An honest to a fault veteran cop struggling to survive in a world full of super powered resurrection. A timelost folk singer transformed into a sword-slinging monster hunter. Readers would be hard pressed to find two more disparate genre characters, but both exist in the DC Universe, and both will be getting their own solo spotlight in the months ahead courtesy of Adam Beechen.
With "Bruce Wayne - The Road Home: Commissioner Gordon" on October 20 (drawn by newcomer Szymon Kudranski under a Shane Davis cover) and "Nightmaster: Monsters of Rock" on November 17 (drawn by artist Kieron Dwyer under a cover by the legendary Bernie Wrightson), the writer stops by the mainstream DCU for a pair of stand alone tales that he hopes will highlight the respective strengths of the dissimilar heroes.
"Mike Marts came to me and said [the 'Road Home' event] was going to be happening and asked if I had any interest in working on the one with Commissioner Gordon," Beechen told CBR about how the first story came about. "He outlined for me what Fabian [Nicieza] was up to, where this would fall in the rough continuity of all the one-shots and then asked if I had a story that might fit the parameters of the general theme. That is: how have all these people survived without Bruce Wayne around?"
But while the shadow of the original Batman may hang over the proceedings in the "Gordon" one-shot, don't expect any of the Batmen to play too large a role, including the one Gothan's top cop has been dealing with for the past year. "Dick doesn't figure into the story I've told. This is Gordon pretty much on his own," Beechen said. "It's kind of like a version of 'Fort Apache The Bronx' with Gordon hanging out with a witness who's under protection in an isolated location and then coming under siege by bad guys. He's operating without a safety net. He doesn't have the backup he's used to functioning with, which we don't get to see too often.
"Commissioner Gordon is a great character, and there are plenty of great cop stories to tell here," the writer continued, putting the focus on the history of the CGPD. "'Gotham Central' is one of my favorite books ever. Long before he was commissioner, he was a Lieutenant and a Detective and a beat cop all the way down. He's a lifer. He's been doing this a long time so he knows the ins and outs. He knows the procedure for a given situation and he knows when to improvise. The man can take care of himself. We don't often get a chance to see that because the books aren't about 'Commissioner Gordon and his sidekick Batman.' This is a chance to show off what Gordon can do within the larger context of the Batman world itself."
As far as its overall place in the grand plans for the upcoming status quo shift, which will see two Batmen in Gotham and even more across the globe, Beechen said of the purpose behind the "Road Home" stories, "I think what's going to happen is that some new perspectives will be gained on the supporting cast of the Batman books. The readers will get a chance to see through some of these one-shots the characters in a different light. That's what we're trying to do with this Commissioner Gordon story - to show some things that may have always been true about Commissioner Gordon but maybe weren't always realized or kept in mind by Bruce Wayne. It's a chance to go a little more in depth on these characters and gain a new perspective on them that might affect their relationship with Bruce Wayne down the line."
As for shining a spotlight on people who haven't been in the limelight too much of late, the writer was quick to say, "As far as I'm concerned, the real star of this book is Szymon Kudranski. He did one story for Mike Marts in the upcoming 'Batman 80-Page Giant,' and it's gorgeous. His stuff is so moody and atmospheric and cinematic that people are going to be up in arms over it. He's got a great, great future."
On the other side of the supporting character coin from that moody, atmospheric story is Jim "Nightmaster" Rook's November stand alone story, which started as an issue of the now defunct "Shadowpact" series before DC decided to publish on its own. The reason for a focus on the sword-wielding monster slayer?
"He's such a great character!" beamed Beechen. "Have you ever gone back and read his origin story? It is so dated, but so much fun. Nightmaster was this guy who was a coffeehouse troubadour dude - he was Bob Dylan. He played at this Lower East Village place called The Electric Band-Aid, singing all these goofy folk songs. Then one night when he's walking home, he gets sucked into another dimension. Poof! He's sword and sorcery man, and he never comes back! That was it. It's gloriously cheesy and great fun to read - those are great stories, but looking back at it, if you tried to create a character today with that simple an origin fans would be like, 'What?!?!'"
Still, Beechen assures readers interested in dipping a toe into this particularly strange corner of the DCU that no knowledge of Nightmaster's previous stories is required for the "Monsters of Rock" tale. "It stands just fine on its own. The story is as we made it when we did it. It's meant to be kind of a hoot - a good piece of fun - and it's not connected to anything, necessarily, in terms of being a major turning point in the lives of the characters. It's meant to give you a little stand-alone enjoyment in this age of multiple tie-ins and crossovers."
In fact, pumping up the level of crazy is exactly what Beechen and Dwyer have planned. "The fun of this comes from the overlapping of the two worlds. To my knowledge, that's never been done in his stories before. We've never seen much about Jim Rook's past before he became Nightmaster aside from that one gig at the Electric Band-Aid. We don't know anything about who this guy is, what he was like before, what his fans were like, what was the kind of world he disappeared from 40 years ago? This is a chance to have an element of that past intrude upon a very high stakes moment of his present is where the comedy comes from.
"Kieron is one of those rare guys who does action and comedy equally well. He can sell you on comedy in the middle of action without making it look goofy. He can make things look cool but still get the gag across. I've known Kieron for years. He's a great guy, and I was tickled on every possible level to do this story with him. He nailed it."
"Bruce Wayne - The Road Home: Commissioner Gordon" ships to comic shops on October 20, and "Nightmaster: Monsters of Rock" arrives on November 17 from DC Comics.