Inside Batman # 002: How the Joker Almost Died

This week’s “Thinking Bat Thoughts” from James Tynion’s paid newsletter only for subscribers to Substack contains slightly fewer details than last week, but the ones we have are quite meaty and exciting, including how the Joker almost died- plus we have a few extra pieces from past and present Bat authors for to supplement the content of our current (outgoing) Batman author. Let’s start with the latest items from Tynion.

1) The most important thing I KNOW, though, was that the comics published in 2020 would effectively be the last stories of the DC universe in its current form. The Death Metal event was to be the mechanism that would unleash some kind of major change in the universe, and then in early 2021 we were to see a bold new direction for DCU.

Thoughts: The summer of 2019, apparently relatively early summer, just as the City of Bane arch began to be released, six months from when Tynion’s first Batman book was released. Contrary to some speculations that 5G would always be a multi-month but definitely temporary event, it feels like it could very well have been an attempt to go brand new, all different DCs in the future.


The space had a few key elements that you can recognize … The Joker effectively grabs Wayne Fortune and all of Batman’s vehicles and gadgets and unleashes them on Gotham City. Basically, The Joker uses everything Batman has ever done to save the city from killing it. Before Joker died, I wanted him to give Bruce a scar o[f] somehow, ideally on his face, in a way that would mean he could never wear the existing cape again because he would have a trait he shares like Batman and Bruce Wayne, which would make it hard to be Batman again (A kind of nod to Batman: Return of the Joker, who established the knife in Bruce’s Knee as a stab from The Joker). I beat the work of all the creators of the constellation Bat-Titles around Batman to give them each a corner of the Batman myths to tell the epic final story of in the current continuity. Detective could tell the story of Last Arkham. Catwoman could tell the latest story of this era of organized crime. Nightwing could tell the last Robin story. Batgirl could tell the latest Gordon Family story. I did not get much into a problem with problem solving at the time, it was more just an organizing principle to get all eyes on Gotham.

Thoughts: Tynion says, however, that this was a “broad strokes” pitch, rather than the kind of “20-page document” that led to things like the two eternal series and probably his Detective Comics run. He also stresses that DC has never ever approved of the killing of the Joker, so there was never a point in 5G or Tynion’s plans where he would have been able to carry out that particular vision. The wait, which started in June, apparently took about two months, and in August, on a livestream, Tynion got the job. Next week, Tynion promises to show us some of the original pitch documents from the early fall of 2019. Something we have certainly taken directly from this newsletter, but also from direct comments Tynion has given in the last two years, is that DC not Give him the keys to the Batman title right away. He was originally a fill-in writer who was tasked with leading up to a lot of big plans dictated by the editorial staff, and they did not jump at the chance that he could take over the general ledger — they delayed and waited for months after he struck up. I would really love to know who else they might have considered or even wooed since they had made the decision almost a year earlier to push King from the title despite his original plan to go to number 100.

In addition to Tynion’s planned newsletter, Tim Seeley, author of the upcoming “Robins” miniseries (winner of the Round Robin poll a few months ago), made a AMA on Reddit where he revealed quite a bit about his previous writing in Gotham as well as some of his plans for the Robins series. Some highlights:

To “Robins”: Well, that was not really the obvious winner [of the contest] at the time … but while working on Batman Eternal, I had put Mark Doyle on a ROBINS plural mini. They went with WE ARE ROBIN. But I think my love for the idea was known. Andrew Marino came up with the first concept, and when he and I had worked together on a lot of things, including the Harley / Ivy Valentine’s Day card, he asked if I had a plot. I did, from my old pitch!

ROBINS will be big and dark and dull at heart. It’s a bit of a HUSH of Robin stories, I think. Lots of mystery and lots of character-cameo, but mostly about our leads and how they relate to each other. BEAUTIFUL species by Baldemar Riva’s BTW!

I love how each became a Robin. My opinion is that Dick was SELECTED, Tim CLAIMED, Jason was DRAWN, Steph GRADUATED, and Damian was BORN. And that determines how they see the cloak very differently!

ROBINS is full of continuity connections to stories that go back 70 plus years! My lord, I had to do some serious research!

I think Dick is “best” if it was just because he created the template. He is the most successful “sidekick” ever. And yes, I love Steph, and I was always a little pissed that she was the only Robin who got fired and kept being like that. We’ll be dealing with it a lot at Robins.

Steph is the only Robin who was fired permanently and she has questions about it. BIG questions.

Thoughts: Much information, including the repetition of Seeley’s attempt to get a Robins story (ongoing or miniseries) off the ground for six years (also seen in his tweets on the day of the announcement – although there he says that the current miniseries is not related to his original Batman Eternal 2015 pitch, while his short story is seen in Batman: Gotham Nights # 12 was). Additionally, there was and is very loud and often vicious comment that DC “rigged” or “knew” that Robins would win the competition, but the fact that Seeley – a popular writer who can sell ideas based on his name, did not just on the characters he’s working on – could not get a Robins idea approved by DC, indicates that at the editorial level they do not think it’s a slam dunk. The way Seeley contrasts each Robin and promises to focus on things like Steph’s story as Robin, plus the research he does to connect this miniseries with seventy-year-old Dick Grayson stories — it all points to a love letter to Gotham and Robin’s that should be more than the price of admission!

To “Grayson”: I was working on the BATMAN ETERNAL and I got a call from Katie Kubert, the editor, asking if I had any ideas to make Dick Grayson a spy. And I was like … “Uh… let me get back to you.” I spent the weekend thinking about it (sic) and I came up with the Spyral angle using some of the ideas my old classmate Chris Burnham had for the BATMAN INC book he drew. I got the concert, but was informed that I would collaborate with this new guy, TOM KING, who was a REAL FORMER SPY!

Thoughts: Grayson’s roots in Morrisons Batman Inc. was always clear, but the border through Burnham from Seeley is fascinating – and perhaps explains why Seeley’s questions were so much more connected to that aspect of the plot, while King’s questions focused on several Dick’s personal relationships and character struggles.

To “Nightwing”: Unfortunately, I think if you maintain “integrity”, you will lose readers. You MUST touch things a little, often to keep people interested. And it bothers some people, but the sales do not reflect that. It’s very strange.

The tab’s expectations are high [in making Dick Grayson challenging to write]. And I think sometimes people think he’s old-fashioned and cheesy and needs to be more angular, which I always thought didn’t work.

The idea of ​​giving Dick a memory stick had been around for a while, and even though I knew there was value in the story, Nightwing’s appeal to me was that he knew everyone in DCU. I felt like we had done “Dick on the outside” in Grayson. So I did not make the story and the bosses were fine with it. But they brought it back for someone else to explore. I think it works great as an era of Nightwing stories. It’s just not my thing.

I thought it was a good idea to shake the series, but just not one I thought I would have been able to bring great interest or enthusiasm too. It seems to have sold some comics tho, so mission done for those involved!

Thoughts: Despite (in this writer’s view) well-deserved hatred for the “Ric Grayson” story, sales of the book apparently did not decline, which probably explains why it was so long-lasting. Although part of me would blame a desire that despite the series’ readers, DC usually does not hang on to series that people hate if they do not sell – and they have hung on to series that sell very poorly because they think they are high quality and loved by their small audience (e.g. Death blow by Christopher Priest or Hawkman by Robert Venditti).

Tim Seeley is not the only former Batman writer to have answered fan questions over YouTube, Chuck Dixon has been making a weekly “Ask Chuck Dixon” video for 72 weeks, and in one of the most recent entries, answered a few questions about how he wrote for the bat books of the nineties.

Never use first-person storytelling with Batman, because I do not think we should ever know what Batman is thinking. I think Batman should always be enigmatic … But Robin, because it was Tim Drake, because it was a new character, because readers were curious about him, because we did not know him yet, I would use first-person narrative to inform us about him … it just seemed to fit the character … Now Spoiler, she had a diary and the reason for that was Spoiler who did not appear in comics all the time, she was also somewhat enigmatic and many times Spoiler appeared in 8-page or 10-page stories, and I did not have much real estate to get into who she was as a character … it would give a little humor, a little juxtaposition and just tell us who Stephanie Brown was .. because I did not have room.

Thoughts: Dixon has offered several really great insights into the process of writing the bat books of the nineties, including a little bit about the characters’ backstory stories that never came on the page, which we hope to share in future columns. Here we get some of the reasons why writers would choose to use first-person narrative units like a journal or simple narrative boxes for new characters — to allow us to get into their heads, give us insight into a character we do not know as well as Batman or Superman. In the same video, Dixon also makes (in this writer’s opinion) extremely in-depth comments on why Barbara Gordon should not return to the Batgirl role because of the impact and weight of her story after The Killing Joke (which Dixon mentions that he does not like as a story), but that if DC returned her use of her legs, it should have been a big event — at least all of Bat-Books, if not the entire DC universe, on the level of Knightfall or Superman’s death, not a single fingerprint we got in New 52. (Editor’s note: Upon full publication, Ian referred this question to Chuck Dixon.)

Editor’s note: Inside Batman is a series of articles from TBU that will bring you the behind – the – scenes scene from the world to create the Batman universe. If you have comments, insights or interesting items we may have missed, please email us at with ‘Inside Batman’ in the subject line. You can find all our previous contributions to Inside the Batman series here.

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