Every week MTV News is talking down all of the shocking, surprising moments in DC Comics' weekly series "Batman Eternal." This week, we hopped on the phone with writer James Tynion IV to discuss the burgeoning relationships in the Bat-family, Batman's clever disguises, and just how bad things are about to get for James Gordon:
MTV News: The title, "The Good Man." It's very evocative, and seems to be referring Jason Bard on the first page, but is it just him? Is it someone else? Who is the good man in Gotham?
James Tynion IV: Well we're at the point that we're finally getting into the trial of James Gordon, after what happened in the first issue. The big thing we wanted to play with was the idea that this is the fall of Gordon, and the rise of Jason Bard. The interplay between the two men, over the next three issues it's going to be very, very key.
Who the good man is in this situation? We are going to see Jim tempted in a very major way to do something against all of his inclinations. We're going to see Bard step up in a way Jim Gordon might have, but he's going to do it in his own way.
MTV: So it's really about who is a good man when pushed to their limits.
MTV: Okay, let's talk about Batman's clever disguises in this issue, from wearing a helmet, to just dark glasses sitting in a public courtroom. Is he just tempting fate at this point?
Tynion: [Laughs] Oh no, this is Batman. He's trained in all sorts of things. In the courtroom in particular, he knows how to slink in without being noticed by anyone, except for the artist of the issue. We're pretty okay in terms of not giving up the big, secret identity there. He's been in close contact with Jim so many times before, I think he knows he can sneak in and such a way.
MTV: Between this, there's a brief scene with Red Hood and Batgirl. What does this scene tell us about their relationship, and where they're going?
Tynion: The relationship between Batgirl and The Red Hood, that's going to be very crucial over the course of this entire series. Jason is so driven by rage. He's become what he's become in reaction to all of the horrifying things that have happened to him. Barbara, she's also had absolutely horrifying things happen to her, but now it's happening again, and it's testing her limits.
And now with her father, it's not happening to her, it's happening to someone she cares about. Those are the moments that really push us to our limits, and Jason can see where she is in that moment, and the danger that she's in. It's going to be about whether she can keep herself together, and keep herself from crossing the line. On Jason's part, it's on whether he wants her to cross that line or not.
MTV: The Bat-family has been so fractured for the past couple of months since "Death of The Family," but now it looks like they're starting to pair off. Is this where we start to see everyone getting the gang back together?
Tynion: The relationship between all of them, and Batman in particular, that was tested to the absolute limit with the "Death of the Family" storyline. The relationship between some of the members of the Bat family… Some of them don't have much of a relationship. At the end of the day, though, they are some sort of family, and we're going to see them coming together and interacting off of each other. That's going to be key to what we're doing.
MTV: Harper and Red Robin seems to be another pairing that's heading towards something. Are we going to see them crash together in the future?
Tynion: I think we're going to see a lot more of the two of them in the future, because they have a very similar sensibility. Tim's the detective. The thing that makes him one of the greats is his intelligence, and ability to put everything together. Harper is incredibly smart, but she's also headstrong. Tim is a quiet planner, and Harper is the one who is much more likely to rush into something because she feels that it's right.
The two of them are going to be playing off of each other as a part of one of the major sub-plots and through lines of the whole year.
MTV: Moving on to Julia Pennyworth, she's smart, and you play with it a little bit. Is Alfred not even really trying to hide that there's a Batcave under Wayne Manor, knowing she'll figure it out eventually?
Tynion: It's the core thing that's keeping them apart. She believes that he gave up everything, including her, to be a butler. But he's so much more than a butler. He's fighting a much more important battle than he ever did when he was with the military.
That's something she doesn't understand yet, and the biggest thing that really bonds the two of them, in terms of what they have in common. So it's something he wants to tell her, but knows he can't.
MTV: Should we be wondering who Julia's Mom is?
Tynion: That's definitely a story that needs to be told down the line, but right now this story is very much just about Alfred and his relationship to Julia. The basic idea, and what we understand as the writers on the team is that this is a woman who came with the Afghani side of the British forces who were in Afghanistan when Alfred was in the army.
It's a modernization of the old, old continuity where I believe Julia's mother was Mademoiselle Marie, from World War II. I have a feeling Alfred is not quite that old in the current continuity. This is a brand new take on these characters. We'll be slowly uncovering more of Julia's past over the course of this series, and beyond.
MTV: Okay, Bard's plan to rescue the police department and free Gordon… We don't find out exactly what it is in the issue, but I can't imagine with about 40 issues to go that he's going to be successful.
Tynion: Well, you're going to have to wait and see. Because the thing is, Bard is incredibly smart, and extremely capable. You can see from him approaching Vicki Vale in this issue, his plan is involving multiple layers, and he's trying to figure out how to play figures against each other, so he can maintain safety and get the people he wants locked up, locked up.
Because as we saw early on, this is a commissioner that's willing to cut the worst of Gotham free and let them out on the street. To actually lock them down, it takes a bit of finesse. Bard is key to ending the gang war in this part of the story.
MTV: And the cliffhanger, James Jr. returns. In the past he's been a wild card pretty much on par with the Joker, in terms of planning and danger. What does he bring to the series, and what can you tease about what's coming up with him?
Tynion: The encounter that starts at the end of this issue, and will bleed into the next, he's playing the role of the tempter. And you're right, it's something that The Joker very much plays as well.
But this is someone who comes from Gordon. He's the same genetic everything, but he's being of pure amorality, he's a psychopath. He, in this moment, is going to try and convince Jim Gordon that he is a lot more like him than he cares to admit. And he is going to offer a path for Jim that's going to… It's a way out that at any other moment in Jim's life he may not have considered, but these are extraordinary circumstances.
That goes back to the core title of the issue, and the theme of these three issues, which is the good man.
"Batman Eternal #12" is on comic book stands now from DC Comics.