Friday, September 28, 2012


This is another one of our short chapters in sharing Batman Beyond Unlimited with the other stories for the month. And in this case, it's a quiet pause before the final battle.

I've always enjoyed watching as well as writing moments like these. I'm sure when I was younger, all I cared about was big throw down battles and splashy art. But as a writer, I look for these moments. The quiet before the storm. A time for your team to regroup, plan things out, before facing the great threat. You always run the risk of the fans that hate this type of stuff. "Talking head books". Long deconstructions without "anything" going on. But to me, it's these moments where you get to live with the characters. You get to know them and hopefully love them. The moments you might not get in the heat of the battle when one person is punching another in the face. That's the payoff. But this here, is always the setup to make those heroic moments mean something.

This issue was our chance to bring Micron back into the story. Our poor guy had stints of being missing and brainwashed earlier in the story. But now he's recovered and ready to join the team. The poor guy didn't get much face time in the JLB episodes on the show, and not much time in this story. But he'll get a chance to show up more as we move along.

I also can't help but love finding ways to write Terry and old Bruce scenes into these stories. You always run the risk of people thinking the rest of the Justice League aren't getting their due. The juggle of trying to share the spotlight with everyone in a team book is something that is constantly on my mind. You have this large toybox of items, and try not to play favorites with any specific one. But still…I love me some Terry and Bruce batcave scenes. Bruce is always that dark voice of reason and the experience to back it up. And it's their dynamic that is the foundation for everything in the Beyond universe. Plus it's just a lot of fun to write their dialogue. I just close my eyes and hear Will Friedle and Kevin Conroy in my head. And hopefully it sounds like something they'd say on the show.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Thought I'd revisit an earlier topic I wrote about since it's been on my mind lately.

Striking gold. That's what all writers hope and crave for. To find ways to be inspired. And what goes hand-in-hand with that is being able to get down those thoughts wherever you are. Because ideas don't always have the luxury of finding you when you're comfortably at home in front of the computer.

I've gotten into the habit of carrying a notepad with me. Yep...very old fashioned. There's something about having a pen in hand and scrawling out bullet points or short notes of names, places, and story ideas that really gets my brain working. Probably comes from the years of taking notes in class in high school and college (back before it was made easier to get all the information off a computer). Of course when I write out scripts, it's all typed out on a keyboard. But during the fun part...the brainstorming and conception of ideas…there's something to be said for the tactile feel of a notepad and a pen.

Forget trying to type out notes via text or email off of a tiny phone. And I don't bring my laptop with me when I'm out running errands and grabbing a bite. So it's very easy to bring a small spiral notepad with me to jot down ideas. Because they really are fleeting. And no matter how often you try to remember something in your head by saying it out loud over and over, it's too easy to forget by the time you *do* get to someplace where you can scrawl it down.

Lately most of my writing comes when I'm waiting in line for a movie. I'm fortunate to get a chance to see advance screenings of films in my area for critics and radio stations. And going to these movies takes out a couple hours of time to wait in line to get in. Time I've spent in the past just chatting with those around me, grabbing a bite, or just sitting bored and people watching. But with a notepad in my hand...lookout.

So what do I write? Probably a whole lotta nonsense. But there's gems in there too. Sometimes it's ideas for company pitches, fleshing out plot points for creator owned stories, or laying out and scripting scenes for current scripts I'm working on. And as scattered as the mind can be, sometimes you stumble across multiple ideas for multiple stories at the same time. So it's a bit of multitasking and keeping the ideas straight to where they're needed.

Within the past couple weeks, I've started to flesh out future projects and scrapping some ideas while generating better working ones. Sometimes it really is the mileage of hacking out all these ideas on paper, seeing what doesn't work, and finding the ones that do.

Oh yeah…and I got to see Looper and Hotel Transylvania before they're released to the public. Not a bad way to spend a few hours.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Today marks the ending to the digital release of the "Uninvited Guests" storyline in Arkham Unhinged. But it also marks *my* end to Arkham Unhinged.

My digital releases are wrapped. The print issues will continue to come out once a month (well into the middle of next year), with issue #15 being my last. "End Game" gets collected into its own print release shortly. And I assume that all the Arkham Unhinged stories will eventually get collected into hardcovers and trade paperbacks in the many months to come.

But Arkham Unhinged as an ongoing series has ended its run. *edit...It's ended my run. Apparently it's still continuing. I had heard they'd be going in a different direction. Didn't realize it would continue under the same name.

I have mixed feelings on it of course. Extremely grateful for the opportunity to play in the Arkham sandbox for a little over a year. Having spent the majority of my career on the art side of things, I was always looking forward to stretching my muscles more into the writing side. So when the opportunity fell into my lap to help script some stories with Dini, which led into writing Unhinged regularly, I could've never seen coming. Just the fan in me enjoyed seeing and playing the game before it came out, and working with the staff at DC and Rocksteady to help craft the stories. Getting to work with so many great artists to bring to life all sorts of my crazy story ideas. And hearing from the fans of the games and the comics, and their thoughts…good and bad…knowing that the hardcore fans were hungry for more stories in the Arkhamverse. A solid run of work I'm both happy and proud to have been asked to be a part of.

The other side of me sees the missed opportunities. While it was great to tell some backstories and side trips visiting characters during and before Arkham City…I was as anxious as the fans to see what happened after the end of the game. And literally with "End Game" I felt was just the tip of where things could continue.

What DC and Rocksteady plan to do next, we'll all just have to wait to see. But thanks for coming along on the ride and letting me know your thoughts. And continue to do so. I'll still be covering all the comic print releases of Arkham Unhinged to give some behind-the-scenes thoughts on each issue.

Until then, it's back to the future (or is that "Bat") as I resume writing more Justice League Beyond stories for Batman Beyond Unlimited. As well as another digital project coming out at the end of next month.

It's been fun!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Sometimes a story is born out of wanting to see a very specific grudge match. This issue came down to a very simple thing I wanted to see…Solomon Grundy vs. Bane. You never get to see two really big bruisers go at it in the game, so I thought from a fun visual standpoint, I wanted to build a story around how we could get these two guys in the room together and throw down. Since they are both considered "villains", then the question was why they would be fighting each other in the first place.

As Arkham Unhinged was progressing along, there was a huge cast of characters to work through. While Batman's name is on the cover, and our main hero of the game, I also wanted to have a chance to feature some of his supporting cast. But that became the struggle working in the parameters that DC and Rocksteady gave me. That the stories would take place during the game and sometimes flashback to before the games. And since Robin (for the most part), Nightwing, Oracle, and Alfred, would all be outside the walls while Batman was inside during his long night inside Arkham City, it would be quite the trick to incorporate them into the stories when we could. But tying into an idea that Paul Dini wrote into a previous digital exclusive story, would be our opening here.

It was explained in an earlier story, that Robin had been sneaking into Arkham City to check things out, all before Batman was ever inside there. At that time, he used a forgotten tunnel to enter a flooded area of the city without being noticed. And he would find a way into the city this time as well, dropping in from above. The idea was also that this story happens in the game before Batman encounters Grundy in the museum. And we'd find a way to remove Robin before he even encountered Grundy's appearance in this story. That way, there'd be no way for Robin to know Grundy was there to tip off Batman before he sees him for the first time in the game.

As far as Bane and why he's here, again it calls back to an earlier digital exclusive story. It was one of those early stories that I wrote on my own in-between scripting over Dini's stories. I had introduced the concept of Bane having his own fight club in the city, until it was destroyed by a Titan-drugged goon. So when Bane shows up here, he's on his never ending search for more Titan, once he figures out that Penguin has people on the drug as well. Penguin also turned into a reoccurring villain in many of my Unhinged stories, for the simple fact that the guy was always great to write for…so deliciously evil in his line delivery. There are a lot of pieces in play inside Arkham City, and Penguin usually has his hands and beak in most of them.

Having Alfred bookend the story was fun. I always enjoy writing him and his dry wit. And it was a chance to briefly allude to something from the history of Batman in the comics that I could introduce here. That he and Bruce helped develop the "Matches" Malone disguise, so Bruce could infiltrate the criminal underworld. And this was a chance for Robin to follow in his footsteps to blend into Arkham City without drawing attention to himself. 

Artist Jorge Jimenez did a great job drawing so much choreography in this story. This one, more than many of the Unhinged stories, really shows off the fighting system in the game. How Robin is able to fight, parry, melee, and flip over his opponents before he beats them down. How he can use their weapons against them as he takes on multiple combatants. I know I was sending all sort of links of MMA photos to Jorge (Google Images is a handy tool for today's reference artist) to really try to encourage making Robin's fighting style in the museum look as legit as we could. Jorge pulled it off wonderfully.

And enjoy these last batch of images. Since Unhinged employed many artists for each story, DC would try out various guys. These were the sample pages that Jorge drew of Arkham City, that got him the job drawing this story...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


On this day, let us remember those that lost their lives on the morning of that tragic attack.

The families, firefighters, police, medical personnel, and volunteers on that day. And the soldiers that continue to put themselves in harms way to fight for our freedom and way of life.
Pause for a moment... to cherish those in our lives we love and care for. To take nothing for granted. To assess your life. And be thankful for what you have and ambitious and hopeful for tomorrow.

It's very easy to forget all of this for the other 364 days of the year. But on this one day, let us remember.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I'm finally getting caught up with all the behind-the-scenes of some of these issues. Then I'll probably venture off into all sorts of shop talk and other topics that come to mind.

Let's start off with the title name itself…Batman Beyond Unlimited. Sort of a catch-all title since there's all sorts of stories running in the Beyond universe. And since it all started with Batman Beyond, it was his name that would be most associated for the title itself. At the time I came up with the name, it was looking like the stories that Dustin and I would be working on would be a team-up book. It would be Batman (Terry) teaming up "Brave & The Bold" style with some other Beyond hero each story. But then that would get changed into us doing Justice League Beyond. And then once the League got put in there with Batman Beyond and later Superman Beyond, it just all fell under the "Unlimited" banner.

As far as this issue's cover, this one seems to get a lot of notice for Terry's cape. I mentioned before that some of the early talks between Dustin and I when brainstorming ideas, was to try to make the book our own. Give it a bit of our own taste and flavor and put our own style and identity on it. So one of the first things we came up with was doing something with Terry's Batman uniform…to add a cape. This was all before the new52 launch was known. And I think once it did come out, and we saw the redesign for Nightwing's costume (black & red), I immediately got a little worried. It was one thing that Batwoman's outfit got designed with a very Beyond color scheme with the black and red, but now the new Nightwing uniform as well? It felt like some of the Beyond stylings were being used outside of Beyond. Made me want to change Terry's cape and bat symbol color into something different (maybe a purple or blue or something). But better heads prevailed, and Dustin kept it red. Definitely looks striking. Of course it's only a temporary thing, as Terry will have his suit fixed up by Bruce in no time.
As for the rest of the JLB story this issue, there's probably not a whole lot more to say. It's finally our big battle issue, as everyone groups together to fight the giant snake. A chance to see allies and enemies side-by-side for a brief period. An excuse to have all the girls go into battle together, along with all the winged characters.
top half art by James Brouwer / bottom half animation from the Justice League show
Batman Beyond Unlimited #7 would be one of our busy issues, with half of the League's allotment of 20 pages going to another Beyond: Origin segment. This time, for Aquagirl. As I mentioned last time, at the time of writing the entire Justice League Beyond "Konstriction" script, it wasn't known that we'd be doing origin stories (and that they'd be placed sporadically in throughout the run). That came later once the script was done. There was no mandate to tie in any of those origins to anything going on in the current arc, but when we could, I thought it might be an interesting way for the two to relate to one another. Especially with the origins showing up almost "commercial break" style in these issues.

Since Aquagirl was going into battle with the Female Furies, it would be ironic if that was the plan for her earlier in her life (kidnapped against her father's will of course). It was a chance to recap the Aquaman story in the animated series, and see ol' hook hand Aquaman in action. I think as goofy as that look seemed to be originally in the comics, I really liked how it was adapted into the animated series.

Watch List:  Justice League "The Enemy Below" Parts 1 & 2
James art on the left / the original creation by Jack Kirby on the right
This origin story also gave me a chance to drag out yet another old Kirby creation "Deep Six". I mean, these forgotten characters wouldn't have a chance to show up anywhere else. But with the way they're tied into Apokolips and the ocean…of course they'd be perfect to fit into this story as the ones sent to kidnap Aquaman & Mera's child. He has the worst luck when it comes to his children apparently.
Marina doing her best "Part Of Your World" impression
The story definitely wears it's homage to "The Little Mermaid" right out in the open. And that was even before this story was written, as the show itself cast Jodi Benson (Ariel's speaking and singing voice) as Aquagirl in Batman Beyond. So we just kept that running theme here, about the sheltered girl from the ocean, growing up and wanting to venture to the surface world against her father's wishes. But gave it more of a DC animated spin to the complications.
There's always been some debate by the shippers who they'd like Aquagirl to be with. But this story, we sort of solidified that she's with Rex (Warhawk). In their brief appearance in Batman Beyond, Marina was always the most welcoming to Terry joining the League. The most open and friendly towards him. But I always felt she was closest to Warhawk. And far be it from me to break up Terry and Dana.
James snuck in some familiar fish-wear at the bottom right...
Artist James Brouwer did a great job drawing the story. I think our editor or Dustin coined the term, that James brought a very "dark Disney" feel to the art, which was perfect for this story. Very animation friendly. I really love what he brought to it, and it was a joy seeing the pages as they came in! And more origins still to come for Micron, Barda, and Kai-Ro.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Something's been on my mind lately that I feel I'd like to address, concerning how the stories have been coming out digitally and then collected into print. I've probably brought it up in the past, but I figure it bears repeating. Or it's just an itch I feel the need to keep scratching.

Initially when Justice League Beyond was pitched and being worked on, it was its own separate project. It would be coming out digitally on a weekly basis. It would need a lot of lead time by us to get as much done as possible, which is why after Dustin and I wrapped up our work on Streets Of Gotham and Batgirl, we were almost gone from the comic racks for about a year as we dove right into JLB. It's also why I wanted a large story to kick things off.

At one time, we weren't sure what version of Beyond we'd be working on (a relaunched Batman Beyond, a Batman Beyond team-up title, or Justice League Beyond), so we wrote up an outline of stories that might carry us for a year or two mainly with Batman. Back when it wasn't a Justice League title, I thought to cap off our run, we could have a big story where the League and a lot of New Gods/Apokolips stuff came into. But when we found out we'd be doing the League book, it seemed right to lead-off with that big story and grow from there.

What we didn't know was how things would change for the release. Instead of JLB released every week, it would come out twice or once a month. And when collected into print, it would get grouped with Batman Beyond at first, and expanded with Superman Beyond as well. And the Beyond: Origins idea was brought into the mix after our whole "Konstriction" first arc scripts were in. So it took some wiggle room to see how each Origin might fit in with the main story when it could, as well as being their own separate thing as well. What should have been a 6 issue first arc story that would be done in 3 months (at 10 pages a week for 40 pages a month), was now being stretched out for over a year to tell the whole thing, including all the Origins and all the other stories.

On the one hand, it's pretty cool that the print edition gives the fans more bang for their buck than most every other comic out there. 40 pages of story every month for four bucks is a bargain in today's comic market. But I also feel the pain for those that feel like the stories are really being stretched out. What might've been read quickly with all the flashbacks and history backstory that was being built early into the book for the League part of it, now seems like it's dragging to finally get to the conflict and giant battles that are still to come. I think had I known what the eventual release setup would've been, then it might've changed how to present the story. But I'm thankful for those that have been reading them digital and in print. I never take the audience for granted and am happy for those joining us.

This chapter, maybe more than most, turned into a lot of fun homages, influences, and references to the shows and other stories. Right from the opening page when Darkseid's identity is revealed to the League, I definitely wanted the reaction by Superman to be much like Han Solo reacted to seeing Vader on Cloud City…immediately shooting at the enemy (even having Darkseid block the initial shot with his hand). I always loved in the animated series whenever Superman tussled with Darkseid, that his heat vision wasn't always effective. Usually it depended on how much Supes poured it on at any given moment.

Although I've never seen it brought up, I always wondered if readers would find it believable for Darkseid being able to disguise himself as Orion? How was Superman not able to see through the helmet and know it was him?  I guess my answer always refers back to artistic license. I like to think Superman and the team had other concerns on their mind with the shock of seeing the destruction of New Genesis up close, that he didn't even think about seeing if Orion was who he appeared to be. Maybe even the inside of Orion's helmet was lead-lined as well. Sometimes you just have to not be a stickler for details and go with the drama of the moment.

Orion taking over as the the High Lord Of Apokolips would definitely be a nod towards Kingdom Come. I always liked that Alex Ross and Mark Waid had Orion assume the throne there. And I figure in the condition that Darkseid is in for our story, it wouldn't be much of a stretch that he would step up to the challenge here. Definitely gives a darker vibe to the character ending up back with the father that once gave him up (and the darker color to his clothes adds to that as well).

Last we saw Darkseid was at the very end of the Justice League Unlimited series. This was a chance to see what became of him from that time until his appearance here in the Beyond timeline. Plus a chance to see Dustin draw Supes in his red and blues and Darkseid in that redesigned look at the end of the series.

Watch List:  Justice League Unlimited series finale "Destroyer" Part 2 

There's something about a blind Darkseid that makes him just as wicked. Even without his omega beam powers, just the idea that he was able to finally experience the Anti-Life Equation and come out the other side affected by it…that he's still considered a huge threat. That his deliciously evil nature, even blind, can be just as fearsome as any power that once could be shot from his eyes.

The vision of Darkseid's ultimate defeat at the hands of Orion, would be a bit of an homage to Jack Kirby's art used for a house ad for the New Gods.

When Barda was placed in charge of the Furies, the very group she was once a part of before she turned traitor to them, it was an excuse to set up a whole group of girls going into battle together (including Aquagirl). Little did I know at that time that it would also tie-in with Aquagirl's backstory in her Origin. Sometimes, happy accidents like that occur.
Welcome back Bekka!  /  Dustin's original Bekka design for "Torment"
Having Orion's wife, Bekka, show up in this story…I've got to compliment Dustin for that idea. I actually remember the moment it happened too (just to give an idea the point in time we were working on this). I had come down to visit Dustin and hang out. Usually the only time I'm in town to see him is if we're heading off to a convention together. But this was a few months before Wildstorm was set to close in La Jolla, and a chance for both of us to go down and visit them and talk to the editors. We were gassing up Dustin's car before heading down there, and just tossing ideas around for the script. And since the chapter we were working on had to do with Orion and Apokolips, he was the one to bring up Bekka showing up. And wouldn't it be funny if she mistook Terry for Bruce.

This all goes back to my first work at DC a number of years ago, when Dustin was able to bring me on to ink the "Torment" story in the Superman/Batman arc written by Alan Burnett (producer/writer of many of the DC animated series). It seemed kind of fitting to have her show up in our story, as a nice nod back to that story. Probably confusing to anyone that hadn't read the "Torment" arc, but pretty cool for those that had. And a way to have a bit of fun tossed at Bruce's expense with Terry ribbing the old man for all the women he's been romantically entangled with over the years.

It's been so cool as a fan watching all the animated shows, to get to work on stories written by Dini and Burnett, and now get the chance to play in that animated sandbox in the comic. I never forget how lucky and fun this can be.