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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.

BATWING #20

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.

BATWING #21

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.

82 Comments
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Posted by tordollhouse

Cannot wait !! Hopefully its Harper Row..

Posted by BlueLantern1995

This looks interesting. This might be something I should look into.

Posted by V_Scarlotte_Rose

This kinda sounds like they're changing everything except the name, which is weird.

@sentryman555 said:

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.

Are you not reading Batwoman just because she's not a member of the family?

It's a great series, you shouldn't let the name get in the way of that.

Posted by ptigrusmagus

I haven't been reading this series, plan to try it out with #19, but why does it matter if the next Batwing is black or not?

Posted by WaveMotionCannon
@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.

This. David quits, new Black Panth.. I mean Batwing suit and he's not exclusive to Africa anymore? Hmmm this is gonna suck.
Posted by V_Scarlotte_Rose

@ptigrusmagus: I think it's because there's seen to be a lack of black characters, especially with their own titles.

Edited by Emperormeister734

What happen to David? I love Batwing, I admit that ,but these changes are too much!

Posted by Superbat420

This is stupid, leave batwing be. Why would you change the character before we really even got to know him?

Posted by Crash_Recovery

Black Panther/Wolverine/Batman Beyond. I actually like it a lot more than the previous uniform.

Posted by slade_wilson

Based on the mention of Batman of Paris, I think the new Batwing will be Bilal Asselah. Wich means I will be reading this book.

Posted by ptigrusmagus

Ohhh now I see. Well I do enjoy reading about characters of a different race than me like Vibe and John Stewart and Katana so I hope the new Batwing is black as well hehe.

Edited by fodigg

No David Zavimbe? Uh...unless it's his brother Massacre in that suit, why should I care about this book anymore? The best thing about Batwing was how well it handled characterization—how well it established David and his supporting cast. If you're going to cut the main character and replace him with a "mysterious" sock-puppet character, I'm out.

Posted by kennybaese

I really like the new look quite a bit better, and I don't know that I've read anything by Grey and Palmiotti that I disliked, so I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye on this book.

Posted by TheRobberBarron

YEA I dont understand why he couldnt just stay as Batman of Africa? Do these guys realize how big Africa is and all of the help it needs...sounds like a cop out. Also what is the point of getting rid of David thats lame

Posted by ThreadPool

@TheRobberBarron said:

YEA I dont understand why he couldnt just stay as Batman of Africa? Do these guys realize how big Africa is and all of the help it needs...sounds like a cop out. Also what is the point of getting rid of David thats lame

Definitely what this guy said!

Posted by dimmoe

@Perfect 10 said:

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.

This this this this!!! they didn't even give him a chance. 18 issues and just change the titular character?

Posted by neiliusprime

I've always like David Zavimbe as Batwing, but I haven't read past the first arc. But I'm excited to see who is the new Batwing!

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

DC sure like to beat you over the head with a Bat......

Posted by sentryman555

@V_Scarlotte_Rose said:

This kinda sounds like they're changing everything except the name, which is weird.

@sentryman555 said:

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.

Are you not reading Batwoman just because she's not a member of the family?

It's a great series, you shouldn't let the name get in the way of that.

No, I mostly haven't been reading it because I'd need to backtrack and catch up with her story but the fact that she doesn't really tie into the rest of the batman comics doesn't increase my motivation. Do you know a good jumping on point?

Posted by Botiste

@Jonny_Anonymous: @Jonny_Anonymous said:

DC sure like to beat you over the head with a Bat......

lol, That's pretty funny

Posted by Metron144

Black Panther.........

Posted by Botiste

@tordollhouse said:

Cannot wait !! Hopefully its Harper Row..

lol, that was funny, your joking right? Because the new Black Pan. . . uh, Batwing looks like a 20 year old girl, lol. Seriously though, David was a born killer, a natural predator in a nation that demands the survival of the fittest. Trained in combat since his youth. Oh how quickly DC is willing to discard great characters over mediocre writing.

Posted by Deva12

@slade_wilson said:

Based on the mention of Batman of Paris, I think the new Batwing will be Bilal Asselah. Wich means I will be reading this book.

Oh god how I wish this were true but in the interview they said the new one is going to be someone who wished to become part of the Batfamily. Though nightrunner is one of my favorite potential characters I just wish Batman Inc was more about the other characters rather then just being another immediate Bat-family book with cameos.

Another character I wish they shine more light on is Black Bat (Cassandra Cain) because she is a "Wayne" and would make a perfect lead for Batman inc (maybe with help from Red Robin after he quits the titans which I think is coming seeing as DC wants to be "shocking" lately) And she was only shown in passing in the pages of Batman inc which I think is a travesty!

Posted by HansBoy4TehWin

I'm gonna start picking it up! The new Batwing looks freakin' awesome!

Posted by The Average Bear

Didn't like the orignal Batwings face, but other than that I was on board. But THIS suit, man, lemme just go ahead and reserve my copy

Posted by ivolution2k1

lol the superior batwing :o

Posted by BatWatch

I, for one, have been going mad trying to figure this out. Everyone of Palmiotti and Gray's hints are so ambiguous and seemingly contradictory much of the time. Palmiotti told me that it is a character that will be very interesting to Batman fans which implies to me that it is a character who already exists in the Batman world. I've considered everything from Stephanie Brown to Lucius Fox, and I've still got no winner as of yet. Anybody have good theories?

@deva12 said:

@slade_wilson said:

Based on the mention of Batman of Paris, I think the new Batwing will be Bilal Asselah. Wich means I will be reading this book.

Oh god how I wish this were true but in the interview they said the new one is going to be someone who wished to become part of the Batfamily. Though nightrunner is one of my favorite potential characters I just wish Batman Inc was more about the other characters rather then just being another immediate Bat-family book with cameos.

Another character I wish they shine more light on is Black Bat (Cassandra Cain) because she is a "Wayne" and would make a perfect lead for Batman inc (maybe with help from Red Robin after he quits the titans which I think is coming seeing as DC wants to be "shocking" lately) And she was only shown in passing in the pages of Batman inc which I think is a travesty!

Cass was not shown in the DCNU though, right?

Palmiotti and Gray have said that the new character will be a bit wild, have the ability to adapt his or her suit to the situation, will be international...they also implied it is a prexisting character. Very odd combination.

Edited by Yung ANcient One

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

So what, I think the next Batwing should be a pre-existing character like Azrael(Michael Washington Lane), Bronze Tiger, or Massacre(Current Batwing's brother.) To put a brand new character would be Whack in my opinion.

( + )

Edited by jaybefre

Going by what they're saying it sounds like the new Batwing could possibly be Blackwing - Charlie Bullock. He fits the criteria about everything they're mentioning in this interview and also he's black.

Edited by drgnx
@sovereigndivinity said:

How much you wanna bet he's not African or black.lol

I can't imagine this wasn't brought up, okay I can believe it, it would be an awkward question. His whole talk about not being the Batman of Africa, the Alfred Joke, and even the Paris mention... does leave some question...

Is This the New Bat-Family policy?