HEAT VISION

New 'Batman' Creative Team on Plotting the Dark Knight's Future

James Tynion IV and Tony Daniel are taking over DC's flagship comic book series.
Tony Daniel/DC
James Tynion IV and Tony Daniel are taking over DC's flagship comic book series.

Announced over the weekend, DC’s Batman comic book series will come under new management next year when James Tynion IV and Tony Daniel take over the flagship series after the departure of longtime writer Tom King. 

Neither Tynion nor Daniel are newcomers to Gotham City, with both having spent considerable time working on Batman or Batman-related comics in the past, even collaborating on the 2015 miniseries Batman and Robin Eternal. Separately, Daniel has illustrated issues of Batman and Detective Comics over the past decade, writing both titles for a period as well. Tynion, meanwhile, was the writer on the fan-favorite Detective Comics run that was part of the DC Universe Rebirth promotion in 2016 and ended partway through last year, focusing on Batman's connection to the other crime-fighters in Gotham City.

The pair will take over the series after December's final issues of the current "City of Bane" storyline, which has practically destroyed the status quo in Gotham City, as Bane has taken over the city in the absence of Bruce Wayne's alter ego, leading to a lawless, violent dystopia where heroes are almost entirely absent and even Batman's faithful manservant, Alfred, appears to have been killed in an attempt to keep the good guys at bay. 

The Hollywood Reporter talked to both Tynion and Daniel about what it means for them to be responsible for the Dark Knight’s fate moving forward.

Both of you have histories working on Batman as a character before this. James, you worked on Detective Comics most recently, and Tony, you’ve worked with Grant Morrison, with Tom King, and written your own Batman stories. What is it about Batman that keeps you coming back?

James Tynion IV: It’s so many things. It really is so many things — I’m trying to pick the angle in. Some of my first memories are me putting on a Batman costume for Halloween when I was 4 years old, or me watching the Batman animated series when I wasn’t supposed to be watching any TV. It’s the first time I sat down and read Batman: Year One and thought, "Oh, this is what the comics medium can be."

Batman is comics. He is one of the best ideas, one of the oldest ideas, and there’s something just so core about a man who has the worst moment of his life when he's 8 years old, and then builds himself into a machine capable of fighting to stop that kind of moment from ever happening again. That’s what he built himself into. That’s why, when Detective Comics No. 1000 came out earlier this year, that week I got the image of the bat crashing through the window [from Batman: Year One] tattooed on my arm. That’s how much it means to me in my life.

Tony and I both worked together on Batman and Robin Eternal, and we’ve both been with this character for a very long time in various ways. It’s amazing to have been part of this character and told stories that are part of this history and still feel like there’s always more to say.

Tony Daniel: He’s my favorite character. I love working in Gotham City, I love the history of Batman — I can’t put it in better words than James, but I feel the same way. And from an artistic standpoint, he’s the best of the best, you know? I love being able to challenge myself to make Batman, and Gotham City, and all of these characters, come alive. I feel really honored to have had such a long-running history with Batman. When DC and I were deciding what I was going to do next, I learned what James’ plans were and I got really excited by them. I’m really energized by what he’s going to bring to the table this run, the story and the characters that I’m going to get to play with, this time. I feel like I’m going to get a chance to start all over again with this amazing character.

James, one of the hallmarks of your Detective run was the idea that, even though Batman is seen as this iconic loner, he’s anything but. He relies on the characters around him, and has built up this family of people who are necessary for him to be who he wants to be. Is that something you’re going to continue in the Batman series?

Tynion: I don’t think you could put me back in Gotham City and not have me play with the Bat-family to some degree, but that is one of the challenges of this book, and one of the things that makes me so excited to write it. I have done so much with the Bat-family, and the entire supporting cast in Gotham City, but the character I have done the least work with, the character I haven’t done a core, emotional narrative with, is Batman. I haven’t told a solo Batman story. Readers out there don’t know what a “James Tynion solo Batman story” is, but I’ve been cooking them up this whole time, and honestly, getting to pull the trigger on all of these great big ideas is the thrill of being in the driving seat of the Batmobile.

When you’re on a book like Detective, you can do a lot of things and you can affect a lot of the characters, but at the end of the day, everyone knows that the main Batman book is Batman. If there’s a main status quo shift to one of the characters, it’s not going to happen in one of the secondary books. Now, given the core [title], I’m able to do some of the things, some of the biggest stories, that I’ve always really wanted to do and tell. That’s the thrill of coming on here.

Tony, you mentioned starting all over, and James, hearing you talk about this feels like you’re in a similar mindset — that this run is something that stands alone and acts as its own story, independent of everything you’ve both worked on before. Is that the intent, to have that status for readers, as well? Will your Batman collaboration be something that people can pick up even if they’re unaware of what Tom King has done in earlier issues of the series?

Daniel: We’re both hoping to create a book that anyone can pick up and read, and then in 10 years, come back and pick up again and be fulfilled and not have to read years of prior history to get it. That’s what we want to create, an evergreen story. It’s still going to be rooted in what’s been going on today, with the fallout of [current Batman storyline] “City of Bane” and everything. I know that was important to James and I.

Tynion: It’s honestly the chance to build something new and singular and of itself. That’s the real goal here — to build something that’s in conversation with itself, as opposed to being reliant on the last few years, or work that we did five, 10 years ago. There are always going to be reflections, of course, and there are huge things that are happening this year in Batman that will define who the supporting cast of our book is in 2020. But we’re going to build it in such a way that anyone can pick it up and get something complete. That’s deeply, deeply important to both of us.

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The James Tynion IV/Tony Daniel Batman begins in January with Batman No. 86. Until then, King, Daniel and other artists are continuing the “City of Bane” storyline in the series. (Above, Daniel’s cover to Batman No. 85, which concludes the storyline.)

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