It’s been a hard year for Gotham Girl. After debuting in Tom King and David Finch’s Batman amidst DC’s Rebirth, the metahuman wonder lost her brother, Gotham, reducing the sibling dynamic into a solo act.
After spending Issue #6 in mourning, Tom King spoke to Inverse at last week’s New York Comic Con about what’s in store for Gotham Girl while she finds her place in Batman’s turf.
“Gotham Girl is central to a trilogy of books,” explains King, the ex-CIA officer turned comics writer. I Am Gotham, which just wrapped, and I Am Suicide, which finishes with Batman #13, will climax in I Am Bane, a new showdown between Batman and Bane, the strongman who infamously broke him decades ago.
“What the books become about is that moment with Batman on the plane,” says King, referencing Issue #1 when Batman saw his death. “That’s going to affect the entire run. But, he saw hope in Gotham Girl, and now she’s suffering. He still sees hope, dying in her, and it’s about him trying to save her and becoming obsessed with that hope, trying to do whatever he can to save her. The only way to save her is to defeat the man he can’t defeat, who is Bane.”
Introduced in 1993 by then-Batman writers Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, and Graham Nolan, Bane has been one of Batman’s oddest and most popular villain, outmatching the Dark Knight in sheer size and strength, and he is near equal mentally. “I like Bane. I love what [‘Secret Six’ writer] Gail [Simone] did with him, and back in the day I grew up on those Bane comics. He scared me more than the Joker, because he won.”
Over the years, Bane transformed from a freak of nature to a low-rate luchador who didn’t appeal the way Batman’s other enemies did. “In my head,” says King, “he had become a little silly.” Then, DC editor Andy Khouri approached Tom King about Bane’s origin, pointing him to Chuck Dixon’s books from the ‘90s. “For 17 years, he was trapped in a prison,” recalls King. “Every night, the prison would flood and he’d have to choose whether to drown or tread water, and he’d tread water all night. Every night he did that, he chose not to die for 17 years. It’s like Conan. the willpower to do that.”
Who else in DC has willpower (and isn’t a Green Lantern) like that than Batman? “This guy could compete with Batman on willpower. That’s what appeals to me. That’s what makes him cool. He’d be the greatest Green Lantern of all time.”
King’s Batman is setting up for a devastating showdown, but I Am Gotham had no shortage of gut-punches for readers. To King, that’s just standard issue in storytelling. “It’s a trilogy. The first story has to end with a little bit of triumph, and a lot of negativity, so that you have that feeling of triumph, but you know something bad is coming.”
King brings up what he thinks is the ideal three-act as an example: Star Wars. “You’re like, ‘Yeah, they triumphed!’ but then you see Vader flying, and you’re like, ‘There’s something mournful.’ I want the end of this to be something you’ve never seen, where the tension has been building for so long that, when Bane hits Batman, it feels like, ‘Thank god.’”