As part of DC's New 52 relaunch last September, the long-running series Detective Comics rebooted with a newfound focus on Batman's early career. io9 recently caught up with Detective Comics writer/artist Tony Daniels and asked him how the Bat's salad days will go.
Your relaunch of Detective Comics takes place both in the New 52 universe and at an earlier point in Batman's career. Did you add any sort of tweaks to Batman's beginnings?
Two things that I thought would be a great adjustment during this period was to #1.) Bring Arkham Asylum back into his origin and have Jeremiah Arkham running the asylum again. It was the perfect opportunity to put it back to where it should be. The general audience knows what Arkham Asylum is, and many of them might even know that it's run by a guy named Dr. Arkham. #2 is adjusting Batman's relationship with Commissioner Gordon and not having them be bosom buddies so much. Batman's somebody who has a discreet, in-the-shadows relationship with Commissioner Gordon. He's considered a vigilante outside the law, so I'm trying to bring some realism. He can't just walk around in front of the police.
There's a new villain in your first arc, the Dollmaker. What are you trying to achieve with this character?
We introduced Dollmaker in a roundabout way without seeing him in issue #1. We see that Joker is part of a bigger plot, but we didn't see who was pulling the strings. I wanted to bring in a villain who's very much in line with Batman's foes. I tried to imbue him with some staying power, someone who reflects a twisted version of Batman.
In the New 52 titles, it doesn't seem like the public trusts the DC superheroes initially. How will we see the people of Gotham react to this early Batman?
In a scene I just drew last week, he comes across a group in a park who are protesting Arkham's treatment of the Joker. They want to know what happened with him, if he's been mistreated. It's a twisted reflection of the Occupy movements. They're all wearing clown masks and there's a shrine for the Joker. Some people love Batman, whereas other citizens see him as someone's who stepping above and over the law.
What can readers anticipate from Detective in these coming arcs?
I'm intending on having a very long run. I'm going to have common themes throughout my entire run so that in three years or whatever when I'm done with this, you'll have a complete run. I can't reveal what I have in store, but I have some broad-stroke ideas about where I want to take the character.
As both the writer and illustrator, I can foreshadow using visual details that a writer alone might not think to add. When writing and drawing, you're both the director and the actor. You can really get what you want out of the story.
Detective Comics #4 is out today.