Bam Smack Pow catches up with James Tynion IV and gets the lowdown on his Detective Comics run and, most importantly, the revelation of Azbats.
At San Diego Comic-Con 2017, Bam Smack Pow caught up with Detective Comics writer James Tynion IV. We have to admit that we really had to contain ourselves and not scare the writer away with our fervent reaction to his Azbats tweet from a week earlier.
However, lucky for us, James was just as excited about the return of such an iconic Batman character. Aside from confirming the identity of the person in the suit, James also delved into the overall narrative drive of Detective Comics.
I would also like to thank Russ Burlingame of Comic Book for saving this interview. Without his camera tripod, I would have nothing to transcribe, and my conversation would’ve been lost to the ether. So, thank you, Russ!
Bam Smack Pow: You recently teased a picture of Azbats on Twitter. Though the default person to come to mind would be Jean-Paul Valley, this character could be somebody totally different. Can you give us some hints as to who is under the mask?
James Tynion IV: I can tell you right out it’s Jean-Paul Valley. One of the big things I wanted to do was bring back the classic tug-of-war between the systems built into him and the teachings of Batman. The suit is going to come back as a visualization of that process. I couldn’t be more excited for this. When Alvaro Martinez did his first take on the Azbat suit, we were all cheering in the office.
BSP: Detective Comics is one of DC’s oldest titles. How did you keep past legacies of characters intact, as well as introduce some of your own touches to various characters?
JTIV: One of the big rules, going all the way to the beginning, was making sure that every character could be boiled down to the essence of who they really are. Then, take that story to the next level. I really wanted to touch on the versions of the characters that people know and love. For a character like Clayface, I wanted to take all the familiar versions of the character to come to mind, and then tell a new bigger story.
It’s a tremendous honor to work on a book with that kind of legacy and with that many issues. But it’s exciting to try something new. The biggest, newest thing we’ve been doing since the beginning was the team concept, which is something we’ve never really seen in the pages of Detective Comics.
BSP: Going through Batman’s history, is there one Batman story that’s your favorite?
JTIV: There are the classics that are “classic” for a real reason. One of the best stories that I’ve revisited recently was Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers’s Batman: Strange Apparitions. It’s one of the first real modern Batman stories, and one of the best … ever!
BSP: Which character to you, in the Bat-family, is the most interesting? And, going to the opposite spectrum, which character in Batman’s rogues gallery is your favorite?
JTIV: Tim Drake is my favorite Bat-family member. He’s the character I grew up with. He’s the character through which I fell in love with all of the Bat-family characters. So he’ll always be at the top of my list.
In terms of villains, the villain I love the most and haven’t been able to do a big story with is the Riddler. The Riddler is one of my real all-time favorites. And another I would say is Scarecrow. Scarecrow has never had a big, iconic Batman story. He’s one of the most iconic villains, but he doesn’t have that singular story like the other ones do. I think it’s overdue!
James Tynion IV is a writer who has worked extensively in DC Comics’ Batman franchise. James started his career co-writing back-up features for Batman’s New 52 relaunch. It was during this time that he expanded on the Batman mythos and linked the Court of Owls to Alfred Pennyworth’s father, Jarvis Pennyworth.
James would later co-write Batman Annual #1 which saw the reintroduction of Mr. Freeze. Returning to the Court of Owls storyline, James created the series Talon. Through the Red Hood and the Outlaws series, James reintroduced the League of Assassins back into Batman’s stories.
In 2014, James became the head writer for Batman Eternal. The series saw the return of famous Batman characters — Carmine Falcone, Hush, Vicki Vale, and Stephanie Brown.
At BOOM! Studios, James launched his original series The Woods. The series became the publisher’s highest selling title since Mark Waid’s Irredeemable which ended in 2012.
In 2015, James became one of the co-writers of Constantine: The Hellblazer. At the same time, he became lead writer for Batman & Robin: Eternal. It was in this run that Tynion and Tony S. Daniel created one of Batman’s newest villains — Mother.
In 2016, James was announced as the writer of Detective Comics in DC Comics’ company-wide Rebirth initiative.