Interview: Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti On A Whole New 'Batwing'

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"Batwing" #19, hitting stores next week from DC Comics, introduces a new era for the character -- and a brand new Batwing! new series writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray fill MTV Geek in on the big changes coming to this Bat-title.

MTV Geek: What sort of changes can we expect for this new Batwing?

Justin & Jimmy: We were approached for our unique take on the character, and we had a lot of questions about who this character is. David Zavimbe (the original Batwing) has such a complicated history, and we were having a lot of discussions as to how that plays into the Batman mythology. And finally we got to the point where we were like: maybe we should take this in a whole new direction, keeping what we liked, but bringing it closer to Batman, and Bruce Wayne. And ultimately we came up with what we felt was a logical door-opening to mythology that hasn't been explored yet in the Batman family.

By introducing a new Batwing, we've created a a mystery: by using someone important to the Batman Universe.

Geek: Will the book still be taking place in Africa -- or is it going to be more about Gotham City?

J&J: Well, in issue #19 we wrap up a lot of the story stuff that was happening with David, and in the beginning it is still taking place in Africa. But as it moves on, it becomes more international. And yes, Gotham is going to be more of a key to the book as well; it has to be, because that's who the new Batwing is. So the character is going to have ties there -- and ties to Batman obviously. But beyond that, there's a lot going on, that kind of sets the tone in a different way than the book was set up before. The new Batwing is a character that can go anywhere in the world, and it would make more sense for Batman to send him out on adventures that weren't "Batman Incorporated" specific...you know, "Batman of Africa," Batmen of the World and all that. So it was important to make him feel like he had a different role in the Batman mythology than before.

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Geek: As we've seen on the gatefold cover to #19, Batwing has a completely new, hi-tech costume. Can you speak to that change?

J&J: We're both tech-heads, and with the new character came the new look. This armor is a little sleeker, and, unlike the previous one, it it can do many things. And it really has a lot to do with the person as well, why the armor would be changing. So it's not only a new look, but it is a streamlined look. So it's a more modern take on the character. We were like: why can't this costume be like under-armor: with the fabric touching the skin and monitoring all the body's vital functions. The Batman can look impressive with just a cape, a belt, and a cowl -- there's no need to have this clunky suit to have a great costume. But Batwing is definitely going to be more hi-tech.

Geek: Sometimes it's hard for readers to switch gears on a pre-existing title that is going in a brand-new direction. Can you give a pitch to the fans as to why they should give this new arc a try?

J&J: It's certainly going to be a less dark take on the title -- the book is going to have a degree of joy and madness to it that "Batman Incorporated" would have. The "Batman Incorporated" vibe is really where we took it as a launch point, because there is so much joy in that book: there are dangerous moments, there are funny moments, there are sarcastic moments, there are extreme monents, and crazy moments. And there are gut-wrenching moments like we saw with Damian. It doesn't have to be one thing all the way through, so what we wanted was to make people like the character and understand why he exists -- to understand why he's important to Batman and the Batman Universe. And if they fall in love with that character, all the better.

This character has a different personality from the standard gritty superhero who is going-around-the-world and getting angry and avenging. It felt more natural to find a way to have...it's like one of the things we kept talking about what if Batman and Bruce Wayne were in the suit at the same time, as opposed to a schism of personality. In this sense it's like: you're rich, you're gorgeous, you're Batman -- you're in the suit, and it just don't get better than that. It's like driving around in a sportsuit.

BATWING_Cv21_1h80tsluce_Geek: Any other projects you're working on that you'd like to promote?

 

J&J: We have "All-Star Western;" here's a reason why the solicits have the characters blacked out! People should definitely make sure they order that issue, because they're going to scream when they see who it is. So we have a lot of stuff planned for that book, and of course we have the "Ame-Comi Girls" coming out, which we are happy to see has been finding its audience. So we are just focusing on these projects for now -- and we're just excited about everything!

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