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France's Arkham Comes to Batman and Robin

Newsarama has posted an interview with David Hine, who will be writing the August issue of Batman and Robin. In issue twenty-six, Hine takes readers back to where we last read a story from the writer; France. While this time it is with Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne the the story focuses on. What can we expect from the trip around the world?


Batman and Robin #26Newsarama: What can you tell us about this story's premise?


David Hine: The story that ran in the last Batman and Detective Annuals introduced the French version of Arkham Asylum – Le Jardin Noir, or The Black Garden. In this story a mysterious character, who resembles the Son of Man from Magritte’s paintings, frees a selection of the inmates and starts to turn Paris into a surrealist’s theme park. The escapees are all metahumans with unusual abilities to warp reality and our perception of reality. I won’t go into too much detail about the ‘Son of Man’ character or his motivations because that’s very much the key to the story. Batman, Robin and Nightrunner will have to get to the bottom of who he is and why he’s turning Paris into his personalized art gallery before the body count goes ballistic.


Newsarama: It's just a one-issue story?


David Hine: Yes. It was originally pitched as a mini-series, then a three-part arc, but has ended up as a 20-page short story. That’s not a lot of space to introduce a whole new set of characters and also give face time to three lead heroes. So I adopted the approach of delivering a series of "sketches." The story is subtitled, "Scenes from a Work in Progress." It should work fine as a short story, but it only skims the surface of the concept of the Asylum and its inmates.


Newsarama: Le Jardin Noir is described as France's equivalent to Arkham Asylum. But how is it different?


David Hine: Gotham’s Arkham Asylum is a prison. Le Jardin Noir is more of a traditional asylum. When I wrote my Arkham books I showed Jeremiah Arkham trying to evolve the asylum into this kind of institution, where the insane are given shelter and support, rather than just incarceration. Jeremiah turned out to be as insane as the inmates, so that didn’t really work out, but I would like to explore the idea more with Le Jardin Noir, to examine whether the inmates perceptions are as valid as those of the "sane."


Newsarama: Who are some of the characters we'll meet in this story, and how will they challenge Batman and Robin?


David Hine: Sister Crystal has a kind of Midas touch that turns organic material to glass. Her lover, The Id, has the ability to release uncontrolled desires that overcome civilized behavior. Skin Talker has a rare skin disease where writing appears spontaneously on his flesh, the text of which appears to foretell the future for selected individuals. Ray Man has the ability to distort reality to his own designs. Batman and Robin start out trying to save the citizens of Paris from these weird characters but very soon find themselves falling victim to their metahuman powers, and they soon find themselves fighting just to survive.


I hasten to add that while Robin may indeed be turned to glass, Batman doesn’t actually get his eye pierced by the Eiffel Tower as depicted in Chris Burnham’s cover. That’s purely symbolic, and although Chris denied it, I’m convinced he was just trying to depict the worst visual pun of all time.


Newsarama: Will we see more from you in the Batman universe after this?


David Hine: Hopefully more from Le Jardin Noir and the man currently known as The Son of Man. It depends whether people like this issue or if it bombs. I guess it could go either way.


For the entire interview, including talk about the interesting cover, head over to Newsarama. Hine's story hits stores in August with Batman and Robin #26.


Posted by Dustin Fritschel

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