Grant Morrison talks about the new characters introduced in BATMAN AND ROBIN v2
Our spotlight on all things BATMAN AND ROBIN continues and concludes today, with a special peek inside the mind of Grant Morrison, as the writer guides us through the various amazing new characters that first appeared in the second volume of BATMAN AND ROBIN, which hits stands in comic shops tomorrow as a DELUXE EDITION.
Take it away, Grant.
Squire and Knight
I introduced the new Squire and Knight in the pages of JLA back in 1998 and I’ve been slipping them into stories like JLA CLASSIFIED #1-3 and BATMAN #667-669 ever since. For some reason I’ll never be able to explain, this pair have developed a complex, intricate backstory and web of relationships that so far exists solely in my head and is only hinted at in these brief appearances.
My redesign of the Squire was intended to reference the British comics characters Beryl the Peril and Minnie the Minx (these tomboy anarchists headed their own weekly humor strips in the venerable UK titles Topper and Beano respectively), as well as the character “Monkey” from the film Quadrophenia, as played by Toyah Willcox.
I was a huge fan of Greg Rucka and JH Williams’s Batwoman stories in DETECTIVE COMICS and wanted to get the two new characters together as soon as possible. Simple as that.
The Beefeater is an old-time DC hero who once represented the UK in the international Global Guardians hero team. He appeared as the butt of numerous Keith Giffen jokes in JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL and here makes a comeback as the Queen’s Jailer. Beefeater mentions a number of British super-criminals, many of whom were created for an imaginary SQUIRE AND KNIGHT series that’s been growing in the damp undergrowth of my imagination for the last ten years.
The Pearly Court of Crime
Pearly Charlie English and his son Eddie are the only two members of the Pearly Court of Crime, but we can assume there’s a Pearly Queen and some Pearly Princesses too.
I must point out that the real-life Pearly Kings and Queens of London are firmly on the side of the angels and are famous for their contributions to charity.
The Coals From Newcastle
King Coal was based on a combination of influences, including Arthur Scargill, the miners’ union leader who was Mrs. Thatcher’s nemesis in the 1980s. His henchmen were based on the gang of dancing chimney sweeps led by Dick Van Dyke in Walt Disney’s film of Mary Poppins.
The Metaleks are weaponized, intelligent construction machines from another world on a mission to “xenoform” our planet, starting with London.
Like the Pearly King, the Morris Men belong to the world of tradition and folklore. Remnants of some unspeakable pagan fertility business, they pin jingling bells to their clothes and hop around hitting one another with sticks. The whole thing is a kind of stylized sword dance which ends when the dancers lock their “swords” together in a star-shaped configuration and “behead” their kneeling leader, who is then restored to life by a comic doctor. Readers familiar with the original film version of The Wicker Man starring Edward Woodward may remember seeing the Morris Men there.
They may seem jolly and bucolic, like a sun-dappled afternoon at a pub next to a canal in the South Downs, but as any British child can tell you there’s something screamingly weird and abnormal about the Morris Men that demanded to be absorbed into the Batman world.
The criminal version of the Morris Men are violent, ninja-like assassins who worship the Horned God.
Stand and deliver! I saw the Highwayman as a cross between Adam Ant and Russell Brand: a dashing gentleman bastard who plies his devilish trade on the motorways of Britain. He rides his big black stealth cycle alongside tourist coaches, delivery trucks and especially security vans before robbing them blind and making off with the loot.
The Wayne Ancestors
The portraits of the Wayne patriarchs in BATMAN AND ROBIN #10 were all drawn from Batman’s long publishing history, but as usual I missed a couple of established characters.
I missed Lancelot Wayne, one of Bruce’s earliest known ancestors, and Sir Gaweyne de Weyne, who was introduced into the bloodline in 1998 by Alan Grant and Frank Quitely in BATMAN: THE SCOTTISH CONNECTION, as well as a third Revolutionary War hero, General Horatio Wayne, who appeared in BATMAN #120 and takes his place alongside the fictional Darius Wayne (created, I believe, by Alan Moore for a SWAMP THING story) and the real-life “Mad” Anthony Wayne, who was absorbed into Bruce’s family tree by Batman writer extraordinaire Bill Finger.
As for the others, Alan Wayne appears in BATMAN: THE RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #4, while the stories of Alan’s father Solomon and uncle Joshua were covered in BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #45 and BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #27, and were also alluded to in Christopher Nolan’s film The Dark Knight.