the dark knight tagged posts

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.

Knightquest – The Search

jltask5coverJustice League: Task Force
Knightquest – The Search
Issue No 5 – October 1993
Death In The Caribbean
Outfitted with a wheelchair ready for battle, Bruce and Alfred head to the island of Santa Prisca in search of Jack Drake and Dr. Shondra Kinsolving. Upon arrival, they are attacked by local assassins but are saved by Bronze Tiger. After checking into a local hotel that caters to drug dealers, Bruce meets up with Gypsy and Bronze Tiger who spy on the locals to find that Jack Drake is not doing well while the locals shoot a bazooka directly at the hotel to kill Bruce and Alfred!

 

 

 

 

 

jltask6coverJustice League: Task Force
Knightquest – The Search
Issue No 6 – November 1993
Bronze Tiger and Gypsy are ambushed as they try to uncover Bruce and Alfred from the rubble of the hotel, unbeknownst to them that they are safe by way of a tent in the chair off grounds. Bronze Tiger and Gypsy meet up with Green Arrow to face Asps, kidnapper of Dr Kinsolving and Jack Drake. Though they are able to rescue Kinsolving, she willingly boards a helicopter with Asp not wanting to leave Drake in his current state. Bruce charters a yacht more determined then ever to rescue to the two.

 

 

 

 

 

shadowbat21coverBatman – Shadow of the Bat
Knightquest – The Search
Issue No 21 – November 1993
Bruce Wayne: Part 1 – The Hood
Now in London, Bruce and Alfred seek out local vigilante The Hood to break into MI5 to steal the file on Dr. Kinsolving and Jack Drake’s kidnapper, Benedict Asp. They come to find out that Asp is described as a ‘freelance psychic consultant,’ and his intentions with Dr. Kinsolving are to use her long dormant healing powers to harness and reverse, causing death instead. In London, Asp is to hold a ball which Bruce intends to attend.

 

 

 

 

 

shadowbat22coverBatman – Shadow of the Bat
Knightquest – The Search
Issue No 22 – December 1993
Bruce Wayne: Part 2 – A Day In The Death of an English Village
Attending Asps’ ball as Sir Hemingford Grey, Bruce gets closer to finding Dr. Kinsolvng and Jack Drake. Using her powers, Asp demonstrates the death of a small nearby village. When she steps out, Bruce recognizes her but not him in his disguise. The Hood, along with an agent from MI5 also close in on Asp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

shadowbat23coverBatman – Shadow of the Bat
Knightquest – The Search
Issue No 23 – January 1994
Bruce Wayne: Part 3 – The Curse of the Bat
Not pleased that Sir Hemingford Grey seems to know Dr. Kinsolving, he orders his men to dispose of him. Bruce however holds his own and is saved by the Hood after he crashes in having discovered the death of the nearby village. Hood promises not to tell anyone that Hemingford, Bruce, is actually Batman and Bruce vows to bring down Asp for his crimes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

legendsof59coverBatman: Legends of the Dark Knight
Knightquest – The Search
Issue No 59 – March 1994
Quarry – Part 1
Bruce continues in his pursuit of Dr. Kinsolving and her captor, Benedict Asp when their secret is revealed; they are brother and sister who can harness their power only when in each others presence!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

legendsof60coverBatman: Legends of the Dark Knight
Knightquest – The Search
Issue No 60 – April 1994
Quarry – Part 2
Asp threatens to kill four heads of state through his combined familial powers. Afraid that Bruce Wayne may become a target, Alfred leaves Bruce and heads back to Gotham to ask Batman if he can look after Bruce, but Jean Paul is reluctant. Bruce plans to be captured by Asp in an attempt to get closer to the duo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

legendsof61coverBatman: Legends of the Dark Knight
Knightquest – The Search
Issue No 61 – June 1994
Quarry – Part 3
Going according to his plan, Bruce is captured by Asp during a hurricane hitting the island. Asp figures out that Bruce Wayne is really Batman and Dr. Kinsolving uses her powers to heal Bruce, but in doing so mentally reverts herself to the state of a child. Asp disappears and is assumed dead.

 

 

 

 

Overstreet Fan Quesada 97 Interview

Overstreet’s Fan
February 1997
Issue #20

Burning Down The House – Ash and Azrael fan the flames
By Arnold T. Blumberg

In 1997, The year of the crossover part 2, comic book readers will witness some of their favorite characters and creators joining forces for the first time. With so much comic history being made, it will be difficult to decide where to look first for action and excitement, but if the logic behind one particular crossover pairing  is any indication, the Ash/Azrael project spearheaded by Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti will be one to watch. This one-shot, 48-page prestige format book scheduled for March will bring together the two characters who not only share an artist, but the same affinity for fire. Fan braved the heat to get the scoop from Quesada himself, though our intrepid interviewer seemed to have something else on his mind as well…

I’m going to see Star Trek: First Contact tonight!
What?

Um…nothing. Let’s talk about the Ash/Azrael crossover.
Ok. What you have to look forward to is, without a doubt, the best of all the crossovers.I guarantee it.

Good selling point.
This crossover was based on complete and total logic. Jimmy Palmiotti and myself created Ash, Denny O’Neil and I created Azrael, and I had a hankering for drawing Azrael and Batman again. Since Azrael and ash are both fire based characters, it was a natural thing.

[While playing with a couple Borg figures] How did the project come about?
It started with a phone conversation with [DC Editor] Archie Goodwin. We were catching up, and I said if ever there was an opportunity for Ash and Azrael to meet, and possibly even get Batman involved, I would drop whatever I was doing to do it.

This is your first time back on Azrael since the Borg war of 2366. I mean uh, since you left the title.
Absolutely, and another bonus was coming back to DC. Working for DC remains one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve ever had in the comic book industry. The only other thing that would’ve been cooler is if we’d thrown the Ray in there too. But maybe somewhere down the line…

So what’s the story going to be?
Well, we’ve been discussing this for quite a while, making sure the team behind it was the best quality, and I told Denny I didn’t want to do a story where they meet, fight, and then become friends. So they’re friends from the onset. The book actually opens up with a big fire.

What? Aren’t the fire suppression systems working? I’d better get Geordi on that right away.
Who?

Uh, well, don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. Anyway, will this crossover involve some sort of temporal rift or spatial distortion?
No, there’s no time portal or anything like that. We start in Gotham City, get a little Batman in there, and then Azrael comes to New York to meet up with Ash. He’s actually sent by Batman to clear his name in Batman’s eyes. Firefly and Oracle are in the book, and we created a new villain to antagonize our heroes.

This crossover arrives right in the midst of a wave of similar projects. Why do you think there’s so much ‘crossover mania’ these days?
I think it has to do with economics. Even the bigger companies are realizing that they should expand their relationships. But it also has to do with people saying, ‘let’s get back to having fun.’ There’s nothing to lose here, and readers finally get what they’ve been asking for all this time. The first set of Amalgam books for example were so much fun!

Yeah, why can’t they do that all year?
It’s almost like they were able to loosen up for a second, and not take it too seriously. I thought they were some of the most brilliant books of 1996.

Well, as we say goodbye to 1996, just what do we have to look forward to in 1997?
We’re committed to getting Ash out monthly. We have a plan that involves Humberto Ramos, Mark Waid, and Brian Augustyn. And this isn’t me abandoning my character. While Humberto is working ahead on Ash and getting momentum going, I’ll be working as well, with a story arc by James Robinson. So there will be Ash out on a monthly basis, and Humberto is kicking it all off for us, allowing me the time to finally get some books in the bag.

It sounds like Event is boldly going where it’s never gone before…schedule wise that is. You also have a lot of big players in the industry lined up to help you.
Whatever you want to call them, I think the most important thing is to roll the dice with these guys, you generally roll sevens 90% of the time in terms of story. In terms of respect, you roll sevens 100% of the time.

(Looks up from tricorder he’s fiddling with) Mm-hmm, sounds like a warp field equation.
I don’t…

(Closing tricorder) Nothing, forget it. When will we see these issues of Ash?
Mark, Brian, and Humberto’s first issue of Ash will probably be in May or June. Mark and Brian will also be working on another ongoing series for us, Painkiller Jane, drawn by Rich Leonardi. Before that comes out though, we have Painkiller Jane/Darkness crossover, a one-shot written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Amanda Conner. So you see again we shoot for the top.

Well sure, it’s always best to target the bridge area for maximum effect.
I’m not following…

What I mean is, you’re sticking with just two monthly books?
Yes, we’re not expanding to a thousand titles. Our aspirations are not to be Marvel or DC. We want to keep it small and manageable. It’s the same sort of goals Valiant started with, and when it was manageable it was good. When it became unmanageable it lost it’s charm.

Right, it mushroomed out of control, like a warp core explosion.
…Right. There’s only so many good creators out there, so there’sonly so many good books you can put out.

Why do you think all of these talented people are drawn to work with Event and Ash?
I think the draw has always been there. We’ve always had good relationships with all these creators, it was just a matter of working with everybody’s schedule. A year ago, we wouldn’t have been ready, but now things have started to gel. We’ve made a lot of mistakes at Event, and I’ve been the most guilty party in terms of lateness. When we first started, we solicited for our company before the books were even done. That was a big mistake, and the people who end up getting hurt are te retailers and the fans. I’m tired of blowing my commitment to all of them, so I’m stepping up to the plate and saying, ‘I’m taking the time to put some books in the bag, but I’ll be back. In the meantime, here’s someone who is really friggin’ good to draw the book.’ Plus the fact that me and Humberto have a standing bet –  but we’ll let the fans decide. Humberto swears that he draws Ash better than I do, so we have a little bit of a grudge match going. I’ve already seen how he draws Ash, and I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Sounds like you’ll be in the trenches for a while.
You’ll still here from me, mostly with covers for Ash and editorials, so I’m not disappearing by any stretch of the imagination. The result is that next year, people will see two thigs they’ve never seen before. One, they’re going to see Ash monthly. Second, by the end of the year, they’re going to see me coming out monthly. Now that probably means the end of Western Civilization as we know it, so just hold onto your hats. It’s going to be really crazy.

Any desire to try other projects along the lines of Ash/Azrael with the big boys?
In terms of working with DC or Marvel, it has to have a certain appeal. The Ash/Azrael one was a natural and not just a paycheck. I didn’t know on Marvels’s door asking for an Ash/X-Men crossover.

Oh, that’s something we need.
I have no interest in it. It would be a huge paycheck, but that’s not what we’re about. We want what’s going to read and look best, and what’s going to work best for the characters. Besides, I don’t think that DC would’ve agreed to this if it wasn’t the perfect character matchup.

Besides which, it seems like many creators are rededicating themselves, as you are, to the utmost quality in their work.
I can’t speak for anybody else, but at Event, we’ve always been true to the fans when we guarantee that no book we put out will be of substandard quality. Even our new, creator-owned title that’s coming out Dave Ross’ Thrax, is a magnificent book, and we hope people will pick it up and give it a shot. We always stay true to that commitment.

That’s an admirable notion.
In the recent past, people have been late on books, which is a constant industry problem, especially for the smaller guys, or they’ve been putting gout schlock, for lack of a better…well actually a have a better word, but you know what I mean. We’ve never really stooped to the latter as far as I’m concerned, but we have been late, and I think it’s a case of the industry going through an evolutionary pattern. During the glut, there were a lot of people who really had no right drawing comics. Ten years ago they would’ve still been showing their portfolios around, so the industry is sort of digesting and getting rid of what it doesn’t need, and there were a lot of books that should have never been printed.

Now we’re weeding off the chaff.
Exactly, and I think it’s something that would inevitably make the industry stronger. I think all the publishers are realizing this is a natural progression, and the guys who are left are hopefully the ones who always do good work. Guys like Simonson, Chaykin – they’ll never want for work, and there’s a reason why they’ve been around for all these years. They’re still great.

Let’s alter course for a moment and come about on a bearing of…um, sorry. I’ve had some experience with conventions over the years (shining up his communicator pin), but what was your impression of the convention circuit this year?
It’s always enjoyable, but this was a rough year. Because of the political conventions and the Olympics, every con got slammed together within a week or two around the 4th of July. I was concerned too because I didn’t see kids at the cons up until New York. That was the brightest spot at the convention, the fact that there were little kids again. That was a really good sign to me, and it was a major concern. I talked to a bunch of people at the beginning of the year, and we were all wondering, ‘where are all the kids?’ everybody is sixteen or over, checking out all the half-naked spokesmodels.

(Looks up from a model of the Enterprise that he’s flying toward a Klingon ship, making torpedo sounds) Where?
At the conventions…

Oh.
And I can’t blame them, but at the New York con, I was the first autograph ever for about three kids, and that’s never happened to me. At the Event booth, I was telling our employees that any kid they see on line who looks to be about seven or younger can cut the line and they each get a free book. These kids are the future of our industry, so we have to plant the seeds again and get it growing.

Is that an influence on what you choose to portray in your comics?
Absolutely, and especially with Ash, we have a certain set of guidelines that we adhere to, sort of our own Event Comics Code for Ash.

Ahh, regulations, excellent. My favorite is the Prime Derective.
What?

Ummmm..So no half-naked spokesmodels for you?
Not in Ash, but maybe at my house later. But that’s beside the point. Our Ash-universe books are a little more family-oriented.  With a fireman superhero there’s a little bit more responsibility I need and want to take. The shame about the industry today is that aside from Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man, there really haven’t been any conic characters created in years. As wonderful and successful a book as Spawn is, the mothers of America will never embrace that character, and I think Todd McFarlane knows it. With Ash and our deal with Spielberg’s Dreamworks company to adapt the character to film, we have a good chance to turn it into something that will hopefully last longer than I do.

Yes, something that lives long and prospers. Do you think 1997 will see some positive changes for the comic book industry as a whole?
I’d like to think that things are turning around. There used to be a point where you could predict which books would sell and which books wouldn’t sell. But this has been such a year volatile year, I don’t even want to hypothesize. I’m just wishing everybody well, and I hope it’s a good year for all of us. We’ll just see how it goes.

I agree, we should all just relax and enjoy the infinite diversity of the industry and the ways in which we combine to form meaning, and beauty. (Shows off his IDIC medallion and grins).
Right…I think. We can’t take ourselves so seriously. It’s comic books! It was always meant to be fun. It was fun when I was a kid, and it’s still fun for me today. Even the tactile smell and feel of a brand new comic book, especially on cheesy newsprint, means something to you.

Ahh yes, just like the warm tingle of a transport cycle…
What is with you?

Thanks for your time, and good luck in the new year.
Thank you.

CVM 1993 Knightfall Feature

CVM
October 1993
Issue 86

When the Bat Breaks…The Knight Will Fall
By Neil Hansen

“…and down will come Batman, costume and all…”

Two new additions to the Batman mythos have turned the caped crusader’s world upside down. One, a villain named Bane, has broken Batman’s back in a quest to ultimately humiliate the spirit of Batman; causing the second, a hero called Azrael, to take over the role that millionaire Bruce Wayne created to fight the forces of evil.
Holy setbacks Gotham City! Will Batman be able to get out of this, or is this the beginning of the end? Readers have already seen Superman killed fighting Doomsday; the world doesn’t seem to be safe for superheroes anymore. Why?
In actuality, the DC creators wanted to explore what it would be like if someone else became the Batman. “To get a different Batman,” said Doug Moench, writer of the Batman comic, “obviously, the original Batman had to step down for a time and a new one had to take his place. Of course, the Batman costume, which has been a classic for so long, also needed a new look. What kind of twist could be done on that? What would the classic design look like if it were altered for the nineties?”

The Beginning of the Break
The genesis of the story called, ‘Knightfall,’ where the old Batman was forced to step down, and the new Batman took over, started two and a half years ago.
“I was having lunch with Peter Milligan, and at the time he was writing Detective Comics,” said Batman group editor Dennis O’Neil, “and we were just talking over story possibilities. He mentioned that it would be a good idea to put someone else in the Batman suit for a while. Peter left meetings,” revealed O’Neil. “I had about four or five of them. We decided that we needed a new villain for this. The only villain that was even close was maybe the Joker; but he’d been used a lot. And even then, he was not emotionally right for this storyline, the way it was developing.”
“The Joker is much more of a psychological villain, “ said Moench, “than a physical villain, and we wanted a physical villain. Bruce Wayne had to be physically unable to continue as Batman to bring about a new Batman.”

The Bane of Batman’s Existence
Bane was created as the instrument of batman’s downfall in a one-shot called Batman: Vengeance of Bane, written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Graham Nolan and Ed Barreto.
“I don’t remember who exactly said what, said O’Neil, “but most of the credit would go to Chuck Dixon, because he actually wrote the story and filled in the blanks; and without all of those blanks being filled in, you don’t have a very good character.”
Bane was connected with the ‘Venom’ storyline created in Legends of the Dark Knight #16-20, written by O’Neil himself. “I had created him for a completely different story,” O’Neil remembered. “When I wrote that story for Archie Goodwin (Legends of the Dark Knight editor), I certainly didn’t think it would have any ‘life’ beyond those five issues, but that was the one piece that was just serendipity.”

O’Neil’s experience with Batman first started as a writer. He was instrumental in first bringing the character back to his grim roots in 1970 (Detective Comics #395) with artist Neal Adams, following the demise of the popular but campy Batman television series of the 1960’s. Through this foundation, subsequent writers like Frank Miller built on this base, amplifying the grimness that O’Neil originally instituted. Moench, who wrote Batman from 1982 to 1987 had to play catch-up when he returned to the title using Miller’s increased grit and appreciated the fact that O’Neil wanted to go the same way.
“It does feel a little odd,” said Moench, “but I think I’m up to speed now, and I have been since ‘Knightfall’ began. It was strange getting back into it because I no longer read the book after I stopped writing it, so I had to read all of the back issues. One of the good things about it was that, after I left, Batman had been done in the way that I wanted to do it – and did do it to a certain extent, but not as much as I wanted to. At the time, I guess they weren’t ready for a dark, gritty Dark Knight kind of thing which Frank Miller’s book (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) convinced them that was the way to go. So, before Miller did it, that was the way that I had wanted to go. The editor, Len Wein, kept saying, ‘No, no no! It’s perfect like this!’ and I kept saying, ‘I don’t think you quite know what I mean.’ O’Neil’s critical slant is closer to what I’d wanted to do all along.

The Avenging Angel
The character of Azrael taking over as Batman will push the grit to the limit. In creating Azrael, O’Neil said, “Again, we’d decided that we needed someone fresh.”
For instance, Nightwing, the first Robin and leader of the Titans, was given the thumbs down for the role. However, O’Neil had a bit of a struggle in creating the new character.
“I first looked at animals,” said O’Neil, “trying to think of what’s the natural enemy of the bat. I did some research – which is something writers get to do and pretend that they’re working – and found that the only natural enemies that bats have are men. That seemed to be a dead end, so from there we began to look at mythology. I don’t know how I stumbled onto Azrael, who was an angel of vengeance in two different mythologies, but once we had that – the idea of an angel of vengeance – the rest of it kind of fell into place.”
Azrael, like Bane, didn’t originate in the regular Batman continuity of titles, but began in a four-issue mini-eries called Batman: Sword of Azrael, written by O’Neil and drawn by Joe Quesada and Kevin Nowlan (Quesada, who designed Azrael, is also designing the new Batman costume).
“There was no way to bring them onstage in the current continuity,” O’Neil pointed out, “without bringing everything to a screeching hault, and we didn’t want to telegraph our intentions that far ahead. I’m not sure that the way we did it was the right way, but there was no other way, those two books came out after there had been an awful lot of Batman out, the second movie – so they didn’t get as much attention as they probably would have, even if they weren’t going to be important to later continuity.”
Unfortunately, sales on the Azrael and bane titles weren’t as high as O’Neil thought they’d be.  “We were a little disappointed,” O’Neil said, “at the reception of both, because we felt that they deserved better. On the other hand, we couldn’t put a blurb on the cover that said, “This is going to be rally important, dear reader, buy this book!”
However, initial disappointments on the two books turned into big money for comic book dealers.

“I’ve seen Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 go for as much as $25,” O’Neil said. “If I had to do it again, maybe we could have found a way to bring Bane on stage. I work with consummate craftsman, and I will stipulate that even if you never saw those books and will never see them, there’s plenty of information in the stories themselves. You have everything you need to know about those guys if you read Batman and Detective Comics. That’s one of my criteria for doing comics. I don’t think it’s fair to the reader to force them to go outside of what they’ve just bought in order for them to understand what they’ve just read.”

Building Batman
Before Knightfall, there had been complains in fandom that the Batman titles lacked continuity, but O’Neil claimed it’s always been there.
“It just hasn’t been the kind of continuity that Mike Carlin does in Superman, said O’Neil, “where one story ends and the next book picks up ten seconds later. There’s a lot of reasons for that, one of which is that I keep wanting to put emphasis on the story with continuity as a part of that; so I insist that stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and that THAT be finite. A writer is really going to have to work to convince me that he is going to need more than three issues to tell a story, so we do that, but I think of it as a mosaic. At the end of the year, all of the features fit into one big picture.  We don’t ever contradict unless we screw up, which is a distinct possibility, albeit a distant one. I was being facetious of course. We make mistakes all the time. But, if Tim Drake’s father is kidnapped in one book, he stays kidnapped in the next book; and we can generally figure out that these three issues took about three days of Batman’s life, and that’s this week. The next story takes about two days, so that winds up the week. I’ve got on my computer an outline for the next year,” O’Neil continued, “which never gets more detailed than who the villain is, and if the villain doesn’t exist, it says, ‘new villain,’ which when we’re dealing with something like Knightquest or Knightfall, then there are other things. Where is Jack Drake’s health at a given time? Has Bruce recovered at al by whatever issue it is we’re dealing with? We can maintain that continuity that we spoke of earlier. I’m not going to say it fits seamlessly, but pretty close to it, so at the end of the year you can make sense…assuming that these guys lead very busy lives! I would say that we have continuity working through the strengths of my creative people.”

With Knightfall, and later, the Knightquest storyline demand the other kind of continuity,” said O’Neil, “stillnot as tightly as Mike does it, but a lot more. Even having said that, we ry to keep the story self-contained enough, that if for some reason Batman isn’t available to you, but Detective Comics is, you’ll get enough of the backstory and surrounding information in Detective Comics to understand what is going on here and now.”
However, fandom has noticed similarities between the physical powers of Bane against Batman and the physical powers of Doomsday against Superman. According to O’Neil, this is just confidence.
“If I had known that Mike was going to do his storyline this year,” O’Neil commented, “I would have considered delaying mine. We were both working independently. There was no reason for me to check what he was doing and vice versa. By the time that we figured out that we were both working on major continuity-altering storylines, it was too late to do anything about it. I read Superman as it comes out. I don’t really read other editors’ stuff except as a reader, but I want to enjoy it. Therefore, I don’t look at scripts or artwork ahead of time. Again, if Batman or Robin makes an appearance, I have to look at it, and complain if necessary.”

The Changing of the Guard
Knightfall reaches its penultimate chapter in Batman #500. Among the creative changes that occur are the changing of artistic guards from Jim Aparo to Mike Manley. Aparo moves to Green Arrow after a long run on Batman related comics.

“I left Darkhawk (for Marvel Comics) with #25,” said Manley, “and I was lining up to do some special projects stuff, and Brett Blevins, who’s a really good friend of mine, left his contract at Marvel to look around and see stuff. He went over to see Archie Goodwin (Editor of Legends of the Dark Knight), who we both know at DC, and Archie gave him some work. Bret was saying, ‘You should go see Archie.’ He gave me Legends of the Dark Knight Annual, and a couple people were in the office – Neal Pozner, Mike Carlin – and they asked me if I would be interested in doing some stuff.”
“Then one night,” continued Manley, “at 7:30, Denny O’Neil called me up and asked if I wanted to do Batman. I thought about it for about 30 seconds and said ‘Yeah!’ I had no idea about Batman #500. I hadn’t read Batman in years. His first artwork is chapter 1 of Knightquest: The Crusade,” which focuses on the adventures of the new Batman.”
“I was sort of coming in at the end,” Manley said, “the beginning and the middle because it’s the end of the first part of the storyline they had come up with. I was the new kid on the block. It’s in the middle of the storyline, and it’s at the beginning of the whole big new thing with Batman. Maybe in a way it’s a good thing I haven’t read Batman comics in years, because I’m trying to come at it from a fresh perspective. It’s enjoyable, and I feel I have a lot of freedom. My preconceptions of the character are basically the stuff Neal Adams did when I read as a kid, and the stuff that Frank Miller did himself, and with David Mazzucelli. That’s the stuff I have in my head. It’d be like, if I did the Fantastic Four. I’d think about what Jack Kirby did. I think all creative people do that when they come on. If you were going to do Spiderman, maybe you’d go back and reread the old Steve Ditko and John Romita issues. Maybe for a young guy, it would be Todd McFarlane.”
Still, Manley has admiration for his predecessors.

“I didn’t sit down [when I was hired],” Manley explained, “and think I was following in Jim Aparo’s footsteps. I feel that if it’ a new character, it’ll be different from what Aparo did. I fondly remember the Aparo stuff from when I was collecting the Neal Adams stuff too. I used to confuse his stuff with Neal Adams stuff when I was a kid. He was one of the best guys in the field. He had a great flair for storytelling. I think to some extent, Neal was a better draftsman, coming from the old strips, but Aparo had a lot of dynamic storytelling to his stuff. He’d chop up panels. He was very good at layouts and treating the whole page as a unit.”
“One of the things that I’m trying to do with Batman,” continued Manley, “is bring up the elements of Gotham City and work very hard on the backgrounds. I’ve really cut down on my workload, and I am just working on Batman, not two, three or four projects at the same time.”
Knightquest: The Crusade will be seen in both Batman and Detective Comics, but what will happen to Bruce Wayne?”
“Denny will take Bruce off in Knightquest: The Search,” said Moench, “and Justice League Task Force, for a three-part story in which Bruce Wayne is trying to solve the mystery of Dr. Sondra Kinsolving and the adduction of Robin’s father.”
“We thought we’d have to logically deal with Superman,” said O’Neil,  “so a scene has been written by one of Mike’s guys. We’ll have to deal logically with Nightwing, so that will pop up here and there. We’re dealing with Green Arrow in Justice League Task Force. Our version of Batman is that he is not a very public guy. I don’t think there are a dozen people in Gotham City who have decent photographs of him, and he certainly doesn’t hang around talking to crowds. What the world knows is that he’s changed clothes. A few people in Gotham City – Gordon, Bullock, and Sarah Essen – will react to his personality change. Gordon will be shocked by it, and wonder if he’s gone over the line. Bullock will applaud it like he’s finally figured what to do with the lowlife scum: beat them senseless.”

What Makes A Hero?
“A lot of heroes in movies,” continued O’Neil, “and in other comics, commit whole slaughter pretty casually. That’s another idea that we’re playing with in this series.”
O’Neil to use Bruce Wayne and Azrael to explore different aspects of the same theme. “We decided to not just let Bruce be an invalid,” said O’Neil, “but to tell a story of a different type of heroism. In real life, I have not a great deal of admiration for somebody who charges a machine gun nest because that’s adrenaline, but someone who is in great pain, gets up and makes their life work despite that: that’s a real hero. The story will start in Justice League Task Force #5 and 6, then Shadow of the Bat #21-23 – that’ll be written by Alan Grant and done by the regular shadow team – and I will finish it up in a three-parter in Legends of the Dark Knight, again emphasizing that each of these will be self-contained stories in which a problem will be solved. I would like to believe that anyone who reads just one of these stories will be perfectly satisfied and feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth. If you read all three of them, you get the big picture and find out all the details. “A model for this sort of thing,” continued O’Neil, “is a Dashiell Hammett book called The Dain Curse, which is made up of three novellas, and they were each published separately. Nobody ever knew that they were all part of a large novel, so therefore, everybody who read them – they were serialized in Black Mask (a pulp magazine) – got their money’s worth. Then Hammett pulled them all together with very little rewriting into one novel, and you’d say, ‘Oh yeah, man! Now I really see what this is about!’ That’s what we’re trying to do with Knightquest: The Search. We will have failed if we don’t provide lots of action, melodrama, and larger than life characters; but underneath that, [we’re dealing with] heroism. Is it the very violent action that Azrael does? Is it the thing that Bruce Wayne is doing?”
While O’Neil couldn’t divulge the length of Knightquest, or the permanence of the changes, he did disclose, “We’re going to build it to a dramatic conclusion. We’re exploring the character of Azrael. To some degree, we are waiting for feedback. We’re seeing how readers feel about it. We’re seeing how readers feel about it, and how we feel about it.”

Anniversary Shakeups
Between the publicity of the death and resurrection of Superman in Superman #75 and Adventures of Superman #500, and the current goings on with the Caped Crusader with the new armored Batman debuting in Batman #500, violent occurrences and radical changes seem to be the new milieu for DC superheroes anniversaries.
“Mike Carlin and I arrived at our ideas completely separately,” said O’Neil, “without so much as ten seconds consultation, but I can pretty much figure out why we did it. We both have the same problem to solve, and that is that we have characters that are half a century old. In my case, I made a guess based on my 26 years’ experience that maybe we were getting routine.  I know that movies and television shows would draw attention to the character, and we’d get hepped on that, but all of that was going to be over now. It’s deadly to let a character like Batman or Superman go on autopilot, and it’s easy enough to do that. Both characters have had stretches in their history where it’s happened. You still collect your paycheck, and sales don’t slide dramatically, but you want to keep the stuff fresh.”
“The trick,” O’Neil continued, “is to keep it interesting for you.” Then, if the writers or artists have interest or are having a hard time doing their jobs, that’s probably going to have a lot of interest for the reader. There’s always people who hate what you’re doing, but if you didn’t do this shakeup once and a while, there would be a danger of the characters repeating themselves, going on autopilot. That would be the death of them.”
O’Neil described how he handled that major shakeup. “What we’ve attempted to do,” he explained, “is preserve the essence of the character, that core identity, what made him a hero in the first place. Then, either allow the externals to evolve or every once and a while give the externals a kick in the slats to make them evolve, to keep them contemporary. If we’re doing our jobs right, we’re doing stories that appeal to a twelve-year-old or a fifty-year-old. When I started in this business, there were all sorts of rules. Some of them made sense. Some of them were simple rules someone that of at the time; but we had far less freedom to deal with the essence of the character then. Any changes that happened during the 50s, 60s, and 70s, happened as a sort of evolution. It happened when people weren’t really watching. Now, we are allowed to actually tell dramatic stories, and dramatic stories always involve change.”

Azrael on Gotham

View below my edit of the the episodes ‘Pinewood,’ ‘Azrael,’ and ‘Unleashed’ from Season 2 of Gotham.
This video does not contain the entirety of these three episodes, instead is an edit of the parts to the Azrael
part of the show. This episode is only a stream and not a download, please allow a few minutes to let the
stream load.
Enjoy!

Cubeecraft

Here are some printables for Azrael Cubeecraft (yes that’s spelled right). Please note these take steady hands and a bit of patience to make, but are quite fun! All you need is a color printer, scissors, and a hobby knife or small blade (be careful, this is where the steady hand and patience comes into play). It is recommended that you use thicker paper such as high gloss photo paper. Be sure to also give a good hour or two for ink to dry after printing as well. There are many quick how to tutorials on YouTube if confused on where to start with your cubecraft.

Azrael Cubeecraft – Download
(Created by Joshua Wolf)

Knightfall Azrael Cubeecraft – Download
(Created by MysterDD)

Knightsend Azrael Cubeecraft – Download

Figures

Find below all Azrael figures released.
Note: Though there were quite a few Azrael as Batman figures released, most were very inaccurate in regards
to costume coloring and appendages. The one’s listed below are the versions you want to look for if authenticity
is more to your liking.

 

 

Knight Force Ninjas

 

 

Manufacturer – Kenner
Series – Batman Knight Force Ninjas
Year Released – 1998

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dcsupazbat_package

 

 

Manufacturer – Hasbro
Series – DC Superheroes – Knightfall Batman
Year Released – 1999
Notes: Identical Sculpt to the DC Direct Version but more accurate in the armor color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

knightf_package

 

 

 

Manufacturer – DC Direct
Series – Knightfall Batman
Year Released – 1999
Notes: Identical sculpt to the Hasbro version but with lighter coloring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

az_kubrick2

 

 

 

Manufactuer – Medi-Com Toy Corp
Series – Kubrick Batman Series 1 (Japanese Edition)
Year Released – 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

s3select

 

 

Manufacturer – Mattel
Series – DC Super Heroes Series 3 Select Sculpt
Year Released – 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dcucblue

 

 

Manufacturer – Mattel
Series – DC Universe Classics – Wave 16
Year Released – 2010
Notes: The suit worn throughout Knightquest and Knightsend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dcured

 

 

Manufacturer – Mattel
Series – DC Universe Classics – Knightfall 2-Pack
Year Released – 2010
Notes: Color Variant of DC Universe Wave 16 Figure, suit worn in the last two issues of Knightsend.Figure was only available in this 2-pack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gothamciybanebattle

Manufacturer – Mattel
Series – Batman Unlimited – Gotham City Bane Battle
Year Released – 2014
Notes: Originally a Toys R Us Exclusive. 7-Piece figure set comes with Batman Beyond, Batman, Azrael, Bane, Deathstroke, Robin, Red Hood. Figure pack was created for a rumored animated feature that would feature all characters in pack.

 

 

 

 

 

knightfarkhamfig

 

 

Manufacturer – Mattel
Series – Batman Arkham Origins – Knightfall Batman
Year Released – 2015
Notes: Packaging refers to this suit as worn worn by Bruce Wayne instead of making mention of Azrael (Jean Paul Valley, the actual wearer of the suit).

 

News

Instead of copy/pasting the original News section into here I just thought I would archive it here.
Read below all ‘new’ News!

March 16th, 2016
JPV is on the cover of this weeks issue of Batman and Robin Eternal! That’s right, Azrael is in issue #24…however he is only on pages 13 & 14. Still though, having the cover of the issue must mean that he is sure to have more face time in the next issues!

February 15th, 2016
In stores now (if you can find them) is the ‘Knightfall Batman’ 3.75″ figure of Jean Paul Valley as Batman from the Batman Arkham Origins series of figures from the Multiverse line put out by Mattel. If you can’t find the figure in stores (I’ve been searching since early December when they started shipping) you can pick one up off of Amazon. The figure he highly detailed and dare I say ALMOST as good as the Hasbro DC Super heroes figure released in 1999. You can check out a pic of the figure in its package that I posted on Instagram here.

February 13th, 2015
If you follow us on Instagram (if you don’t why not!) then you saw the images I posted today of Theo Galavan on Gotham as Azrael! His suit looks very similar to the one that JPV is currently wearing…coincidence? This also looks like a very clever marketing move on DC’s part to help build even more interest in Azrael with the official trade paperback of the original Azrael solo series due out next month and Azrael’s introduction into the current ‘New 52’ continuity. Only time will tell as the series continues on the 28th of this month!

January 20th, 2016
You seriously need to pick up issue #16 of Batman and Robin Eternal – awesome team-up of JPV, Red Robin and Red Hood! The plot thickens and you won’t believe the turn of events.

January 13th, 2016
The new year brings JPV back in this weeks issue of Batman and Robin Eternal. This issue has a bit more background on the Order of St. Dumas, as well as the person who currently sits as figurehead. A really warped last page as well. Issue #15 is out now!

December 9th, 2015
This weeks issue of Batman and Robin Eternal gives us a bit more insight on Jean Paul Valley as Azrael. He’s also sporting a very ’90’s era haircut as he uses some interesting new powers to not only mess with Bane, but Red Robin as well. Check out all the insanity in issue #10 out now!

December 2nd, 2015
It’s official! It’s finally happened! This week’s issue of Batman and Robin Eternal marks the official debut of Jean Paul Valley, the REAL Azrael in the ‘New 52!’ This is pretty much the best news that could possibly be announced this winter as far as I’m concerned, so go out and pick up issue #9 now to see that insane pic of JPV on Pg 20!

November 17th, 2015
Last night’s episode of Gotham – did you see those member of the Order of St Dumas marching into Gotham? Something tells me we may be seeing an Azrael. If we are though it definitly will not be Jean Paul Valley as he is about 10 years younger then Bruce. However, that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t see his father Ludovac as Azrael!

October 20th, 2015
Did you catch last night’s episode of Gotham? The real ring leader of the whole ‘Rise of the Villains’ that the show is taking this season just revealed that Theo Galavan actually coms from a family called ‘St Dumas’ and an Order of families that controlled Gotham city. Could this be the beginning of seeing the Order of St Dumas and possibly even an Azrael on the show?