Each week, MTV News is breaking down the big moments in DC Comics' "Batman Eternal," the weekly series that is redefining Gotham City as we know it.
This week, we talked to writer James Tynion IV about finally looping back to the "spoiler" issue from "Batman #28" -- almost a year ago!
MTV News: Writing an issue like this must be a little tricky... How did you coordinate between the events of "Batman #28," and "Batman Eternal #43?" How did you decide what to use from the earlier issue, and what to ditch/skip over?
James Tynion IV: From a writing perspective, I guess I could have gone with the much easier route of repeating a bunch of the key beats from #28, but going into it I knew that it would be cheap to just show everyone what they’ve already read and seen. So I decided very early on that I was only going to double a couple of moments and try to make everything else read completely new.
MTV: It's also interesting because a fair amount of "Batman #28" was built for the surprise reveal - Bluebird, who's in the cave, Selina as crime boss and the reveal of Spoiler. Did that up the challenge for writing "BE #43" in a satisfying way?
Tynion: I always knew this would be a tricky issue, because we had to properly lay the events of Batman #28 into the framework of "Batman Eternal," but it was also absolutely crucial that we give people an issue that surprised them. I didn’t want to just run through the exact same events from Batman’s POV entering the Casino rather than Harper’s, just showing things that happened in and around the panels we saw almost a year ago.
We couldn’t rely on the reveal of Harper in the Bluebird outfit, or Selina as Kingpin of Crime, or Spoiler as the young woman who has all the pieces to put the puzzle together... But still, with this serving the role as the sister issue to that story, those three needed to be right up front and center.
I decided I wanted to make it about the one thing we didn’t get ANY real sense of in #28. I wanted to make it about Stephanie Brown’s relationship to both Selina Kyle and Harper Row. Once I figured that out, and where to lace in the couple of beats from the original storyline, the whole issue fell into place.
MTV: So much changes during the writing process... I know this was always a marker you guys were going to reach, but was there any particular plot point that felt like, a year or so later, it didn't quite work or make sense? Anything you had to tweak?
Tynion: There were a couple of tiny pieces, for instance, we didn’t quite know that we’d be resolving the Nanotech storyline before this issue... The placement of what is now #43 shifted around a few times over the first part of the year. There’s a line in the original #28 about her brother being infected that’s a little less dire now in the present, since Cullen is up and active (but then again, the criminals that Harper drops that line to in the original don’t know that, so it’s still a valid reason to try and get help from the biggest crime-boss in Gotham).
But in terms of the key plot, the role of this part of the story, down to the last page reveal have been in every iteration of the skeleton document for "Batman Eternal." There wasn’t a lot of heavy gymnastics needed to make this moment in time work just the way we envisioned it would.
MTV: One of the great runners in this issue is the burgeoning friendship between Harper and Stephanie... What's it like to write these two characters together? And in particular, it feels like we're seeing a very different side of Harper.
Tynion: One thing that I think is pretty clear about Harper is that she’s never really had friends. She’s too stubborn and protective. Her brother and her are a tight family unit that she’s not all that willing or eager to open up to outside interference. I think we’ve seen her lean on Tim a bit in the last year, but she’s never really opened up to him, because she doesn’t really know how.
She’s not like the Robins. Her background is much more rough and tumble, and she’s worked her ass off to make sure that she and Cullen don’t end up tossed out on the streets. Friends were a luxury that never seemed important to her, and I think you can see right here, off the bat, she doesn’t take much of a liking to Stephanie at first glance.
But ultimately, they’re very similar. They’re driven by family, trying to escape the lives their fathers left them, and that means Harper can understand Stephanie in a way the rest of the Bat-Family can’t. We’re seeing that start to develop here.
MTV: So let's talk about that big reveal at the end. I want to dance around potential spoilers, but as a reader, you can't really believe Bruce Wayne caused all of this, which narrows it down to a few likely suspects. Is this another red herring, or can we cull it down to any of the characters who have previously worn Bruce's face?
Tynion: Exactly WHAT that beat means is something I want you guys all to speculate on, and I’m certainly not going to help you out on that.
MTV: Okay, fine, potential spoiler territory, then. Between a big possible clue dropped on the cover of #39, the fact that this is a villain who knows Bruce's secret identity (as revealed in the first issue) is someone who has a significant grudge against Batman and Gotham, has the resources to create havoc all over the city, and isn't a big fan of the poorer areas of Gotham, and potentially looks exactly like Bruce... Would you say if we've guessed the uber-villain right, we may have passed our O.W.L.s?
Tynion: All I’ll say is that I haven’t seen a single tweet, a single blog post, or anything of the like that correctly guesses the person who speaks that line to Bruce in the last few issues of "Batman Eternal." Some people see pieces of the bigger picture, but nobody’s connected all the dots just yet. But keep trying. I’ll just be sitting here eating popcorn watching it all finally roll out.
"Batman Eternal #43" is in stores now. Check out our previous post-games here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42