TOM KING: Building BATMAN Towards BANE

DC Comics July 2019 solicitations
Credit: DC

As Tom King’s Batman builds toward this summer’s “City of Bane” event, the writer promises answers to the most pressing questions from the end of issue #50, which he calls the character’s lowest point. 

Batman #75 will kick off “City of Bane” which features art by Tony Daniel, and King said the issue has the “the big, climactic moment” that will start to really turn things around for the character.

Credit: DC Entertainment

Before that moment comes, however, this week’s Batman #69 with artist Yanick Paquette finishes up the “Knightmares” story arc, which has revealed Batman’s greatest fear, according to King. And with the next story arc, readers will start learning more about Bane’s plan in “The Fall and The Fallen,” including how and why Flashpoint Batman has joined forces with Bane.

Newsarama talked to King to find out more about the upcoming stories, how they’re all building toward the end of his 100-issue run, and what readers can expect as this story ties into other stories in the DCU. 

Newsarama: Tom, we’re in the midst of the “Knightmares” arc. Assuming that is correct and he’s experiencing his deepest fears, does that mean his deepest fears are connected to Catwoman?

Tom King: Yes, the whole thing is centered around Catwoman. The idea is that the only way for Batman to wake up, which you’re slowly seeing him do, you’re seeing him execute this strategy over these seven issues, where he’s looking for his greatest fear, is he needs to almost shocked out of this nightmare. 

And he’s figured out slowly that his greatest fear has something to do with Catwoman.

Nrama: We also saw at the end of the last issue that he’s inside some sort of machine. The implication is that the confrontation with his father led to him being trapped in this machine. So is this all tied to Scarecrow as opposed to Psycho-Pirate?

Credit: DC

King: Yeah, in issue #63, Batman specifically says that he knows it’s Scarecrow gas and he’s tied to a machine. It’s part of a long-term plan of Bane to break Batman, not by breaking his back but by breaking his soul.

Of course, part of that was the wedding, and this is sort of the next stage, revealing to Batman his greatest weakness.

Nrama: Let’s talk about just how long-term Bane’s plan is, because we discovered at the end of issue #50 that all these villains from your run are actually part of Bane’s plan. Has Bane been pulling the strings since your first issue #1? 

King: I mean, that’s a big reveal that we’ll be getting into as we go forward, but I think you can see at the end of issue #50, that Hugo Strange is there as one of his sort of minions. 

And if you look in issue #1, as that plane crashes down with Batman on top of it, you see Hugo Strange watching. 

From day #1, the original plan was “Bane is bad, Batman loves Catwoman,” and this is what the whole series will be about — those two things. 

And yeah, this is the big plan. It’s all, I do these 12-issue mini-series, like Mister Miracle and The Vision. I look at

Batman as a very long version of that 12-issue thing. It’s one big story that’s about, can Batman put something above the vow?

Credit: DC

Can he put his love for Catwoman above the vow he made to his parents?

That’s like the big question at the heart of the whole series.

Nrama: Most of the people we saw at the end of issue #50 had already appeared, but I think one of the biggest surprises was Flashpoint Batman. Upcoming issues look like they’ll feature him. Will we find out more about Thomas Wayne’s motives and how he got to this point?

King: Flashpoint Batman appeared in issue #22 and there was this key moment where the last words Thomas said before he died were, “Don’t be Batman?” 

Everyone was like, what does this mean? What are the implications for that? And I’m like, I can’t tell them! I had to hold back. 

That’s an essential aspect of this whole story: Thomas Wayne’s role in this and the idea that his father doesn’t want him to be Batman. That’s going to be at the heart of the story.

Nrama: But in issue #22, Flashpoint Batman appeared to die as his universe was collapsing. I mean, if this is the same Flashpoint Batman, are we going to learn how he escaped and came to the DCU?

King: Yeah, yeah, we’ll learn that as we go forward. Yes, definitely, that’s one of the big things coming up. And yes, it’s the same Flashpoint Batman. It’s his literal father, but they separated at that moment where, in Flashpoint Batman’s world, Bruce was killed, where of course in the DCU, Bruce’s father was killed.

Nrama: Right, and this Bruce is not living up to Daddy’s expectations because he’s continuing to be Batman?

Credit: DC

King: Right. Well, you have to remember that Flashpoint Batman — his wife became Joker and he had to kill his own wife because of that. This is not a man who’s in his right mind.

Nrama: Right. OK, since you brought up Flashpoint Batman’s appearance in “The Button,” and since that story was tied directly in to Doomsday Clock and Dr. Manhattan, is there a link between Batman and that stories? I get the feeling, particularly with your Batman run featuring Psycho-Pirate (who is aware of different universes), these stories are tied more closely together than it appears.

King: That’s the best thing about comic books is it all ties together. 

Doomsday Clock triggered “The Button,” which brought us Flashpoint Batman, who plays a huge role here. And of course, there’s Metal, which has this implication of all these other Batmen from other Earths who play a role as we go forward. 

And as we build up toward this “Year of the Villain,” and as we get to “City of Bane” in Batman #75, that’s going to play directly into the huge DC plans that are coming up.

All the books are sort of merging together as we go forward to complete this story, and as it’s been done since day one.

It’s nice to see a plan come together. It’s nice to be with the A-Team every once in awhile. 

Credit: DC

Nrama: Before we get to “City of Bane,” your next story arc is called, “The Fall and the Fallen.” Is this specifically dealing with the aftermath of facing his fears in this machine and confronting Flashpoint Batman?

King: Yes, that’s exactly what it is. Batman wakes up from these nightmares. They’ve changed him. That’s the best part about “Knightmares” is I got to do seven, basically one-shot issues with seven different artists, seven different genres —

I did horror, I did comedy, I did noir. 

But each of them was building on to something, and it was building on to the breaking of Batman, to this great fear. 

So now the aftermath of this has gone right to the heart of him and sort of ripped him apart. And he’s going to wake up into a world of Bane and his father.

What is Batman going to do about that?

Nrama: You mentioned that he wakes up from his fears and he’s changed. Is your idea that facing your fears can change things?

King: Well, by change I mean it makes him recognize who he is. I mean, there’s different ways people deal with fears. Some people deal with fear by sort of accepting it; some people deal with fear by denying it; some people put up walls. And that’s the question of what he does at the end of this. 

Credit: DC

I don’t think it changes him. It sort of makes him more of who he is.

Nrama: So it’s more of a realization.

King: Yeah. I think after the wedding, after he was left at the altar, when he was so close to happiness, he was starting to conceive of himself in a different way. He was starting to evolve as a character. 

There was some denial to that. He wanted to be a person who was married. He was sort of accepting that situation.

And I think what he’s going through now is sort of looking at himself and saying, can he be that person he was on that rooftop? I think that’s what the rest of the issue is about.

“Knightmares” was about, when he was left at the altar, he responded with anger, as we saw in the “Cold Days” arc. And that anger building and building and building.

Now he has opened his eyes to why that happened. He never questioned himself. He just sort of read the note and didn’t question.

And now he’s finally questioning, why did she leave? Why didn’t that go through? What does that really mean? What does that really say about me?

That’s what “Knightmares” is about.

End of part 1

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