After DC’s Rebirth, Batman and Superman have taken on new roles as fathers. In a new two-part arc “In the Name of the Father” kicking off in Superman #10, the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight will train their sons, Jon and Damian, in an elaborate exercise that writers Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason tell Inverse will ultimately strengthen their uneasy partnership.
Rebirth shook up the DC Universe in 2016, reintroducing the classic Superman as a replacement for the younger, New 52 counterpart after that Superman died. (Comics, amirite?) With the emergence of a “new” Superman, Batman once again distrusts a Kryptonian, thus bringing the DC universe back to square one … except now, Batman and Superman’s children are mixed up in the conflict too.
“[Gleason] and I really sort of looked at this issue as that first approach to building a bridge of — if not friendship — mutual respect,” Tomasi says. “I’ve always liked when theres a little push and tug between Batman and Superman, but I also don’t like to go so far afield where they’re enemies.”
A lot of the conflict comes from Damian Wayne, whose suspicion of Jon kicks off the plot. Do you think Damian is acting more like his granddad, Ra’s al Ghul, or his father, Batman?
Peter Tomasi: He’s acting as the little kid we’ve always known. Being the way he grew up, with Talia as his mom and Ra’s his grandfather, those are the two influences [and] obviously part of his DNA. But they’ve been sort of pushed down by Batman, by Bruce, as Bruce has tried to nurture him and get past nature versus nurture, as Pat and I did in Batman and Robin. Right now Damian is just being who he is. He’s a kid who always likes to push buttons.
One of the attractions to this arc is seeing Batman and Superman act like dads in front of each other. That’s a new dynamic. What kind of parents will they be? I’m anticipating competitive theater moms, but I feel like there’s more at stake.
Patrick Gleason: In a weird way, this is a unifying thing for them. As we’ll see in issue #10, theres this common denominator they now share. A lot of people that have children, I find it useful to talk [to]. “Am I doing this right? Is your kid like my kid?” There’s a bridging we’ll see. Whether this goes through to the next arc or how it affects them down the road, we’ll have to see. I’m sure it will.
Batman will help train Jon and Damian in his so-called Boot Camp. Batman has never had a student like Jon before. What is that going to be like?
Patrick Gleason: It’s going to put Jon and Damian together. Its going to be about what those two are together because thats our focus. Damian has already been through Batman’s boot camp, so to speak, but also, this [is] more of a metaphor for what they’re having to deal with. It’s really going to be focusing on the relationship of the two, how they get along together.
Anyone that walks in on their kids having destroyed their lab might have a plan. Like, “OK, I knew this was going to happen, activate boot camp protocols.” I think this was Batman saying, “We’re going to end Superman together,” not just Batman saying, “We have to make these boys work together.” And they’re going to have to at some point, but this is them preparing themselves.
One thing that surprised me in issue #10 is Batman’s Kryptonite batarang. It’s been awhile since he’s used that. Was that a response to the fact he doesn’t trust Superman again?
Patrick Gleason: Yeah, it was. That was the idea. It was something that was a last resort. People have brought up they like this Superman, but every once in a while he’s kind of a jerk, and Pete and I have talked about how this is a new area of his life for him. And it catches him by surprise a lot too. Walking in and seeing his son essentially be kidnapped puts Superman a little out of whack. I think that the Kryptonite batarang was a response, that Batman realized there was no talking to this Superman, and at that point that’s what he needed. We didn’t have to go there; that’s where Jon steps in, but it’s definitely an intentional thing.
Peter Tomasi: When it comes to his own flesh and blood, as most parents would, they react a lot differently when their own kid is in danger.
“In the Name of the Father” leads into the next arc, “Super Sons” coming in February. How much will “In the Name of the Father” set up for that
Peter Tomasi: People can look at this as a prologue that leads into “Super Sons.” For people who are looking forward to “Super Sons,” it’d behoove them to pick this up, because this really is like the initial setting the stage for these two kids, so it’s a nice bridge to watching their relationships evolve. These two kids were just meeting each other and sure, their dads are Superman and Batman, but they’re not going to fall into a “Butch and Sundance” mode right away, that’s for sure.
Superman #10 releases on November 1.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.Photos via DC Comics