No Going Back: An Interview with Batman Beyond's Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel
If you spent a few hours this weekend sitting on your couch and staring in shock at your tablet or laptop, you’re almost certainly a Batman Beyond reader. BATMAN BEYOND 2.0 #28, which was released digitally on Saturday, is one of the most significant installments of the Batman Beyond comic we’ve probably ever published. In fact, if you were to say it was the most important—and most startling—comics we published this month…well, we wouldn’t argue. Chapter #28 is the culmination of an idea that writer Kyle Higgins presented to us when we first started to talking to him about Batman Beyond. It’s an important story to him, to co-writer Alec Siegel, and to Bruce, Dick, Barbara, Terry and the entire Batman Beyond cast. This is one chapter whose ramification will not only be felt in the future, but can now also be seen in every chapter of the comic since we rebranded it as 2.0.
Obviously, we had questions when we finished reading it, and fortunately Kyle and Alec were kind enough to provide us with some really thoughtful answers. If you’re a Batman Beyond fan who hasn’t yet read Chapter #28, you’re going to want to download it before you read on because there are SPOILERS aplenty ahead. (If you prefer to wait for print, Chapter #28 will be included in BATMAN BEYOND UNIVERSE #13, in stores on 8/27.)
Still with us? Whoa, boy. Then here we go…
Batman Beyond 2.0 #28 features some huge revelations for the characters. Is it safe to say that the story so far has been building up to this chapter?
Kyle Higgins: Yes, definitely. This is actually one of the first things I pitched to DC when I took over the book. Mark of the Phantasm is a story designed to give context to the Bat-family’s strained relationships over the last fifty years, while also bringing Terry to the point where he and Bruce part ways.
Alec Siegel: The story Dick and Barbara tell Terry in this chapter is as shocking to Terry as it is to us. It’s definitely a catalyst—along with Terry’s belief that Bruce kept Jake Chill from him this whole time—that has Terry questioning his trust in Bruce more than ever.
How do you feel now that it’s out?
KH: A little strange, actually. I mean, I’ve been sitting on this for the last year and a half. When I take a step back and think about that, it’s a pretty amazing feeling to have a story planned out for that long and to have never wavered. Alex Antone and I set out on this course, Hank Kanalz supported us the whole way, Alec Siegel, Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur, Craig Rousseau, Nick Filardi, and Guy Major all joined for this arc… and in the end, I couldn’t be prouder of the finished story. The next few chapters are really powerful. And then, Thony Silas is back starting with chapter 32, and that stuff is just as awesome. Really, I feel incredibly lucky to have the team we have on this book. It’s a blessing.
So how did the idea of an unplanned Barbara Gordon/Bruce Wayne pregnancy come about? Where did this storyline come from?
KH: As a huge fan of the show, I always wanted to know what happened to Dick Grayson. Like, I wanted a Return of the Joker flashback for him. So, when I got the call to come on the book, that was something I wanted to explore a bit more. Adam Beechen had brought Dick into the Beyond universe and gave some answers about what happened between him and Bruce, but I always felt like there was something else there that Dick wasn’t saying. The show made it pretty clear that Bruce and Barbara had a relationship, and I started wondering how that went over with Dick… assuming he knew about it. That was the start of it.
AS: For this arc, we knew the Jake Chill reveal was going to be something big for Terry, that would test his faith in Bruce. Did Bruce know about Jake the whole time? To play with that ambiguity, we wanted to incorporate wounds and mistakes from Bruce’s past, which Terry learns about. The Bruce, Barbara, and Dick history serves to reinforce Terry’s doubts.
KH: Right. And as far as the Dick and Barbara stuff goes, it always struck me as a little weird that she and Bruce got together. I mean, Bruce and Barbara are both adults who made their own decisions, and obviously cared about each other. That said, when you have the history that these three have, it’s a really hard relationship to rationalize getting involved in. From Barbara’s standpoint, it’s like trying to date your ex-boyfriend’s brother. Or, from Bruce’s standpoint, your brother’s ex-girlfriend. It’s not exactly a healthy move. Of course, that’s what makes it so interesting.
AS: Life is often messy.
It’s pretty clear that the pregnancy severely damaged the relationship between Bruce and Dick, perhaps irreparably. But what about Barbara? How would you describe her relationship with Bruce in the present (future) day?
KH: I think time heals a lot of things. Or if not heals, at least makes more bearable. She’s been married to Sam for a long time—her relationship with Bruce was a lifetime ago. Plus, with Terry operating as Batman now, she’s been forced to interact with Bruce more in the last few years then she had in forty years combined. I think they’re on okay terms. As okay as it’s going to get. She still cares about him. Respects him. At least, that’s what I think.
So is this the point Barbara truly stepped away from it all and stopped being Batgirl?
KH: You know, I’m not sure. We ran with the dynamic that Dustin Fridolfs established in his Justice League Beyond story, that Barbara quit being Batgirl the night Tim killed the Joker. Within the next few days, she also broke things off with Bruce.
AS: And then she learned about the pregnancy five or six weeks later.
KH: Does that mean she never put the Batgirl suit on again? I’d say she probably didn’t. But you never know.
Getting back to Terry’s story, all of this came to light because he doesn’t believe Bruce is being honest with him. This certainly isn’t going to help Bruce win back his trust. Do you think the relationship between Terry and Bruce will ever be the same?
KH: I don’t think so, no. But… you could say that about any relationship. Not to get too philosophical or anything, but we—and everything in our lives—are in a constant state of forward momentum. That includes our relationships. Things change, and then they change again. If Bruce and Terry are to have a relationship going forward, it won’t be the same.
Between the Phantasm, the pregnancy revelation and the truth about the Vigilante, it really feels like the past is coming to light for all of the characters. Is this story about the way the past can define you? About putting it behind you? Something else?
KH: I’d say it’s more a story about the trust we put in people. Our mentors, our parents, our friends, our significant others… the people we choose to build our lives with. The more you get to know someone, the harder it is when you learn they’re not exactly who you think they are.
Ultimately, do you feel like Batman Beyond is a story about building a better Batman? Bruce not wanting Terry to make the same mistakes and go down the same dark paths that he did?
KH: I do, yes. But I’d add that it’s also story about Batman trying to become a better man. Bruce is trying to protect Terry, but he’s also aware of what that same kind of behavior did for him with Dick, Barbara, and Tim. In a lot of ways, Terry is a second chance for Bruce. Which makes it that much more tragic that he’s messing it up as bad as he is.
And as for Terry’s story, it’s about him becoming his own (Bat)man.
Finally, what’s ahead in the story? Where do the next few chapters take us?
AS: A couple favorites—Melanie Walker, Inque, alternate timelines, and the return of some other Beyonders. It’s going to be a blast.
Batman Beyond 2.0 #28 by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, Phil Hester and Craig Rousseau is available digitally now. Click here to download it.