The Batman Online Comikaze Report!
by BatmAngelus

DC writers Kyle Higgins (Batman: Gates of Gotham, Nightwing) and Gregg Hurwitz (Penguin: Pain and Prejudice) attended the very first Los Angeles comic book convention, Comikaze, this weekend for a panel discussion on 'The World of Batman."  Batman Online was there for the latest scoop!

Gregg Hurwitz on Penguin: Pain and Prejudice

One of the more recent titles to come from DC Comics has been Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, a 5-part mini-series that, in the vein of Brian Azarello's Joker, tells the Penguin's side of the story.  "Out of all the household name Batman villains, he's the only one who's totally sane.  I wanted to paint him as very cold and calculating, but not a psychopath," said Hurwitz.  "What's really fun about writing Penguin is that, from his perspective, Batman is the villain.  And that's how the whole mini-series is written."

The comic that influenced Hurwitz the most was Jason Aaron's Penguin chapter from The Joker's Asylum series, "He Who Laughs Last"- another story told from Oswald Cobblepot's point of view, in which the archvillain finds himself falling in love.  "I wanted to take the kernel from that great story and blow it out.  There's been great Penguin stories over the years, but there's never really been a big comprehensive backstory that stretches out longer."  

As a tribute to Aaron's influence, Hurwitz gave the name Jason to one of Oswald's brothers.

That wasn't the only homage that the writer's made, though.  Fans of the film Batman Returns may notice that the name of Oswald's father, Tucker Cobblepot, was carried into issue #1.  Was Tim Burton's take on the character an influence on the mini-series?  "There was only one influence from the movie," answered the writer.  "And that was the father's name."

The artist for Pain and Prejudice, Szymon Kudranski, originally sketched the Penguin with webbed flipper hands, like in the Burton film, but the writer decided against the design.  "I didn't want to make him just some sort of freak of nature where he's obviously distorted and disgusting.  That was almost too easy for what I was trying to get at.  He's somebody who looks different, but not beyond the range of human experience.  [Oswald was] picked on and has certain grudges and resentments and fears because of that."

In terms of teasers for what's to come, Hurwitz hinted that readers have only seen the beginning of Cobblepot's ruthlessness.  "We've seen [in the first issue] what Penguin will do if someone looks at him wrong.  So, if Batman comes in, knocks him over, and makes him feel ashamed, what are the lengths he's willing to go through in order to plunge Gotham?"

He also implied a future mention or appearance by The Joker- "You'll have some sense of what the Joker does when he thinks nobody's watching."

After Penguin: Pain and Prejudice ends, Hurwitz expressed interest in tackling other foes from the infamous Rogue's Gallery, but didn't specify who.  "For some reason, I really gravitate towards the villains.  I don't know what's wrong with me," he joked.

Kyle Higgins on Dick Grayson and Nightwing

Three years ago, Kyle Higgins was a film student at Chapman University, co-writing and directing a superhero noir titled The League for his senior thesis.  The film gained the attention of Marvel's editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, who hired Higgins and his co-writer, Alec Siegel, to write for Captain America.  Today, Higgins is currently writing two titles for DC's new 52 reboot- Nightwing and Deathstroke.

Nightwing isn't the first time that Higgins has written for Dick Grayson.  The writer previously worked with Scott Snyder on the mini-series Gates of Gotham, which was set during the time that Dick was Batman.  At the panel, Higgins addressed the strengths of the character, stating that Robin and Nightwing can be more relatable to audiences than Bruce Wayne/Batman.  "[Bruce] has all the answers.  He is a person with a backup plan for a backup plan for a backup plan.  The reality of being a superhero aside, you could never actually be Batman."

The writer also pointed out that, while Bruce Wayne feels compelled to fight crime due to his tragic past, "Dick does what he does because he enjoys helping people."

Later, Higgins participated in Comikaze's New 52 panel to discuss more of the relaunched comics.  There, he mentioned a couple little-known bits of trivia that should interest Dick Grayson fans: Towards the end of Batman: The Animated Series, Bruce Timm had considered making a Nightwing spin-off.  Batman Beyond ended up getting made instead.  

Later, when Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker was released, there was further consideration to do a follow-up Batman Beyond movie, covering what had happened to Dick Grayson in the DCAU.

When it comes to his own Nightwing stories, Higgins was open and enthusiastic about the future of the character.  In the current Nightwing storyline, Dick Grayson must confront his past when Haly's Circus, the traveling circus troupe that he grew up with, returns to Gotham.  At the "World of Batman" panel, Higgins revealed that DC actually asked for Haly's Circus to play a role in the book and he happily complied.  "What we're doing with the circus is going to be very cool and no one will see it coming."

For fans of the Dick Grayson-Damian Wayne dynamic from Batman and Robin, Higgins stated that Damian will play a role in Nightwing, around issue #9.

Another relationship affected by the reboot is the feud between Dick Grayson and Deathstroke/Slade Wilson.  "Deathstroke doesn't have a connection to the Teen Titans anymore.  So that creates the big questions like, do Nightwing and Deathstroke even know each other?  Was Nightwing a Titan?"  

Fans will just have to see in upcoming issues.

Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #1, Nightwing #1 and 2, and Deathstroke #1 and #2 are available in comic stores today.

Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #2 will be released on November 9, Nightwing #3 is coming on November 16, and Deathstroke #3 will be available November 9.

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