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Batman: The Dark Knight #11This week, the Batman office gets a new writer on one of its best-selling books, taking the comic in a new direction by revamping one of Bruce Wayne's best-known villains: Scarecrow.
Beginning with The Dark Knight #10, Gregg Hurwitz, a thriller novelist who's been writing comics on the side for the last few years, will join artist David Finch. He moves onto the title after writing the DC mini-series Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, which introduced a dark, disturbing side of Oswald Cobblepot to the relaunched DC Universe.
Now he'll revamp Scarecrow for the DCnU in what he's called a "dark, gothic" story, joining superstar artist Finch on a title that was originally launched with the artist also writing.
Finch told Newsarama in February, "I think for The Dark Knight to be as strong as it can be, it has to have a reason for being, beyond just being another Batman book and a vehicle for my artwork. And I think Gregg's story gives it the direction its been lacking."While we'll be checking back with Hurwitz soon to discuss his #0 issues for September, first Newsarama talked with the writer to find out more about what makes this title different from all the other Batman books, and why he thinks Scarecrow will help define his run on the title.
Newsarama: Gregg, there are four ongoing Batman titles that star Bruce Wayne in the lead. As you start your new run on Batman: The Dark Knight, what does it offer that readers might not get reading the other Bruce Wayne comics?
Gregg Hurwitz: I think one of the things that Scott Snyder does so masterfully in Batman is really tie into the history of Gotham. It's very mythology rich. I really like Scott's writing, and I think he's doing a fantastic job on Batman. And Batman and Robin, of course, deals very heavily with the relationship between Damian and Bruce, and it's something that I think Pete Tomasi has been handling so well, because Damian is not the easiest character to write. And he's really managed to nail that.
One of the things that I've liked in Dark Knight is the freedom to write an arc that's very propulsive and thriller geared, with a lot of action. It also is very, very intensely psychological.
Nrama: That's not a surprise, since Scarecrow's your first villain. But is that psychological side of Bruce also an interest of yours?
Hurwitz: It is. It's the angle of Batman that I enjoy and that I really want to explore.
But I'm not implying that the other books aren't psychological as well, because I think that plays very heavily into every book that's playing with Batman. But I have a lot of room in there to dig into aspects of Bruce's psyche and the way that it interlocks with certain rogues.
And because of David Finch, I give him a lot of elbowroom, because he's such a heavyweight, to really open it up with big visuals.
So for me, a lot of what the book is is a counterpart between key aspects of these characters' psychology, and trying to shine a light in those dark corners, whether it's the Scarecrow or Batman himself, interspersed with these broad, stretching, epic, dark visuals.
Nrama: I would think David's art would play a huge role in defining how you write the book.
Hurwitz: It does. And it plays an even bigger part, obviously, in the way the book reads. And I have to tell you that he's doing some of the best work I've ever seen him do.
There's a two-page spread in the first issue that's just one of the best things, I think, Finch has ever done. It's just jaw-dropping.
Nrama: Now that you're a little further into the run, how has the Scarecrow story evolved into something that defines your run? And why did you want to use Scarecrow to kick it off?
Hurwitz: Well, when I originally chose this story, I was spring-boarding off this redefining we did of Penguin in the mini-series. I had a really strong urge to do that with another character from the rogues gallery, and I've always been fascinated by the Scarecrow.
Part of that is that I love that he's a psychologist. I love the academic background paired with the unhinged aspect of the character.
I started to think, what would make someone that obsessed with fear? What's something that could happen in someone's childhood to make that a defining emotion and motive that propels them through their life?
So I started to build that back-story much in the way I built a different type of back-story for the Penguin.And for me, it became this dark counterpart to what Batman's relationship is with fear, because the things Bruce Wayne fears are different from what you would conventionally think on the surface. He dealt with an enormous amount of loss early in his life, and it taught him to be afraid of a lot of human emotion, some of them positive, because of what the cost can be from that.
And so that's the interlocking aspect of this particular character from the rogues’ gallery for me.
It's almost like they're both dark foils. You know? It's not just darkness and light. It's sort of darkness and darkness. And that's what that first cover from issue #10 is. The top half is Batman, and the bottom half is Scarecrow.
Nrama: Since Scarecrow is a psychologist, does the character recognize the way Bruce is using fear, and the fear that he has deep inside that most people wouldn't realize?
Hurwitz: He does, but he can't see everything that defined that fear. He's not going to realize that Batman is Bruce Wayne, for instance. That's a risk. But when he's first interacting with him, he doesn't come at it knowing that the two are one in the same.
Nrama: But he's trying to find out, since he's got that psychological knowledge, right?
Hurwitz: Definitely. He's leaning on him and digging and probing into his darkest fears in the past, present and future.
So to go back to your question about him knowing Batman's fears, the question is, is that something he's going to get to eventually? Is it something he can realize, and use exactly the point of vulnerability?
And I gave him a new sort of device, a weapon, that ties into what we're talking about. It's a simple device that he uses to great effect. And you'll see that right away.
Nrama: You've said before that your first story arc is six issues. That's still true?
Nrama: So the #0 issue falls halfway into it?
Hurwitz: Yes, but it will be tied thematically to what I'm playing with in this story. I'm really trying to weave a bunch of psychological themes in The Dark Knight. So what happens in #0 will be illuminating for the major themes that I'm playing with in my Dark Knight arc.I don't want to be chugging along with the arc and then all of the sudden hit the brakes and tell some unrelated story that has no thematic relationship and then jump into another story.
With Dark Knight #0, I'm playing around with all the DNA and pieces that are revolving around the themes that I'm exploring.
What my arc really looks at with Scarecrow are the roles that fear and loss play in defining who Bruce Wayne is. And so this issue #0 is a key piece. It's an answer to the question that's unwittingly posed in the arc, in a way.
Check back with Newsarama later this week when we find out more about the story Hurwitz is telling in Batman: The Dark Knight #0 as well as his one-issue story in Detective #0.
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