The end of this week’s issue of Batman and Robin doesn’t just wrap up the five-year storyline that Grant Morrison has been cooking up, bringing back Bruce Wayne from throughout time, explaining who Dr. Hurt is, and restoring order to Gotham City – It also sets up the new status quo in its final pages, as (I’m serious about spoilers, people) Bruce Wayne outs himself as the man who’s been funding Batman all along to the press and announces Batman Incorporated, a plan to take the Dark Knight’s war on crime global. I spoke with DC’s editor-in-chief Bob Harras about what this means for Batman’s future.
Are you surprised by the reaction to the last couple of pages of Batman and Robin #16?
No, not on that front, no. When you’re doing a gamechanger like this on a major American icon, I think people react. I think it shows the love people have for this character, and we’re definitely changing something in his life. So, I’m not totally surprised by this reaction, no.
Was there any concern that, by “outing” Bruce Wayne as the man financing Batman’s war on crime and essentially doing away with the millionaire playboy facade, you were changing the character too much, or breaking the status quo permanently?
I think it was more, “This could be very exciting. This could take us in directions that we weren’t anticipating.” What Bruce says at the press conference is, “I am driven by the death of my parents.” He says that outright. So nothing has really changed about Bruce’s motivations, and I think that’s key. Where that takes him in new directions, though, that’s the fascinating part.
Is this the kind of change you could only make with Batman? Could other DC characters stand up to this kind of change to their concepts, with franchising the character and changing the purpose of the secret identity?
It definitely speaks to the strength of this character. It is about a man trying to right a wrong that he really can’t, but he tries to make sure that kind of tragedy is never felt by others. That’s fundamental to the character, so, I think where we go from here will always be true to that [idea].
We know from the end of this issue, and solicitations for future months, that Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson will both be continuing as Batman at the same time, and that Bruce will be traveling around the world to further franchise out the Batman identity. Will DC be sticking with two core Batmen, or could there be new characters taking on the cowl on a regular basis?
I think Bruce has his plans, and what he means to do with his vision of fighting crime globally is going to take us to very interesting places and very interesting characters.
How big will this story be? Will it be contained within the Batman family of books, or should we expect to see it spill into other comics as well?
Anything that’s this fundamental a change in the way that Bruce Wayne presents himself, from the playboy to now, someone who’s very socially responsible and saying that he’s been funding Batman for all these years will have definite ripple effects across the DC Universe. That’s one of the most fun things about this. We are changing something and we are seeing how that impacts the DC world… The main effects will be felt, initially, within the Batman family [of books]. But will it affect Superman and Wonder Woman? Yes.
Is this a permanent change? Is there an endpoint to the idea of Batman Inc.?
I think this is something that Grant has been planning for a very long time, since he started writing, through “Batman And Son,” and “Batman RIP,” so I think this is the next step in Bruce Wayne’s life… I don’t see an endpoint to this.
I think Grant came to Batman with a great love of this character, and he came to it with a vision. And that vision has changed the character over the last five years, and really brought up a new mythology for the character for the 21st Century… A creator brings something unique to a character, that’s the magic of comics.
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