DARK KNIGHTS

Kick­ing off our 75th an­niver­sary Batcel­e­bra­tion, Joseph McCabe unites some Gotham City leg­ends

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Interstellar 75 years of batman -

Which one of you writes the best

Bat­man?

Frank Miller: [ Laughs.] Well, the best Bat­man I grew up with was writ­ten by Denny O’Neil and drawn by Neal Adams.

Ge­off Johns: Frank Miller, in Bat­man: Year One. Be­tween the past and the fu­ture, he’s kind of de­fined [ the character] in a way that no one else had be­fore then. The in­flu­ence is still felt. I don’t think you can say that about a lot of char­ac­ters, es­pe­cially Bat­man.

Scott Sny­der: Yeah, I still have my orig­i­nal is­sues of Dark Knight Re­turns at my par­ents’ house... Grow­ing up in New York, the thing that was so in­cred­i­bly af­fect­ing about it was sud­denly Bat­man ex­isted in the city around us. You saw him fac­ing prob­lems in an ac­tual land­scape that looked like the city that we were liv­ing in, where you couldn’t nec­es­sar­ily go to Cen­tral Park, and there was crime and there was graf­fiti. To see Bat­man sav­ing peo­ple and be­ing an in­spi­ra­tion in a city that was im­me­di­ately my own was just a tremen­dous in­flu­ence on me. It made me want to write, hon­estly. To see that you could make a su­per­hero so rel­e­vant and per­sonal and im­me­di­ate was def­i­nitely the trans­for­ma­tive mo­ment for me in comics.

Miller: Thanks. He also re­ally beat the crap out of a lot of peo­ple. [ Laughs.]

Who’s the most un­der­rated Bat­man cre­ator?

Dan DiDio: I was a huge Jim Aparo fan. Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams were de­fin­i­tive. But my favourite artist, and the one who de­fines Bat­man to me is Jim Aparo. The amount of work he did, the body of work, and just the flu­id­ity and en­ergy and life he brought to that character is one of the things that made me re­ally love the character.

Miller: I’d bring two names to bear. One is Bill Fin­ger, who was ar­guably co- cre­ator of Bat­man, and the other is Jerry Robin­son, who got very, very lit­tle credit for an as­ton­ish­ing amount of work, and who es­tab­lished a mood and a look for Bat­man.

Jim Lee: I’m gonna throw out Steve En­gle­hart and Mar­shall Rogers. They did this awe­some Bat­man- Joker sto­ry­line which kind of re­de­fined Bat­man for me. It was su­per­heroic, but had a lot of de­tec­tive el­e­ments to it. It was just daz­zling.

Sny­der: The work on The An­i­mated Se­ries, was re­ally sem­i­nal. Bruce Timm and Alan Bur­nett. The rea­son it’s un­der­rated is be­cause a lot of the ori­gins of the vil­lains and a lot of the things we as­sume are the mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the char­ac­ters that come from the comics, a lot of them fil­tered in from that an­i­mated stuff – Nora from Mr Freeze, and a lot of that stuff.

Miller: What Bruce Timm did – and I at­tribute it almost en­tirely to him – was he took the best Bat­man from ev­ery pe­riod, from Dick Sprang to Neal Adams through to my stuff, every­body’s stuff, and man­aged to mould it into this almost com­pos­ite Bat­man that was re­ally a re­minder to any­body who touches the character that Bat­man is es­sen­tially a force for jus­tice. And also a big guy with a big jaw. [ Laughs.]

Why has the character lasted 75 years?

Lee: I think one of the rea­sons is that the art form of comics is all about let­ting cre­ators and the tal­ent come in and do their de­fin­i­tive ver­sions of th­ese char­ac­ters. We’re not try­ing to say, “Hey, this is Bat­man. This is the style guide. This is the length of his ears, this is the length of his cape. Draw it just like this. You can only do th­ese kinds of sto­ries.” We for­tu­nately work in a cre­ative field where peo­ple are en­cour­aged to do new things, add to the mythol­ogy – the Court of Owls, new cos­tumes, new Bat­mo­biles. That’s how you keep it fresh and mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary. Ev­ery­one who comes to Bat­man, and ev­ery gen­er­a­tion of fans, they go, “That’s my Bat­man.” It’s slightly dif­fer­ent from the one be­fore, but at its core, its essence, it’s the same character that we all know and love.

Miller: Well spo­ken. Now the lid is off the ket­tle, and it’s a mat­ter of the artists and the pub­lish­ers work­ing to­gether to re­al­ize who is Bat­man and what is still Bat­man. Be­cause you can go too rough with it.

Sny­der: The thing that’s so in­spir­ing is that at the core, if you take away the wealth and the gad­gets and all the fun stuff, he’s somebody

A truly clas­sic Bat- ca­per from O’Neil and Adams.

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