, something that's even verified by their version of Alfred. How does that element of Bruce's life in the Telltale universe influence the story you're telling in Sins of the Father?
Gage: It's a huge part of it. Bruce is dealing with the fact that his father is not the man he thought he was. He is questioning his upbringing, his family, everything he bases his life on, including his career as Batman.
People harmed by Thomas Wayne are now coming after Wayne Enterprises and Bruce himself - both in court, and in more direct fashion. In many ways, the son is answering for the sins of the father. We're used to the DC Universe Batman who is supremely confident in his mission, his motivations. This is a Batman for whom that ground is shaky and uncertain.
Nrama: How much freedom were you given to develop the story of what happened between chapters of the video game?
Gage: I was given a great deal of freedom, as long as I don't contradict anything in either season of the game, which wasn't a problem. Telltale provided some ideas about things they'd like to see explored in the aftermath of Season 1, and laying the groundwork for Season 2, but it was all suggestions: "Do this if you can make it work and it helps the story." So it's been a great collaboration.
Nrama: The Telltale series put a lot of emphasis on the life of Bruce Wayne (as opposed to just Batman). Is the comic book similar?
Gage: Very much so. I'm currently writing a chapter which is all Floyd Lawton (Deadshot) facing off with Bruce Wayne (Batman) in their civilian identities. And it may be my favorite part of the series yet, even though there aren't any bullets flying or punches thrown...it's all psychological.
Nrama: Raffaele, the makers of the video game have described their version of Batman as a mix of the work of Jim Lee, Greg Capullo and Neal Adams. Any influence on the comic as well?
Raffaele Ienco: Actually, a friend was saying my take on Batman was more like Frank Quitely and Todd McFarlane. So I'm thrilled either way.
Nrama: How do you put your own spin on the look?
Ienco: Well, I gave Batman a more organic look since that works better as a comic. I did a bunch of research drawings on Batman and felt the version I came up with was a better fit for both the comic and video game worlds. Pleasing the reader is the ultimate objective.
Nrama: Let's talk about the adversary Bruce is dealing with in the story. Chris, why do you think Deadshot fits for this world and this "in-between" chapter?
Gage: I've always felt Deadshot is, in a lot of ways, a dark reflection of Batman. Rich families, trained to a peak of human ability, with a single-minded drive that borders on obsession and a disregard for personal safety.
The Telltale version of Deadshot has even more similarities than the one I've written in the DC Universe. Without spoiling too much, we'll be taking a close look at how Deadshot and Batman's lives parallel each other, and the question of how each of them ended up the way they are.
Nrama: We've also seen hints that Black Spider is part of the story. What does his bring to the story?
Gage: This is the mercenary version of Black Spider, and that's what he's doing here. He's actually working for Deadshot. Deadshot is a deadly marksman, but Black Spider is more of an up-close-and-personal martial arts expert, so he mixes it up with Batman hand to hand.
Ienco: I've given a classic Batman character, Black Spider, a new look!
Nrama: What other favorite Batman characters will show up in the series?
Gage: Commissioner Gordon and Alfred are a big part of it. Regina, the chairwoman of Wayne Enterprises seen in Season 1, is also a player. Aside from that, there aren't a lot...of course, the villains from Season 1 are indisposed, while antagonists from Season 2 of the game can't directly appear in this one because Batman meets them for the first time in the game, which takes place after this story. But we will feel their presence as they are getting established in Gotham behind the scenes.
Nrama: What was the biggest challenge of bringing the Telltale look and style to the "page" (or screen) for Sins of the Father?
Ienco: Well, this is a digital first series so in designing the comic page a white line has to run across the center of the page, dividing the page into a top and bottom. Which means I can't draw a big dynamic Batman the full height of the comic page.
The pages have to be designed as top and bottom which limits the layouts an artist can bring to the page. But I think I did a pretty good job.
As for the Batman Telltale look, I just drew a cool Batman world as best I could.
Nrama: How would you describe the story visually? What can readers expect from the scenes you and Christos are depicting?
Ienco: Our vision is big, cinematic, dynamic and super cool!
Nrama: Chris, how would you describe what Raffaele's art brings to the overall story?
Gage: See for yourself! He manages to capture the tone of the Telltale game perfectly while showing off his own personal, gritty and detailed style at the same time. His art has a hard-hitting quality that fits our story, but he can also convey subtle emotion well when he needs to. I'm excited for readers to see what I've seen!
Nrama: And Raffaele, how has it been working with Christos?
Ienco: Christos is a thrilling and fast-paced writer that really moves the story along. He's doing something really original with Batman's history. Also, his scripts are always so thoughtful when it comes to relaying what he wants the artist to illustrate. He and editor Jim Chadwick allow me some leeway to re-interpret a scene or panel with something I think could level up the visuals.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about what they can expect from Batman: Sins of the Father?
Gage: My very first project in comics was a Deadshot miniseries, almost 15 years ago. It feels like coming full circle getting to write this story now, introducing the Telltale Universe version of Deadshot. If you like the games, hopefully you'll get a deeper look into that world...and if you've never played the game, you'll get to see a familiar yet different version of Batman face off with his own family demons, and a classic villain in Deadshot. Everybody wins!