DC is no stranger to controversy lately, with a number of creators leaving books due to editorial conflicts or similar problems. One of the more high profile departures of late involved J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman walking off of Batwoman because of frustration over last-minute changes and reversal of a storyline that would have seen Kate Kane wed her fiance, Maggie Sawyer. That incident certainly sent the Internet abuzz, and unfortunately led to a number of misguided, factually incorrect "DC is against gay marriage" headlines among mainstream news outlets.
The flip side to this story is that the series will be gaining a new creative team starting with December's Batwoman #25. Marc Andreyko, perhaps best known at DC for his long run on Manhunter and contributions to various other Batman projects, is the new regular writer on the series. It's an assignment that offers plenty of potential to reinvent Kate Kane and pursue new storytelling avenues, but also one that carries a lot of baggage and a lot of expectations from fans of Williams, Blackman, and Greg Rucka's previous work.
Luckily, Andreyko seems more than willing to accept the challenge. We had the chance to chat with the writer this week as he gears up for his new assignment. He discussed the recent controversies, how he'll build on the ground that has been laid so far, and what sort of future Kate and Maggie have if marriage isn't on the table.
IGN Comics: You were announced as the new writer for Batwoman pretty quickly after the old team departed the book. Did DC approach you about this series recently, or was this something that had been in the works for a while?
Marc Andreyko: It happened very quickly. Very quickly. It was not anything that was planned or in the works or any of that. When I heard that those guys had left the book -- I love that character and I thought they did great work -- I thought, "Well, somebody's going to have to take it over, and if somebody's going to screw it up, I'd rather it be me than anybody else." So I put a call in, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Andreyko: Well, I have no interest in going in and rearranging things and changing her to make her my version of Batwoman. I think the version of Batwoman that Greg and Jim and Haden created is a really solid, interesting one. It's a compelling one. And you can tell she's a compelling character by all the passion that has been stirred up by the change in the current creative team. So I try when I come onto an ongoing book to be respectful of the history that comes before me but bring some new energy to it and bring what I can bring to it to help the character continue to be interesting and vibrant.
IGN: Just judging from the most recent issue and all the pieces in play right now, it seems like their run is going to have a pretty open ending at this point. How closely are you picking up where they leave off when you start your run?
Andreyko: Because that creative team, especially artistically, was so distinctive, it's been decided that we're going to leave that for the time being. The first issue I'm doing, issue #25, is a Zero Year tie-in. But then with issue #26 it'll be a brand new story arc.
IGN: I want to focus on the Zero Year tie-in for a minute. Can you talk about what that involves, exactly? Is this the same time period as Scott Snyder's Zero Year story, or is this Kate's personal Zero Year?
Andreyko: Basically, my Zero Year issue takes place concurrently with the events of Batman. All of the Zero Year issues are the same time. There's an event happening in Gotham that kind of ties all of these in. But mine deals with Kate coming home from West Point for a funeral and getting stuck in Gotham and seeing the seeds of the young lady that will become Batwoman in today's DCU. Gloriously vague, I know, but... [laughs]
IGN: Has the artist for the Zero Year issue been announced yet?
Andreyko: Yeah, it's Trevor. Trevor McCarthy is doing it.
IGN: And I see that Jeremy Haun is going to be drawing issue #26. Are they sort of splitting the book? Is there one regular artist going forward?
Andreyko: There will be. That's still within hands that are not my own. We're figuring it out; because all of this happened so quickly, it's a matter of working out schedules and availability and appropriateness and that sort of thing. Yeah, that's an open discussion right now.
IGN: Batwoman has always been distinguished by this very lush visual style and creative page layouts. Whichever artist winds up being a permanent presence on the book, are you looking to continue that approach?
Andreyko: We're not going to be hiring someone just to mimic Jim's artwork. One, because that's impossible, and two, that's just a road to ruin. I think Jim's artwork is so distinctive and has so much personality and is so amazing and brilliant that copying that makes so sense. But we are going to take advantage of the fact that the book is known for intricate layouts and experimental page design and continue that with the ongoing artists to one, just to have a little bit of stylistic consistency with what's come before, and two, because we have this opportunity to play, there aren't many other books out there in the main superhero universes that play with page layout over traditional storytelling. So I want to take advantage of that. As a kid, I remember being obsessed with Todd McFarlane's Infinity Inc., mainly because of all the crazy page design he did. I think having the opportunity to work on a book where that's already the established norm is going to be super, super fun.
IGN: Looking ahead to issue #26 in December, can you set the stage for what readers can expect? Is this a fresh start for both the characters and the readers?
Andreyko: Well, it's not going to be a random storyline. She's not going to suddenly be the President of the United States and married to Justin Timberlake. She's still going to be Kate Kane. She's still going to be in a relationship with Maggie. She's still going to have a lot of the emotional and character issues that she's had. But this story will be a brand new storyline, and we'll be introducing a brand new villain who has yet to be seen in the New 52.
IGN: Elaborating on that last part, it sounds like one of the things DC wants to do now is integrate this book more closely with the rest of the New 52. As far as villains go, are we going to be seeing a lot more of the familiar Batman rogues? And are you looking to blend that with the need to give Kate her own, unique rogues gallery?
Andreyko: I'd love for Kate to have her own, unique rogues gallery, because I think all the best superheroes have interesting rogues galleries. The rogues gallery helps define who the hero is, so I think that's a great resource to have. But also, I'm in Gotham City. I'm in the Bat-books. I'm in the Bat-office, and I have access to all these great, crazy, amazing characters that have been around for 50 to 75 years. So yeah, I'll definitely be playing with those -- the ones I'm allowed to, the ones that I can, the ones that complement the book. And hopefully have a really good time exploring the mine of gold that is the Bat family that Kate has been removed from thus far in her book.
IGN: Before this, your most significant DC book was your Manhunter series. Do you see many similarities between Kate Kane and Kate Spencer?
Andreyko: Well, they're both tough broads named Kate. I tend to have a soft spot for strong, powerful women named Kate. They're both women, but that's like saying Batman and Superman are are similar. They're both unfortunately iconic because there are so few great, powerful, female heroes in comics that are successful. But other than that, their personalities are substantially different. They're very, very different personalities. And some of Kate Kane's personality issues are going to be explored pretty heavily in the beginning of my first arc.
IGN: For me, having enjoyed your Manhunter work a few years back, that's a big reason why I was glad to hear you were the new writer.
Andreyko: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I have to say, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. I've had a few town criers on the Internet say some nasty things about me, but that's to be expected. Overall, I'm really humbled by the graciousness and the excitement people seem to have. And I've said this before about Batwoman in specific -- I'm taking this job really, really seriously.
I have nothing but respect and awe for the people who worked on this book before me, and I'm going to do my damndest to make sure it's as solid and entertaining and challenging as they have. This is not just taking a job for a check. This is taking a job and knowing full well that a lot of eyes are upon me. I'm doing hopefully some of the best work of my career on this, and challenging myself to, anyway. And I'm sure everyone will let me know if I'm not. [laughs]
IGN: Going back to the villains for a minute, this series hasn't dealt with Kate's sister much until pretty recently, I guess partly because she was so steeped in what Greg was doing before he left and they were reluctant to intrude on that. But now that Alice seems to be returning to the forefront a little, are you going to be dealing with her much in your run and the fallout of this rescue attempt that's going on right now?
Andreyko: You know, at some point we'll probably get back to it and deal with it. It's kind of frustrating for readers to have unfinished storylines, as I know. But until we get our footing and get the ground under us and make it our book, I'm going to try and stay away from the stuff that's been done before. I think that the most important thing now is expanding that woman's worldview. I'm not going to never reference those characters, but initially I'm going to steer clear of them until the voice of the new creative team is really locked in.
IGN: Part of the controversy with this series lately has involved the marriage topic and how DC has made it clear over the past couple weeks that they don't really want their heroes getting married. When it comes to this relationship between Kate and Maggie, do you see this as a doomed relationship now because of that mandate, or is there still room for them to grow from here?
Andreyko: Well, since gays aren't allowed to get married in most of the country still, it's not really an issue. I don't know if they've established whether the voters of whatever state Gotham City is in have voted for marriage equality yet. So any marriage between them would be largely symbolic and not recognized by the law, which I think is an interesting story. But I don't think having them legally wed or not is going to change the complications of their relationship.
I get the edict of not having heroes get married, especially since the New 52 is such a young universe. You don't want to throw tethers back to the old continuity. Eventually you'll get there, I'm sure, but for the time being, no, they're not going to be married. They're going to be engaged, but that doesn't mean that things are going to be doomed or happy. They're in a relationship, with all of its hills and valleys and complications. And a couple complications that aren't in normal relationships, but that's to be expected when one character is a cop and the other is a superhero.
Source : ign[dot]com