At NYCC, Dynamite Entertainment announced that the publisher would be bringing pulp hero Black Bat back to comics with the help of writer/artist Brian Buccellato (THE FLASH, FOSTER) in a brand new series. Now that Brian and Dynamite are ready to talk about the project in more detail, we caught up with the creator to learn more about his work on the series. We asked him what it was like writing a pulp hero, whether he felt he had to modernize the character, and much more. The all-new BLACK BAT series is scheduled to hit comic shop shelves this May 2013, but before it is released, you can check out the interview as well as the exclusive colored interior pages by artist Ronan Cliquet and let us know if it is a series you are looking forward to putting on your pull list.
Comic Vine: You're well versed in writing pre-existing characters like the Flash, as well as penning your own characters. Writing BLACK BAT for Dynamite Entertainment means taking a classic, pre-existing character and revamping it. What is that experience like for you? What are the differences in your approach?
Brian Buccellato: It’s definitely unique and in some ways more challenging, because a lot of The Black Bat’s history has been incorporated into more recognizable (and enduring) characters that followed him. So the challenge becomes trying to stay true to the spirit of the source material while not making him seem like a retread of the characters that he actually preceded. With the Flash, the challenge for Francis and I is always to put a fresh spin on a rich history that largely remains intact. So, we concentrate on finding areas of his existing history and exploring the stuff between stories that have already been told.== TEASER ==
CV: How much of the BLACK BAT will be inspired by the pulp hero? How much will be changed?
BB: I believe that, while my take has some major departures from the original pulps, it remains VERY true to the spirit of the Black Bat. I don’t have any interest in doing a scene-by-scene “remake” of the pulps, because they were written in a specific time in history. The things that resonated in the 30’s and 40’s are NOT the things that will resonate today. There are many elements that will remain the same, but at the end of the day, this is a comic written for a 2013 audience.
CV: What is it about the character that drew you to him?
BB: The guns. (laughter) Honestly, there is something intriguing about those classic heroes and the fact that they had no problem blasting bad guys with their guns. Back then, the line separating good and evil was pretty simplistic, and if you were on the wrong side it, a hero could “pop a cap in your ass”, no problem. Sure, the police had something to say from time to time, but whenever they were in a bind and needed help, they conveniently forgot that these heroes were actually vigilantes capable of murder.
So, the idea of taking one of these original ‘armed” pulp superheroes and finding where he fits in today’s world, was something that I immediately responded to.
CV: The character has definitely been given a sort of a redesign, how involved were you in that process?
BB: The character designs are mine. Nicky, myself and the guys at Dynamite went through a bunch of different designs from various artists… but at the end of the day, one of my (many) designs was what we went with. I started out wanting a more modern Black Ops / Splinter Cell type vibe… but after MANY concepts, we decided to go back to a look that was closer to the original concept. I’m actually most proud of his logo, which it the red on his costume. It represents a Bat’s teeth – the two little front ones, and the long fangs. I’m really happy with how it came out, and you can bet that he will use is his calling card!
CV: BLACK BAT is a character that inspired Bob Kane to create Batman, however there are some definitive integral differences between the two characters. How do you view their differences and similarities?
BB: The Guns. (more laughter).
The most obvious difference is that the Black Bat is not haunted by tragedy beyond his control. He is not a hero in the way that Batman is, trying to stop bad people so that innocents don’t have to the feel the pain he feels. Tony Quinn is a man in search of redemption for the evils that he has been complicit in as a defense attorney for the mob. He has a debt to pay society. Also, Batman has a very clear “line” that he won’t cross. Killing is off the table, so that presents a unique set of challenges for him. The Black Bat doesn’t know where the line is – part of his journey as a character is finding where that line exists. I made a joke out of it, but the guns are definitely something that separates him from the Dark Knight.
CV: What can you tell us about the premise of your story?
BB: Hmmm, I’ve already spilled a lot of the beans…
Essentially, the Black Bat is a redemption story that explores the connection between heroism, vigilantism and revenge. There are a host of other events surrounding Tony Quinn and the people that brought him from the brink of self-destruction and gave him sight… but you’re just gonna have to read it to find out!
CV: Can you discuss what you have planned in the first arc of your story?
BB: The first arc explores a few things... issue #1 begins his redemptive quest to take down all of the bad guys he defended and got acquitted as a lawyer. His ultimate goal is to take down Oliver Snate -- if he can find him, but he faces many other challenges along the way. The most pressing threat in the first arc involves a mystery person that is kidnapping police officers.
CV: What are the characters strengths? What are his weaknesses? How will you be using these traits to tell your tale?
BB: His greatest strength is his single-minded determination. He has only one goal and he doesn't care if it kills him, he's going to make things right. The upside is that he is never gonna quit -- no matter how tough the going gets. The downside is that he may take risks that get himself or others hurt. This will play out over the course of the story, as he has to come to terms with how his needs affect those around him. I think his greatest weakness is that he doesn't have a clear moral line. For a guy named Black Bat, he certainly sees life as gray and is not exactly sure what lines he shouldn't cross. This moral ambiguity may hurt him in the long run.
CV: What is the most interesting part of this storytelling process for you, in your opinion? How does it differ from other projects you are presently working on?
BB: The Black Bat is closer to the type of stories that I work on when I am not working for hire. Darker stories that involve redemption are definitely more in my "wheelhouse", so i really enjoy writing about Tony Quinn.
CV: Tell us about the art in this series. As both a writer or colorist, did you have an artistic vision for this title as well? Did you have a hand in bringing artist Ronan Cliquet to the story?
BB: I do have an artistic vision for this story! I worked with Nicky and Dynamite to find the best possible choice for the gritty type of street level book I wanted to write... and we found it with Ronan. Early on, I sent him tons of reference of the type of art that I felt best fit this story, and he MORE than exceeded my expectations. And to our delight, we honestly feel like he is getting even better and growing with each page he turns in. I couldn't be more happy with his art. His storytelling and use of blacks is perfect for the Black Bat.
About the colors...
As a guy that's done his fair share of coloring over the years, I have a very specific palette that I prefer. I'm all about the mood and scene to scene color temperature change, and Mat Lopes is doing an amazing job setting the tone for the book. His colors are top notch... AND he's staying away from purple/magenta, which I have an unhealthy hatred for!
CV: What are some of the supporting characters in your series? Will they be completely new characters, or will we see pre-existing ones? If so, which?
BB: Most of the characters are from the original pulps (as you can tell by their awesome names) Carol Baldwin, Silk Kirby, Oliver Snate, Butch Oleary and Commissioner Warner. There are some new additions, like Tony’s father and others that will play out more as the story gets larger and we learn more about how Tony Quinn became The Black Bat.
What do you think of the upcoming BLACK BAT series? Is it a comic you're willing to check out? Be sure to let your comic shop know to order this title for you. Let us know what you think in the comments below.