WARNING: Spoilers for today's "Batman & Robin" #16 lie below!
Press conferences are neither new to superheroes or corporate America, but the crossover between the two camps in today's "Batman And Robin" certainly put a new twist on the long-standing mythos of DC Comics Dark Knight.
As revealed by Grant Morrison and artist Frazer Irving at the tail end of the writer's final issue on the best-selling series, the recently returned Bruce Wayne declared to an assembled Gotham City press corps that he had in fact been funding the vengeance-seeking vigilante known as the Batman for years. The scene, of course, is little more than prelude to Morrison and Yanick Paquette's incoming "Batman Inc." series (conveniently teased on the bottom of the issue's final page), but with the revelation that Wayne's plans to franchise the Batman role will be as public in the DC Universe as they have been in our world, many new questions have cropped up in terms of where the rest of the Batman line goes from here.
To help get some early answers, CBR News spoke with newly installed DC Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras, who below explains how the change helps keep the mystery of Batman in tact, how Grant Morrison's plans for the franchise have DC's staff feeling like kids and how he views the future of not just the Batman line but all of DC and the creative roles in it.
CBR News: Bob, first of all a belated congratulations on becoming Editor-in-Chief. I'm sure many of these plans for Grant's Batman run were in development before you stepped in on the job, but I know that you held a Batman writer's summit shortly after New York Comic Con. Was that the first place you were able to catch up on this big shift in the story?
Bob Harras: I would say that was around the time I heard the specifics, yes.
Did you have an idea for what you viewed as the Batman line goal before that, or did hearing things change your take?
Let me tell you how I reacted when I saw the pages, which was around the same time: I felt again like a 12-year-old kid reading comics. It was totally amazing, totally unexpected and was one of those things where I couldn't wait to see what happens next. It made me feel like superheroes were full of possibilities. It was a totally unexpected direction, but that's what I loved about it.
The marching orders from Grant since he came on the line has been to twist expectations. How did the other creators view this most recent wrinkle? Did they take it as a challenge for their books to expand on the idea?
I think everyone honestly is inspired by what's going on with Batman. Most everyone who writes comics are fans as well, so they were excited about it as well. Everyone loves Batman and loved what's been going on. So if they're challenged now to do exciting things in their books as well, that's great. But I can say that the honest reaction to what happened was, "This is cool."
Let's talk a bit about how this will affect the stories themselves. We knew the corporate concept would drive "Batman Inc.," and Grant spoke briefly with the AP about how this reveal reflects that concept, but can we expect at all for folks to be suspicious of Bruce Wayne being Batman with this news out there?
Grant's point of view is that this is the greatest misdirection of all time by Bruce announcing this. In the public's mind, it will separate him further and further from being Batman. This is the man funding Batman is how Grant is approaching this.
And amongst the other books, Dick Grayson remaining in Gotham will support that further?
As you've been discussing all these moves with Batman editor Mike Marts, what has been your primary goal for the Bat-line as DC's biggest and most successful line?
Honestly, I'm a huge Grant Morrison fan, so I come in appreciating what Grant is doing and what's been going on. What I've enjoyed so far in my first few weeks as Editor-in-Chief is seeing the plans and where they're going. Like any great story and any great scene like we got in "Batman And Robin" #16, the ripple effects across the line and across the characters lives are what fascinate me most. What we've got planned there, again, made me feel like a kid again. I kept going, "This is great. I love where this is going."
From what I've seen, I love what Tony Daniel is doing [on "Batman."] I've seen some of the "Batwoman" stuff, which looks amazing. I think the whole line is really very strong. And I've got to stress that what we've got planned is very Batman. It's very dramatic and everything a good superhero comic book should be, I think.
I can't help but notice that the two books you mention are the ones where the artists are also serving as writers. People do associate your editorial style as one that places a great focus on the artists end of the comics partnership. Has that been a primary focus for you coming in as E-i-C?
I've always believed that this is a visual medium. Artists are partners with the writers to make a fantastic comic book. That's always been my modus operandi and my philosophy, so that's what I'm bringing to the editors in talking with them about going forward from here.
One thing people have been noting a lot lately are scheduling issues around Batman comics. With so many books to publish and so many individual pieces having to fit together, how have you been looking at that aspect of the business?
I'm not there yet. That's one of the things I'm going to be getting to in the next few weeks in general and not just Batman specifically.
Looking at the overall line, how has that transition been for you? Are we getting to the point where we'll start to see some of the Bob Harras effect on DC's publishing, or will most of what you're working on be felt down the road in 2011?
You know, I think for me right now since it's only been a few weeks, the long term gameplan is what I'm going to be talking about with the editors. It's still very early in the game, and I can't go much beyond that.
"Batman And Robin" #16 is in stores today from DC Comics. The "Batman: The Return" one-shot and "Batman Inc." #1 – the next chapters in Grant Morrison's story cycle – will ship to comic shops on November 17.