Justice League Odyssey

Issue No 1 – September 2018
Ghost Sector – Part 1
Operating outside of the Justice League, Cyborg and Starfire go on a mission to into the Ghost Sector following a mysterious voice that has called them. Along for the ride is Azrael who also heard this voice calling him to the stars. The team takes in Green Lantern Jessica Cruz when she falls into a radiation gap that Starfire saves her from, pulling her into this unknown mission. The team comes to find that the voice calling them actually belongs to Darkseid as he was calling forward ‘The Goddess, The Machine, and The Angel,’ the ‘New Gods.’



Issue No 2 – October 2018
Ghost Sector – Part 2
The heroes face Darkseid in a battle where he tries to inform them of destinies they are unaware of as ‘the New Gods.’ Darkseid leads the team to a place that appears to be a shrine surrounded y death. A priest reveals to Koriand’r how his people came to this fate before passing along his language to her and dying. The team starts to believe that Darkseid was right and there are different worlds now freed from the Ghost Sector that worship each of them as gods.



Issue No 3 – November 2019
Ghost Sector – Part 3
Leaving the planet that Koriand’r was worshipped, the team finds them selves on a planet covered in snow. Azrael and Jessica Cruz explore for parts to fix Brainiac’s Skull Ship while Cyborg and a mysterious alien medic tend to the illness plaguing Koriand’r. Once cured they help their friends embattled with this planet’s race while the mysterious ‘Rapture,’ a character dressed in Azrael’s non bat armor, observes.



Issue No 4 – January 2018
Ghost Sector – Part 4
Now on the machine world, Cyborg meets the race that worships him as one of the New Gods, however he must first prove that he is not an imposter by facing Azrael in combat. Rapture shows himself to Starfire and Jessica Cruz, pledging his allegiance to Azrael while the planet’s race empart that they are are a people who model themselves after Cyborg with body modification and worship with an in progress working Mother Box.



Issue No 5 – January 2019
Ghost Sector – Part 5
While the team battles the machine army, Darkseid cuts a deal with Starfire’s sister Blackfire in an exchange for the Otherbox he has hidden on Tamaran he will never return. Meanwhile Cyborg plugs into his followers Mother Box to find out the secrets of the Ghost Sector, the reasons why it was hidden, and the effects of it being released from his chambers. Rapture reveals that it was he who killed the followers of Starfire. Now with bitterness that Azrael is not the God he thought him to be, he and his legion of Azrael inspired garb wearing disciples are ready to wage a war to kill the ‘Old Gods.’



Issue No 6 – February 2019
Ghost Sector – Things Fall Apart
In an attempt to get the next piece for the Other Box, Darkseid battles fail safes set in motion by Brainiac to stop him. Greatly weakened though, Darkseid succeeds. Meanwhile on Tamaran, the team finds the planet in ruins and faces the Queen of the planet, Darkfire who plans to take out at least one of the members thinking it will stop Darkseid’s plan to use the components and the Other Box to create a new Apokilips.

The New 52 – Batman & Robin Eternal

Jean Paul Valley makes his official return to the DC Universe as Azrael in the New 52 series
Batman & Robin Eternal. See below for the issues he appears in. Additionally the entire series
was collected in two separate trade volumes.

Issue No 9 – February 2016
The Last to Die
Red Hood and Red Robin ditch Red Robin’s plane and chute down to Santa Prisca where they run into Bane. After a brief battle, they strike a deal to take down the Order of St Dumas and their angel who has been striking many down with Bane having his island back. What the trio find is that the Order have built their church atop the Pena Duro prison. Once inside they are caught with the Order’s angel of death, Azrael. We see flashbacks to years prior where Bruce seeks out ‘Mother’ who knows his identity as Batman, and that he seeks a better Robin.








Issue No 10 – February 2016
He Whom God Helps
Red Hood, Bane and Red Robin take on Azrael. Bane is show the light, as is Red Robin, but not before he and Red Hood hack the system of the Order to find records that show the man under the guise of Azrael was man made by Mother for the order. Azrael uses his tricks on Red Robin and shakes him up, leaving the two Robin’s barely a chance to get out with their lives.
Flashbacks of Bruce’s meet-ups with Mother for a new Robin, and an old quarrel with Dick from his time as a Robin.






Issue No 15 – March 2016
The Deception of St. Dumas
Azrael’s faith is starting to waiver as he meditates and ask for forgiveness at his sanctum in Gnosis. Red Robin comes to the city with an unconscious Red Hood as his gift, asking to join the order. Azrael brings him to meet the current St. Dumas who wants him to become the new Azrael. In doing this Azrael must fight Red Robin to keep his place but is taken down by an electromagnetic pulse and a concrete solution. Meanwhile Jason is caught and has to face his own mental nightmare, reliving his death against the Joker.






Issue No 16 – March 2016
The Dying Joke
Held captive, Azrael and Red Robin learn the truth about how Jean Paul Valley was shaped into the instrument that becomes Azrael. With this knowledge, and anger, he is able to break free and fight back choosing to be his own truth. Through this Tim must try to break through the trauma programming of ICTHYS that Jason is going through reliving his death at the hands of the Joker in his mind. Once free, the trio team up with the info they need, and a plane, and flee the secret land while Azrael destroys it to go on his own journey.






Issue No 24 – May 2016
All Out
The Batfamily and company have their hands full as Mother has released her children all around the world to attack. With Cassandra captive, she has Harper right where she wants her with the promise of giving her the life she could have had if Batman let her if she kills Cassandra. Azrael goes to the Arctic Circle and Meets Agent 37, Dick Grayson, who is also there to take down Mother.







Issue No 25 – May 2016
The batfamily presses on against the children of the world under the control of Mother’s ICTHYS. With Scarecrowe’s new toxin completed, they administer it around the world through the doors to knock the children out of Mother’s hold. Dick is tries to talk sense into Azrael that he can find a better way for himself outside of Mother’s rule.







Issue No 26 – May 2016
New World
The batfamily and all allies take down Mother’s infrastructure base finding that it was built atop an active volcano just in case Mother ever had to erase her tracks. Azrael takes out the main satellite communications from the base to all world coms. It’s the end of the line for Mother as she is killed by her right hand man, David, Orphan.
Harper decides to put the costume away and carve her own niche, Cassandra renames herself Orphan and joins in the mission with Batman.












Detective Comics (Rebirth)

Issue No 934 – August 2016
Rise of the Batmen Part 1: The Young and the Brave
An unknown enemy is taking on crime better than Batman and also targeting vigilantes, starting with beating Azrael within inches of his life. Batman enlists his cousin, Kate Kane, Batwoman, to aid him in training young vigilantes as a team and prepare them for this unknown threat.





Issue No 935 – August 2016
Rise of the Batmen Part 2: Apocalypse Now
Three months have passed and Batwoman is training Red Robin, Spoiler, Orphan, and Clayface in ‘the Mudroom,’ a training facility in the Belfry, a place that Red Robin describes as a Batcave in the heart of Gotham City. Batman takes Red Robin to where Jean Paul has been in critical condition under the care of Dr. Leslie Tompkins. Jean Paul gives the duo the tip that it was ‘the Colony’ who bested him. Afterwards Bruce comes face to face with an army of 50 of the Colony for the first time.







Issue No 943 – December 2016
The Victim Syndicate: Part 1 –  Saw the Devil
Everyone on the team is coping with the loss of Red Robin in their ow ways. Batman avoids the team and occasionally interrogates Jacob Kane at the Belfry, Stephanie is withdrawn from the group and spends time with Harper at Leslie Tompkins Free Clinic where Jean Paul also volunteers. In Tim’s absence Batman wants to bring in Lucas Fox, Batwing, into the fold to work with the tech that only Tim could operate.




Issue No 945 – January 2017
The Victim Syndicate: Part 3 – Unforgiven
After being taken to Leslie Tompkins free clinic to discuss Tim’s apparent death her attack by the first victim, Stephanie unleashes her frustrations on Batman. Meanwhile the first victim revisits the clinic again, this time volunteer Jean Paul is ready for them.





Issue No 946 – February 2017
The Victim Syndicate: Part 4 – Death Wish
Stephanie has heart to heart conversation with a program of Tim in the Belfry that only she can access while Batman goes face to face with the first victim. Jean Paul defends the patients of Leslie Tompkins clinic while Harper gets as many as she can to safety.





Issue No 950 – April 2017
Higher Powers
Of the three stories in this ‘Oversize Anniversary Issue,’ The Azrael story focuses on Jean Paul and Lucas discussing the inner workings of the ‘Suit of Sorrows,’ and it’s internal AI that enables Jean Paul to be the perfect ‘angel of death’ to do the Order’s biddings. Meanwhile the suits helmet seems to be transmitting a signal to a robot elsewhere called ‘Ascalon.’





Issue No 951 – April 2017
League of Shadows: Part 1 – Unleashed!
Lady Shiva assassinates Mayor Hady and Batman is framed for it. Many of Gotham’s citizens have been seemingly drugged with a toxin similar to the one that the Joker uses and the team has to diffuse the riots at Adams Square Park.






Issue No 952 – May 2017
League of Shadows: Part 2  – Five Fingers of Death
Thanks to a tip months ago by Ra’s Al Ghul, Lady Shiva now knows where her daughter Cassandra is. During the effort to contain the riots in Adams Square Park both Azrael and Batwing are stabbed and taken by the League of Shadows while Orphan meets her mother, Shiva, in hand to hand combat and, uable to fight her own mother, loses. The GCPD are about to go on a manhunt for Batman thinking he is responsible for the assassination of the Mayor.




Issue No 955 – June 2017
League of Shadows: Part 5 – Fists of Fury
A captured Azrael, Batwoman, and Batwing are chained and naked, watched by a rather large number of he League of Assassins. After coming to from her last battle, Orphan infiltrates the league with precision, frees the batfamily and is ready to take on her mother, Shiva.






Issue No 956 – July 2017
League of Shadows: Finale – The Duel
It’s Cassandra against her mother in a fight that only ends due to Ra’s Al Ghul’s shooting Shiva. The Colony almost uses a new ‘swarm’ tool to kill the League of Assassins but is stopped once Colonel Kane realizes that one of them is Kate in disguise as one of them.






Issue No 958 – August 2017
Intelligence: Part 1
Jean Paul, Kate and Lucas take a night off to see a Gotham Guardsman game when Nomoz from the Order of St Dumas appears looking for Jean Paul. Bringing Nomoz back to the Belfry to tend to his wounds they are alerted of the threat of Ascalon in Gotham. Across town Bruce is seeking Zatanna at the Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge when Ascalon crashes the party.





Issue No 959 – August 2017
Intelligence: Part 2 – Transcendence
The Batfamily take on Ascalon when it suddenly disappears after coming face to face with Azrael. Nomoz is now being examined by a Docto who specializes in sentient beings and Bruce asks Zatanna for a favor pertaining to Tim. After the encounter with Ascalon Jean Paul needs to meditate when something is awakened inside of his mind.





Issue No 960 – September 2017
Intelligence: Part 3 – Short Circuit
Zatanna warns Batman of the dangers in using the Gnosis Sphere to find out what happened to Tim. The header of the Order of St Dumas who is only referred to as ‘Father’ by Ascalon instructs him to seek his answers, removing any roadblocks in his programming. Jean Paul tries to gain answers from Nomoz as to why the System seems to be regaining control of his mind. Batwing and Batwoman head to his workshop to find his army of AI soldiers but are interrupted by the entrance of Ascalon which sends them literally running.




Issue No 961 – September 2017
Intelligence: Part 4 – Ghost In The Shell
Batman and Zatanna discuss the power of the Gnosis sphere and remember the first time she told Bruce about it when they were teenagers. Jean Paul is now under the control of Ascalon once more as Azrael and taking on his teammates while a battle rages between himself and Ascalon in his head. After Zatanna makes Azrael go to sleep, Lucas proposes an idea to allow Jean Paul to regain control of himself and still access the same abilities he has with the Suit of Sorrows.



Issue No 962 – October 2017
Intelligence: Finale – Judgement Day
The final battle is on as Jean Paul, now wearing a specialized batsuit with an AI designed as Batman, faces Ascalon. During the fight Nomoz is slain by Ascalon. Still having control of Lucas’ automated batsuits, Ascalon taps into the mainframes and minds of the entire city and is ready to kil all until Zatanna gives him the Gnosis sphere, opening his eyes and disappearing into an abyss to learn more. Before leaving Ascalon reveals to Batman that Tim is still alive. Two days later Jean Paul reveals to Batman that he still feels the Batman AI in his head, posing the question if he may soon think he is Batman as he did when he awoke in his batsuit.


Issue No 965 – November 2017
A Lonely lace of Living – Chapter 1
Tim sits through a interrogation with a man Mr. Oz who eventually reveals himself to be Jor-El. Tim uses his suits onboard computer to send an SOS to Batman and ends up coming face to face with the future version of himself as Batman with a gun.







Issue No 967 – December 2017
A Lonely Place of Living – Chapter 3
Tim and his future self have escaped and are now in Gotham. Beaten pretty bad, Tim makes it to the hospital where Bruce meets him and takes him back to the Belfry. Meanwhile future Tim visits Alfred and faces off against Nightwing, Redhood and Robin before activating Brother Eye in the Batcave.





Issue No 968 – January 2018
A Lonely Place of Living – Conclusion
Future Tim reveals that what makes him who he is are the actions of Batwoman in the not too distant future. Using Brother Eye, Future Tim uses The Colony’s drones to destroy the Belfry, but Batwing is able to override the programming. The time stream needs to realign itself and Future Tim returns back to his time.




Issue No 969 – January 2018
Fall of the Batmen – Part 1
The standard cover is the only place that Azrael appears in this issue.






Issue No 970 – February 2018
Fallen of the Batmen – Part 2
Tim starts to immerse himself in the inspiration left in the wake of meeting his future self. The batfamily go against ninja robots programmed to know each of the members moves. Dr. Victoria October believes she is onto a cure to make Clayface Basil Karlo again, but he wants the cure to be used on his first true victim first.





Issue No 971 – February 2018
Fall of the Batmen – Part 3
Batman gives into the Victim Syndicate and heads into Arkham Asylum alone. Basil faces his first real victim and takes her out. With his dampener off and destroyed he seemingly becomes the villain he once was again.





Issue No 972 – March 2018
Fall of the Batmen – Part 4
It’s Clayface against the batfamily, from Arkham to the Belfry, but what happens when the excess clay from the mudroom recombines with Basil?







Issue No 973 – March 2018
Fall of the Batmen – Finale
The Belfry is destroyed and Clayface is literally terrorizing the city. Tim is in a coma and Azrael is controlling an army of mechanized Batwing’s to battle Clayface. Cassandra is able to temporaryily administer Dr. October’s cure and Batwoman shoots him in the head with a weapon given to her by her father.




Issue No 974 – April 2018
Knights Fall
With Clayface dead the batfamily grieves, but none more than Cassandra who tears the bat symbol off of Batwoman in a rage. Azrael and Batwing take Batwoman’s side and are told they can leave along with her if they would like. Dr. October cures Mudface, Stephanie leave the batfamily and Tim as he contemplates to Batman if he is in fact the one putting his own future into the motion of the wrong path.



Issue No 975 – April 2018
The Trial of Batwoman
The Batfamily of Batman, Nightwing, Red Robin, Batgirl, Red Hood, and Damien have a round table discussion of what exactly should be done in regards to Batwoman’s actions. Batwoman has a talk with Lucas about bringing him and Azrael into a new strike force team as part of The Colony.




Issue No 976 – May 2018
Batman Eternal – Part 1
With the loss of Clayface, Cassandra is having grief therapy sessions with Dr. Leslie Tompkins and Batman wants Red Robin to see her o next visit as well. Batwoman, Azrael, and Batwing’s new partnership with The Colony has them facing the Court of Owls in South America. Sealed out of the Batcave, Ulysses confronts Tim and wants to strike a bargain.




Issue No 977 – May 2018
Batman Eternal – Part 2
Ulyses offers Tim a glimpse of the future culled straight from his future selfs batsuit, and it’s unsettling. Tim considers his offer and meets up with batman to confess his insecurities since their visit. Ulysses uses Brother Eye to take control of two Colony members.





Issue No 978 – May 2018
Batman Eternal – Part 3
Batman meets Batwoman and Colonel Kane at Kane manor, not knowing they are being set up by Ulysses. Back at the Batcave, Tim figures out that Ulysses has used nonotech in the Colony’s soldiers to control hem against their will. Not only that, he has also installed the nanotech into Tim to control him as well.




Issue No 979 – June 2018
Batman Eternal – Part 4
Tim is now under Ulysses control through the nanotech and brother eye, with a battl raging in Tim’s psyche as Ulysses uses his body to begin ushering in The Belfry 2.0. Cassandra fights off the soldiers in the Batcave until Batman shows up to seek out Stephanie for help.





Issue No 981 – July 2018
Batman Eternal – Finale
With Stephanie’s help, Tim is able to fight back as he is seen the real reason Kate shoots Bruce dead in the future and the truth about brother eye is revealed. Ulysses is taken down and the batfamily goes it’s separate ways. Lucas has decided to step away from being Batwing to ensure that brother eye cannot come back online. Azrael is in talks to join Cyborg for a task force mission. Cassandra joins Leslie Tompkins as a volunteer and tutoring by way of Barbara Gordon. Clayface is revealed to be alive and leaving the city with Dr. October. Batwoman adds the bat back to her suit. Tim and Stephanie leave Gotham for an adventure of their own.

Azrael History Lesson

Below is sort of a crash course in Jean Paul Valley as Azrael. Instead of doing a separate bio/about for the original, and the current version, I decided to write about both in a sort of compare/contrast way, discussing their similarities and differences. Be warned it can get confusing!

Post Crisis Earth – New Earth (1992-2003)
New 52/Rebirth – Prime Earth (2014-current)

The new/current iteration of Jean Paul Valley as Azrael was brought into the New 52/Rebirth continuity by writer James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder due to Tynion’s love of the late 90’s Batfamily. Particularly Tynion’s favorite era of the Batfamily from the No Man’s Land arc which featured Batman, Robin (Tim Drake), Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Azrael (Jean Paul Valley), Oracle (Barbara Gordon), Batgirl (Cassandra Cain), and Huntress (Helena Bertinelli).

Tynion reintroduced Azrael during the 26-issue limited story run, Batman and Robin Eternal. This series arc went into back stories and reintroduced Jean Paul Valley as Azrael, a product of a partnership created by Mother for The Order of St. Dumas as their secret weapon; an ‘Angel of Death,’ who is dubbed ‘Project Azrael.’ There were major differences between this Azrael and the original version created by the characters original creators, Dennis O’Neil and Joe Quesada.

This new Azrael by Tynion was not a ‘test tube baby,’ like the original New Earth version, but instead was actually taken from his family at an early age after made to witness his own parents deaths. Going by the thought that tragedy created the will from inside, such as that with Bruce Wayne, this theory was proved to generally carry true in many of the persons who would be manipulated by Mother. From there, Jean Paul was brainwashed and reprogrammed by Mother of his prior familial bonds and placed with The Order of St. Dumas on Santa Prisca.

Placing the Order of St. Dumas on the island of Santa Prisca is most likely a nod to Bane as both the original New Earth and New 52/Rebirth version was born and bred at the prison which held its base there. The original New Earth version of the Order of St. Dumas however was based in the coldest region of Switzerland, not the tropics, with the Order being incredibly secretive and somewhat along the lines of the Illuminati. This Prime earth version of the order however was known somewhat as a worldwide conglomerate with its hands in technology and business affairs. Additionally, the New Earth Azrael and Bane are two characters who are generally synonymous with each other as they were both created for the sole purpose of inclusion for a single game changing extended story arc.

The original New Earth version of Azrael was of a long line of subjects who had taken the mantle of Azrael once its predecessor/father, had failed fatally in combat.
Men who were to become Azrael were subliminally trained from birth with the knowledge of ‘The System,’ which would give the person the means to be a skilled expert combatant and assassin for The Order of St Dumas should their bidding need to be done. As for the physical prowess, once able to be incubated, the subjects would be put into a tube and fed with specific animal proteins and hourly electro shock therapy to create the ‘rage’ that would drive an Azrael in battle.

Though the New Earth version of Azrael was from the Order of St. Dumas, which was very often referred to as a religious sect, it was never truly reflected. However, throughout the first quarter of Azrael’s solo series there were indications that he was learning more about the Order’s background from both Sister Lilhy and, when appeared, the dwarfling trainer Nomoz. That however changed with the New Earth version which was more along the lines of the Order being a faith that its followers believed and worshiped that could perform miracles. This was demonstrated once showing a mute given the ability to speak.

Bringing the character more into this century, his suit was more of a living entity with A.I. that fed the wearer, Jean Paul, information. The new suit, dubbed ‘The Suit of Sorrows,’ is actually the name of the suit worn by the Michael Lane iteration of the character introduced by Fabian Nicieza in 2009 during the ‘Battle for the Cowl’ story line. The New Earth versions of Azrael wore a suit which had remained unchanged until Nomoz, an acolyte of the Order who acts almost as a welcome host when a new Azrael is awakened, creates a new armor for Jean Paul to combat in current times in the second issue of Sword of Azrael. This time, the suit is able to withstand most types of bullets, and is fireproof. Also, due to Jean Paul’s constant loss of the sword as a weapon, gauntlets fed by flames in the gloves replaced the weapon.

Lane was not of the Order of St. Dumas, but the Order of Purity; a fact that is often mistaken due to his inclusion in the Arkham video games, and the suit was pieced together by previous templar warrior’s armors that fell during the Crusades. This suit was also considered to be cursed and drove the wearer mad with guilt over previous deaths from combat.

Both the New and Prime Earth versions of Jean Paul are highly intelligent individuals. Though the Prime Earth Jean Paul is mainly fed his information through his suits programmed A.I., the New Earth Jean Paul was a Graduate student of Computer Science from Gotham University. Jean Paul’s background in understanding of algorithms, engineering and even A.I., sans growing Detective skills, put him in the same league as Oracle as far as digital intelligence is concerned.

Not long after becoming Azrael, Jean Paul would be taken under the wing of Bruce Wayne to ensure that his training could be properly focused. Wayne knew that the young hero could potentially be a major threat from his previous encounter. Jean Paul would work for Wayne Industries by day and train by night. However, due to an encounter with Bane leaving Bruce unable to continue as Batman, the cape and cowl were passed onto Jean Paul. Eventually Jean Paul would redesign the bat suit, fusing it with some of the artifacts of his Azrael suit, the most noticeable being the upper body armor. Eventually Bruce would take back the mantle of the bat once more after ‘The System,’ would start to manipulate Jean Paul’s mind and drive him to do things, most notably kill, that the Batman would not do.

The Prime Earth version of Jean Paul Valley seemingly did not take over as Batman as evidenced by the reaction to the ‘KnightsEnd’ style suit that he dons in the Detective Comics story arc, ‘Intelligence.’ However, in Batman and Robin Eternal it is somewhat alluded that Jean Paul did take over after Bruce fell at the hands of Bane. This is one of Tynion’s mistakes that often gets overlooked. Most likely the writers were not sure if they were, and if so, which parts of the New Earth history would be ret-conned into the current Prime earth.

Tynion may have been a fan of the ‘No Man’s Land’ era of the batfamily, but did not do his research on Azrael as much of the information he used was more of an amalgamation of back story for the Michael Lane Azrael character that was created by Rocksteady games for the popular Arkham video game series. Rocksteady did not do their homework as they used Lane but referred to him as an agent from The Order of St. Dumas, whom he was not. As the game was very popular it has caused much confusion with fans who did not realize that there are two different Azrael’s and Lane is not the one who became Batman during the popular Knightfall story arc.

Knightquest – The Crusade

detective667coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 667 – October 1993
Wild, Wild East
It’s official, Jean Paul is now the Batman and taking to the mean streets of Gotham. However, getting bored with common criminals, he starts to tweak his suit and uncovers one of Harold’s creations, the subway rocket! This new vehicle uses long abandoned Gotham City sudway roads that date back to a literal underground railroad connected throughout the city.  Meanwhile the Trigger Twins come to town and join a local mob ring.






detective668coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 668 – November 1993
Still new to the subway rocket, JPV almost gets into a head-on collision with an actual train while trying to stop the Trigger Twins from robbing a money train! Due to his father’s condition, Tim is able to receive his license early and heads down to the batcave to pick up a car that was promised to him by Bruce. Showing up in his Robin uniform he has an altercation with Jean Paul who informs him that this Batman does not need a partner. Almost strangled to death, Robin escapes Jean Paul and is locked out of the cave.






shadowbat19coverBatman: Shadow of the Bat
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 19 – October 1993
The Tally Man: Part One
After handling some routing street crime, Batman sees a building with isolation chambers and decides to try one out, wondering if it may help him discover more about himself. Across town the Tally Man is collecting life debts. One of his trails leads him to the warehouse district Batman is at and decides he may as well take out the new dark Knight as well.







shadowbat20coverBatman: Shadow of the Bat
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 20 – November 1993
The Tally Man: Part Two
With both Batman and the Tally Man dealing with the effects of the isolation chamber, they  attle their minds and each other. Thanks to a falling water tower and the system kicking in, Batman is able to take down the Tally Man, beating him inches away from death before leaving him for the police to take over.







Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 501 – November 1993
Codename: Mekros
Batman gets a vision from St Dumas, telling him he must continue his crusade as Gotham’s dark angel. After breaking up a mob meeting, the bosses get together and hire a former government agent to down Batman. After a meeting Commissioner Gordon notices that something is very different about Batman.







Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 502 – December 1993
Phoenix In Chaos
Batman survives his first formidable encounter and defeats both Mekros, as well as anothet hisman who was hired to take out Mekros. Batman goes on to form an unlikely alliance with Mayor Krol.








detective669coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 669 – December 1993
Town Tamer
The Trigger Twins are back again, this time they have hijacked the Public Transit Authority System’s train that collects all money from public transportation. Batman chases down the stolen train and brings them in to justice.








detective670coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade (Mislabeled as part of ‘The Search’
Issue No 670 – January 1994
Cold Cases
The body of Mr. Freeze washes up on shore from his last encounter with the Joker. He is brought into the Gotham City morgue by Bullock and Montoya when it is thawed out, temporarily bringing Freeze back to life. Batman and Montoya take down Freeze, but she is left shaken after witnessing the brutality of Batman.







Knightquest – The Crusade (Mislabeled as part of ‘The Search’
Issue No 6 – January 1994
Animal Rites
Catwoman and a group of animal rights activists set out to stop a group of corporate developers who have developed a neurotoxin to be rid of protected species. The notes for this toxin are stolen and must be acquired.








Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 503 – January 1994
Night Becomes Woman
Believing that Catwoman is the thief of the Xylon-C neurotoxin, he tracks down and encounters her, only to find that she can very easily tell via pheromone that he is not the Batman she has faced all these years. While in the Batcave, Jean Paul researches her through the files Bruce kept in the batcomputer, trying to figure out why she has gone free all these years. He also wrestles with ‘thoughts’ of her.






Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 504 – February 1994
Dark Dance
Jean Paul has another vision of St. Dumas while he chases Catwoman. The Gotham PD find Catwoman with the canister of the Xylon-C neurotoxin, believing her to be involved in terrorism as the docks catch fire.








Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 7 – February 1994
Body Chemistry
Catwoman escapes the police and displays that what she has is in fact a decor. With Batman’s help, they rescue the scientist who initially concocted the toxin and save the attendees of an international conference from being poisoned.








detective671coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 671 – February 1994
The Cutting Room Floor
The Joker forces Hollywood big wigs to fund his movie, ‘The Death of Batman,’ and begins to stage crimes to get footage of Batman in action. While checking on a mugging victim, Batman witnesses her falling to her demise from a window.








detective672coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 672 – March 1994
Smash Cut
Batman moves into  save Robin who turns out to be the mugging victim he saved the previous night dressed up as Robin as part of one of his staged acts for his film. Captured by the Joker, the Gotham PD decide to step in after receiving a poster for Joker’s film in progress.








detective673coverDetective Comics
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 673 – April 1994
Losing The Light
Chained into a situation he can’t quite get his way out of, Batman wrestles with himself and the demons of the system. Watching batman’s actions, the Joker is infuriated when he comes to the realization that this is not the Batman he has faced all of these years. Once Batman breaks free it takes the Gotham PD to stop him from permanently taking the Joker out.







Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 505 – March 1994
Blood Kin
Jean Paul begins to embrace the detective side of Batman as he investigates a murder scene and begins to have a vision of St. Dumas and his father battling over the direction of his life. The murderer Abattoir kills five members of his family and is now going after his cousin and a bus full of children. This encounter sees Jean Paul redesigning his cape.







shadowbat26coverBatman: Shadow of the Bat
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 26 – April 1994
Creatures of Clay – Diary of a Lover
While checking in on the survivors of Abattoir’s school bus attack, Batman is attacked by Lady Clayface who begrudgingly wants to kill him. Meanwhile, Clayface III kidnaps Abattoirs cousin, Graham Etchison, who is being counseled by Leslie Thompkins.








sotb27coverBatman: Shadow of the Bat
Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 27 – May 1994
Creatures of Clay – Child’s Play
After being defeated by Batman, Lady Clayface reveals that she is only going to these measures because Abbatoir has kidnapped her and her lover’s child. Batman instead meets at the rendezvous point to save the baby and brings Clayface III to justice. Abbatoir however escapes and straps Graham Etchison to the death machine while Batman wonders if this baby will turn out as its parents did.







Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 506 – April 1994
Malevolent Maniax
Batman joins Ballistic who comes into town under contract to kill Abbatoir.









Knightquest – The Crusade
Issue No 507  – May 1994
Also in town on contract to take down Abbatoir, Batman and Ballistic take down the Maniaxe in a Gotham city nightclub. After taking out the lawyer who set the contract in motion, Ballistic collects his fee and leaves town.







Comic Talk: Mike Manley

Comic Talk Magazine
August 1993
Issue #7

First off, can you tell me how you ended up getting involved with Batman?
After issue 25 of Darkhawk, I decided that I was going to leave the title because I had done 25 issues straight. I figured 25 issues in a row is a pretty long run by today’s standards. I was getting a little burned out and didn’t want to start doing poor quality work. So I wanted to leave after issue 25, which was the biggest selling issue, probably since the first issue.
I’d known Archie Goodwin for several years, so I decided to go over to DC to see if they had any Legends of the Dark Knight for me to do. I figured what I would do was float around and see what else I could pick up. Archie gave me the Legends of the Dark Knight annual to do, which, in turn led to other people seeing samples of my work – specifically Neal Pozner and Dennis O’Neal.
Than one evening at around 7:30 at night, Dennis calls me up and goes, ‘Would you like to do Batman?’ I thought about it for about 30 seconds and said, ‘Yeah, sure!’ It was great because they asked me, so I felt very flattered.


Have you always wanted to do Batman?
I would say he was one of the characters from when I was a real fan, back in my teens, that I liked. Specifically, what Neal Adams did on him. I was a super big fan of his stuff; I used to blatantly imitate his stuff. I used to draw so much like Neal Adams that it hurt.
Maybe I’m different from some other people, because it was rare that I would fall I love with a character because the artist that I like is doing the book. Since Neal did a lot of Batman stories, I ended up liking the character.


How do you see Batman? Do you see him more as a grim and gritty Dark Knight, or as a reasonably well-adjusted caped-crusader? Or as something entirely different?
It’s something that I had to ask myself because I hadn’t read Batman comics for a very long time really – besides the ones that Neal Adams and Dennis O’Neal did. Occasionally, I would look at the title of someone like Michael Golden or somebody that I liked worked on it.
That was my reference point, basically, until Frank Miller and then with David Mazzucchelli did Year One. That seems to have set the tone.
Adams came back and established the creature of the night, the dark aspect of the character, being spooky and creepy. I imagine it will take a few issues to get my own feeling of the character because in a way, I’m working off of the inspiration of the artists that I admired as a teenager. That’s what’s firing me right now.
I don’t really know. He’s pretty much a dark, grim character. I think he has a pretty bent personality in some ways. He’s obsessing over this one event so much that he’s willing to put himself through this torture and pain, mentally and physically, to avenge the death of his parents.
It also has to do with what Doug Moench has in store for the character. At this point I have just received the script for Batman issue 500 and I will be starting on it in the next week or so. I’ve talked briefly with Jordan Gorfinkel, Dennis O’Neal’s assistant, and Doug. It’s like everything is speeding along so fast you just have to grab on.


What’s it like coming in at the tail end of a rather exciting timeline?
There are four or five Batman books right now, so different parts of the story take place in different titles. I get a script from Doug Moench and it’s like a telephone book. It’s huge compared to the plots I usually get from Marvel.
So there is a big of an adjustment working from a full script. That’s going to take a rearranging of the creative process at the beginning.


Are there any other differences you noticed in making the switch from Marvel to DC?
Well, I would have to say that for me, I would say that DC wants me to be the best Mike Manley on the character. They all seem to be very encouraging and very excited to see what I’m going to turn out. I hope I don’t disappoint everybody and send the sales into the dumpster.
I think there is a difference in personalities of the people that I’m working with, just like when you change any job. You go from one job to another. You have to get to know the people at the job and then you develop a rapport and a routine with them.
I’m really looking forward to collaborating more closely with Doug Moench and Dennis O’Neal on this stuff. It’s hard to say how things are going to turn out because at this point, I have drawn only seven pages for Legends of the Dark Knight Annual. I am also inking an issue of Shadow of the Bat that my good friend Bret Blevins is doing. In fact, he’s the guy who recommended that I go see Archie. Bret Broke his contract at Marvel, went to DC and got a good reception there. They gave him Legends of the Dark Knight issue 50, which is retelling the first meeting of Batman and the Joker. He was very ecstatic about the way things were going, so he said, ‘You should go. You should call Archie, you should go see him!’
So I did, although it did make me feel a bit strange because I did know Archie to a degree socially. I felt like, ‘I don’t want to call him up and ask for a job.’ [Laughter] That’s what I did anyways.


You mentioned that you want to collaborate with Moench. Do you want to write any Batman stories on your own?
At this point it’s too soon in the creative process for me. I think what I really want to do now is concentrate on the art side of it. I think that they have the plot for the next eight or nine stories at this point. I would imagine to Batman issues 510 to 512. I just want to concentrate on the artwork right now. I think if I was to concentrate too heavily on the plotting, it would become too much.
Sure, I would like to do a Batman story myself somewhere down the road or stories with other characters. But I’m quite happy at this point to be able to pencil and ink my own work on a monthly basis and I’m trying to take my work up a level or two. That’s very difficult when you have to produce a certain amount of pages per day. Day in and day out, week after week, you can’t fall behind work or books start missing shipping.
I think if I was to try and write…I’m so booked now, even besides Batman, with other special projects, I really don’t have the time.


So you’re going to ink Batman as well?
That’s a goal I made for myself after doing that on and off with Darkhawk. Nothing against other people that I’ve worked with, Ricardo Villagran is a great guy. I have had other people from time to time on the book, but there is a certain satisfaction that you have when you finish the artwork yourself. If you mess it up, at least you mess it up. If it’s successful, then you feel good. I look at the inking really as the drawing.
The way comics are set up today, they specialize everybody so that you have guys that just pencil, guys who just ink. You have guys who pencil who, if you asked them to ink their work, would be absolutely lost. I try to take after more the old school where most of the guys inked their own work. Besides the layout, the inking is the most important stage. Because after you erase the page, the pencil is gone and all you have left is the ink. If the inker isn’t very good, if the inker you’re working with loses your drawing or the emotional quality of your work, it can seriously alter the impact that you’re trying to give the reader on the page, besides destroying the drawing.
I guess you’re aware Batman gets a new costume as you come on the book.
Yeah, he’s getting a new costume. I’ll be working on that now. Issue 500 is split into two parts. Jim Aparo is doing he first part and that’s going to be inked by Terry Austin. And then, starting right on the first page that I do, he’s in his new costume.
How long he will have the new costume, I don’t know because I’m just as surprised as everybody else at this point. I don’t know the full story.


Graham Nolan told me that the new costume was a little difficult to drawn.
It’s pretty complicated. But if you draw them 400 times over the course of a year, you can generate ‘em out of your imagination, no problem. It’s just part of the job.


Batman is going through a lot in this story. What did you think when you heard about all the stuff that was happening to him?
I think they’re doing a real smart thing. They had a great success with The Death of Superman. With competition being the way it is in the marketplace today, you’ve got to come up with some good ideas to capture the readership. Everybody has a lot more choices today. I think what they’ve come up with is great so far and I think that some people may have guessed what it is while some people won’t have guessed at all.
I think the best thing about Batman is that he’s such a basic, simple character that so many people can do so many different takes and interpretations on him. I think that’s why he’s lasted 50 years. There are a lot of characters who are interesting, but they lasted 50 years.
It’s the same with Superman. Maybe it’s a little more difficult with Superman, because you can’t make him a dark Superman. It might be a little bit harder to do certain things with a character like that. Whereas Batman is a vigilante and I think that those are timeless characters. They can appeal to a lot of different people in a lot of different ways.


Do you think Batman goes far enough in his dealings with criminals? Do you think he should be a bit more ruthless or is he fine as he is?
The Batman of old of new?


The Batman of new
It’s hard to say. I think it really depends upon what each creator, what each writer or each artist is going to bring to the character and what kind of story they’re trying to tell. If you’re trying to tell a story of a guy who’s slowly, inch by inch, losing it, he may slip. He may go a little too far; he may whale on somebody a little too hard.
That is something that has also been done a lot. Part of the problem that people face in this business now is that you get on a character like Batman who has been around so long, you have to ask yourself, ‘What haven’t they done with him?’ There’s been so much done with him.
Also, I think with the movies and things like that, there’s a certain amount of restriction as to what they can do with the character.


Is there anything else you want to say about being the artist on Batman?
I guess I’m going to try harder than ever to do the best I can because the competitions stiff. If you can’t hack it you can be replaced easily.

Comic Talk: Graham Nolan

Comic Talk Magazine
August 1993
Issue #7

Can you tell me how you ended up drawing Detective Comics?
I decided I was finished with Hawkworld and wanted to move onto other projects. I had sent some Xeroxes to Denny and kept calling him. They were in-between artists, so they had an opening on four issues.
Then, I guess on the strength of that, they asked me if I wanted to do Vengeance of Bane. When an opening finally came through on Detective Comics a few months later, I was the first one considered.


You did some design work on Vengeance of Bane didn’t you?
Yeah, I designed him. I designed Bane and the ‘terrible trio.’ I guess they don’t have a name do they? Now they’re known as ‘The terrible Trio.’ [Laughter]


Did you have any input into the creation of Bane or his personality?
No, he was pretty much fleshed out already.


Have you ever gone to one of those infamous Batman-summits?
No, we had a mini-summit at the last Great Eastern show, but it wasn’t really a Bat-summit. It was more like a Detective summit. It was Scott Peterson, Chuck Dixon, and Scott Hanna.


You came into Knightfall in about the middle. What did you think about what was going to happen to Batman?
I knew what was going on from Vengeance of Bane because Bane was created and designed before the Knightfall storyline. I knew from the beginning.


Did you think, ‘wow that’s terrible,’ or ‘wow, that’s great?’
What he goes through, which I’m not at liberty to say, has evolved from the basic idea to hat was finally decided upon. It’s gone through some changes. I really, really like the final product. It’s better than what the original ideas were.


How do you see Batman? Do you see him as a grim and gritty Dark Knight, or a caped-crusader super-hero?
A little bit of both. I think Batman is the ultimate hero in the DC Universe because he has taken adversity in his lie and channeled it into something positive. He’s dedicated his life to making this decayed city a better place for those who live there. So to me, he’s the ultimate hero. He sacrifices so much for everyone else.


Do you think that Bruce Wayne is as important to Batman as Batman is to Bruce Wayne?
Absolutely. They’re not two different people. They’re the same person.


Are they? Can’t anybody put on a Batman costume and be Batman?
No, absolutely not. Batman is a persona created from a tragic event in Bruce Wayne’s life. I don’t think anybody else could possibly be Batman.


Well, you know Robin isn’t necessarily Dick Grayson. Robin is Tim Drake or Jason Todd or whoever else puts on the costume.
Right, but he’s not the same. They are two different types of people. Robin is an extension. If there isn’t a Batman there wouldn’t be a Robin. So Batman’s influence could shape a Robin, but there’s nobody to shape a Batman other than Bruce Wayne.


Okay, so what’s it like doing Detective Comics?
It’s been great. I love it. If there wasn’t a Batman, there wouldn’t be a Graham Nolan cartoonist, that’s for sure. Because when I was a kid and the TV show was on, that influenced me a lot, as well as the comic books. Batman was a seminal influence on me, so it’s something I always wanted to do. Having the opportunity to work on it with such talented people such as Scott Hanna, Chuck Dixon, and Scott Peterson really is a thrill.


Wasn’t Detective Comics the title you always wanted to do?
Yes, it is actually. Detective Comics were the first Batman comics I ever read. Also, the first appearance of Batman was in Detective, so it’s his home. Also, DC gets its name from it. It has a long history. I’ve big shoes to fill working on it.


Do you have any input to the story so far?
No, most of the story and the direction were all hashed out at the last Bat-conference. I wasn’t involved with that. I guess for the next batch of storylines I’ll have some input. At least I can offer suggestions and input. Whether they use them or not, who knows?


Is there anything you would like to say to the people reading Batman comics now or to those who will pick them up as Knightfall rolls along?
I think people that are reading it, especially the older-time Batman fans, are in for a real treat. We’re making an concerted effort to bring Batman back to the greatness that he should have.
He’s been portrayed in recent years as a psychopath and a nutcase. It seems to me that he’s becoming a lot more heroic. I think the old-time fans will really enjoy seeing Batman as a great hero again.
I think the new fans will enjoy it too. They’re hopping on a great storyline. The whole Knightfall series should have a lot of impact.

Comic Talk: Doug Moench

Comic Talk Magazine
August 1993
Issue #7

Can you tell me how, after a rather long time off the book, you ended up writing Batman again?
The short answer is that Denny O’Neil asked me. What happened was, Peter Milligan had been writing Detective Comics and was getting off. Then Dennis asked me if I wanted to write Detective Comics and I didn’t really want to at first. I mean, I did, because I really liked Batman. He was also my favorite costumed character. But because of the past, I was a little hesitant. Than I thought, “I needed the work. Why not. He’s my kind of guy. I’ll do it again.”
Then we had this first meeting before I even wrote one issue of Detective Comics, one of those Bat-summits. At this meeting, a new book was created, Shadow of the Bat. Alan Grant, who had the tenure on Batman, was awarded the new book. Then Dennis said, “Well, I guess you move from Detective Comics to Batman.”
That’s how I got on Batman. Chuck Dixon was there because we were going to discuss the Robin mini-series. Now we have Alan Grant on Shadow of the Bat and me on Batman and no one on Detective Comics. Then Dennis said, “Hey Chuck, how about you do Detective Comics?” That’s how the whole thing came about.


What would be different for you doing Batman from Detective Comics?
Well, these days there really isn’t too much f a difference. In the past there were periodic attempts to focus more on Batman as an actual detective in Detective Comics, but it never seems to come out that way. I mean, there was as much detective work on Batman as there was in Detective Comics and as much action guy in Detective Comics as there was in Batman.
These days I think the only difference would be a slightly less appealing nature for Detective Comics because most of the big things would probably have to be done in Batman. In Detective Comics you could do perfectly fine stories, great stuff. It’s just that if anything really big were to occur, it would probably be reserved for Batman rather than Detective Comics.
And, of course, Batman sells better.


Right now, you’re leading up to a really big story in Batman issue 500.
We’re in it. I’m done with #500.

Can you tell us what’s going on?
Batman issue 500 is in two parts; it’s a double-sized issue. It’s Jim Aparo’s last story. He’ll be doing fill-ins and so on, but his last as a regular will be the first half of issue 500. Our new artist, Mike Manley, will do the second half.
The first half is technically the last part of Knightfall and the second half is the introduction to KnightQuest. The new costume appears for the first time on Mike Manley’s very first page, which is halfway through 500. Wel, it’ll appear on the cover too.


Would you compare what’s coming in issue 500 with The Death of Superman arc?
Obviously, they’re bot ‘big deal’ stunts. However, ours was actually, as far as I know, planned before the Death of Superman. We’ve been working on this for about a year and a half. And ours was delayed by a number of months; several times it kept getting delayed. It’s a good thing it was because it was evident that the Death of Superman was going to be a big dea. We would get lost in it if we tried to do ours at the same time.
Ours is not as big a deal in the sense that as a ‘high concept,’ how can you beat The Death of Superman? A guy who can’t die, right? We’re not doing anything that big on the surface. However, we’re doing something that, in certain ways, I feel is an even bigger deal by changing Batman in an extraordinary way.
I don’t want to put down the Death of Superman by saying ours is more than a good story that results in a stunt because I didn’t read all of it. I did read the death issue, but I didn’t read the ones leading up to it. So for all I know, maybe theirs was just as great.
But it seems like, basically…intrinsically, ours was a stronger idea. Except how can you be stronger than The Death of Superman?


What do you think about all of the rumors that have been flying about?
Well, I can tell you this: nobody dies. Bruce Wayne does not die. That rumor is false, absolutely false. Something big does happen to Bruce Wayne, but he does not die.


Have you heard anything? What reaction have you been getting from fans on stuff that they think is going to happen and what’s been going on so far?  
Well, I got one death threat. An anonymous telephone call, ‘If Batman dies so do you.’ I was just at a couple of comic book shops this past Saturday doing a signing. As far as I could tell it was unanimous, at least among anybody who said anything. Some people just plunked the books down and I signed them and they didn’t say anything. But all the ones who spoke with me were really happy with what was going on. It surprised me because I don’t think the really good stuff has even started yet.
With Batman issue 497, it really kicks into high gear, followed by 498, 499, and 500, and the issues that Chuck did of Detective Comics fit right in there-I’m not sure of the numbers, but the are strong.

Have you ever had anything like a death threat before?
No, no.


No other extreme fan reaction to your work?
Well, back when I worked at Marvel, I did this thing called Gabriel: Daredevil Hunter, which was in the middle of the Exorcist craze.  I did get some weird stuff from witches and Satanists, but for some reason I didn’t take it that seriously at all. I didn’t really take this death threat seriously, but it was more to the point if you know what I mean. ‘The Batman dies, so do you.’ Boom. Then hang up the phone. I guess because the witches and the Satanists seemed so unreal in a sense we didn’t take any of the stuff that they sent me seriously. They didn’t call me. They sent stuff in the mail, amulets and that weird stuff. I just thought, ‘wow, these people are really out there.’


Okay, can you tell me how you see Batman, Robin, Azrael, and Catwoman in terms of differences and similarities?
Catwoman is very similar to Batman in a sense that she’s this creature of the night. But of course she’s a thief, which immediately makes for a dissimilarity. Theyre very similar, but on different sides.
However, Catwoman, like Batman, would never kill. So while she’s bad,’ she’s not evil or a murderess or anything like that. She’s not super-bad. She follows the tradition of the French cat burglar and all that stuff. Sort of an anti-hero.
She’s getting her own book now and will be doing many, many good things, as well as being a thief. We can’t condone her, but we can’t say that she’s out and out evil either.
Robin is a lot different from Batman. He’s young, and he’s not grim. His costume is brighter and flashier and so on. Yet he is being molded y Batman, so there are certain similarities. But he is a fresher, more buoyant kind of guy.
Arael is like Batman taken to the 9th degree. He’s another dark, very grim creature, but goes beyond where Batman stops.


You were writing Batman comics years ago…
Yeah, that was ’82, ’83 all the way through 1987. I wrote Batman and Detective Comics. Both of them.


How is it different now?
Basically, now we’re doing what I wanted to do then. I kept asking for a darker, grittier creature of the night type of stuff and I was frustrated in my attempts at trying to do that kind of thing.
Now, everybody sees things much more the way I wanted to see him back then. The character, in my absence, has become what I wanted to make it, so it’s very comfortable for me.
Not that I’m disowning the stuff that I did. I tried to do some of that darker, ethereal stuff back then. Some of it came off and some of it didn’t.
You see, Len Wein was the editor and he is very big on character and soap opera type stuff, so there was more of that on my first run on Batman. We’re doing mor of that now too, but it has a different feel to it.


One of the things that we had during your original run as Jason Tod as Robin. Did you think Jason Todd had to die?
No, of course not. Neither does Dennis, but once he committed to that phone thing, the vote, he was bound to abide by the result. He was shocked and even a little upset that the vote came to kill the kid.
I think that maybe these people are a little naive not to expect that, because the ones most likely to put out the effort to make the call are the active ones, rather than the passive ones who don’t want to see him die. They’re not as likely to pick up the phone and make a vote.

Even though I don’t think he had to die, I was not in favor of the character in the first place. I came on right after the issue that Jason Todd was introduced. I inherited him. People think that I created him, but I didn’t. That was Gerry Conway and Len. When I knew I was coming n the book before they did it, Gerry still had a couple of issues to write.

I asked, ‘Gee, do we have to do this? I’d rather not. Bring in a new Robin? Why? We don’t need a new Robin.’

Their attitude was a commercial one and I can’t say that it was wrong. At that point, Robin was in the New Teen Titans, which was actually selling better than Batman. That’s changed, but at that point, it was like New Teen Titans was more important than Batman. They wanted Robin with Titans rather than with Batman, but what’s Batman without Robin?
How do we solve this? We’ll come up with a new Robin. Then we’ll change the old Robin into someone else. Nightwing.
So I lost the argument. Actualy, What they wanted to do at the beginning was keep Dick Grayson as Robin and bring a new kid into Batman and call him something else.

Actually, I won that argument. If you’re going to have a new kid sidekick in Batman, it’s got to be called Robin. So why not change the other guy. And they agreed with me. ‘Yeah, that does make more sense.’


How is Tim Drake different from your interpretation of Jason?
I think he’s more carefree. Jason was a dark character and I felt like that was the way Jason had to be. Afterall, his parents had just been murdered and all of that. It’s a dark thing, so I made him kind of a troubled kid.
Whereas Tim has been much more able to overcome the death of his parents. Everybody has the death of their parents here. Ruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Jean Paul Valley. Same thing for all of them.
Actually, not the death of Tim’s parents, just his mother. His father is still alive; they’re not talking though. He’s not as affected by that as the other characters. The devil-may-care approach is better for him.


Do you have any thoughts on the change they made with Jason, post-Crisis Jason? Once he was pretty much a normal kid, then he became a hood stealing the hubcaps off of the Batmobile.
I was not in favor of it. I don’t know if that was Denny’s idea or what, but I personally didn’t like it. I think it was max Allan Collin’s.
I would understand why they would do that because of what I just said, his origin was so similar to Dick Grayson’s. Again, I did not do that; that was Gerry Conway. So I an see why they would change that, but I don’t especially like the way they did it. I guess it’snot too bad, it just didn’t work for me personally. What can I say?
It seems lately that Superman has been developing and evolving. He proposed to Louis, revealed his identity, and eventually died. Do you think Batman can be that fluid in his evolution?
Oh yeah, I think in certain ways even moreso than that. We’re doing big things with Batman.


Really? It seems like Batman is just this Dark Knight who watches over Gotham City.
Well, ultimately, he always will be. But there are other aspects upon which big changes can be made, and we’re making them. I don’t think that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with him being the dark Knight, in fact that’s a big strength. Being a dark angel. That’s a perfect concept.


But is there any life for Bruce Wayne outside of being Batman?
Yeah, we’re going to focus on that in the future. We’ve had a number of meetings in which that was discussed and we have a number of ways to approach that.


Do you think Batman should interact more with the DC Universe or less?
Personally, and selfishly, I prefer less because he does not, by his nature, have super powers. He’s an ordinary guy who has trained himself to be extraordinary without the help of a yellow sun or a power ring or a chemical bath. He is totally different from the other ones.
I know that World’s Finest was a tradition in which Superman and Batman teamed up. ‘Golly gee, wasn’t it cool to see your two favorite guys, Superman and Batman together? Dramatically, the story never worked for me because I could never figure out why Superman needed Batman for anything. Except if you said, ‘Superman’s dumb, therefore he needs Batman’s detective mind.’ But that diminished Superman so it didn’t really work.
Similarly, I don’t think Batman works as well with any of the super-guys. However, commercially, and for the sake of continuity (which we all think is cool and nifty), he’ll be interacting with the other characters. He just won’t do it as much or as extensively as The Flash or Green Lantern getting together. That makes perfect sense. Superman and Wonder Woman…these things fit.
Batman is the odd man out. Yeah, he exists in the same reality as the other ones, but we just don’t dwell on it in the Batman books. In other words, when Batman needs one of these super-characters, it’s 99 out of 100 times going to be in the other book, not in Batman.


Do you think that when something major happens in the DC Universe that it should be reflected in Batman? And should what happens in Batman be reflected elsewhere?
Yeah, and it will, it will. By the way, I’m speaking just out of the super-ones, there’s nothing wrong with Batman teaming up with a number of DC characters, as long as they are also non-super powered. Such as Green Arrow, Black Cannery, Huntress, the Question. There are a number of them that Batman fits with very well and we’ll be seeing that kind of stuff. You just won’t see Green Lantern and those guys.


Will we be seeing more of a presence of the DC Universe in Batman? It seems that Batman reflects in them, but not necessarily the other way around.
The increased presence will probably be after Knightquest, because we have so much going on in that.
We do have a few things. We have Oracle. Nightwing makes an appearance. The Huntress. That’s about it for a while. But I think in Shadow of the Bat you’ll see a lot of that.


Are you writing any other Batman related projects?
Am I eer. I’m finishing Dark Joker: The Wild, which is another one of those hard cover graphic novels. It’s like Red Rain. It’s with Kelley Jones and John Beatty. After that, Kelley and I are doing the sequel to Red Rain, which is called Blood Storm.
After that I will be doing Batman Vs Predator II with Paul Gulacy. Following that, Paul and I are going to be doing an Elseworlds mini-series.
The Showcase stuff has Batman type characters – Catwoman, Robin, Two-Face, Nightwing, Huntress, and Batman occasionally shows up. I think that’s all of the Batman type stuff I’m doing right now.


You seem to be doing a lot of the Elseworld’s projects.
Yes, in fact the red rain hardcover graphic novel is going to be a trilogy. There is actually going to be a third one after Blood Storm. But that’s a little bit in the future. We finish up Dark Joker first, which is not related to Red Rain, except that it will be in the same format.

What is it about the Elseworld’s format that appeals to you with Batman?
There’s so much freedom. So many opportunities to do big things with the characters; like turn him into a vampire or the sword and sorcery type of stuff. In Dark Joker, the Joker is a sorcerer and Batman is an elemental bat creature that is as much bat as he is human.
You just can’t do that kind of stuff in the regular books. Elseworld’s just gives you the freedom and it opens all kinds of creativity. The character is so good. He’s too good to be limited by his own reality, if you know what I mean.
While there are Elseworld’s versions of all kinds of DC stuff, there’s a Superman Elseworld’s, a Green lantern Elseworld’s…I think it really finds the perfect niche with Batman, at least with my personal point of view. It’s really suited for that.


I think this is about it. Is there anything else you would like to say about Batman issue 500?
I think it’s the best script that I’ve done for the regular Batman books. If the art turns out right, boy it should be good! I think Dennis and his assistant Jordan Gorfinkel agree, and Scott Peterson agrees. They all said, ‘Boy, that was a good one,’ and it should be. Batman issue 500 is a big deal, just for the anniversary number alone. But on top of that it is a culmination of a big, big deal in the storyline. So if anything deserved my best effort, it was this one.

Comic Talk: Denny O’Neil

Comic Talk Magazine
August 1993
Issue #7

What can you tell me about what’s going to happen in Batman #500?
The only thing that I’m free to talk about is that Batman gets a new costume. It’s the first real change in 54 years. They added the yellow oval back in the ‘60’s. That was the only modification the costume had over time. Stuff like the length of the ears and the length of the cape, I tend to leave up to the artists on the theory that Batman has many costumes for various occasions. The new costume will be a result of a major upheaval in the storyline.
Right now, were about a third of the way through ‘Batman: Knightfall.’ Batman #500 concludes ‘Knightfall’ and begins ‘Knightquest.’ Out of these will come Catwoman and Robin ongoing series. They will spin directly out of the stunts we’re doing.

Is there a practical reason Batman is getting a new costume?
Yeah, it’s part of the storyline. This is a stunt that’s being driven by the story. The Superman thing was done largely the same way. That makes me very happy since I figured about three years ago that what I basically am is a storyteller. The new costume is motivated by the storyline rather than motivated by, ‘Gee, let’s put a new costume on Batman and see what happens.’
It probably won’t be the last. This one probably won’t be frozen in time as long as the other. ‘Knightquest’ will then branch off into some other books. The story will take two separate lines involving two separate sets of characters. Some of which will run in Batman and Detective Comics, some of which will run in issues #5 and #6 of Justice League Task Force. It will also appear in Shadow of the Bat in, I think issues #19, #20, and #21 and will wrap up in Legends of the Dark Knight. That will be one part of the storyline.
They’ll be parallel plots. While they’ll occasionally touch on each other, we’re trying to put this thing together carefully so that we can play fair with people who may not have complete access to all comics or may not be able to afford to buy a dozen comics.
The storylines will be called ‘Knightquest: The Crusade,’ and ‘Knightquest: The Search.’ If you follow ‘The Search,’ you won’t necessarily have to follow ‘The Crusade,’ and vice versa. However, to get the whole picture, the whole epic story we’re spinning, you should read both. But they will be self-contained enough so that you’ll get your money’s worth if you don’t.

How long will these stories run?
Approximately ten months.

That’s a long time.
Yeah, they will segue right into next year’s annuals.

What can you tell us about the Catwoman and Robin series?
Catwoman #1 comes out at the same time as Batman #498, and Robin #1 comes out September ’93 with Batman #501. In the case of Catwoman, the story spins out of Knightfall. In the case of Robin, Knightquest. But again, you don’t have to read everything in these storylines to understand. What motivated catwoman to go out on her first solo adventure is something that happens in Knightfall, but it’s explained in the first issue. If you’ve ever heard of Batman, or Robin or Knightfall or anything, you’ll still be able to read Catwoman #1 as a complete story.

Is Catwoman going to be a hero or a villain?
We’re not going to soften her a whole lot. The cover copy I wrote is, ‘When she’s bad, she’s very, very bad.’ I think that will be the tagline for the story. She has never been a black, unregenerate villain like The Joker and The Penguin. She’s been a thief and a professional criminal with her own rigid ethic, so you better not cross her.
But on the other hand, she won’t go out of her way to hurt somebody. She wouldn’t hurt anybody at all unless she was strongly motivated…unless someone significantly interfered with her life. It’s going to be a very glamorous book with Jim Balent doing the art and Jo Duffy scripting. It’ll have something of James Bond and of The Saint. And, of course, a lot of Batman. We’ll be taking her all over the world, which may give Jo Duffy a lot of good travel deductions.

Will Catwoman be pursued by any official agency?
I’m sure that’ll happen from time to time. We’ve toyed with the idea of giving her an adversary apart from Batman who would be an ongoing character in the series. It’s a little too early to dea with that because the first three issues will constitute one story. That will pretty much be Catwoman doing something she feels she has to do. It will take her from Gotham City to Santa Prisca and probably to Europe after that.

What about Robin?
With Batman #501, tensions in the Batcave come to the point where Robin feels he has to leave and go out on his own. The first stories will deal with that break. We’ll follow him off on his own adventures. Chuck Dixon has been quietly building his own rogues gallery for three years now, so we’ll have no trouble doing it.
Somewhere down the line, we will probably reintegrate the two books. But for a while, Robin will be solo, not dealing in any way with Batman or Alfred…maybe dealing with Harold a little bit.

When you say reintegrate, do you mean Batman will appear with Robin in Robin?
Robin will start appearing in Batman, Detective Comics, Shadow of the Bat. It won’t happen for a while. We’ll want to give the kid his own identity. He’s cutting the chord and establishing himself as a solid character on his own.
Catwoman also. We think that they’re strong enough characters that they don’t need Batman to be interesting. I think that my creative team did an astonishing job on Robin, rebuilding the character from the ground up. He’s more popular now then he’s ever been.

Do you have an artist for Robin?
Yeah, Tom Grummett.

At the time of this interview, we’re about a third through Knightfall and it seems to be getting more and more popular…
Yeah, we’ve gone back to press with all of the books that are in the series so far. We’re bringing out the Sword of Azrael paperback a month earlier than we had originally anticipated. It’s had a much larger print run then I have ever seen for this kind of thing. That really is an integral part of the new series.

Do you think that Batman #500 will get as much attention as the death and return of Superman?
I can never predict those things. Already, I am surprised. We-sixteen months ago when we first thought of this-anticipated a lot of reader reaction, but I didn’t anticipate as much as we’re getting. We’re fairly early into it. I also didn’t know about The Death of Superman when I put this underway. Mike Carlin and I were not group editors back then. We were just editors in charge of our own line of books. As long as he wasn’t using Batman and I wasn’t using Superman, there was no need for us to compare notes. By the time that I’d found out that he was doing Death of Superman, I was well into my storyline. We had already done a lot of groundwork, and a lot of setting up of what was to come later. Neither Mike nor I had known that we were both planning big, major stunts this year. I might not have done mine this year if I had known he was doing this.

There are two major characters having major storyline changes, things changing continuity that goes back half a century. It might have been too much, but it’s not. The reaction so far for the Batman storyline has exceeded everything I could have anticipated. That’s very gratifying.

Have you heard anything specific from the fans?
I’ve heard most from my students at the School for Visual Arts, lots of rumors. I’m obviously not going to confirm or deny any of them. I can say this much: No rumor I’ve heard (and there have been a dozen different versions out there) has gotten it exactly right.

What do you think about the fact that so many people have even a hint of an idea of what’s happening in Batman #500 before it comes out?
It’s fine with me because it shows that they’re reading and that they’re interested. We all want to tell our stories to a lot of people. We all want people to pay attention, and when that happens it’s very nice.
Well, that’s exactly what’s happening. It really that doesn’t bother me that people are speculating that the rumors are true. Like I said, none of the rumors I’ve heard have been right on the money. So what it means is that my creative teams are really doing their jobs well.

How do these rumors get out?
That baffles me; I don’t know. The fan grapevine is astonishing. I think I know how they get disseminated, and that’s through computer bulletin boards.

What do you think about all of the marketing gimmicks in comics nowadays?
I think that cover enhancements and other stunts are fine if they call attention to a good story. That’s the way we use them. Every time we’ve done something like that, we have felt that we were backing it up with something that real readers buy comics for. Every reason you buy a super-hero comic; we feel we are delivering quite apart from whatever gimmicks are on the cover or in the polybag or any of that. I have no quarrel with those kinds of things provided they are used to call attention to something that you think is worth the attention. For their own sake…I’d have to question that.

How about the Robin mini-series? As good as any one issue was, wouldn’t you hope that the latest issue of Detective Comics is just as good? But only on anniversary issues are the enhancements used.
Well, Sure, we try to hit a high standard of storytelling every time out. That’s what we do, but some stories are, by their own nature, events. That’s when it seems to be appropriate to use a gimmick.
On Batman #500, we’re using an enhanced cover. There’s a major storyline and it’s only the fourth comic book to hit that number, which, in itself, is an event worth paying attention to. And then, it’s the last of the Jim Aparo Batman and the first of Mike Manley’s, so there’s a major change in creative personnel.
With the Robin thing, each of them was a strong story. Each of them helped solidify and reshape a character that had been in existence since 1940. We thought if what you like is pulp action and adventure with real characterization, that’s what we’re delivering. Hence I had no objection when other people in the organization suggested enhanced covers. Each of them, I would argue, was an event.

You mentioned an artistic change in Batman #500?
Yeah, half of Batman #500 will be done by Jim Aparo. At a natural break in the story, Mike Manley will take over the pencils.

Is Jim Aparo gone for good?
Not for good, he’s going to be doing Green Arrow for Scott Peterson and he’ll do occasional Batman projects. In fact, I’m going to be giving him a script either today or tomorrow after I get around to looking at it and doing whatever minor editing is necessary. It’s a Batman story; it’ll probably appear sometime in the next year. He is one of the quintessential Batman artists. I would not like to think that I would not be working with him again. I will look for projects that we can do together.

Is the personnel in Detective Comics lined up now?
Yeah, I’m not really able to talk about it because I don’t edit it. I’d much rather you talk to Scott Peterson about what’s going on in Detective Comics.

Does that mean that the crossovers between Batman and Detective Comics are going to stop? Will they still have the close continuity that they have always had?
It’s going to be, for a while, a very very tightly integrated continuity. Then after that, we’ll revert to maybe a slightly tighter version of what we’ve been doing lately.
We have been accused of not doing continuity between our books in print and I’ve never gotten around to replying to that. I would argue that it’s absolutely not true. For about three years, we’ve been doing the kind of continuity where, at the end of the year-if you want to sit down and bother to make a timeline, everything will fit. Except for the things that we specifically label as being outside of continuity, which includes some of the graphic novels and some of the stories occurring in Legends of the Dark Knight.
It’s just that I haven’t done the thing like Mike has done with Superman-where a story ends in Action Comics and ten seconds later in comic book time, it picks up in one of his other titles.
But all of the major events-the death of Robin’s mother, introduction of Harold, introduction of Jean Paul; they haven’t been simultaneous. It’s a different kind of continuity, but I would argue that it’s no less integrated. It’s just structured differently.
I do that for practical reasons and some for aesthetic ones. I hire people who are strong storytellers; it’s one of my criteria. I want to give them as much autonomy as possible. Also, to really do that, you’ve got to get everybody together in a group a lot, and one of my writers lives sixty miles outside of London. We do get together about three or four times a year, but we can’t do it every month. However, I do think that we’ve achieved as tight a continuity as anyone could want. I’ve got it on my computer as we speak. A timeline. I can tell you by looking at this computer screen when any one thing happens and how it is reflected in the other books.

Since we’re talking about continuity, how about the concern that fans have about Batman appearing in Justice League and guest-starring in something like Starman or Black Condor where it has no relevance to Batman or Detective Comics?
In Justice League, no comment. The others…Usually those guys show me this stuff and if they have Batman doing something he wouldn’t normally do, I change it or ask that it be changed. We could probably fit that into continuity. Those are never appearances that in comic book time, take weeks; it’s usually like one day or one afternoon or a one-night appearance. We can show that it happened, like on a Monday Batman got done fighting the Joker, on Tuesday he’s with Black Condor, and on Wednesday a Penguin story started. Something like that.
They’re not in our continuity, but they don’t contradict it. What’s important is that the characterizations are consistent.
In the old days at DC, editor A and editor B both did Batman. They did radically different versions where only the costume was the same and some of the props. That’s one of the things that we’ve managed to eliminate. Anything that involves continuity with Batman has to be okayed by me. Any borrowing of Batman or any of my cast of characters I have to okay. I tend not to be too stingy about it because Batman is usually an enhancement to any story he appears in.

Though he enhances the stories he’s in, don’t you think those appearances are a liability to him because they undermine his mysterious persona?
Well, in recent years, I did manage to keep him from being a daylight character. Except in a couple instances in Superman where I thought the story justified the daylight appearance. But we’ve tried to maintain the mysterious image.
In the old days, Batman would walk down a city street on a bright sunny day waving to people. I almost always insist that if he appears with other people or the characters are in a crowd scene, he’s in a shadow. Unless the story absolutely demands that he step into the light to save somebody’s life or something like that, he does remain a shadowy figure.
The other part of the answer would be that I think Batman is an important part of the DC Universe, despite the fact that he is much more independent than most of our heroes. For him to remain an integral part of the DC Universe, he does have to interact with other characters from time to time.

So why not let him be a member of the Justice League?
I had him written out of the Justice League because he is essentially a loner. He’s not a character who would be interested in working with a lot of other people.
He’s also not too interested in going outside of Gotham City. He’s the city’s guardian angel. In our current storyline, the Wayne fortune is based on Gotham real estate. He’s really in and out of that place.
I will cop out on early Justice League stories. In recent times, very, very often Batman has not been used in a Justice League story and I’ve suggested some alternative character. Sometimes the alternative character can be Robin, whom I don’t perceive as anywhere near as standoffish or as much of a loner as Batman.

Let me ask you something about the characters. Would you say that Batman has to be Bruce Wayne since Robin obviously doesn’t have to be Dick Grayson or even Jason Todd?
I don’t know. Good question. Batman is as much as anything, an archetype. Part of what the ‘Elseworlds’ stories are about is it in a different context. I don’t know, that’s an interesting question.

How would you compare the methods of Batman, Robin, Catwoman, and Azrael?
Catwoman and Azrael are certainly lacking the element of compassion. It’ not brought center stage very much in Batman, but it’s always there in an unstated way.
Robin’s modus operandi is very close to Batman’s because he is, in a way, Batman’s creature. I would say he is a lot more technologically oriented and a lot more sociable. Batman is not necessarily someone you would want to hang around with if he existed. I think anybody I know would be happy to spend an evening with Tim Drake. He’s a much lighter character. He’s much friendlier.
Catwoman is capable of utter ruthlessness if you get in her way. If her own personal code of ethics demands retribution, she will deal with you harshly.
Jean Paul, Azrael is still, to some degree an unknown entity. Because part of his character we will explore I would guess over the next several years is that he’s been brainwashed and he does not know who he is. In a way, he’s like The Question. He knows what his name is, who his father was, but he has no idea what’s at the core of his personality. What we’ve seen so far as is that he can be a very hard edged guy indeed. He does not have as many scruples as batman, or Bruce.

You’ve mentioned that Batman’s compassion isn’t seen very frequently, but I actually think that we see it quite often. Where does his mercy come from? He doesn’t have much reason to have any since he saw his parents killed right before his eyes.
It’s a yin/yang thing, Darwin. It’s the other side of the coin to his mission to stamp out crime. It all stems from that traumatic childhood experience which involved a couple of horrific and unwarranted deaths. At the same time that he has this burning passion for justice, he also believes that human life is sacred and that human beings suffer because of injustice. The compassion and the sense that human life is sacred those are really integral to the character. They’re as important to the characterization as all the other stuff-the brilliant detective work, the acrobatics. And underlying all of that, the mission is self-imposed.
Of course, I’ve explained this probably a hundred times in the past eight years. Batman is not crazy. He’s not driven. He’s certainly not psychotic and no more neurotic than the rest of us, because he understands what he’s doing. He’s in control of it. He’s made a choice and the choice is, ‘okay, this is probably the best I can do with my life. It’s certainly something that I am uniquely qualified to do. Nobody else on the planet has this combination of traits and skills and so on.’
Theoretically, he could make the choice to stop doing it, whereas if he were psychotic, he wouldn’t have that option. I think that there’s a hell of a difference between psychosis and obsession. He may be obsessed, but he’s certainly not crazy.

Do you think that Batman’s commitment to working within the system and being merciless effects his effectiveness?
Yeah, if these fictional worlds were real, probably The Shadow would have been a more effective crime fighter then Batman. He’s not exactly in the system, it’s just that he does not violate it. He doesn’t work in it, but he doesn’t destroy it either.
I’d say that if The Shadow existed, he’d have to be a wanted fugitive. It’s like the Guardian Angels here in New York. They are obviously a force for good and they probably prevent a lot of subway crimes. Yet they’re mistrusted by the establishment because they’re not in the establishment and don’t exactly play by the rules.
Well, Batman is a guardian angel times a hundred. Most cops on the beat don’t trust him and certainly not most police officials. Then there would be a few who would say, ‘Yeah, he’s helping us, he’s a good guy.’ And poor Gordon, caught in the middle, right on the fence.
Another concept that I haven’t been too successful in communicating to our audience: Does Gordon now who Batman is? If so, why doesn’t he do something about it, and if not, why not? Again, I think it’s a choice. I’m very big on existential choices.
He’s a very smart cop and he’s had more contact with Batman than anybody, so he could figure it out. He chooses not to. I think that that was a misunderstood part of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. Yeah, he could have looked up on that bridge and he could have seen who was riding that motorcycle. He chose not to. He chose to blur his vision because it’s better for him not to know.
Even if he suspects, it’s better for him not to know. If he knew, it would have to change his behavior. That would ruin something that is very important to him both personally and professionally. Basically, he’s got a good thing going and he doesn’t want to mess with it.

How do most of the people in Gotham City feel about Batman? Do they have an underlying fear of suspicion of him, or are they grateful that he’s around to go head-to-head with guys like The Joker?
Both. If I were a citizen in Gotham City, I don’ think I would want to hang around with Batman. I don’t think I would have anything to talk to him about. I think politically we are pretty far apart. On the other hand, if I was walking home alone from the subway at 3AM, I’d be very happy to have him around. It’s the same way that a lot of people feel about law enforcement in general. They don’t like cops per se, but they’re very glad to see the cop walking down their block after dark.
The character is evolving. All comic book characters that last evolve to some degree. He’s evolving more into a nighttime character. That does not necessarily equate to grim-and-gritty and more violent, but darker. Very gradually, we’re taking him out of situations where he’s on television, for example.
It’s a creative decision. He would go a long way to avoid being in front of a television camera. So there are probably some citizens in Gotham who don’t know that he exists or are not sure. Probably, most of them don’t even know what they think about.
We’re not completely consistent with this because, as I said, it’s a process. One of the great secrets of editing this stuff is to allow the process to happen and not make changes for their own sake. If you see a tendency and it seems right, then let it step back and occur.

What kind of story do you prefer –  the kind that Jim Starlin did where Batman is the only supernatural force and the crime is like what we read in the paper, or the one’s like Alan Grant’s where you have a grandiose villain with a nickname and a gimmick to match his personality?
One of the things that attracted me to the character as a writer years and years ago was that he’s protean enough that you can tell a lot of different kinds of stories. With most super-heroes, the range of story you can tell is really pretty limited.
With Batman, you can do everything from…well, one shouldn’t use the word ‘realistic,’ but…say, ‘magic realism’ in the sense that South American novelists use it. You can do those kinds of stories or you can do the flamboyant super-villain kinds of stories.
The character, as we define him, will accommodate both, so I don’t necessarily have a preference. I can qualify that by saying grotesque villains, I think, are an essential part of the appeal. And as long as I’m driving this particular bus, there will always be stories about characters like The Joker, and the Penguin and so on.
The other is an occasional change of pace, sure. As an even more occasional change of pace, stories might deal with supernatural things that go bump in the night. We overdid those a couple of years back. I think they should be once or twice a year. A change of pace is not the norm.
Essentially, what the character is about is humanity. It’s about human perfectibility. Another thing that seems to me integral to Batman as he has evolved is the idea that he is a detective. He uses his brains as much as he uses his muscle.
It’s just that since a guy sitting there is not dramatic, sometimes that happens off stage. Though occasionally, we put it on stage to remind people that it’s more than a guy crashing through a skylight.

We’ve seen many interpretations of Batman’s origin. Not in the inspiration to become Batman, but the process afterward. Taking up with different trainers and so forth. Is there, in your set-up, a big story that various writers can take pieces of or can they make it up as they go along?
We have a very loose timeline. Our official Batman biography says that: From ages twelve to twenty-three, he bounced around the world picking up information. Not quite exactly sure what he was going to do with it. Knowing he was going to be some kind of crime fighter. Sometimes as Bruce Wayne, sometimes with disguises and assumed names.
He went all over the place. If he heard about an extraordinary martial artist in China, he’d find a way to get into China and hang out with that guy. If he heard there was a ballistics expert who was the best in the country in Michigan, he’d go find a way to go hang out with that guy. We’ve done a couple of stories where he apprentices himself out to detectives.
I would assume there are more of these stories to be told. I’ve deliberately kept it loose to accommodate any good ideas any writers have about filling in the gaps in that eleven-year period.

Are you going to be writing any Batman stories that we can look forward to?
I’m going to do a big piece of ‘Knightquest: The Search.’ I’ll do two stories in Justice League Task Force #s 5 and 6. Then almost immediately, I’ll jump into the three issues of Legends of the Dark Knight arc that will kind of wrap up that storyline. I’ve already written Legends number 50, which will be out pretty soon. That’s ‘Joker: Year One.
Somewhere down the line, Nick Giordano and I are talking about doing a series about Commissioner Gordon and I’m toying with the idea of another Azrael mini-series. That’s about it. That’s plenty for this year, given the fact that I do some outside writing and I teach two nights a week and I work here about forty-five to fifty hours a week.

What other non-Batman writing are you doing?
Oh, I’ve done a science fiction short story for an anthology that John Varley is editing. I’m about to do a hard-boiled detective story for an anthology that Max Collins is editing.
I co-wrote a piece with my wife on meditation for the new Superman/Batman magazine that Charlie Kochman is editing. It’s Robin instructing the Huntress on meditation. It’s something that I’ve been interested in for maybe twenty years. It’s something my wife teaches to her sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. And it’s something Charlie, who has a real deep interest in martial arts, thought he’d like a little piece about. That’s probably the strangest project that I’ve done in a long time, but one of the most satisfying.
I think kids should know about that stuff. I think it’s something that can keep us all sane and Marifran has a method she finds works particularly well with children.
And then there’s a possibility I may do another Batman teleplay. That depends on a lot of x-factors, among them, whether or not they need any more. The one I’ve written has not aired; that’ll be out some time next month.
Often enough, some little project or another comes along. I still like to write after all these years. When they come along, if they don’t interfere with something, I tend to say ‘yes.’

Are we going to see any more of the Question?
Yeah. Yeah, I forgot about that. As soon as I can pry open a month in my schedule, I’m going to do a 56-page Question one-shot. Archie [Goodwin] already has the cover.
I’ve got some ideas, but there are about four ways we can go because, essentially with Question issue 36, we ended that big story. But there are still a number of possibilities that are built into the character. Sometime later this year, I’ll pick out one of them and work out a story and consult with Archie and then start writing it. I imagine that it won’t be out this year, probably early next year.
It’s always a great pleasure to come back to that character. I do things that are more popular and have more readers, but I almost never do anything that is closer to what I’m really interested in.

Personally, I always thought The Question was the only logical follow-up to the Watchmen.
That’s high praise, thank you.

Honestly, after reading the Watchmen and The Question, nothing else stands up. The book meant something to me and my brother.
The people who like it really like it. It’s just that there aren’t tens of thousands of them.
It’s been the most gratifying series I’ve ever worked on. Part of the gratification was that I got to write about stuff that concerned and interested me. The other part is that the response has been really nice, even people reading all of those books that I recommended. It astonishes me that anybody would bother to do that.
So it’s a character that I like to come back to from time to time. I can’t for a number of reasons do it as a monthly anymore, but I think we can write one or two stories a year.


Forwarding with Dennis O’Neil

DC Comics
November 1994

A Forwarding with Dennis O’Neil

We knew we needed him. We just didn’t know his name, who he was, what he did, or why.

We became aware of the need when we first began discussing Knightfall, the 71-issue monster continuity that eventually appeared in Batman, Detective Comics, Shadow of the Bat, Robin, Catwoman, and Legends of the Dark Knight, with brief side excursions into a special, a mini-series, Justice League Task Force, and Outsiders. We agreed that the bonafide, original Batman would be severely disabled, retire, and be replaced. This replacement, though an ideal choice for the job, would eventually reveal a hidden, ugly side which would force Bruce out of retirement and into a direct confrontation. The WE I’m referring to consisted of our editorial team – Archie Goodwin, Scott Peterson, Jordan Garfinkel, and Darren Vincenzo – and what I believe to be the best crew of comic book writers in the comic book business – Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant, Doug Moench, and Jo Duffy. They’d do most of the work. I’d supervise the editorial chores and do a bit of scripting. Oh, and one small additional job: I’d create the character who would eventually become the anti-Batman.

Anti-Batman huh? Okay, should be do-able. Let’s try to find a name and see what develops from that. Something animal or avian, maybe. Go to the research sources and learn what the natural enemies of bats are. Surprisingly, despite the bad reputation bats have they’re pretty friendly creatures. Among their airborne contemporaries, their only real foes are owls. Anything we can do with owls then? Well, owls are predators, but they’ve had great public relations over the centuries. The popular notion of an owl that is not that of a feathered terror who swoops from the night sky to make a snack of a smaller beastie, but of a placid old critter perched on a limb being benign and wise. Definitely not what we were looking for. Any other possibilities? Just one: the greatest danger to the bat population is us – people So, the anti-Batman is what? The human man? Man-man? The incredible person? Fella? Maybe we should reconsider owls…

No, we shouldn’t. We should look elsewhere. I was (and am) interested in mythology and religion. Anything in those areas?

I really don’t remember if I began searching for a celestial avenger or if I merely went for a random saunter through Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend. Probably the latter. It’s likely that the name Azrael caught my eye, there on page 100, and I scanned the accompanying text, “…terrible angel of death…forbidding aspect and horrible presence.” …Well, well. Let’s consider this for a moment: As Eric Lusbader observed, Batman’s costume – the horns, the dark colors, the scalloped cape – is reminiscent of medieval depictions of devils. A devil’s opposite is of course, an Angel. So if Batman is a devil co-opted by good, an anti-Batman would be an angel co-opted by evil.

Owls could stay on their branches. I’ve found my man on a higher locale – much higher. Once I’d decided on the angel motif, and editor Archie Goodwin agreed, the rest followed pretty easily. Azrael’s other identity as shy computer student Jean Paul Valley, the clandestine and immensely powerful Order of St. Dumas, Azrael’s position as hereditary assassin, the death of the elder Azrael, and, most important, Batman’s involvement. We enlisted one of comics’ most impressive artists, Joe Quesada, to design Azrael’s costume and, after several conferences with Archie and the other writers, I placed myself proximate to a word processor and began scripting our anti-Batman’s four-issue debut, Sword of Azrael. Joe with fine assistance from Kevin Nowlan, Ken Bruzenak, and Loverne Kindzierski, did a superb job on the graphics and, about a year later, the series appeared.

We chose not to reveal our plans for Jean Paul; I think we were able to con readers into believing that Sword of Azrael was simply the introduction of a new hero. That choice may have cost us a few sales, but it seemed vital to the eventual success of the above mentioned monster continuity that we upset our audience’s expectations. I’m told we succeeded.

Maybe too well. As the monster progressed, as Azrael deteriated into the monomania and violence, mail indicated that readers were starting to hate the young Jean Paul – which of course was exactly what we hoped would happen. Clearly though, there was interest beyond the loathing. Enough interest to justify giving him his own monthly title? The decision makers said yes. Since Archie and I were the architects of the original miniseries, we inherited the job of doing the monthly. Neither of us protested, at least not too audibly; it could be a provocative project, but it had unusual problems. At the end of the monster, Jean Paul is broken, homeless, virtually without an identity and, let us remember, he was despised – not exactly prime hero material. We’d be starting way behind square one. We’d have to tell the story of his redemption and then let him find his own place in our fictional universe.

That’s what we’re in the process of doing. At least this time we know his name. In the months ahead, we may learn who he is, what he does, and why. Stay tuned.