Each week, MTV News is breaking down the big moments in DC Comics’ weekly series “Batman Eternal.” This week, we hopped on the phone with writer James Tynion IV, who discussed what’s going on with former Commissioner Gordon’s temptation to the dark side, Jason Bard’s big moves in the Gotham Police Department, and why Stephanie Brown’s heroic destiny is mere issues away:
MTV News: But we get the tete a tete you promised last week, with James Gordon and James Gordon, Jr. How much of this is James Jr. just testing his father, versus honestly believing Gordon has been pushed past the point where he would do something wrong?
James Tynion IV: The scariest thing about James Jr. is that there is conviction to him, but it’s impossible to distinguish from when he’s messing with people. He’s so locked into his worldview that it’s impossible to distinguish the two, and he knows that, and can play with people because of that.
When he’s sounding the most genuine, it’s probably because he’s up to no good, because he’s often up to no good.
He’s definitely playing his father here a bit, but I do believe that he’s convinced there’s a core of truth to what he’s saying. There is this center of his father that is very similar to himself.
MTV: It’s tough to imagine Gordon getting to a point where he’d actually do something wrong, though. And through this whole terrible experience — maybe killing a kid, going through a trial, being thrown in jail — he’s seemed pretty even. Is there more going on under the surface here that we haven’t quite been privy to yet?
Tynion: There’s a lot going on under the surface, but Jim Gordon, he’s the kind of man who stands tall. He keeps himself very centered. This confrontation here is designed to un-center him a bit, as he reaches his lowest point. As hope starts to fade around him.
He is Jim Gordon, he’s so thoroughly himself that even when he’s doubting himself, he wants to do the right thing.
But one of the things I wanted to do with this conversation is show he has doubts. Because anyone who is working on the level Jim Gordon is working in Gotham City, where everything goes wrong so often, you would have those moments of real doubt and horror at what’s happening in the city around you.
The big thing is that we as fans will see Jim Gordon as more in line with the superheroes, the people who have elevated themselves to something else. There’s a core of that to Jim, but he’s also just a man. He’s a man who makes mistakes, and who has doubts.
Now, James Gordon Jr. is here to needle all of those doubts and try to draw something out of his father.
MTV: The other big thread in the issue is Jason Bard’s plan coming to fruition, and seemingly being successful in stopping a gang war, and righting a lot of wrong in Gotham. But one fatal flaw in his plan seems to be trusting that there’s justice in Gotham, at all.
Tynion: That’s a trait that’s very much in line with Gordon. It’s the idea of the good man, it’s the idea of the fact that you have to believe in a sense of justice, believe in a sense of right and wrong. And when the city is not rewarding that, you have to cross the line a little. You have to bend the rules in order to create that kind of justice. And that’s what he’s doing here.
He’s blatantly lying to his superiors, capturing people under false pretenses, and all of that. But he’s doing that to right the wrongs that’s been going on.
I wouldn’t say it’s a fatal flaw in his plan, it’s more his ability to see the core of justice there. It’s what makes him a possible Jim Gordon, a figure that could reach the same levels Jim Gordon has.
MTV: Not to mix metaphors, but has Bard put the genie back in the bottle, or just pent up whatever was inside of it, so it’s even more primed to explode than before?
Tynion: There are certainly some genies going back into bottles here, but this is Gotham. This is going to set things up for the next stage in a very interesting way that neither he suspects, and definitely Batman doesn’t suspect.
In the next issue, what we’re going to start seeing are the things that really distinguish him from Jim Gordon, the things that he would do to lock all of this down that no one else would. That issue will also draw back in the Penguin, and we’ll see the other side of this gang war as it starts to come to a close.
MTV: Harper Row is left in Red Robin’s lair as he heads off to Japan. Just how much mischief is she about to get up to?
Tynion: Harper is a character prone to mischief, and right now by following Tim, she’s going to get herself into a lot of trouble, and we’re going to see more in the next issue, and the one following.
She is trying to find the way to cure her brother, and she’s willing to cross any line in order to do that, which means that she’s definitely going to get herself in way over her head. She’s going to have to learn a lot in order to become the figure that she needs to be.
MTV: And then there’s Stephanie Brown. We’ve gotten a peek at where she’s going in “Batman #28,” but right now nobody believes her about Cluemaster’s plans, her friend gets blown up, she seems to be at her lowest point. So where is she, in terms of her hero’s journey?
Tynion: Right now, she’s being pushed more towards a path of vengeance, and that’s going to be something that’s going to be problematic for her, at least at the start.
Her father is ripping everything away from her. She’s becoming a non-person, and with no-one she can really trust or reach out to. And now we’re going to see the ramifications of that. We are reaching the moment, the costuming moment, that’s coming up pretty soon.
She’s ready to become something more in order to fight her father, and we’re going to be seeing that shortly.