The stories behind the stories, by the
This had to be a transitional story. I wanted to start with the
characters the way they were where Burton left them (or where they would
probably be a year and a half later) and transition them to a place where
I could begin putting my "spin" on them.
FRAIDY CAT--I wanted to get a bit
disturbing and establish the overall dark tone I planned on taking.
Scarecrow was the perfect villain for that. Parts of the story were
inspired by "The Night of the Murderous Spring" episode from WILD WILD
WEST. I had to bring in Robin, because the events of BATMAN FOREVER
had already taken place in the gap between this story and the previous
THE PURRFECT STORM--I love how a story
that starts out light, almost like an episode of the 60s Batman series,
takes a dark, stark, deadly turn. The idea of professional assassins
with cover girl looks was quite intriguing to me. Something about
the juxtaposition of beauty and violence, I guess.
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS--To end the first
season on a strong note, I created this "everything-but-the-kitchen-sink"
story. I had a story without an ending, and I had an ending (the big
wedding showdown) without a story. So I put them together.
PERSONAL PROPERTY--A very personal story
to me, it's more a police procedural than a typical Batman story. I
wrote it for someone close to me who suffered a loss similar to that of
Señor Ramos. Neither she nor the victim received justice. I
can't change what happened, but I can write a story with a different
DOPPELGANGER--The idea of Batman being
framed has been done before, but I thought I could take it up a notch by
having it done by someone in an identical suit who moves like him and gets
caught on video. The camera doesn't lie, right? Riiiiight....
WILD BAT CHASE--My first solid Riddler story.
Fun, but hard to write. At the end, I begin to lay the groundwork
for Batgirl to come onto the scene.
DRAGON ATTACK--Probably my most bizarre story,
with all manner of squeamish murders. I was intrigued by the notion
of importing a certain Asian villain from old books and movies into
Batman's world. Plus, Batman and Catwoman get to have a knock-down,
drag-out fight like they haven't had in years.
THE JOKER LAUGHS AT YOU--My tip of the hat to DIE
HARD. With his fondness of things that explode, Joker was the easy
choice for villain. He takes his depravity to a whole new level,
wiring an entire building with explosives and comparing killing hostages
to hunting season. Very dark stuff.
SECRET IDENTITY CRISIS--Honestly, I really don't
like Robin that much, but for tradition's sake I felt like I had to bring
him back. I do like the way Batgirl reveals her identity to all
concerned. The idea of a hired assassin going after Batman was
lifted from a discarded Harley Quinn origin story I worked on for volume
THE QUALITY OF LIFE--I couldn't resist doing a
Batman version of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Yeah, it's a cheap way to
come up with a plot, but one's imagination can really go to town pondering
what the people in Batman's life would be like if he never existed.
Definitely more Burton than Capra.
RECLAWED--If Catwoman was de-clawed when she gave
it all up for motherhood, then here comes a reason for her to get back
into action. Basically, I missed her kicking fur and taking names,
even though she was no longer among my front line characters. First
time I dared to kill off one of the villains.
THE DEVIL WEARS PURPLE / HELL NIGHT--This
two-parter is my magnum opus. Just once, I wanted to do a story that
reads like a movie. It's cinematic in scope, with citywide carnage
and at least sixteen major characters. It took the most time to plan out and plot of any of
my stories, and when I finished, I felt rather shell-shocked myself. As a
result, I found it hard to start writing again and even harder to follow
THE HOSTAGE KNIGHT--In the emotional aftermath of
Hell Night, a depressed Batman ponders issues of good, evil, and why he
does what he does. All of which makes a wonderfully dark background
for a situation where he must confront the single biggest demon from his
past, and at a time when he's psychologically unprepared. I admit
that until THE JOKER LAUGHS AT YOU, my Bruce/Batman had been a pretty
well-adjusted guy. After that, doubts begin to creep in, and now
he's painfully aware that things he believed were settled long ago aren't,
and may never be.
DEMON FLOWER--This story wasn't even scheduled
for volume 4. In fact, it didn't even exist as a plot outline.
But one evening the idea literally possessed me, and within a few days the
whole thing was finished. Probably the fastest I've ever done one of
these. Another psychologically uncomfortable tale, it has a double
twist ending. I hope nobody sees them coming, at least the second
SHAKEN AND STIRRED--What if Batman met James
Bond? Once that curious premise crossed my mind, it was easy to
create a story that could bridge the two worlds involved. Penguin
was the natural choice for villain. The two hitmen were equally
inspired by the pair from PULP FICTION and a similar duo from one of the
last Connery Bond films. A serious story, but much lighter than the
three that preceded it.
THE MAZE--The idea of a giant maze filled with booby traps intrigued me, so I added it to Riddler's bag of schemes and puzzles.
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET?--Just what would Bruce/Batman do if his cover was blown by a criminal?
Batman's code of honor precludes out-and-out murder, yet he can't
afford to have his identity revealed. As with HOSTAGE KNIGHT and
DEMON FLOWER, another step in demolishing the character's well-ordered
life and putting him back in a world of psychological pain and darkness.
DUET--This is my darkest story so far, and about as disturbing as I ever want to
get. With a villain who makes Joker seem mild in comparison,
there's no way it could be anything but. Again, Batman is forced
way out of his comfort zone--assuming any of it is left--and into two
profoundly disturbed criminal minds. Definitely NOT for anyone
is one where the title has multiple meanings. It applies to Bruce
and Selina's relationship, Two-Face being the villain, and so
forth. My take on the old "bad guy trapped with good guy" plot.
THE DYING OF THE LIGHT--This
is where Bruce's life hits rock bottom. He's been badly injured
by a drunk driver, Joker is killing people left and right, and Batgirl
gets her wings permanently clipped. The Batman who emerges from
this chaos is rougher and rawer than ever.
asked a friend to pick one villain who appeared only in the 60s TV show
that he'd like to see modernized. To my surprise, he picked Black
Widow. I've reimagined her as a cold, evil, yet ultimately sad
figure. At the same time as she plies her deadly trade, Bruce and
Selina reach the end of the road, as do Barbara and Dick. No
romantic happy endings here.
sad story, through and through. My inspiration was a similarly
somber episode of Miami Vice entitled "The Good Collar."
HE WHO LAUGHS LAST--I
wanted a series finale that actually is a finale, yet leaves things
open for more stories in the future. Bringing closure to Batman's
long-running battle with the Joker seemed the best way to wrap it up.