BATWING Goes Global for JLI, Back to Africa for ZERO MONTH


As most of the Batman-related books concentrate on Gotham City, Batwing is tying into Batman Incorporated by giving the concept a grander scale.

But for its next storyline, Batwing will round out the villains of the hero's African home, as well as the other heroes who populate the continent.

Written by Judd Winick with art by Marcus To, Batwing may be based in Africa, but it has been incorporating everything from the "Night of the Owls" to Batman Incoporated. In August, Winick will even return to writing the Justice League International, filled with characters he explored during his year-long bi-weekly event, Justice League: Generation Lost.

As Winick finishes up his first year on the title, he'll also be writing Batwing #0, which reveals the untold story of David Zamvimbi's decision to become a vigilante and work with Batman. It's one of two #0 issues that Winick is writing in September, as he also tackles Green Arrow #0.

And although the writer leaving Catwoman while writing and drawing a new graphic novel for kids, Winick will be staying on Batwing long-term.

Newsarama talked to the writer to find out more about his plans on Batwing.

Batwing #12

Newsarama: Judd, we've seen Batwing interacting with Nightwing in China, and in August, he's encountering a lot of other DC heroes. Was your intent to bring him further into the DC Universe?

Judd Winick: Yeah, we've entered the very superheroic stage of Batwing's development. The first eight issues were meant to introduce him to the readers and set up his character and understand his origin — where he came from, who he was, and how he got here.

Batwing #12, pg. 1

With the last few issues, we've been diving more into the Batman Incorporated link to his character while also making the scale of the book much bigger. I wanted to make sure we played with all the toys.

And Marcus To has been really, really great for that. He knows how to draw lots and lots of superheroes, so that makes this a lot of fun. It really feels like a Byrne/Claremont thing going on, as far as, "let's put lots of guys and gals in costumes and see what we can do!"

Nrama: It's also played out on an international stage, but you're getting back to Africa soon, right?

Winick: Yeah, Nightwing and Batwing were in China, then get to visit another country just briefly while other insanity was still going on in Africa. But it all culminates in issue #12 with Batwing meeting up with Justice League International, to basically invade a country.

Batwing #12 pg. 2-3

As we've learned, Lord Battle is a dictator who is the self-appointed president of a small but very powerful nation in Africa. He's a giant dude with meta-human powers. He's about eight feet tall. And he nearly single-handedly fought back the entire army to overthrow the previous dictator. Then he basically walled up the country, and no one can come in and no one can come out. And no one has set foot in the country in 20 years, until Matu is let back in to bury his family. I love the way Marcus has drawn him.

And Bloodstorm is Lord Battle's private guard. When you're a giant meta-human dictator, you can't just have regular guards! So Bloodstorm is his private guard of very nasty meta-humans. So you'll see the JLI go up against these guys.

Batwing #12. pg. 4-5

So it's really high-stakes, big honking superhero fight stuff. And that was a bit of a new direction for Batwing, but the story took us in that direction when we started getting into the Batman Incorporated part of it.

Nrama: Fans of your work on Justice League International are looking forward to you writing some of those characters again. How was it for you to return to them in the New 52?

Winick: Oh, it was a blast. I wish it was longer. I had 20 pages to do a lot. I wanted Booster to talk more, you know? So I could write him! I could have done 60 pages on these guys.

But it was really fun to get back to those guys for just a little bit. Just a little bit. I loved doing that entire run. It was fun for me when they announced that Batwing had joined the JLI. I'm sorry to see the book go. But it immediately opened the door for this. I said, "Oh! Can they come play over here? Please?"

I had this idea about this big old fight in Africa, and I thought they could come along. I knew it would be great. And I really enjoyed writing it.

Justice League

International #12

That's what issue #12 is. It's one of those big superhero issues where it actually feels right. You know? You only get to do it now and again where it feels right and makes sense, and doesn't feel like an overload — a whole, big old superhero dogpile. That's what we have for issue #12. It's good fun.

It also moves the story forward. We learn a lot about Batwing's Alfred, Matu Ba. We learn a whole lot about him and his background and where he comes from, and what makes him tick. As we learned in issue #10 and #11, his entire family was murdered, and we revealed a lot of information about him. And now the only family he has left is Batwing. So in a way, they're both orphans.

Nrama: Is the series going to stay in Africa for awhile, or are you hoping to continue showing his travels?

Winick: No, he's in Africa for awhile. In issue #13 and on through the end of the year, we've got a pretty big story in Africa. But it will have an international feel. While this storyline now has a lot of guest stars that everyone recognizes, we'll be introducing new characters in the fall storyline. We'll introduce a major new villain. And you'll see allies for the villains we've met already, so we'll be building the web of trouble for Batwing.

Justice League

International #12, pg. 1

And there are a lot of other heroes running around Africa, and we're going to meet a bunch of them.

So that storyline will be very African-centric. But it will still feel superheroic.

That's what we're trying to do. It shouldn't feel like a trip to social studies class. It should feel authentically African, but at the same time, like a superhero book.

Nrama: We've also seen Penguin in one of the subplots of the current story, although it hasn't been revealed what his entire involvement is. Is that meant to tie the comic into the Bat-universe?

Winick: Exactly. As I said, there are a lot of toys in this playground, and we're making sure we utilize them in a way that makes sense with the character.

Batwing is a soldier in Batman Incorporated. So he's a part of that organization. And he has very, very close ties to Batman.

Justice League

International #12, pg.2

Batman is not just his employer — he's kind of his mentor. The shirt on his back is provided by Batman.

But we also try hard to establish how Batwing is his own man.

Batwing is a genius. He's not just tech savvy. He's a builder, an inventor himself. And these things are intuitive. He's got a photographic memory and the ability to build and create. So because of that, I'm really trying to embrace his "man in armor" feel a little bit more. He wears his armor, and the idea is that Batwing has been working on it. So it isn't just body armor with wings — it's got more stuff. It's basically like a big, walking utility belt.

He's been almost killed fighting Massacre and doing other things we've seen, so he believes he needs upgrades. So you'll see him continue to outfit his armor with more and more gadgets, like a big, giant, walking, flying utility belt.

So that's who the hero is. But unfortunately, for him, he also has a bit of a vicious streak, which he has to keep in check. When you're Batman, you have to be a little bit more calm.

Nrama: How has it been to write Dick Grayson again? The last time you wrote the character, he was Batman.

Winick: Yeah, yeah. And it's been fantastic to write him in the New 52. I like it when Nightwing doesn't have to be in charge. When Nightwing has to take the lead, he can't be as funny and light-hearted. It just doesn't work. I have written him as a joking leader now and again, but it's difficult to make it work.

Justice League

International #12, pg.3

But with this, when you put him in somewhat of a sidekick position, you get to have the quips. And I really like it.

Nrama: Let's talk about what you're doing for Batwing #0. Is this his origin story?

Winick: It's the "rest" of the origin story. We spent eight issues, basically, giving the lead-in for Batwing so you understand where he comes from, that he was a boy soldier who was saved and then became a vigilante.

But there was that missing chapter from when he took to the streets in body armor to when he met Batman and joined Batman Incorporated.

And also, that last leap. What made him become a vigilante? It wasn't just that he wanted to. Things happened. Things happened that made the last turn for him.

In issue #0, we'll see that he became a cop, but we'll also see him quickly learn that the police are very corrupt. It's a new police force in a new, fledgling country. So he wasn't making any kind of difference.

Justice League

International #12, pg. 4

And then bad things happen that force him to turn inward, and then look outward. The birth of the vigilante comes from that. And we'll see that story in Batwing #0. But we'll also see how Batwing meets Batman and joins Batman Incorporated.

The #0 issue tells the story of a boy soldier who became a frustrated cop and then morphed into the vigilante superhero.

I think you'll see the same theme in a lot of the #0 issues. It's about that dark turn. It's about what happened that made them finally put on the costume. What event was the catalyst? With Batman, as we know, it isn't just about his parents getting gunned down. It's also that decision where he thought, "I'm going to dress up as a bat and go stop criminals." So with my Green Arrow issue and with Batwing, you'll see that moment where they are both deciding to, in one case, pick up the bow, and the other one is to head out into the streets at night without a badge to stop the bad guys.

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