Across the many Batman-centric titles, we’re already well into “Fear State.” Headed up primarily by writer James Tynion IV, it’s a massive, cross-title book in which Scarecrow manipulates Gotham, in part facilitating the creation of the Magistrate. (And for a sneak peek at how that goes, you’d need to read only “Future State.”)
DC has a number of companion stories to tell, and this month’s Batman: Urban Legends #8 (out today) features four stories serving as a compelling tie-in. That includes a Batwoman-Batgirl tale as written by Alyssa Wong and with art by Vasco Georgiev. The story plays right into the misinformation campaign perpetrated by the “anti-Oracle,” and forces Batwoman to deal with a terrible mystery around Batgirl while further reconciling with the return of her sister, Beth Kane, the formerly villainous Red Alice.
Ahead of the release, we caught up with Wong via phone to talk about her love of Batgirl, working with Georgiev, how she writes for big events, and if there’s a future with the Bat family.
Issue #8 also features stories from Dan Watters and Nikola Cizmesija, Christian Ward, and Brandon Thomas and Cian Tormey.
AIPT: What’s the appeal of Kate Kane/Batwoman and Cassandra Cain/Batgirl to you as a writer?
Alyssa Wong: Cassandra Cain has a special place in my heart. She was the character who got me interested in DC Comics. When I was a kid, I didn’t really read comics; I didn’t have access to them. So I was on Wikipedia, reading about comics and I stumbled upon Cassie. I was like, ‘Oh, my God, an Asian girl? Yes!’
I love Kate, too. I think that with her, the outfit is so visually striking. But I think the big thing about Kate is, as a queer writer, getting to write a character who is a very prominent member of the Bat family, and also is explicitly queer, is so cool.
I’m very excited about Tim Drake. But for the longest time, I was like, ‘Kate, yes yes yes!’ Again, it’s a personal connection.
AIPT: What’s your elevator pitch for this story?
AW: There’s this misinformation campaign where somebody is trying to frame the Bat family for some pretty terrible stuff. In order to discover who’s been doing this, and to try and tackle the problem, Kate Kane is trying to hunt down ’em down. But at the same time, there’s [Kate’s] relationship with her twin sister, Beth, who has been haunted by the specter of her own past as a villain, Red Alice.
AIPT: With “Fear State,” we’re obviously looking at the Bat family and if we can trust them or not. Did you include this Kate-Beth stuff to really play up that family dynamic?
AW: The answer is yes. I was thinking about what relationships Kate Kane has, and what I found the most interesting was the relationship with someone who you loved and lost. And now who is back, but also isn’t back (but is now trying to be back). So it’s a story about recovery and healing. Not just for Beth, but also Kate. She [Kate] tries to be the best sister she can and sort of reconcile her own ideas of who her sister is versus who she is now.
AIPT: When you’re writing as part of a big event, is that constricting at all? Or is it maybe inspiring somehow?
AW: Writing for an event is always a really interesting challenge; I love challenges. Because you have so many people running individual stories, which means that you have a lot of interesting material to build off of. So you can you listen to everyone’s pitches, you make your pitch, and you can even counter-pitch. There’s so much to build on but also a lot of negotiation. It’s a bunch of people who are very excited about not only their own ideas, but other people’s ideas, and that’s just such a great environment.
AIPT: Similarly, do you try and match sentiments or tones with these other creators and stories?
AW: I think it’s tough. Because I think each story has its own specific vibe. So it’s Batman versus maybe a fun, playful Batgirl story. But at the same time, they’re all taking place in the same space and in the same time in same genre, so they have to feel cohesive.
I think just because you have different writers that we’re all going to have different senses of humor and different storytelling priorities. But I think that writing for this event, that was something that I was thinking about really hard. Like, how do I make it feel like a “Fear State” story specifically? Yes a Red Alice story, yes a Batwoman story, but a Red Alice-Batwoman-“Fear State” story.
AIPT: What was it like working with artist Vasco Georgiev?
AW: I love Vasco, he’s so great!
He draws fight scenes that are absolutely stunning, and his action scenes are so dynamic and so exciting. One of the strengths of this particular story is that there was a lot of interpersonal, very tense moments with a lot of acting, and he does that so well. One thing he does incredibly well is then making those really expressive moments shine, even when people are wearing masks, as they often are.
AIPT: I’m sure you don’t want to spoil anything, but do you think you have a future in writing for the Bat family? Can we look forward to a new Kate or Cassandra book?
AW: I have loved getting the chance to write for the Bat family. It’s been so exciting, and I love these characters. I would love to do more, and we’ll see what the future holds. I’d love to write Kate Kane. I’d love to write more Red Alice. I think the future is going to be exciting.
The following images are courtesy of DC Comics.
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