Welcome ladies and gents, to another week of Bats flying around and covering the whole place in guano. Before we get to the news proper, I’d like to invite our regular guests to stay a bit longer and read all the way to the very end, beyond the amazing interview with our Gothamite, for an editorial note about some trouble our sonar has been detecting in the distance. But much, much closer to us is the release of the full July solicitations, which means covers! News! Reveals! Debuts! And a new crossover for the Batman ’66 series. This time, Batman will be meeting with Archie. The exclusive report by CBR revealed not only TY TEMPLETON’s variant but also the full solicitation, with a preview that reads “A battle in Gotham City extends its reach into Riverdale—with Mr. Lodge becoming enemy #1 of the dynamic duo! Now it’s up to Veronica to recruit some help and place a call… to the Batcave!”
And talking about variants, DC unveiled a new design for their regular series’ variant covers and it is as minimal as minimal gets, reports The Beat. With just the name of the series, the number of the issue and the creators, written in simple white letters, the aim of this new design is to give more space to the art and let it shine on its own. The covers chosen for the reveal were JIM LEE’s variant for Batman #45 and JOHN ROMITA JR’s for Nightwing #44. While those simple designs do accomplish what they were made for – and it is such a relief to see the art getting some breathing space -, it is possible some comic shops might put those issues upside down in their racks so that people can see the title of the series without having to pull them out of it.
Tom King, Mikel Janin, Joëlle Jones, Clay Mann, Tony S. Daniel
Coming up in Batman… two amazing covers by two amazing artists. Closer to us is KAARE ANDREWS’ variant for issue #46, coming out this week. A slight homage to The Dark Knight Returns, but with a playful Selina instead.
The second cover features previously revealed art by LEE WEEKS now colored by ELIZABETH BREITWEISER and I think I’m in love with the splatters and drips and solid colors of the background in contrast with the rendering of the characters in the foreground. So good on all ends, so good.
James Tynion IV, Javier Fernandez, Raul Fernandez, Alvaro Martinez, Bryan Hill, Miguel Mendonça
Almost a week ago, James Tynion teased that there are two characters from his Knights team that he is “working on developing for their own separate project, but I will not confirm who they are, so it’s not worth asking.” And late this past week, he shared the cover for Detective Comics #980 with the ever so cryptic caption “hm”.
But what is so special about this cover, you ask me? Well, the shadows, in fact. The eared shadows of Stephanie and Cassandra. Those two Knights, they might even be hinted right here, and with Batgirl and the Birds of Prey being canceled… Well.
Michael Moreci, Minkyu Jung, Benjamin Percy, Christopher Mooneyham
Aside from the stunning John Romita Jr. cover aforementioned, Nightwing will also be getting a variant by MIKE PERKINS for issue #46. It’s got cyber monsters, it’s got Batgirl, it’s got the butt.
Marguerite Bennett, Fernando Blanco
The big bad Bat might be coming to the pages of Batwoman in a near future, as FERNANDO BLANCO’s WIP teases.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS
Scott Lobdell, Dexter Soy, Ryan Winn, Trevor Hairsine
Going full manga style, our DEXTER SOY, action lines in the background and all.
BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT
Sean Murphy, Matt Hollingsworth
With only one issue to go, SEAN MURPHY has unabashedly gone full romantic for his last variant cover. It even makes one think of those two as cute.
As for the Murphyverse, the creator made a thread on Twitter exposing some promises for possible future developments. Promises which I hope remain true.
“DC informally calls it the Murphyverse. If I do a sequel and set up my own “rules” in White Knight, here are my promises to the reader… 1. When someone dies, they stay dead. Period; 2. Every book comes out on time; 3. No narration balloons, unless it’s a voice over in a flashback; 4. No excessive amounts of variants to burden comic ships. At most there will be 2: the main cover, and the variant for the super passionate collector; 5. There will be at least 1 awesome vehicle in each book; 6. No complicated tie ins to other series or events. White Knight will be easy to get into, whether you read comics or not.”
BATMAN: THE DARK PRINCE CHARMING
The wait for vol. 2 is dark and full of terrors, but at least we’ve got a discontent Harley and her bat to keep us company.
BATMAN: CREATURE OF THE NIGHT
Kurt Busiek, John Paul Leon
After a long wait, the third book of the series is finally coming. Initially scheduled for the end of February, Creature of the Night #3 got delayed due to health issues that both Kurt Busiek and John Paul Leon had to deal with, according to Leon himself. The artist also shared a few pictures he took from his comp copy on Twitter. If those are not enough to convince you that this book was worth the wait, I can give you my bat-word that, from the early copies we got, this will absolutely be a great book to pick up this week.
Our very special guest this week has the power to turn the grimmest of scenarios into funny and cute short strips. We can all agree that Batman is probably one of the darkest of DC’s heroes, and to make him a fluff plushie that is out for crime? I’m a firm believer that only KATA could do that.
Kata’s superpower is cool, but the origin story beats it by far. You think you’ve got a cool tale about how you got into Batman comics? Well, you can’t beat getting into the wrong bus and meeting Damian Wayne in the process of finding your way. Kata’s story goes, “I got on the wrong bus, became lost, and went into a comic book store for directions. I blindly picked up a comic to buy as thanks for helping me out, and it turned out to be The New 52’s Batman & Robin. I read it on my way back to class and was mesmerized ‘Who’s this kid? Batman has a son? Where’s Dick?!’. Afterwards I borrowed as many comic books I could from the library to catch up.”
I have to thank that bus for being the wrong one. I mean, how else would the world get what is probably the best summary of Dick Grayson, circus boy extraordinaire, who won’t shut up for a second? Kata’s highly simplified lines and faces work towards making the character’s expression central, which is key to humor, even when slightly dark. About this, Kata says that “sometimes the story makes me super sad or tense, so I try to make myself feel better by making light of it with something stupid. I’m glad others enjoy my silly humor!” A perfect example of such is Kata’s “Safety First” comic strip. It is made in reference to Dick Grayson’s rather silly comment when dealing with a seriously injured Batwoman in Batman & Robin #8 (Grant Morrison era). So, his solution to crunched bones? A first aid kit. So he applies his theory to an injured Tim. It does not seem to have been so effective.
Kata’s work can be followed on Twitter, Tumblr, and DeviantART. Our short interview went as follows:
Seeing your Batman works, they seem to have been produced around the time Morrison was writing. Have you stopped following the comics after he left?
I haven’t stopped because he left, I still read to this day! At the time I left the US to study abroad and didn’t have access to buy them in Japan. I remember searching around for them but they were behind on copies and significantly marked up (poor college student in me couldn’t justify comics or a meal). Since coming back from Japan I got my older brother into the Batman series. He has difficulty keeping track with singular comics, so I buy compilations so that he could enjoy. I do miss going to the local comic book store every month to pick up the new comics though.
And what was it that attracted you in that era of the Bats?
I was always a casual fan of the Batman series because of the cartoons aired when I was a kid (Batman:TAS, Justice League, Batman Beyond). I didn’t get into the comics until I was an adult. I got on the wrong bus, became lost, and went into a comic book store for directions. I blindly picked up a comic to buy as thanks for helping me out, and it turned out to be The New 52’s Batman & Robin. I read it on my way back to class and was mesmerized “Who’s this kid? Batman has a son? Where’s Dick?!”. Afterwards I borrowed as many comic books I could from the library to catch up. It’s amazing how much information of the Bat-universe I binged on in such a short amount of time.
I think what initially attracted me to the series was seeing Bruce in a parental role. I was so used to the aloof and serious side of him, it was refreshing to see deeper into every facet of his personality. Story-wise, I didn’t know that the Batman series could get darker than that time Tim killed Joker. Reading about messed up people doing messed up things really got me hooked.
There is a light, humorous tone to your comics. How do the ideas to those come to you?
When I’m super engrossed into reading a comic, something in the back of my head goes “Well what if… this happened” or “How does this look in the real world?”. Sometimes the story makes me super sad or tense, so I try to make myself feel better by making light of it with something stupid. I’m glad others enjoy my silly humor!
To wrap it up, what are your current projects?
I’m currently in my second year of freelance! Right now I’m drawing comics for Crunchyroll and their cute mascot Crunchyroll Hime! I would like to publish my book with a compilation of my comics I’ve posted online, but I’m still tweaking it. I would love to draw more silly comics about the Batcrew but I’m still trying to figure out how to balance work and pleasure.
EDITORIAL AND AUTHORIAL NOTE (because I love coming up with words): Here at The Batman Universe, we are all just a bunch of weirdos who look at all that free time in our lives and decide to dedicate it to our common passion, those flying mammals we all love. And some birds. Point is, this is a passion project for us all, not our careers. Point of the point is, yours truly has another job and is currently in the final year of Architecture and Urbanism School, and all that free time is something I won’t be having for a couple of weeks starting next week. And the postscript of the point is, our beloved editor is taking a well-deserved vacation so that he can get some of that free time back for a week later this week!
What does this mean, you absolutely insane weirdo?, I can hear you asking. Well, the Batcave will sadly have to be closed for those three weeks. There will be an update posted by editor extraordinaire Dustin Fritschel in two weeks so that you don’t all starve out there. And then, after I go through my midterm presentation for my final project (you hear that noise? That’s despair), I’ll be bringing the keys to open it up again on May 14, running like Pheidippides from Marathon to Athens. I’ll be back. Maybe just in spirit after the board of professors eat my heart out, but I’ll be back. Bat-fellows, wish me luck, and wish Dustin the best of vacations.