Back in January, it was announced that Scott Lobdell was leaving RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS. Taking over the series with issue 19 is James Tynion IV. James, as you know, is the current writer of TALON and has worked on several back up stories in BATMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS.
We took the opportunity to ask James some questions about what we can expect when he takes over as well as what might happen in future issues of TALON.
Comic Vine: Congrats on RED HOOD. I know some things can't be revealed until Death of the Family ends but what can you tell us about where you're taking the series?
James Tynion IV: I want to really explore the bonds that tie the Outlaws together. They’ve each gone through really horrible things in their lives… Kori’s enslavement, Roy’s alcoholism, and Jason’s death and resurrection. But together, they are strong. They lift each other up and help each other move past those darker moments, and focus on a brighter future. Of course, the best way to explore those rich depths will be to throw an epically huge wrench into their dynamics, and how they’ve relied on each other over the last few years. That wrench will be connected to the aftermath of the Death of the Family storyline, and it will launch us into a huge story over the summer that will really push their friendship to the limits.
But I think that’s the key. This is a book about how you can overcome your deepest, darkest fears and desires when you have great friendships at your back. In the series, I want to both dig into the past, and pave a real path towards these characters’ futures in the DCU. What makes them Outlaws? And more than that… What makes them outcasts from the rest of the superhero community? There’s an incredible potential in each of these characters. Jason’s potential in particular was something that caught the eye of Batman, and later, the All-Caste... Roy’s potential was seen by Green Arrow, before he fell into the depths of his alcoholism… And Kori has the potential to be the powerful warrior leader of an entire alien race, and is powerful enough to fight side-by-side with the Justice League if she wanted to. They’ve all stepped away from that potential in the face of great darkness in their lives, but they’re still out there fighting. They’re still determined to stand by each other’s side.
I want to explore why they fight, and more importantly, why they fight together. And I think we have an incredible story that will explore just that.== TEASER ==
CV: There's been talk of fleshing out Roy Harper's character and looking into his past. Will that include any time with Green Arrow?
JT: I think it’s a very safe bet that a thorough glimpse into Roy’s past would require us looking at his relationship with Green Arrow, and, in particular, the moment in which that relationship dissolved. We’ve only seen the ramifications of their fallout, and not the details. I think that’s a story that’s dying to be told, and like I’ve said in a few other places, I’m very eager to turn the focus onto Roy like we haven’t seen before. He’s the heart of the book, in many ways. I can’t say much more just yet, but stay tuned. We’re going to be learning lots about what led to Roy Harper becoming the man he is today.
CV: Any plans for adding to the ranks of the Outlaws?
JT: Not in the short-term, no. The first few stories I’m interested in telling are very much about the existing three outlaws, and what has brought them together. We’ll see some characters from their pasts come into the books, as unexpected allies, and as enemies… But at least for the next while this is very much the story of Jason Todd, Roy Harper, and Koriand’r.
CV: We've seen different versions of Jason Todd since he returned from the 'dead.' How do you see him?
JT: Jason has been through a lot of terrible things. He had an incredibly rough childhood, his tenure as Robin was defined by the fact that he was impulsive and tended to follow his emotions rather than his orders, then he died terribly and was resurrected in a way he still doesn’t quite understand. But every step of the way, he wanted to do what’s right. Even coming to Gotham City and becoming a murderous vigilante was a plan to clean up crime in a way that he felt was more concrete and final than what Batman had to offer. His moral compass is pointed in the right direction, but the darker moments that defined his past have led him to a darker path of heroism.
In reading those stories, you can see that he’s evolving, re-evaluating his morality every step of the way to make sure he’s on the right path. And I don’t think he is sure. He knows that he has a deep rage and sadness in him that pushes him in the wrong direction. I think he’s doing his best to master that and try and become a better Jason Todd. Whether his interpretation of what’s better matches what Batman would think is another thing entirely. But Jason is a constantly evolving character, and I think that’s what makes it so exciting to write him, and bring him to the next step on his journey forward.
JT: Forgiven is a strong word. I’d say that their relationship is becoming less defined by the singular moment of Jason’s death. This isn’t the brash, angry Jason Todd who emerged from the grave determined to get revenge on The Joker, and on Batman for not avenging his death. Jason’s relationship with Bruce now is a lot more complicated than that, now.
Obviously, Batman is a huge figure in his life. He’s the man who saved his life, and saw the potential in him to be something more than a petty criminal on the streets. That’s been tarnished, and there’s been a real loss of trust… But when Batman calls you to action, you come. They might not ever be able to overcome their troubled past, but I think deep down Jason still looks up to Bruce (it’s why it still hurts Jason that Bruce failed to save his life), and Bruce still believes in Jason (which is why it still hurts Bruce that Jason's rejected his path). Neither of them are the sort to talk it out, but that’s how I see their relationship.
CV: In RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #0, when Jason's dad was arrested, it appeared his mom was pregnant. Any plans to touch on that?
JT: With Jason’s childhood so much in the center of Scott L’s Death of the Family story across Red Hood and Titans, I didn’t want to dive back into that well so soon. We will be seeing some unknown corners of Jason’s past, but from a little bit further down the road.
CV: Will RED HOOD/OUTLAWS 19 be your first without co-writing with that Scott Snyder guy?
JT: I’ve been writing TALON solo from the very beginning, with Scott in more of a mentorship position, helping me shape the plot and stay true to the mythology he built in the original Court of Owls storyline. I also did the backup stories in both DETECTIVE COMICS and BATMAN #0 on my own…
But yes, this will be the first DC Comic with me named as the sole writer, cover to cover, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Scott and I have a lot in common in what we feel is important in a given story, but I think ultimately, our writerly voices are very different. I’m excited for RHATO to really give me the chance to show something that’s much more in my wheelhouse than I think anyone reading Talon or the Backups expects. This kind of book, with a larger cast, and bombastic superheroics involving young DC heroes, is literally the book I’ve been waiting to write my entire life. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity.
JT:Yes. Absolutely yes. A very big threat will be revealing itself in just a few months. It’s going to really amp up the scale of the series to the next level. I wish I could say more about it, because we have incredible plans that will take us to a corner of the DCU we haven’t seen in New 52 continuity, and build it from the ground up. I am fiendishly excited about where the series is headed, and I hope everyone comes along for the ride.
CV: Of course we have to ask, what about a crossover between RED HOOD and TALON?
JT: There’s nothing on the docket just yet. There are huge stories coming up in both TALON and RED HOOD, and we’re focused on making those stories the absolute best they can be. I would absolutely love for Calvin Rose to come face to face with Jason Todd… I think there’s a great contrast there about how the two of them have dealt with their horrifying pasts and tried to work towards the future. There is another member of the Bat-Family who we might be seeing a bit sooner in the pages of Talon. Was that a Flying Graysons poster back in Issue #0? Not to mention… How does that Batman fella feel about a Talon running around Gotham City without his sanction? I think we might be seeing some of that coming up pretty soon.
CV: Speaking of crossovers, any thoughts on confrontation between Jason and Dick? Seems Kyle Higgins might be itching for them to face off against each other.
JT: He’s not the only one.
TALON #4 is now on sale. James' first issue of RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS is on sale April 17.