BATMAN ETERNAL is the new weekly Batman series written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, and Tim Seeley. With the first two issues out, we’re seeing some big shake ups in Gotham City. As one of Batman’s closest allies faces a dark path, the call is put out to the rest of the Bat Family.
We had the chance to ask James Tynion IV some questions and he revealed some juicy details. There will be some spoilers if you haven’t read issues 1 and 2 yet.
COMIC VINE: Let’s start with issue #1, that first page! Are we to assume that happens in issue #52 or is it a wait and see?
JAMES TYNION IV: That is a moment right at the end of the story. It is the sort of climax to everything that comes together. Whether or not that’s issue #52, that is a wait and see. It’s going to be somewhere around there. It’s definitely going to be right as the story reaches its final moments and Batman is in his moment of desperation.
CV: We got to see some cool scenes with the GCPD. Is this something we’ll be seeing more of?
JT: Absolutely. One of our big goals, in this series, is to make sure it’s a story that went beyond. It’s a story that plays into all the corners of Gotham. Obviously the police department is a key part of the storyline. With everything that we’re doing, we’re going to be seeing a lot more of them. Particularly, through the eyes of Jason Bard, who came in right at the beginning of the first issue. He’s one of our major characters over the course of the year. There’s a lot more to come in terms of your favorite GCPD members.
CV: Speaking of Jason Bard, any hints on how he’ll compare to the pre-New 52 version?
JT: I think people who are familiar with the character know that he’s always sort of been on Team Batman, from the very beginning. There was even that time he was working as Batman’s own private investigator, solving the cases and doing the legwork during the day, that Batman would follow up on at night. I always loved that angle for the character. He also has a history as a member of the GCPD. We wanted a character that could really anchor Gotham City in this storyline with a fresh set of eyes. We wanted a character who could be our access point for all of Gotham. We decided very early on that Bard would be the perfect figure to reintroduce to serve that role. Whether we’re going to build towards elements of continuity, you’re going to have to wait and see. Most importantly, we’re really building him from the ground up for this series but staying true to the core of the characters.
CV: Will you be focusing on Jim Gordon’s story in the first arc or will we see a mix of everything along the way?
JT: The first issue is really the inciting incident. It’s the moment that launches all the pieces on the table, sending them all off. Issue #2 is where we see a lot of the secondary characters in the Bat Universe react to what happens. It’s also the introduction of a major threat that’s returning to Gotham. It’s that threat’s first appearance in the New 52. That’s a character I could not be more excited about reintroducing to the Gotham mythos because we haven’t really ever seen him this kind of story.
The first three issues that Scott and I are co-writing together, they sort of serve as the pilot for the full year of BATMAN ETERNAL. The first issue sets up the story with a flash to the end and also has this crazy inciting incident sends Jim Gordon away. It tilts the aspect of Gotham that helps Batman the most. Jim Gordon, his partnership with Batman goes back to the very beginning of Batman’s tenure in Gotham City. As we’re seeing play out in Zero Year. By taking him off the table, all of Gotham is going to become a very different place for Batman. We’re going to see how that starts to happen in issues 2 and 3, which set up the scale of the story to come. It’ll introduce more of the central cast to the storyline.
CV: As far as this character introduced in issue #2, can we assume the rest of this person’s family will be involved?
JT: Yeah, we’re introducing Carmine Falcone back into the DCU. We’ve never really seen a story with him. He’s always been a key figure in Batman’s past. In previous continuity, he died in the past, as we saw play out in THE LONG HALLOWEEN and stories like that. He was never a figure in the present day. The idea of taking someone whose control of Gotham, the crime family, it was part of what made Gotham such a dangerous place when Batman came on the scene. The idea that in new continuity, we could bring him back and basically have him make a real attempt to take back Gotham and make it what it was before Batman, that was something we were very interested in doing right at the start.
In terms of his larger family, I think the focus is going to be very much on Carmine and also the figures in Gotham’s criminal hierarchy who decide to ally with him, instead of the Penguin. We’re building Penguin up as Carmine’s major rival. The way we see it is, Penguin is the guy who ran Carmine out of town, just as much as Jim Gordon, Harvey Dent, and Batman did during the time directly after Zero Year. That was how the Penguin came to power, by picking up the pieces of Carmine’s empire and taking control of them because he understood what Batman was. But now Carmine’s coming back and he understands. He knows what’s happening. He’s going to have an incredible amount of power at his back. It’s really going to shake up what the whole power structure of Gotham is in just as major of a way as taking Jim Gordon off the table.
CV: I’m assuming we can believe the scars on his face are from Selina?
JT: Oh yeah. He definitely has a past with Selina Kyle. It might not be the same past from the original continuity. We wanted to really make our own mark on the whole Selina/Carmine storyline. I think people should expect a very strong connection between those two characters.
CV: Are you guys still each writing different parts/characters that will appear combined in each issue? I believe you said you were writing Tim Drake? How does the structure work?
JT: We are all working on complete issues. We decided early on we wanted to approach this like a television series with basically three-issue arcs serving as episodes of the TV show. The one exception is issues 4, 5, 6, and 7. They’re one-shots by each of the core writers of the series that will set up a bunch of the subplots of the story. In each of our “episodes” or arcs, different subplots come to the head and other ones drop back to the background. Things rotate in and out. The main storyline, the Batman storyline, continues straight through from issue 1 to the end.
When we were talking before about the stories, that each of us have taken the lead on, yeah, I’m going to be very much looking over the storyline with Tim Drake and Harper Row, which starts in issue 5. Other people will write parts of that storyline but the major beats of that storyline will be during my arc, just as much as the major beats or storyline in Ray’s arc and the main beats of Jason Todd, Batgirl’s storyline, those are going to be in Tim’s arc. That’s sort of how we broke it down. But it’s not something where everyone is writing a few pages an issue. We’re writing complete issues and arcs. We planned it all out back in September. It’s been working really well for us so far. It’s been an incredible experience. I’ve just been sitting down today, reading through everything we have in and there’s some incredible storytelling coming in over the coarse of the year that each of these writers brought to the table. I’m just excited for everyone to see them.
CV: The solicits are already out for issues up to #12. How structured do you guys have each issue laid out? We know solicits change at times out of necessity but are you guys sticking close to what’s been released?
JT: 100%. Occasionally there might be a tweak here and there but we have it plotted out, rather extensively. Everything’s coming out just the way we planned it and just the way we started writing it back in the Fall. It’s been a shockingly easy process. I joked back in the Fall how this was the project that was going to kill me over the course of the year but it’s actually proved to be one of the best writing experiences I’ve ever had. What you see in the solicits does reflect what you’re going to see in the book.
CV: What can you tease about Stephanie Brown in issue #3?
JT: It’s the beginning of her story. Even though she’s appeared in BATMAN #28, that happens much later on in the story, in terms of continuity. People should treat this as the first appearance of Stephanie Brown. It’s the first encounter with the Bat mythos, but not necessarily Batman himself. This is how she stumbles into a lot of trouble that’s going to be following her over the course of the year and set her off onto the path of becoming Spoiler. This is the first moment in the long journey of Stephanie Brown.
Make sure you join in on the fun. BATMAN ETERNAL is available weekly. Issues 1 and 2 are now on sale. Issue #3, Stephanie Brown’s “first” appearance is on sale April 23.