Exclusive Interview: Grant Morrison on Batman Times Three

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What’s your lightning bolt with Batman–is it the lightning at the beginning of “R.I.P.”?

I think Damian’s the bolt. I know where it’s all going to end up now; I’ve plotted it to the very end. Damian’s the thin end of the wedge that cracked open Batman. The idea that he could have a son and not lose his integrity and not be like somebody’s dad–that opened up a lot of possibilities. Hopefully Damian will persist in some way or another–I think he’s got a lot of potential. If that one lasts at all, I’d be quite happy.

I was going back and reading #666, the story about Damian in the future, and seeing how everything in your Batman comics since then seems to sprout out of that story.

Even the way the whole thing ends really goes back to the very first issue that I did–it was all kind of implicit there. Every so often, I was thinking I’d be leaving the book, and maybe leave it for someone else to pick up the threads, but I got into my head the idea that I would actually pick up every single goddamn thread in this absolutely perfect self-reflecting gem of a thing, and so I decided to stay on to do that.

You’ve already had Bruce overcoming madness, the devil and death; what else can he have left to overcome in The Return of Bruce Wayne?

I was taking some of the ridiculous stories from the ’50s, when Batman would be sent back to the Roman Empire, or to caveman days, and thinking: what would happen if you exposed them to the cruel radiation of the modern, logical, grounded approach of superhero comics? I wanted to put Batman in a place where he would suddenly be vulnerable again, like “R.I.P.” was about making him psychologically vulnerable.

In the first scene from Return of Bruce Wayne that went live today, you’ve got the rocket from the end of Final Crisis, which seemed like some sort of grand poetic device in that series, and now it’s a physical rocket stuck in the ground. Where do you go from there?

Everything’s about physicality now. I wanted to take anything that seemed potentially supernatural and magical and symbolic and suddenly be instantly grounded in the dirt, which is why there’s a rocket with a bunch of kids in the past. It was kind of a reaction against the idea that the stories are somehow difficult to decipher–I want to make sure you completely understand everything that’s happening.

Finally, a couple of people have mentioned that Peter Milligan “Dark Knight, Dark City” storyline as a possible source for Barbatos–is that where it came from?

That’s exactly where it came from, but to be honest I didn’t know it was Pete originally. I’ve been working of The Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes: Batman by Michael Fleischer, and also the book by Bob Greenberger, The Essential Batman Encyclopedia, plus a bunch of collections–I read the story about Barbatos, and I kind of evolved the whole thing in my head, along with stuff from “The Cult” that Jim Starlin did. Hopefully they all tie up, but it came mostly from the reference material.

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