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"Batman was dead from the second I got this book": Tom Taylor talks all things 'DCeased'

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“Batman was dead from the second I got this book”: Tom Taylor talks all things ‘DCeased’

The DC writer shares some insights about the story and the new hardcover release.

DCeased proved to be a truly unexpected smash hit. Perhaps that has have everything to do with the scope and stakes of this event. Because most of the time we have to wait for a massive “Crisis” to occur to see the DC Universe face The End,. Yet writer Tom Taylor and company brought the Anti-Life Equation over in such a dark manner to truly cripple our beloved heroes in new and terrifying ways. Oh, and it made for some damn compelling storytelling.

Recently, the entire six-part miniseries, plus an extra one-shot, has been collected as a hardcover edition as well as an exclusive edition from Barnes and Noble with a unique cover.  We recently talked with Taylor about the series, its larger impact, what comes next, and much more.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

"Batman was dead from the second I got this book": Tom Taylor talks all things 'DCeased'

AIPT:  You got the hardcover out, so have you had a chance to take a look at it yourself?

Tom Taylor: I have, I’ve just come back from a trip overseas with my family and they was sitting in a box waiting for me and they’re ridiculous and awesome. Terrific covers, but nobody can look at, obviously people still want it.

AIPT: Yeah, well I just was informed that it’s sold out. So how does that feel?

TT: It’s huge, yeah you know, it’s kind of insane. I think they printed about 27,000, so to be sold out before they go on sale is amazing!  So they are going to rush out some more copies but that’s, yeah, couldn’t be happier. Thank you to the retailers and to the fans, it’s ridiculous, but I was beaming when I saw that email.

AIPT: Yeah, that’s some cool stuff because I know when the issues go that’s amazing, but yeah, you know, the hardcover collected editions, oh that’s some Michael Jordan stuff there.

TT: Yeah, we’re very happy.

AIPT: Nice. So, some of the extras that are included in the hardcover; I believe I saw the variant covers.  Were there any other toss ins that you were excited about for the hardcover?

TT:  I think there’s also like my original pitch in it. Um, my pitch document which is, I don’t know if I’m excited about that because it’s kind of like seeing how the sausage is made.  My pitch document is  always quite rambly and a kind of stream of conscious with little snippets of dialogue trying in every way because I kind of write from a character point of view for, um, so I, I want to thank you Julie, but also I’m, I’m quite embarrassed but that is in there, so enjoy that.

AIPT: I think that is really exciting that it will be in there, so what’s a moment in DCeased that got bigger than you originally pitched or planned for? 

TT: That got bigger?  I think the response, you know the first words we put on the internet were “Darkseid was” and the response to that and the people sort of crying out to know more, and seeing how big that grew.  I think so many sites reported and it made us go like, “Wait what?” and then knowing how that would be the destruction of Apokolips as well as the death of God was fantastic.  Obviously we knew how big the response to Batman literally being killed or being doomed in issue one and then shot by Alfred in the second issue was gonna be. Um, but um, I think the biggest one actually the biggest surprise or good surprise was the response to the Green Canary.  So, Dinah being turned into a Green Lantern was the thing that I think the fan response to that was fantastic because in my head it was perfect and so many other people believe it too. It was great.

AIPT: Yeah, that was a cool moment, so well then you mentioned that how did that come to you? Like having Dinah be a Green Lantern?

TT: It’s just the right choice. I mean it wouldn’t be Ollie, he’s one of my favorite characters in the world, but if Green Lantern dies, if Hal Jordan dies in front of those two people it’s kind of obvious where the ring goes and that the ring doesn’t need to go any further than that; like she is such a great choice, for someone to wield the ring.

"Batman was dead from the second I got this book": Tom Taylor talks all things 'DCeased'

AIPT: Yeah, it’s true, and I got to say you’ve done some cool moments with her; because I remember even following her in Injustice and I was like, wow!  Like when you had her stand up to Injustice Superman, which was cool.

TT: Yeah, no, I love the character. I mean it’s probably very clear that I loved Dinah and Ollie with a passion.  They’re both fantastic characters who complement each other so well and love each other so much and sort of getting a chance to write them in this series is just joy to come back to them.   

AIPT: That’s awesome; this was something I was curious about did any of the characters, their initial fate did it change?  Like, you know, say like Batman was going to survive or like, no, this is just too good I’ve got to change it; did they have a better fate or a worse fate? Any changes like that?

TT: Batman was dead from the second I got this book (laughter).  As soon as they asked me, I went I’m killing Batman, because Batman always has some incredible plan to save everybody at the end and I’m like, we’re taking him off the table straight away and what I want is for people to read this book and have their expectations dashed in issue one, which is exactly what happened. So no, that was the one, he was always going to go; no, I think everybody we planned to kill we went through with.  The thing with Cyborg at the end, I don’t think I knew he was gonna have his head torn off. Um, I always kind of knew, I had a little snippet of paper and that I’d written on a like little thing in my notepad saying that there was a cure in Cyborg that we wouldn’t find out about and I lost that document for ages. I said, “Oh my God where is it?”  So I’m not sure I knew I was gonna kill him. I knew he was going to stay behind, but I didn’t know he was going to have his head torn off by Wonder Woman who was inhabited by the Anti-Life Equation so yeah, I think that was a bit of a surprise, but I hope we handled bit well.

AIPT:  Yeah that was, that moment was insane. Like I’ve been a comic fan for years and when you read mini-series and you kind of, you approach them cautiously and I approached this and I was just blown away, but you stuck the landing. So Bravo, that was beautiful.

TT: Thank you man, I really appreciate it. Obviously that’s always the hardest thing; I mean issues five and six, I think I had them like, I shouldn’t say this publicly because my editors will read it, but, um, I think I had issue five and six honestly written for about three or four months and I sat on both it took so long just rewriting them and trying to get them exactly right.  The death of Superman, his goodbye to his family, I think I’ve rewrote that about eight times.  To nail it, but it was a difficult moment in there, but I felt I owed the fans we need stick that landing and it’s very difficult to do in six issues.

"Batman was dead from the second I got this book": Tom Taylor talks all things 'DCeased'

AIPT: No kidding, that’s true. So you mentioned that it was six issues, then that brings to my mind, the one shot A Good Day to Die, was that originally planned or was that like, “Hey,  we’re doing some cool stuff let’s add it?” So, how did that come about?

TT: That was, there was a story in DCeased, which I just couldn’t fit, um, because of, because we only had six issues. So I had that, I think it’s even in the original pitch document at the end of the hardcover where I had that moment where Booster Gold fades because the future is gone, that he was never born.  I had these couple of key moments about love and there was just no room, so like a lot of other things they had to, they had to disappear; the strongest moments need to be on the page instead of big moments.  For a book about a whole lot of death I had to dial that down and then fortunately the series sold really well and they said, “Do you still want to tell this part of the story?”  I said yes, so I was able to do that, the love show and also Mister Miracle and Big Barda. After all, I introduce them in issue one; we wouldn’t have even gone back, but I always knew that I wanted to see them stand in Apokolips and see that it wasn’t any more than the Darkseid was gone. So it was really important to get all those characters and getting a chance to do A Good Day to Die was great.

AIPT: Yeah, that was cool. Like I just caught that on a reread and I was like “oh my gosh” issue one that’s really neat. Like it was as Bob Ross would say that’s a happy little tree.  Okay, so thinking about that, how did you choose to link the musicians Cher to Mister Miracle? Because you had that moment there, I thought that was really funny.

TT: (laughter) I think honestly I had recently read Mister Miracle, Tom and Mitch’s book and I just freaking loved it.  So I had their voice in my head already, you know I made sure to essentially use the voice they created for them and it just seemed right.  I don’t think it was any point when I had that until I got to the thing and I wrote this ridiculous line… I’m keeping it. That’s exactly what they’d say. You know, it just worked and it could have easily not worked for some people. I tried to avoid in my entire career, I’ve avoided any pop culture reference in a book to make it timeless, but I was no that one is going to be in there.

"Batman was dead from the second I got this book": Tom Taylor talks all things 'DCeased'

AIPT: Well that’s a good one to pick for sure. I really, I loved that one shot; you had a lot of my favorite characters. Like it almost felt like a little like JLI reunion cause you had Mister Miracle, Big Barda, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Mister Terrific, which was fantastic, and Constantine; so who did you have the most fun writing in that issue?

TT: Oh man, that issue, uh, probably Constantine, I mean, I always have fun writing him, he’s just joyous to write; but he’s such a wonderful bastard. You know I love court jester characters, any character that can tell the truth, so I loved writing Harley Quinn and John’s one of those as well with the magic and the, and the, you know, the bollocks to back it up basically; so, yeah, writing John was great.  Also getting someone like Darick Robertson, the artist, and it was the first time he ever drew the character. So getting the chance to work with him was a huge treat and seeing him draw John for the first time was really exciting. 

Yeah, so John was great but the characters were all drawn to me because they are characters I love and you talked about JLI, of course I love JLI, I love what Giffen, DeMatteis, and Maguire did.  I love that era, I love that ridiculous humor and being able to inject that into a story like DCeased was really exciting for me.  Also Fire and Ice show up towards the end, that maybe is a little reunion even if it’s a macabre one. 

AIPT: That’s what I think was great about this story is you did pull these characters; like it’s a heartless story, but you have such heartfelt characters and that is just fun.  I’m a Captain Atom fan and you know when I saw him pop up on the pages, like this is great and no, it’s not, but it’s still enjoyable.

TT: Yeah, yeah Captain Atom and the Atom together and a bit too close together.

AIPT: Yeah, no kidding. That’s a power combo. What was your favorite death, but what was the hardest one that you had to come up with to type out and, you know, perform in this series?

TT: Oh, it was Superman, without a doubt. It’s just, that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever written.  Not just because I was emotionally tied to it, but because we had to convey so much on two pages, because we didn’t have the page space, so I had to get him to say goodbye and be inspirational and heartfelt and you know, and sad, but also hopeful all in two pages with Lois, with Martha and Jon. That was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to write, but also Superman is my hero, he has always been my hero. I believe that man could fly, that Superman movie is my movie. So having to kill Superman was very difficult, but then seeing it through the eyes of the people that he loves the most and also just him making the time for them to have that moment with them and to wish them well, and to inspire Jon to think “I want to save the universe” in the last moments, you know, it was tricky what we’re setting up and I love Superman so I didn’t want to hurt him.  When you read it, DCeased is very much a Superman story even to the final page; Lois Lane narrating, Superman’s actions and inspiring Jon and telling him he’ll save the universe one day and then he does in the very next issue. Yeah, so that was the most difficult.

"Batman was dead from the second I got this book": Tom Taylor talks all things 'DCeased'

AIPT: I could tell, I mean you put a lot of emotion into it and I really do appreciate Lois being the narrator. I thought that was great because that that’s such a boost for her and you know this story is going to be in a lot of fans hands. So that was great that they get to see such a strong, powerful Lois like that; I thought that was great.

TT: Yeah, I’ve always been a massive Lois fan; I kind of married Lois.  My wife when I met her was actually a crime reporter and I’ve been, I was fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time with Margot Kidder, and if you haven’t met Margo, she was the embodiment of Lois.  She was an incredible activist and she was just wonderful, so being able to put in her voice on the page was great. 

AIPT: That’s awesome. Is there anything that you’d like to share with fans about the upcoming sequel DCeased Unkillables?   

TT: That Unkillables is again, much like A Good Day to Die, it was part of the story that I knew couldn’t fit in, so I held on to the entire thing; it’s why the villains were omitted from DCeased. It’s because we had a story with villains and anti-heroes that is quite different from DCeased. You know, it’s more ground level, it’s not gods being zombies; it’s Red Hood, Cassandra Cain as Batgirl, and Commissioner Gordon, which I bet you saw they have a popped up. It’s a very different story, it’s also, I guess for lack of a better term, it’s also very frightening story. It’s a bit more like A Good Day to Die then original DCeased, but it’s very much just a book. So it starts at the same time, it’s not a sequel. It is essentially what they’re doing when the heroes failed.

AIPT: Okay, that’s cool. The last thing that comes to mind, so I have noticed there’s the edition that will go out to everybody with the Batman cover and then there’s the Barnes and Noble exclusive edition, which has the Superman cover.  Both of those are by Francisco Mattina and they are just very beautiful. So you’re blessed and you’ll get both, but I was just curious, if you had to pick one, which one do you lean towards? Do you go to your favorite Superman or is it just hard to see him that way?

"Batman was dead from the second I got this book": Tom Taylor talks all things 'DCeased'

TT: Aw man, I guess I’d go to my favorite Superman.  Like I remember when they sent me that early on, the black and white version, the first one, the Mattina did, I was just like my jaw dropped.  When they sent me the Batman first and that was incredible, and then I saw the Superman one and it was so striking but they’re awful images. Also the local comic book day edition, which I think is limited to about 1400 copies, but that comes out on Saturday the 23rd in the comic stores; but we’re lucky enough to get it and that’s the Joker image, it’s the one where his nose has been torn off. Like man, I can’t sell these at conventions (laughter) I can’t put them on the table in front of a child, but that’s not what you do. They’re very effective, but yeah I haven’t thought about which one I will put up on my shelf with a little display for myself in the study. Probably none of them they’re too horrific.

AIPT: Yeah, you put that near the nightlight and you keep it safe because they’re a little dark.

TT: Yeah, I’ll cover it in a cloth (laughter). The DCeased toys are coming out, the action figures and you know, I’m like, man, I cannot put these in my office; at 3 a.m. they are going to come to life and that means the news will report the next day, “Tom Taylor, idiot, died by having the boys toys sitting right behind his back while writing at night.”

AIPT: That’s true, don’t take them with you to that cabin; I saw that Twitter post.

TT: Yeah, no I’d just be asking for trouble; they’re brilliant, the figures

AIPT:  I appreciate you taking the time, I love the series. Just speaking as a fan, you know I took a risk on it because I saw your name was attached to it and it was great.  To see such a homerun happen like that and congratulations on the hardcover. Congratulations on the series and you know I’m very excited for Unkillables as well.

"Batman was dead from the second I got this book": Tom Taylor talks all things 'DCeased'

TT: Thank you very much man. Really, really appreciate it. And seriously, thank you so much for all the support, you know, doing very lovely telling things about my recent stuff over the last couple of weeks. So thank you so much for the whole site. So all your support about what we write, what we’re putting out is really exciting. And I hope you enjoy Suicide Squad as well. Thank you.

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