Batman Eternal: An Interview with John Layman
We’re now in the third week of Batman Eternal, and DC’s new weekly Batman comic shows no sign of slowing down (as indicated by issue #3’s Batmobile meets bombs cover). A dangerously familiar villain is back in town and he’s wasting no time buying friends and high places, while poor Commissioner Gordon is stuck behind bars. But we suspect the big news among fans is that BATMAN ETERNAL #3 is the issue that introduces Stephanie Brown to the storyline as well as The New 52.
We sat down with John Layman this week to discuss his contributions to the series, what it feels like coming off of one big Bat event onto another, and what it feels like to introduce such a fan favorite, and long in demand, character to the current DC Universe.
Cover art for Batman Eternal #3 (art by Jason Fabok)
John, the first few issues of Batman Eternal are now on the stands and it’s clear that it’s a massive story you’re telling that looks like it’s going to completely shake up the status quo as far as the Bat titles go. How did the story come together?
Well, I think most of the credit goes to James Tynion and Scott Snyder for the heavy lifting on the project. They conceived the uber-story, though all the rest of us, Tim, Ray and I, got to contribute and throw in our two cents. It’s definitely a huge story that touches on EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of the Bat-Universe.
It’s funny because you recently wrapped up an excellent Detective Comics run, and at least in these first few issues, it seems like Batman’s very much in detective mode. There are mysteries to solve here. Is that an aspect of Batman that you enjoy?
Batman’s the world’s greatest detective. Batman as detective should always be integral to any good Batman story.
Speaking of Detective, was it fun getting a chance to work with Jason Fabok again?
Jason transferred directly from Detective over to Eternal, and there was no break, and he got a pretty early start so while Aaron Lopresti was wrapping up my Detective run, Jason’s gorgeous pages were coming in as well. It's sorta like we never STOPPED working together.
Her return’s already been revealed, but Batman Eternal #3 officially introduces Stephanie Brown to The New 52. How big a role will she be playing your storyline?
I get to write Stephanie in a few of my issues. I know how popular she is to DCU readers, so that was a real thrill.
Stephanie Brown, as seen in Batman Eternal #3 (art by Jason Fabok)
Batman Eternal is just the latest in a series of landmark Batman projects you’ve been involved with. Along with Jason, you contributed to the 900th issue of Detective Comics, as well as this year’s commemorative DETECTIVE COMICS #27. How does it feel having such an impact on the character?
The entire Bat experience was fantastic, and I count myself very lucky to be part of his ongoing story and history. I would have been happy just to write Batman. The fact I got to write it during all these fantastic issues and events was just icing on the cake.
Was Batman always a favorite comic character of yours? How long have you been a fan?
Batman is easily one of my favorite super-heroes, and, after Plastic Man, my favorite DC character. This is sorta a loaded question, though, because I don’t know anybody who does not like Batman.
Well, this may be another loaded question. I’ve been asking this of everyone on the Batman Eternal creative team, so of course I’m going to ask you as well! What are some of your favorite Batman stories?
Too many too name. We’ll be here all day.
Okay, well as everyone knows, Batman celebrates his 75th anniversary this year. What about the character speaks most to you?
It’s hard to me to pick one aspect to Batman that I like more than the others. I think hands down Batman has the best villains, which makes for the best stories. He’s got the best toys as well, gadgets and vehicles and resources, and really his only super power is his brain (and perhaps his wallet!)