Exclusive Interview: Marc Andreyko on Batwoman
When J.H. Williams and Haden Blackman decided to step away from writing Batwoman, there was a feeling of dread from comic book fans. Batwoman had been a standout title, a book that stood outside the common Bat-Book, and opened up the character Kate Kane into something very unique. It wasn’t just the writing that was superb, but also the unbelievable artwork. When that was gone, especially when it seemed that DC editorial had pushed the two out, there was a collective shudder.
Politics aside, what was to become of Batwoman and her outstanding supporting cast? They would have to continue, but who would step up and pick up the slack? Marc Andreyko decided he would be the man for the job. Jump ahead almost a year, and Andreyko’s run on Batwoman has been widely embraced by fans of the Williams/Blackman run.
Issue #35 puts Batwoman in space, and teams her up with her sister Alice, as well as Clayface. Ragman and Etrigan. Seems like an unlikely place for such a down-to-earth hero to end up. What gives? I needed to know. Just so happens Mr. Andreyko was at New York Comic Con, and only too happy to answer my questions.
CraveOnline: When you first stepped into Batwoman, especially the way the old team left, was it hard to find your own voice for her?
Marc Andreyko: No. She was such a well-defined character before, that it wasn’t about finding my voice for her, it was just a matter of making sure I stuck with the voice that had been defined for her. I’m always leery of writers who come into a book and say, “Everything you knew is wrong.” You make it work. Luckily, Batwoman and Kate Kane were such well defined characters that it was easy to move on. As for the old team, if they had been fired I wouldn’t have done Batwoman, but that’s not how it worked out.
Is it fun writing a character so outside the Bat-Family?
That’s exactly what it is. I love the fact that she does this out of a sense of personal justice, but has no interest in finding out who Batman is. In the annual, I loved that when Batman asked if she tried to take his mask off, Batwoman was like “No. The less I know about you, the better”.
Which is weird because they’re related.
Batman knows she’s his cousin, but she has no desire to see under the cowl. She doesn’t want to get involved in the Bat-Drama and I think that’s wonderful and fresh. For her Batwoman is just a logical extrapolation of what her military career would have been.
So why the hell is she in space?
(Laughs) You’ll just have to read issue 35.
Fair enough. I just was curious how such a reality based character ended up with Ragman in the comos? Why do that?
Because she is so grounded and so real, I figured lets push it outside the box. Batwoman is still very grounded in reality, and there is still that humanity to her and human drama, but I’m taking it outside her comfort zone. Literally the name of the arc starting with issue 35 is “How The Hell Did We Get Here Anyway”. It’s going to lead up to that event.
Okay, but why Ragman, Etrigan, Clayface and so on?
When I was at the DC office I was talking to the editors about giving the book an identity. One of them suggested this dark supernatural element that’s unexplored and how Batwoman might be part of that. I responded that if Batwoman was going to be with a team, these were the characters I wanted. I got all of them but one.
Who is your favorite?
Getting to write Etrigan was great, he’s my favorite DC Jack Kirby creation. I wish I hadn’t started writing him rhyming because that’s a lot more work. It’s such bad poetry. I feel like a twelve year old. (Laughs)
What about Ragman? He’s my favorite.
For sure. I own the original Joe Kuburt Ragman stuff. I love that character. Getting to use Clayface will be exciting, and Kate’s sister, which will really add some depth to the stories. What’s also great is that Ragman is Jewish, and a cloth Gollum, and Batwoman is Jewish. I plan to have some conversations about that in the arc.
How do you plan to introduce that?
When she meets him she’ll ask who he is and Ragman will tell her a Cloth Gollum. Just like talking to anyone, you find out things about them.
A lot of the focus on J.H. Williams run of Batwoman was the art. How much does the art inform how you write?
I’ve been really fortunate that in my 20 years in the business, I have worked with great, intuitive artists. I always say I’m the director of the movie, but the artist is the cinematographer. Very rarely do I write specifics on a scene. I’ll write panel breakdowns, but not specific directions. I like nothing better than getting art back and being able to cut the dialog. It’s a visual medium first and foremost.
Kate’s personal life is as important to the story as her heroics. You seem to be continuing that idea in your run. Does it make it difference?
What makes Peter Parker interesting? Is it the fact that he’s fighting Doctor Octopus? No. It’s that he’s late for school, he’s got the flu, his aunt is sick, he can’t pay rent and he stood up his date. What’s beneath the mask is what’s interesting. Otherwise you’re just playing a video game. We have to care about who these people are. It’s fun watching them fight, but you don’t want to just watch two people fight, you need to be invested. For example we’re exploring PTSD with Kate. It’s those things that make the character.
So the more foibles the batter?
Nobody’s perfect. That’s not interesting. The more foibles they have, the more compelling it is when they do something heroic. In my first arc I had Kate explain how she was once young and rich, a dumb socialite, like Paris Hilton. To overcome that, and choose to do good is more interesting. To choose nobility is always more impactful.
I always liked when super villains became heroes. Back in the day when Sandman joined the Avengers, Catwoman teaming up with Batman, those kinds of stories always appealed to me. You mix in Kate’s military background, which is always an issue just like her sexuality, her guilt over the death of her mom, he family issues. That’s the impact.
Do you think Kate’s sexuality gets too much attention?
I think it’s a testament to the commitment of DC to take a major character and make her openly gay. They did that six years ago when there were not thirty states with legal gay marriage. It was never done to sell books. It was an integral part of who she was. To do that in this corporate culture of wanting to protect everything, it’s really a bold move.