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Interview: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray on the Mystery of the New Batwing

The writing duo are bringing some big changes to BATWING and promise serious repercussions if his identity is discovered.

We know that April is meant to be a month full of crazy happenings in the DC Comics titles. Little by little, we've been seeing the gatefold cover reveals for those issues. It was announced earlier that Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray were taking over BATWING. What we later discovered is they plan on introducing a new Batwing into the title. Who is this character? We have no idea except for the cover images that have been released.

We got the opportunity to talk to the two and tried to pry as much information out of them as possible. It all begins in BATWING #19.

Comic Vine: How did you guys get involved writing BATWING?

Jimmy Palmiotti: We were asked to pitch our idea. We were asked if we were interested in the book, what would we do? We just figured we'd hit them with the craziest concept we could. Dan [DiDio], Bob [Harras], Mike [Marts] and all those guys loved what we pitched to them. And then we got the gig, which was awesome. It sounds really simple but it's a long and involved process.

CV: What can you tell us or tease about this new Batwing? Is it a new character or someone we've seen?

Justin Gray: It's a new character but you may have seen him. I know that's a half-assed answer and we're being vague and ambiguous about the whole thing but it's a new guy. It's not David Zavimbe. With issue 19, essentially we wanted to make sure we respected all the fans that have been reading the previous 18 issues with David as the star. We felt that with the way the book was going, it just needed a different approach to it. It's a different take on how we would do the character and it's important to pull him in tighter to the Batman Universe. We're making his connection to Batman stronger than just being a 'chosen one.' Which is obviously an honor in itself and we do play on that with the new Batwing.

The idea was it's not just the Batman of Africa or the Batman of Paris. It had to feel like it was important to the character. There had to be something of a risk, which we haven't discussed. There's a measure of risk with this character for Batman himself and other people. That's one of the things we really like about the story. It's not just about a secret identity as a necessary tool for the superhero. In this case, the secret identity is vital to the character, his superhero life and his personal life. It felt natural and exciting for us to work on that.

JP: And who doesn't want to see Alfred in the Bat-suit?

CV: Spoilers!

JP: I'm kidding, of course.


CV: How much concern do you have over fans of the previous version?

JP: We were always very concerned because you don't want to lose an established audience. We have a respect for our fellow writers. With issue 19, what we did is we kind of took the book and David, the main character, to a logical place. Meaning, it's not a left field ending. It's a very logical wrap up to what David's been going through and at the same time it makes sense to where the book is going to go in the future. It was a very difficult issue to write in a way because we had to make sure we were not only respectful but we're also tying up all the stories that have been going on.

We know there are a certain numbers of fans that have been reading it and we don't want them to go, "Ugh, I've been reading it for this long and now look at what happened." We wanted them to be like, "Oh we've been reading it for this long and how cool it is that this is happening to the book." It was important for us to consider the history of what's been going on and also taking the character to the next step. I think we did it gracefully in issue 19 and with 20, it's a whole new ballgame of madness going on.

CV: Will David be in the book at all?

JP: David's in 19…We wanted to have an open door policy with that character. The way we leave him, the world's open to that character. I will say it's not the last time you see David. How about that?

CV: Will the character have the knowledge to repair the suit if it gets damaged?

JG: Hmmm….that's an excellent question. Maybe the suit repairs itself. That's a possibility.

CV: Will we see new villains, old ones or a mix?

JG: A mix.

JP: We wanted to use Lion-Mane, we had used Lion-Mane previously in HAWKMAN. I think the whole theme of this is the next version, the next progression. With Lion-Man we really loved the character. We did what we did with Hawkman but now maybe, since we have the opportunity, maybe we could do the next upgrade on who Lion-Mane is, visually, personality-wise and make him have even more of a presence. He won't just be a dude that looks like a lion in a loincloth.


CV: What about a base of operations?

JP: The book ties in a lot more with the Batman Universe. We do have him in Africa but we're thinking of the character in a more global sense and less in a specific locale. Maybe we'll call him the international…

JG: We have the ability to be local in Gotham or global in anywhere in the world

JP: He's not going to be specific to Africa but we're not going to say he won't be there either. It's going to take a different step than the previous issues in where we're going to put him. It's going to be for a reason. It's not like we're just throwing him someplace else. It actually makes sense with who the character is. The shift is going to be more on who he is and who Batwing is and less of where he is.

JG: We want it to be more character driven than worrying about if he's the Batman of Africa or the Batman of Timbuktu or the Batman of the Moon. We really need to establish this character and why he's important to Batman and the Batman Universe.

JP: I so want to do Batman of the Moon now. I think Moon Batman would be the best Batman ever.

CV: How much of Batman or other Bat-characters can we expect to see?

JP: Oh, we're going to see plenty of him.

JG: Yeah

JP: The Batman Family, you're going to see them very involved.

JG: He's his own person but his relevance to Batman and the situation he puts Batman in and Batman by sort of choosing this person, Batman basically puts his own ass on the line by doing this. There are things that if they go wrong, there will be huge repercussions. That was one of the things we loved about this character and about the book in moving forward.

It's exciting to not only have the secret identity thing, which is usually just a formula or window dressing for superheroes, here it means something. It's not a throw away line, "I don't want my friends to get hurt." His secret identity has to be protected otherwise there could just be a storm of problems that impact everyone around him.

JP: This book, if anyone ever felt it was outside the circle of the other Bat-books and Gotham, in any way, as of issue 19 and 20, that's gone. It's right in the heart of everything going on.

JG: And we didn't want that Batman's Club feeling to it. We didn't want them going, "Oh okay, let's meet at Batman's place and get our marching orders." We wanted it to feel like this character is his own person and is part of that group. He's wanted to be part of that group and now has the opportunity to and desperately doesn't want to screw it up.

Who is the new Batwing? We'll have to wait until April 3, when BATWING #19 goes on sale.

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Posted by mightypug78

D: is the original batwing being killed?

Posted by Ghidoran

Well that cover for #21 has already got me hooked.

Posted by animehunter

@mightypug78: No. According to the solicit he quits

Issue 19

Batwing quits—and what new member of the Batman family is ready to take his place?

Posted by G-Man


CV: Will David be in the book at all?
JP: David's in 19…We wanted to have an open door policy with that character. The way we leave him, the world's open to that character. I will say it's not the last time you see David. How about that?
Posted by ThreadPool

Hmm... I will give this a chance but I, for one, loved David. An orphan, former child rebel soldier, with the resolve to overcome all of that. Batman saw enough in him to recruit him and he's not even Batwing for two years?

Posted by nappystr8

It doesn't sound like they plan on killing David as that cover would suggest, but I'm still not sold on the idea of a new Batwing. There was nothing wrong with the old one, he was just mishandled. The first arc of Batwing was one of my favorite New 52 titles, and then DC decided the book wasn't as profitable as they would like, and started taking pairing Batwing with the family in Gotham, and the book couldn't recover.

As much as I love the pairing of Palmiotti and Gray, it sounds like their take on the new Batwing is more of the same thing that ruined the original Batwing. I don't think I'll be on board for this creative shift after all.

Posted by Onemoreposter

Soo....Batwing is Black Panther now?.......

I did enjoy this series at the onset of the new 52, all he lacked was a closer inclusion in the bat fam to make him more relevant.

Oh well, generic is "good" ....I guess......

Posted by Moby

Who's going to be the new Batwing. I honestly think that they could have waited a little longer before replacing him but I like the costume. But I think its missing something; it looks almost Ironman like.

Posted by ClawFist

Looks too much like Batman Beyond for my taste.

Posted by Zavimbe

This is so disrespectful to David. After Judd left they didn't really give David a chance and I can't help but feel that this New Batwing is going to be white and if he his then Issue 20 will be the last one I pick up.

Posted by frozenedge

The armor reminds me Terry McGinnis' batsuit and I was a definite fan of Terry's Batman. Sad to see David quit but at least the Batwing name will live on in somebody in looks badass

Posted by The Stegman

I think I'll start reading this now.

Posted by The Mighty Monarch

Moon Batman. Make this a thing NOW.

Posted by SovereignDivinity

How much you wanna bet he's not African or

Posted by KnightofSteel

Cool covers that's for sure. I followed the title early on in it's New 52 launch but it didn't do much to grab me. Hopefully this new approach will be the shot in the arm the book needs. The new outfit is definitely a step in the right direction -- pretty rad.

Posted by JamesKM716

Anyone think that the new guy is Isaac Zavimbe?

Posted by RideASpaceCowboy

I usually give a series another try whenever there's a change in creative team, and given how awesome the character design is here, I'll certainly pick up issue 19.

Posted by Mega_spidey01

i'm interested in to find who is the new batwing? yeah, he reminds me of black panther alot.

Posted by Crimson Eagle

So an Azrael version of Batwing? Interesting...

Posted by JamDamage

He looks like Batman Beyond with more tech to him. No mouth of course. I like the look. I didn't like the original Batwing just because he looked stupid.

Posted by Avenging-X-Bolt
Posted by BlackArmor

I'm really going to miss David, he was a great character and it's sad not only that his adventure is at it's end but that it didn't bring him the acclaim he deserves. I'll stick around and give the new direction a chance but there going to have to fight to keep me reading without David under the mask

Posted by DonFelipe

@SovereignDivinity said:

How much you wanna bet he's not African or

Well, I get your point and I'm not entirely sure why David Zavimbe has to go? Of course they pitched their idea, and making it the craziest whatever sounds nice in theory, besides David Z. had have his flaws. They say we may have seen this character already and he will be more of a risk for Batman. Sounds interesting. Maybe Michael Holt makes his comeback in a Bat suit. Just kidding...

I do like Palmiotti & Gray's work so this is going to be interesting, this is one to watch (err read).

@Onemoreposter said:

Soo....Batwing is Black Panther now?.......

My first thought exactly. Black Panther with a Bat symbol on his chest.

By the way, the new suit looks bad-ass though.

Posted by daredevil21134

@Avenging-X-Bolt said:

maybe its Ben Turner....

That would be cool

Posted by TrueMarvel

I swear if He isn't black....

oh yea and: Of course the black guy dies.

Posted by daredevil21134

Why did David quit

Posted by Sleepbutnodream15

I swear, if anyone guesses that it's Terry McGinnis, I'm gonna lose it.

Posted by Mega_spidey01
@daredevil21134 said:

@Avenging-X-Bolt said:

maybe its Ben Turner....

That would be cool

i'm down with this too.
Edited by Sleepbutnodream15

Sounds interesting. I think I'll pick this up.

What about a Martian Batman? Most definitely not, but I was just thinking about how cool that would be.

Posted by darkwingdan

@Sleepbutnodream15 said:

I swear, if anyone guesses that it's Terry McGinnis, I'm gonna lose it.

Maybe it's Terry McGinnis.

Posted by evilvegeta74

@Mega_spidey01 said:

i'm interested in to find who is the new batwing? yeah, he reminds me of black panther alot.


Posted by Skaddix

Well as long as its still a Black Guy I guess I might read it

Posted by Mrfuzzynutz

I will admit, I was interested in B-Wing simply because he was a black hero, and wanted to see what they would do with him. His outfit sucked, his stories really had no ties to the Bat-Universe and lost steam around issue 9-11

That being said, it does sting to lose a character like this, just because a new creative team wants to be edgy and be the cool kid's with a new toy at the lunch room table.

Just a sad statement to say after 18 issues, this or any other character gets thrown away and has the redo button hit on them.

Rather just see his book cancelled instead of just being replaced like this.

Edited by darknightspideyfanboy

@Crimson Eagle: holy crap he could be Azreal(Michael Washington Lane) his black //

Posted by sentryman555

I'm glad to hear they're tying him in closer to the Bat-family. That was pretty much why I didn't read the comic. Same thing with Bat-woman. I understand she's popular and everything but I feel like you shouldn't have the name unless your part of the family.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Don't care who the new BW is...all that matters to me is that Palmiotti-Gray are doing it.

Posted by Teerack

T'Challa? Is that you?

Posted by Outside_85

Guessing it's an advanced Bat-bot...Bat-Ultron?

Posted by YourCounterpoint

I didn't care about Batwing, but now there's a less stupid looking one? Just maybe I can cough up four dollars for it.

Posted by Perfect 10

and the stupidity of new 52 continues. that is a cool suit though. cant they just cancel that idea, give the new suit to the current batwing and do what we fans have been saying all along: explore the setting. we should know as much about Tianasha as we know about gotham. its a fictional city so the writers have free reign with street names, places of interests and local gangs/criminals. its in the second largest country of africa and they dont show that. im hoping/praying that this new creative team will put enough love and care as they would in batman.

Posted by SmoothJammin

I might have to toss this back on my pull list

Posted by Yung ANcient One
If it's Azrael or Bronze Tiger then this new Batwing gets automatic Awesome points (+)
Posted by Batnandez

@Yung ANcient One: i think he'll still be black so...

Posted by Skulexander

He looks a lot like Black Panther, no?

Posted by SpitfireINK

So why is it this didn't warrant a multi-arching story line - like Death of the Family?

Posted by Mbecks14

Interesting. The only thing I didn't like about Batwing was that he wasn't in Gotham. I'm still mixed on how I feel about the new Batwing suit. I didn't realize it was a new character at first, but now the full face mask makes more sense. I'd like to see that change once we learn his ID.

Still a little strange that David is being replaced so quickly since he's still a relatively new character.

Posted by dondave

Definitely picking this up

Posted by Saren

If this is the new Bronze Tiger......I'd actually be okay with that. He's a character who deserves regular appearances.

Posted by Omega Ray Jay

Looks Awesome :D

Posted by SupBatz

I hadn't been reading Batwing so far but I might pick up 19 if I hear goodthings about it. And if I really like it maybe I'll even go back and atch up on everything I miss.

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