James Tynion IV is on day 2 of releasing a lengthy newsletter about the future of his work and the comics industry as a whole. On Day 1, he went into detail about the comics industry noting that at the moment “We’ve saved the medium, but not our industry” noting the success of Scholastic Graphic Novels and getting new readers, but also how that hasn’t connected them to Superheroes and current comics. It is worth reading here
In Part 2, Tynion describes his upcoming Batman run at length talking about his plan for the next year of his line.
Here are some of the most interesting points.
I’ve got TWO stories in that issue, one with my Gotham partner in crime Jorge Jimenez setting the stage for all things Batman and one with the amazing Stephen Byrne with Alan Scott, Obsidian, and Jade at the center, building off my Green Lantern 80th Anniversary Special story from last summer.
We know that the stuff with the Joker would be a major part of Infinite Frontier, but now we know Tynion is doing more with Alan Scott in that book!! The Green Lantern 80th book was really good and you should absolutely check it out when it comes to DC Universe"
My take is two-fold… First, you have to basically agree with everything everyone loves about Batman… All your favorite stories happened, all the big important moments are there in the history of this character. Every Robin was Robin. Every big Batman story happened. I’m not going to lean into the places where the continuity contradicts itself, I’m going to embrace everything and look forward… And the way I want to look forward is by moving a bit further down the timeline than we’ve ever allowed Batman as a character to move before.
Tynion is leaning into the continuity and past of the Batman line while also looking to change things up and move forward. I’ve said this before, but this seems to go with my bigger point on what Infinite Frontier seems to be. If Rebirth was about returning characters to the past and reminding us what makes them special, then Infinite Frontier is about taking those lessons about how the past matters and using that to tell new stories. For Tynion, that means:
Roughly, I consider us now at the mid-point, continuity-wise, between “Batman: The Animated Series” Gotham City, and the “Batman Beyond” Gotham City. Which isn’t to say that the future of Batman Beyond should be considered the “set” future of the line… Aesthetically, we’re moving the “present” a bit further down the line than we’ve ever seen it in the comics before. This is part of what I was trying to articulate in Batman #101… The iconic Batman, with Alfred in the cave, a Robin at his side, and Jim Gordon on the roof of the GCPD is in the past. It was a key important era to Batman, the moment at which he was his most effective. The city is changing quickly into something new and dangerous, and Batman needs to change with it if he can.
What he’s saying is that he’s moving Batman into a new status quo where he is losing the core tenements that made Batman what he was while still making it clear that he did use to have that. Now Batman is going to find Gotham slipping out of his fingers because his hands are shrinking. (Okay that was a horrible metaphor, but you get the idea).
But beyond just dialing up the knobs on Gotham City, I wanted to make this feel like a whole exciting new era, with a whole exciting new status quo. Chalk-full of new characters and new challenges. He’s moving into a cool Townhouse in Gotham City in a new neighborhood, with nosey neighbors and tabloids under his nose wanting to understand the new life of Bruce Wayne, Millionaire. His old rival, Ghost-Maker is forcing him to touch up on his training, forcing him to recognize that he’s been sparring mostly with people he’s trained for the better part of a decade, passing along any weaknesses in his fighting styles. Batman is building new, lo-fi Batcaves under the city, and has a brand new Batmobile, with a host of cool tricks and gadgets that looks more like a cool car that can maneuver a city than a tank built for war. Harley Quinn has set up shop in Little Santa Prisca and decided that she is Batman’s new crimefighting partner (Batman disagrees with this. Strongly), and keeps showing up and causing trouble when he’s out on a case. The Fox Family is figuring out what it means to be the new first family of Gotham, and the responsibility that comes with that role. Barbara Gordon, Oracle is serving as eyes on a city that feels more and more like a powder keg. And Jim Gordon is trying to decide what his retirement from the GCPD is going to look like.
Gotham has a new Mayor, a former police officer named Nakano, who was injured in Joker War and has a strong anti-vigilante agenda. There’s a nihilistic youth movement in the city brewing under the direction of Punchline, which has embraced the imagery of The Joker as their sign of dissent, all the while Punchline is building power through a growing new conspiracy with members in hiding in the police, the government and every criminal organization in the city. Clownhunter is trying to figure out what kind of vigilante he wants to be. And there are reports of entire parts of the Gotham Sewers transforming into strange tropical jungles. Vibrant and green, with impossible creatures lurking inside.
There’s a lot going on in the Batman family, but I think it’s really exciting that more work is being done to create a new Gotham. The way Tynion describes this new Gotham makes me excited to see the way everything is changing and shifting. I also think the number of plot threads going on is a great sign especially since these plot threads will affect the entire line. This is the Gotham people are playing with, and I couldn’t be more excited. But also the Harley stuff sounds really fun. (I assume Stephanie Phillips is focusing on this)
This story is also going to introduce the creator of the Magistrate Program, and its Peacekeepers, along with a host of new characters, both good and bad… There’s a group called The Unsanity Collective that I am particularly excited about. Jorge’s design for a character named Miracle Molly is one of my favorite things he’s drawn in all the time we’ve worked together. When we get a little closer to her debut, I’m going to show you the amazing color guide Jorge made for her with her pages in 108.
James Tynion’s run has a long way to go before it’s done introducing new characters.
The Batman title is going have an unannounced backup features starting in April (After a two part ROBIN backup by my good pal Joshua Williamson and one of my favorite new artists, Gleb Melnikov, running between the March issues of both Batman and Detective) – I’ve been working with the artist on the next round of Back-ups since late this summer, and I could not be more excited to tell you about it. It is high octane manga-influenced action insanity, with an artist I love, and can’t wait to bring to into the Gotham fold.
I think it’s Clownhunter (because of the Manga influence especially).
This is a horror noir book with art by Guillem March. I’m tapping into more of the voice I bring to my creator owned work with this one… And honestly the script to the first issue is maybe my favorite I’ve written in the last year, and I think one of the scariest.
Tynion is trying to bring out the creator owned work here, and it sounds really interesting. I’m still hesitant here, but I really enjoyed Punchline #1 so I’m willing to see where this goes.
But the last major comment is the one I want to highlight is
And here’s the bit that I am MOST excited about… This is going to be the most unified Bat-Line that you’ve seen in years, with one of the most exciting creative line-ups that I think we’ve had in the near-decade I have been working in and around Gotham City.
For the first time in the history of my working in and around Gotham City, I have an answer to pretty much to the “where can I find THIS character” for every fan-favorite. Urban Legends is going to be a real gift. A lot of storylines will be seeded in that title before they break out into their own titles… There are also more books to come in the Gotham line as the year goes on. Big moments in the core Gotham titles will set new runs in motion in other titles. Backups and shorts might turn into one-shots and miniseries and series, and we’re working to make sure it all matters.
I think the current line of X-Books have shown the strength of a line of titles working in tandem with each other. We’ve set up a monthly zoom call between the core Gotham writers to keep everything in line together. I had a long chat with Ram V just the other day about how we can weave together a series of story threads between the Batman and Catwoman titles that are going to pay off incredibly when they all come together.
This is really really good news. One reason that DC and Marvel comics are so cool is that they are part of a shared world. Each title is it’s own thing, but they lean on each other for inspiration and if DC wants to make Batman books their largest line-up, making each one important and connected is important. The X-Books are phemenal right now and having read everyone, there aren’t many continuity problems, and almost every character has something going on that seems meaningful (which with X-Men is kinda wild). Each book builds on top of the landscape Hickman established while being it’s own thing. Plots from 1 way shift to another book, but in a way that makes sense. For example, the presence of Omega Red on Krakoa was established in Wolverine, but X-Force has the Omega Red thread right now. Theses sorts of shifts help create a cohesive presence without mandating you read everything. Each title is still it’s own thing. Duggan’s Marauders and Hickman’s X-men have stayed seperate from each other outside of the art, but the actions of Emma Frost and Kate Pryde are connecting to Scott Summer’s plans for the X-men with the Hellfire Gala in April or May. These books stay meaningful and connected while staying their own books.
I want to see the Batman line do that. Make one shots and limited series add to the world, don’t make them just a random story. Make them connect and build threads. Otherwise, why should we read a random one shot?
I’m excited for the future of DC and I hope you are too!!!
If you want to catch up on Tynion’s run or want to reread it, check out the New to DCU book club when DC Universe Infinite launches.