IGN Comics: The last issue suggested that Thomas Wayne is really Doctor Hurt. Should fans expect more twists to this mystery?
Morrison: Well I'm not going to tell you yet. [laughs] We won't know the answer to that one until the very last issue of RIP. But we will find something out that's going to change everything.
IGN Comics: Can you verify what the link is between the timelines of RIP and Final Crisis?
Morrison: RIP happens before Final Crisis, and the two issues right after RIP ends tie into Final Crisis and show the connections between the two.
IGN Comics: Okay. Because we've seen the red skies from Final Crisis pop up in RIP. Was that the red sky from Final Crisis #1?
Morrison: Well it could be the start of it, because those red skies have been seeping in for a while, but it's certainly not happening at the same time as Final Crisis #1. It could be happening a week before or something, but I haven't exactly specified it.
Pretty much every storyline that's currently running in a DC book is happening before Final Crisis, because the events of Final Crisis are so big, that we didn't want to see its influence destabilizing major stories already running in the other comics. The whole story of Final Crisis is in that one book and its few tie-ins, and then when Final Crisis ends, the entire range of DC books will be dealing with the aftermath. So if you look at it that way, everything that you're reading that comes out during Final Crisis tends to be happening the week before the story takes place.
IGN Comics: I know with Batman RIP, you wrote the story, and then they built the tie-ins around that. With Final Crisis, did you construct moments in the plot where the Final Crisis tie-ins can take off from your narrative?
Pretty much. Most of them have got something in them, at least some reference. Some of them didn't need it. Like Revelations links to the Dr. Light stuff in issue #1, but doesn't need a specific parallel to Final Crisis. Superman Beyond actually has transitions between scenes in both comics, and there are references to Geoff's Legion of Three Worlds story. But again, the tie-ins to Final Crisis have mostly been done by me and a couple of friends, like Geoff and Greg and Peter Tomasi, so we've been able to keep it tight.
IGN Comics: Last time we spoke, you mentioned your desire to try and organically explain some of those Silver Age stories into Batman's life span. And it seems like with RIP, you're threading those stories in, at least that Zur-en-Arrh story, into Batman's psychology more than his actual life. Is that more or less the case?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, not all of them will fit so neatly because I think Batman still needs some areas of inexplicable weirdness in his life like the rest of us. But really, this whole story goes back to that first issue with the Black Casebook, and the idea that even in his normally rational, grim 'n' gritty street level life, Batman has had some really weird encounters with aliens, werewolves, ghosts and vampires.
The whole story of RIP, then, everything I've been doing, is really the ultimate Black Casebook story as well - Batman's strangest adventure. Not all of the old stories will be as easily explained, but the Zur-en-arrh story to me was one that benefited from a psychological explanation, because to me, the idea that Batman would find himself on another planet where he's Superman and some other guy's Batman seemed a little too outlandish to be a 'real' part of this man's life. It seemed like a bizarre inferiority/superiority complex sort of thing that said more about Batman's relationship with Superman than about anything else.
But what really makes it work for me, is that only a couple issues before that story, there's another adventure where Batman is affected by Professor Milo's hallucinatory gas. I only discovered this story when I was looking around for things that might explain why
Batman really believed he'd travelled to a planet called Zur-En-Arrh a few issues later. The continuity totally tied together. So I decided that two weeks after Batman was exposed to Professor Milo's gas, he experienced the flashback hallucination that we know as the 'Zur-En-AArrh' story from Batman 113.
IGN Comics: So a number of Post-RIP Batman projects were announced at San Diego Comic Con, including Neil Gaimans two-part story. Are you involved at all with the planning of those projects?
The two-part Final Crisis
tie-in I'm doing to follow RIP is a kind of trek through Batman's entire history, but otherwise I'm not involved with the post-RIP projects. I'm very excited to see what Neil does. Then there's the "Battle for the Cowl," which I'm not writing, although I do know who wins. Then after that, I'm back on Batman and I'm sure there will be a big announcement about what that's going to be like.
Once you see what happens to Batman in Final Crisis, you'll realize how the Battle for the Cowl comes about. First its RIP, and we'll see how that winds up for Batman. Then the two-parter I mentioned goes through Batman's whole career, in a big summing up of everything that also ties directly into Final Crisis. And Final Crisis is where we see the final fate of Batman.
IGN Comics: So the Batman we see in Final Crisis is Bruce Wayne?
Yeah, Bruce Wayne is Batman. But not necessarily how you know him. I don't want to blow the end of RIP. [laughs]
IGN Comics: I don't know if you saw it, but Robert Kirkman recently posted a video editorial on CBR that was sort of a call to arms for creators to work on creator-owned projects as opposed to company-owned characters, and how that would save the comic book industry. What's your take on the state of the industry right now?
I suppose I'm slightly amused by the reformer's zeal with which each new generation approaches the problem of 'saving' comics. It reminds me of humanity's charming, self-regarding notion that it's our job to 'save' a planet which has survived fine without us through several mass extinction events, climactic overhauls and planetary disasters.
I've been listening to people talk about 'saving' the 'industry' for over 20 years while comics have continued to be published and have, in fact, become better, to the point where the only conclusion I've come to is that comics are best 'saved' by sealing them in Mylar bags! Everything else is just messianic inflation. Just do good books and stop trying to be the savior of a whole medium that's been doing okay without you and will continue long after you're gone.
Yes, I think Kirkman's right, in that I'd like to see more of our creative community unleashing their wild imaginations onto the page and less of the obvious 'movie pitch on paper stuff' that's come about recently as a result of comic creators chasing the Hollywood dollar but I don't have a problem with writers and artists working on Marvel and DC properties if they enjoy it. I'd rather read a good Green Lantern story by someone who cares than work my way through a 'creator-owned' project that's been created solely to appeal to lowest-common-denominator movie executives.
Otherwise, he's possibly being slightly disingenuous by issuing this 'call to arms' at a time when, to be honest, I can't think of any significant comic book writer for Marvel or DC who doesn't
have creator work on the go. Apart from Geoff Johns, who's told me he much prefers writing DC superhero books, everyone else - me, Warren Ellis, Mark Millar, JMS, Garth Ennis, Matt Fraction, Brian Bendis, Kurt Busiek, etc etc - seems to be hard at work creating new properties, so I'm not entirely sure where the problem lies.
IGN Comics: You've done a lot of that with stuff like Invisibles and We3. You definitely plan to get back to the creator-owned work?
Yeah, I've got a new Vertigo book that's being drawn as we speak and two more getting off the ground. So as of next year, I won't be in Wizard's Top Ten anymore, I'll be that weird Vertigo guy again. [laughs]
IGN Comics: It's always fascinating talking to you, Grant. Thanks for taking the time.
No problem, Dan. Any time.