James Tynion IV is shaking things up in RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS. Not only has he wiped out Jason Todd's memories of recent events including Roy Harper and Starfire, now we have Bronze Tiger, Cheshire, Lady Shiva and the League of Assassins in the mix.
In issue #21, we saw the League make their move which included bringing Jason to their incredibly cool looking secret city. With that, we had to ask James some questions about what's coming up.
Comic Vine: Where did the idea for a 'secret city' come from?
James Tynion IV: It's tough to answer this, because there's a specific reason the city is what it is, and that will become apparent as the series moves forward. I knew Jason's story would take him to the center of operations of the League, and I knew I wanted to build something unusual. Let me lay it out as I did back when I pitched the concept of the city to DC Comics.
"Deep in the Arabian Peninsula lies the hidden city of ‘ETH ALTH’EBAN, the ancient stronghold city of The League of Assassins. It’s hidden in a labyrinthine series of canyons in the middle of the desert. It’s entrance should be reminiscent of the entrance to the Al Khazne temple near Petra (which you might find familiar from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)… The primary difference is that there should be accents of copper throughout, including gigantic copper doors. The design should also have a snake theme, to it… with decorative snakelike flourishes. It should look ancient, aside from the copper which is polished and shining. The whole entrance is carved into the wall… It’s been standing for generations, hidden away from the world. Inside these walls is another story altogether… After proceeding through the doors and opening a high tech series of barricades, you find yourself somewhere spectacular… It’s an underground technological eco-paradise, with the architectural styles of a pre-Islam Arabia. It’s an unspeakably massive setting, with a huge artificial sun in the roofs of the cavern. It’s a full city under the ground, filled with the most dangerous people who have ever lived.
This is Ra’s al Ghul’s utopian paradise. This is what he has wanted to bring to the world for all these years… A place of magic, incredibly advanced technology, and nature, all together in a small bubble of paradise. Imagine it co-existing with luscious, tropical vegetation and wildlife… Hanging gardens, tropical birds, and crystal clear waterfalls built into the seams of the place… It’s like a beautiful city built into a nature preserve.
On top of this, there should be evidence of incredibly advanced technology, mixed in with the ancient, colorful architecture and wildlife. There should be smart-glass displays in the windows, and old style markets selling the most dangerous high tech weapons known to man (right across the aisle from a fruit-stand). The population of the city should not be predominantly Arabic, but more pan-global. Every person in there is a killer, or someone involved with the death industry. Showing the market, we should see 5-Star Generals in full regalia walking side by side with ninjas, next to people in suits of fully robotic killer body-armor. They’re all enjoying the freedom of the place.
Everyone should have a hint of danger to them, but there shouldn’t be a unifying code of dress or anything like it. It needs to be fluid and strange and contradictory in its elements to keep every moment visually dynamic. Also: In terms of the foot soldiers of the League of Assassins, I want to keep the Ninja Man-Bats… So we should always see a few of them flying around the place, particularly in the wide shots of the spires and towers of the place. We can see them flying around, or resting on the rooftops and minarets. It’s an added touch of color that I think really elevates the entire place. In the center of the city there should be a giant statue of Ra’s al Ghul holding the artificial sun at the roof of the cavern, towering over the buildings and spires. At the feet of the statue, there should be a large, ornamental fountain that has been sealed up with a polished copper lid with ancient marking and runes in Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic and Celtic characters. The largest building should be like a palace, directly behind the statue of Ra’s Al Ghul and the fountain beneath it. This is where Bronze Tiger and the ruling council of the League of Assassins has been running the show since Talia left to wage her battle with Batman in Gotham City."
That's how I pitched the concept of the city to DC, and I'm thrilled with how it came out. We're going to see a lot more of it over the next few issues, as the tension in the city picks up, and the characters converge oneach other.
CV: Is this city so secret, not even Batman knows about it?
JT: I would say Batman knows it exists, but he doesn't know where it is. It's protected by the most extraordinary technology and magic the world has to offer. Furthermore, Ra's has bases all over the world. He's constantly seeking new Lazarus pits for himself, and situating around them. This hasn't been a location that Batman has needed to find. Yet.
CV: Is this where the Assassins train and hang out in between assignments?
JT: This is where they train, they spar, and where they seek sanctuary when they're on the run from governments around the world. Down in the city, they can find any weapon known to man, available for barter or payment. It's a whole society built out of killers. I imagine it's also where older assassins tend to retire, when they know their days are numbered. Everyone who has ever been a member of the League of Assassins is welcome there, and they allow select outsiders to use their markets, but they have to enter through teleporters hidden around the world, so none of them know the true location of the city.
CV: Do the Assassins have to pay rent in the city? Do they have luxuries like swimming pools and cable TV?
JT: If there's one consistency to Assassins, it's that nothing comes for free. The core ruling council of the League probably has their quarters taken care of, but otherwise everyone has to pay. And if they can't, I imagine the consequences would be quite dire. And heck yes, what kind of secret underground city wouldn't have swimming pool and cable? How else would Bronze Tiger keep up with the latest episodes of Justified?
CV: We know Cheshire and Bronze Tiger are members of the League. Will we see any other familiar members?
JT: As we saw in Issue #21, rounding out the ruling council of the League of Assassins is LADY SHIVA, in her second New 52 appearance. She is the second-in-command to Bronze Tiger, and her central duties of late have been to train the footsoldiers of the League, who have all recently been transformed into Man-Bats (which she is less than thrilled about).
Aside from those three, we're introducing two new League of Assassins members. One is December Greystone, who is a blood mage, and the assassin you would hire if you wanted to kill Jason Blood or John Constantine (and believe-you-me, he's been WAITING for the bounty big enough to take on John. I imagine the two of them having quite the history together).
The other new figure is a transhumanist scientist known only as RICTUS, who has been slowly replacing parts of his body with technology, transforming himself into a deadly, ghostly killer. He has the ability to shift his density, allowing him to pass through walls, or become incredibly dense, effectively giving him super-strength. These five figures will be our focal point in the coming story.
CV: Will there be any connection or fallout from the Batman/Leviathan battle in BATMAN INCORPORATED or will this story be completely separate?
JT: Folks are going to have to wait and see until that story comes to an epic conclusion. But I would say the ramifications of BATMAN INCORPORATED will absolutely be felt in this title.
CV: Not really a question, but I'm sure you're aware there's one character with a tie to the League that we haven't seen in a while and we're all hoping to see again soon. How does it feel knowing there's this kind of pressure from all the readers?
JT: All I can say is keep reading! There's a lot more to come.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #22 is on sale July 24 and will have more League of Assassin fun.