Each week, MTV News is breaking down the big moments in DC Comics’ “Batman Eternal,” the weekly series that has sent Batman and his crew to the four corners of the Earth to stop the madness that’s about to engulf Gotham City.
This week, we chatted over the phone with writer Tim Seeley about the end of the first act for the series, how the intro of a new crime boss will redefine Gotham history, and that spoiler-filled last page:
MTV News: There’s a lot of tying up going on in this issue, as you teased last week. Let’s start with the plot happening under Arkham Asylum, and two bits that I was wondering about in particular. First, what’s up with that portal he opens up? It’s a little crazy to hear Batman shouting, “An interdimensional portal!”
Tim Seeley: [Laughs] Arkham is being haunted by Deacon Blackfire bringing in these creatures that are able to inhabit the people in Arkham Asylum. The Ten-Eyed Man is in contact with something else that promised to give him a vision, if he traded them.
You see what happens when Deacon Blackfire is messing with the walls between the worlds, and you’re getting a little bit of that leak into the underground of Gotham. We’ll see more of what happens with that in future issues.
Ten-Eyed Man’s ability can sort of see the future, but he can’t see very well. He sees that first page of “Batman Eternal,” which is that the signal has been smashed, Bruce Wayne is tied to the signal, and has his totem etched on his skin. [Ten Eyed Man] wants to know who is responsible, and he’s not getting that.
MTV: That whole first page of “Batman Eternal,” is that a direct result of whatever is on the other side of that portal, or something else?
Seeley: I would say it’s tied into some other aspect of the series. It starts off as all these different genre stories… We had the spy story, the horror story, the crime story. They’re all related to one thing, and right around now is when you’re starting to see they’re all part of somebody’s one big plan.
Issue 20 ends season one, and we’ll start to see how they all relate. Eventually, “Batman Eternal” will be about all these things coming together, which will be awesome.
MTV: We get a pretty definitive resolution to Dr. Falsario’s storyline, where he gets killed. Can you tell us anything about who is behind the murder?
Seeley: The nice thing is that it follows immediately, as Batman takes up this mission, following up on the owner of that knife we see sticking out of this tree here. Falsario was another pawn, we see all these people playing their parts. When these people aren’t deemed useful they get cleaned up.
…Which I was sad to do, because I really liked Dr. Falsario! But he was going to be fodder, so it was my fault for making him a weird villain I liked.
MTV: Moving to the breakout in Blackgate. The big reveal there is that Rex, The Lion, is still alive and was Gordon’s cellmate. He’s been mentioned before in the series, but this is his big reveal, so who is he?
Seeley: Rex Calabrese was the guy, before Batman, before Falcone, the 70s/80s/90s era Gotham, depending on the flexible timeline, he was the big crime boss. He’s scars on his face, he wears fake teeth that are sharp, he’s got the big tattoo of a lion on his chest. We’re going to see a lot more of history with Gotham.
One of the cool things about the New 52 is that there’s the last five years when everything in Gotham took place, but you have so much history behind it that we can still play with.
The Lion was the guy who was there before Falcone and The Penguin split up Gotham. He was the crimelord before that. He was around before supervillains, but he’s kind of that way himself. There’s a legacy of putting weird s**t on your face, wearing tattoos and taking a name.
MTV: Traditionally, through all the years of Batman lore we’ve had this set progression of the old crime, giving way to the freaks. Where does The Lion fit in, in that?
Seeley: He’s the sort of guy who takes that stuff on not because he’s crazy, but he’s from an era where they had a lot of flair. He’s a marketing guy, a smart guy. We’ll see that in his story, where the scars come from, why he chooses to call himself The Lion. But he is very different from the other guys. He doesn’t come froma tortured past, or because he’s insane. He thinks, “this will be a great gimmick, and people will listen to me because of this.”
It’s based on Chicago crime guys, who always had those colorful nicknames. Like Al Capone, who was actually a syphilitic moron, got by on the name, and the baseball bat. We’ll see that aspect of Gotham crime before it became about the madness, and the riddles, and the crazy jokes and pranks, and the big elaborate schemes and a lot of henchmen.
MTV: There’s a theory I’ve seen pop up quite a bit that The Lion is Catwoman’s father…
Seeley: Can’t comment, but it’s an interesting idea.
MTV: Last big reveal, we get to see Spoiler in her costume this issue. How’d she go from blogging, to full on nun-chucked out superhero?
Seeley: We felt like there was enough time between her storyline that, we didn’t want to overexplain. She was wearing a purple hoodie before, and gets militarized. We don’t need to spend a lot of time on that, we just show you this girl made this choice. Let’s kick this into gear, we need to see The Spoiler, lets not make them wait for much longer.