Dennis O’Neil & Archie Goodwin AOL Chat

America Online Fan Chat with Dennis O’Neill and Archie Goodwin
Reprinted in Azrael #3
April 1995

On December 19, a week before Azrael #1 htit the stands, DC Comics held a question and answer session on AOL (America Online) With series writer Dennis O’Neil and editor Archie Goodwin fielding the questions. For those of you who missed the session, here’s the skinny on what went on…

What will be the driving premise behind Azrael?
Dennis: The driving premise will be a young man , striving to discover his identity and his place in the world. We’ll also play with the difference between men and angels, and men and super heroes.

Do you think the dark hero is a fad, or do you see this type of hero lasting forever?
Dennis: Batman has been a dark hero for 55 years. I don’t think dark is a heroic category. The coloration of the hero proceeds from the premise. In Azrael’s case you have a dark premise, someone who is driven to acts of violence by forced that are beyond his control.

Do you think that Azrael is freer now that he doesn’t have to be Batman?
Dennis: No, he is still a slave to the system, a victim to old compulsions. Some of what the series is about is Azrael’s attempt to free himself.
Archie: I think he’s in the process of earning that freedom.

Do you think it will be difficult to make Jean Paul a character readers can sympathize with – or even understand? He was pretty gone by the end of Knightfall and many of us just didn’t care anymore.
Dennis: We’re starting from way behind square one with Azrael. Normally, an audience’s feeling is neutral at first. We know in this case that a lot of people actually dislike him. To make him a hero, and a likeable one, is the biggest challenge we face. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve tried in 29 years of writing comic books.
Archie: From the time we Sword of Azrael it seemed Jean Paul had the potential to be more than just the role he was given in Knightfall. This book will let us realize that potential.

Will Azrael be a Batman book like Robin, or a spinoff, like Catwoman?
Dennis: A spinoff like Catwoman.
Archie: Bit interacting with Bats a couple times a year.

How will Jean Paul suppress his will to kill, or will he?
Dennis: That’s what the first story arc is about, his quest to control that. That is his particular ‘grail.’

What role will Oracle play in Azrael and the DCU?
Dennis: In the DCU an increasingly important one. In Azrael she will be a continuing character.

Will Azrael wander forever or find a city to adopt and continue to fight crime like Batman?
Dennis: Eventually, he will find a home.
Will there be any guest stars lined up for Azrael’s first year?
Dennis: Batman is in issues #1 and #2, Ra’s Al Ghul in #5, and Robin and Nightwing eventually, although I can’t say exactly when.

Who will be Azrael’s enemies?
Dennis: Initially, The Order of St. dumas. That will take us through the first six issues. After that, we’ll see.

Will Azrael meet Bane again, and on what terms?
Archie: I don’t think they’ll be dating.
Dennis: It is quite likely that Azrael will run up against all of Batman’s enemies.
Archie: Actually the Batfolk HAVE Bane plans; enough to keep him occupied for a bit.

What role, if any, will the homeless people play in the Showcase ’94 story?
Dennis: There are no plans for them.
Archie: Although Jean Paul’s initial situation gets close to that in a way.

Will there be any crossovers like Batman VS Predator?
Archie: We’re getting Azrael up on his way. That takes time. Maybe in the second year.

Whatever happened to the dwarf guy [Nomoz] from Sword of Azrael?
Archie: I don’t know, I hope Dennis can get sveral issues out of answering that sometime soon.
Dennis: Azrael will meet him again sometime between issues #7-12.

Will we meet Jean Paul’s mother?
Dennis: Very interesting question. The question of Jean Paul’s mother will have a lot to do with his problems.

Will Azrael be meeting the more mystical side of the DCU? Such as the Spectre, Phantom Stranger, Fate, or will he stay urban and dark?
Dennis: Anything is possible. He will certainly meet the same characters that Batman runs into.
Archie: Since I edit Fate, I’d like to see it happen, but not until both are more clearly established.

Will Jean Paul destroy The Order of St. Dumas?
Archie: He may only wound them.

How will the rest of the DC Universe react to Azrael – a hero who they fought beside before but didn’t know it?
Dennis: It will depend on the individual characters. They will have an individual response if and when they meet.

A Somewhat related question having to do with Knightfall – is there a future for books like Knightfall? And will there be any more?
Archie: Only if the storyline justifies it. Our job, in part, is to come up with stories that do.
Dennis: There is a future as long as there are enough people who buy it and want to see more of it.

Speaking of Question, will he be making an appearance in Azrael?
Dennis: Very likely.

Will Azrael make an appearance in The New Adventures of Batman and Robin?
No, that series is now also done with production.

Any suggestions for up and coming writers?
Archie: Read outside of comics. Write, write, write, submit and don’t get discouraged.

Any chance Nightwing will go up against Azrael?
Archie: I’d like to see it, but no immediate plans unless Dennis says otherwise.
Dennis: Nightwing will certainly meet Azrael. I don’t know if it will be in a combative situation. Super heroes don’t have to fight every time they meet.

Super heroes don’t have to fight every time they meet.

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