Friday, October 25, 2013

Tynion interview on the Al Ghul plots and Year Zero

Good or bad at least this arc is finally coming to an end.

Nrama: And now you're getting to introduce him to the New 52, first through the Ra's Al Ghul Villains Month issue, and now in Red Hood and the Outlaws. Why did you want to use Ra's as the main villain in your first major storyline for the book?

Tynion: The relationship between Ra's and the Bat-family has always been incredibly fascinating to me, just the weight of the relationship he has with Batman — and it's also fascinating when he comes up against Batman's protégés. You know, they have the potential to become a man like Batman, but they're not there yet. So it's something where he's equal fascinated and unimpressed by them. And I think that's right at the core of this story.

I mostly agree with this (mostly because Ra's seems least impressed with Dick) because he has shown a creepy amount of interest in the past. Although I don't think anything but Ra's ties to Damian are still canon. I hope Talia didn't bring Jason back in his version because I like the idea of Ra's being fascinated with the mystery of Jason coming back from the dead.

But there's an added element with Jason, which is Talia's role in Jason's resurrection, which we've been playing up in this run. It will take a central role as we move forward.

We wanted to play with both the facts that Ra's has never really understood why Talia made the decision to intervene in Jason's life, and he definitely doesn't know why Talia, at the point of her death at the end of the "Leviathan" story, that she would leave her League of Assassins to Jason rather than turn them back over to him, where he feels they rightly belong.

I sense another retcon and since the Talia card has been done a few times who knows what this one will be. First she did it for semi-selfish reasons (for Bruce), under Lobdell she wanted Jason to become a better man which is why she took him to the All Caste instead of the LOA! In that version Ra's was fine with her tossing Jason into the pit which surprised Ducra and Talia. So in the past he did understand some, he wanted to help as well (to a certain point in RHLD.) The only part in Jason's resurrection Talia played prior to Tynion was throwing him into the pit and making sure he got training afterward. At this point I can't say I have much faith in Tynion not to make Talia a mastermind that's plotted Jason's life out for him and ensuring he came back. That kind of interest--especially if my fears are proven correct with #25--goes beyond even her Morrison written obsession with Bruce.

Which also makes the Morrison Leviathan story weirder now that she left the LOA to Jason. I know Tynion said he'd explain it but why did she believe Jason would pick her instead of Bruce's side? Because he felt obligated to her? If she was paying attention she would have realized Jason wouldn't destroy the world. Even when she assumed he would it was because she was tricked into thinking he'd do it for Bruce. If Talia's dead and her plan failed why would she think he'd betray Bruce if she'd believe he'd save his life? If Tynion is going with the "Talia is evil" logic then she sees him carrying out her work. If he's going by the "she has depth" view then she would see his way (whatever that may be under Tynion) works better than her father's. Which goes against how she was written in Batman Inc. since she was pretty extreme there. Did she plot the mindwipe too? Because there's no way he'd willingly agree to lead them. Of course this also means Talia has better prep time than Bruce and could foresee the impossible.

Those were the pieces we wanted to play with and slowly build toward, as we've been establishing the core pieces of how Red Hood and the Outlaws are tied to the League of Assassins and Ra's. And the fact that Ra's trained with Ducra, just like Jason did. And that she entrusted him with the Well of Sins, which was the thing that gave her her powers, and also the Untitled their powers. And also happens to be the original Lazarus Pit in the world.

I don't have a problem with connecting the dots although I still wonder how they were guarding the well before he came around. The execution could have been better though.

Nrama: Why is this fitting for a character like Jason, and how does it tie into who he is as a person?

Tynion: The question of Jason's identity has been at the core of this whole arc. I think one of the controversial things we did right at the start of the arc was rip his memories away. There were hints right at the beginning that that might not have been for reasons that were entirely clear, that it might be something that was more guided by Ducra's hand than something that Jason went into willingly.

Sorta of, Jason himself really hasn't had a presence in this. The whole thing was obviously not his choice, S'aru gave the whole thing away with his behavior. If Roy or Kori recalled how the memory thing worked last time they would have known for sure. Although Tynion hasn't been following the canon Lobdell put down so maybe that was retconned away although that issue's the only other time they met the guy.

So we're going to see a lot of that play out, and have Jason really come face to face with the questions of who he is and who he wants to be in the future.

I would have liked to see this happening with Jasons' thought process from the beginning instead of shuffling him off and pushing him into something none of the characters even seemed sure about. Really he never went into who he wants to be in this arc. Sure people have told him but his voice is barely heard. Jason barely talks about who he was and trying to find out the truth.

That's going to bring us into the end of this story. We have a little "intermission" of sorts with the Zero Year issue coming out [in November]. And then we're going to dive right into the big finale, where we're going to resolve the whole storyline with Jason's memory and bring him face to face with Ra's Al Ghul, for the big, final blowout that's going to have repercussions that'll rumble out from this little corner of the DCU.

So we're going to address why the bat family hasn't done anything when there was a bounty on Jason's head? Because Ollie obviously knows about it and told Steve Trevor. Having Batman ignorant to this strikes me as odd especially since he's apparently looking out for Ra's Al Ghul's connections, like the LOA. Having him go crazy over getting payback on mercs that wanted to cash in on Damian's bounty to impassive over Jason's makes him even more of an asshole than before. Otherwise? Still dreading the outcome. (Although Jason's in the Batman/Superman annual so who knows if it will connect to this.)

Nrama: Will you give us more information about why his memory had to be wiped out in order to bring about this eventual outcome?

Tynion: We will absolutely be explaining that. And that's the heart of issue #26, right after the Zero Year issue.

It'll be more than the weak retcon of mind reading Untitled? Whatever it is I hope it's worth all this.

Nrama: OK, let's talk about the Zero Year issue, because you've tied that story from the past into what's happening now. We found out that "what Jason did before in Gotham" is important to what's happening now. What story are you telling in Red Hood #25?

Tynion: Well, I mean, one of the opportunities I saw when they started talking about the Zero Year tie-in is that Scott [Snyder, Batman writer] has introduced an incredible new addition to the Batman mythos with the Red Hood Gang. And it seemed like this was the perfect opportunity to tie up that thread that's left from the end of Batman #24 about what happens to the Red Hood Gang after the Red Hood leader falls in the vat of acid.

And also, tie into, like, what was Jason's first encounter with the Red Hood Gang? And how did that shape him?

The issue's going to deal with a lot of questions regarding Jason, like what sort of person he's going to be when he grows up. And the Red Hood's going to play very heavily into that.

The thing that's always been very interesting about Jason is that all the little details in his life should have led him to a life of crime, but he ended up becoming Robin, and going on this path toward heroism. And even though that plan didn't exactly pan out the way he expected. He has this inner battle between the light and the dark that we really wanted to play with very heavily in this issue.
And then there's also the looming figure of — I think we all know what happens to the Red Hood leader once he falls into that vat of acid. So we might be touching on that a little bit.

Out of all the tie ins to Year Zero Jason Todd's should be the most meaningful. While I expect the others to show everyone acting heroic this has the potential to show something deeper. The Red Hood ID was taken to give a shock to Joker and Batman. But with the gang becoming a bigger influence over Gotham it means they had to have made an impact on Jason. The thing is...well as anyone that reads these things and my RHATO reviews knows I'm not loving Tynion's take. He writes a Jason Todd without his spunk and charm. One that's bland more often than not and far too naïve. I'm not sure he has what it takes to write a good Jason Todd. I'd love to be surprised and impressed though.

Nrama: And obviously, he's a character who's very connected to Jason.

Tynion: Right, yeah. And then there's going to be another character that helps tie it all together to the storyline we're doing in the present day. And I want to keep that character under wraps for the moment.

This is a stand-alone story, but it's also a stand-alone story that will add depth to what's happening in the present. It set up what would eventually come to happen in this series.

Likely Talia and why she's apparently obsessed with Jason now. If not her than Ducra or Essence. None of those choices make me particularly happy.

Nrama: What about Roy's status in this story? He wasn't in a very good place at the beginning of the last issue, until he saw Kori. What journey have you been taking him on during this storyline, and what can you tell us about what we'll see for Roy in the issues going forward?

Tynion: The key thing that I wanted to do with the Outlaws is sort of break down the relationships between them in a way that would scatter the team. And I always new that Roy would be the one that's most affected by it. Roy, more than Kori and more than Jason, needs the Outlaws. He doesn't think he's strong enough on his own. He thinks the good that he's done in his life recently was only possible because of his friends, and it's not something that he's inherently capable of. And that's his own insecurities. It's the sort of thing that we showed Hugo Strange has been planting in his head since back when he was a partner of Green Arrow.

So I knew that this story was going to hit him the hardest, once Jason no longer recognizes his face, when he tries to get Jason back, he loses Kori for a little while. He's willing to cross lines that he normally wouldn't to try to bring everyone back together, and it comes from this very deep place of love and friendship. But he screwed up in a big way, and he knows he did. And now we're at the point in the story where he realizes how bad he screwed up, and he's willing to make amends.

Well Jason can't remember their friendship so he couldn't be as affected as them in the first place. But Hugo Strange was only there to show that, like Jason, Roy wasn't responsible for the bad things in his life? That he was just as manipulated? ...That's not the purpose of the series. Placing blame on others instead of having the characters accept it doesn't work for me. I mean I'm glad Roy realizes he screwed up in this arc but I don't like saying someone else planted ideas into his head which led to him becoming an addict. Why would Strange do that? For kicks?

Nrama: Not only for Roy, but for Kori as well?

Tynion: Right. Kori is the one who sees the strength in both Jason and Roy that sometimes they don't see in themselves. She was the one that was the most skeptical about either going with the League of Assassins, or the Untitled.

Now we're going to also see her character arc come to a head, leading into these final issues as she helps draw everything back together.

It's nice to know that she'll play a bigger role since she got taken down so easily then showed up for a few panels last issue.

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