James Tynion IV is a name you’ve been seeing a lot of lately if you’re a DC fan; he’s writing the ongoing series Talon, a spin-off of Scott Snyder’s massively popular Court of Owls storyline that ran through the first year of Batman in the New 52, and he’s also taken over the writing chores on the somewhat controversial Red Hood and the Outlaws, a book that’s had it’s share of trouble since the debut of the New 52 in 2011. To take you deeper into the writer’s process, I spoke with Tynion about crafting the spin-off series, taking the reins on Red Hood, and more.
Nerdist:So you are writing two books for DC right now, Talon and Red Hood and the Outlaws; When it comes to Talon, do you and Scott Snyder have a spin-off planned (from the Court of Owls saga in Batman) from the get-go? How did you know the Court of Owls would become so popular to even warrant a spin-off?
JT: I mean we really didn’t know, that was something that was a happy surprise to both of us. In talking to Scott about the Court of Owls, for the whole time in developing who the Talons were and the idea of the different Talons throughout history, we didn’t think that we would want to do a spin off book. But I remember when the sales started to come in from the Night of the Owls crossover, I thought “OK, people really do care about this new facet of the universe.” I started thinking about the possibility of a new Talon book. Scott said, “no, that would be dumb.” And I was like “Give me a weekend.” And I went back and I thought it through and everything, and I pitched Scott something. And then Scott and I went back and forth for a few weeks, until we got something we were both really happy with, and then we took it to DC, and they decided to gave it the green light.
N: You came up with the whole pitch in a weekend?
JT: Oh, yeah. I mean little bits and pieces are different from what it is now, but the process of refining it took a bit longer. There’s always that moment where the concept clicks into place, and for me it was the idea of not going for a kind of “villain” book or something like that, but have a renegade Talon. I wanted to create something where we could enter the whole Court of Owls from a different angle than Batman. We didn’t want someone who was just discovering that the Court of Owls existed for the first time, we wanted someone for whom the mystery was different, and the series has a different tone, not the more horror tone of the original Court of Owls storyline.
N: How do you plan to have Talon relate to the other books featuring the other members of the Bat-family? We know Dick Grayson was supposed to be a Talon, for instance. Will we see that explored?
JT: I mean, I think he’d have a very interesting relationship with the other members of the Bat family. I’d say the one I’m most interested in is his relationship with Dick Grayson, because they grew up together. They would have grown up together in Haley’s Circus, Calvin Rose and Dick Grayson, so I think there’s an incredible story to be told there, and I hope we can get around to it. It’s not imminent, but we’ve been discussing it.
N: Moving on to Red Hood and the Outlaws, how is your version of the team different from [former writer] Scott Lobdell’s?
JT: Well, I started in April, and the big thing I wanted to do was to tell a big story that incorporated elements of all of the different genres that you could have access to when using those three characters, like something that had kung fu mysticism, something that had big science fiction, and something that had like the real down and dirty grittiness of the characters. We’ve reintroduced several members of the League of Assassins; with Bronze Tiger, we’ve tied Lady Shiva back to the League, and reintroduced Cheshire as well.
N: Did Cheshire and Roy Harper still have a relationship in the New 52 Continuity? (They had a child together in the old continuity.)
JT: No, this is their first meeting in the Annual that came out a few months ago.
N: There was a lot of controversy around the character of Starfire when the book first came out. How is your Starfire different than how she’s been portrayed so far… is she different?
JT: I mean, I wanted to build my approach on the character out of what made me fall in love with her reading all the different incarnations, but also keeping true to how she’s been presented since the start of the New 52. When I sit down to write Starfire though, I think of her as the same character that I’ve loved for years; I still think at her core she is the same character, the burning fiery passion that can run hot with rage, but also be very tender for the people she cares about, but can turn at any moment.
N: Any other books that you’re doing for DC that you can talk about?
JT: I’m doing a few more back-ups on Batman for the Zero Year story line, covering moments from Bruce’s past from when he was training, and introducing a few more people that he’s trained with that we have never seen in continuity before, as well as the two villains’ books coming out in September, Ras al Ghul and the League of Assassins #1 and The Court of Owls #1; both of those, I’m extremely excited about, and are loosely tied to the two books I’m writing, but are also designed to be stand-alones for people just picking those up for the first time.
What do you think of James Tynion IV’s Talon so far? Let us know in the comments below!