If you thought you’d seen the last of Kate Spencer or Marc Andreyko around here, you apparently haven’t been paying attention for the last few years. We read the book, DC cancels it, we whine about it, and it comes back a little while later. That’s the arrangement that we Manhunter fans have come to be comfortable with. And while last year’s issues #37-38 featured a story set in the future that writer Andreyko envisioned as Kate Spencer’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” equivalent, answering a number of questions about the characters’ long-term future, that isn’t to say that the status quo can’t be shaken up quite a bit: transplanted from the West Coast to Gotham City, Kate Spencer is the new Gotham City district attorney, following the murder of the previous one (that does tend to happen in Gotham, doesn’t it?) by, apparently, another previous one (Two-Face). And that, of course, is where it starts to get interesting. Here, we’ll talk to Andreyko about what’s coming next, both in terms of what we’ll be touching down on from the book’s past and the new stuff we’ll be looking forward to.
Blog@Newsarama: Will we be dealing with the long-teased abortion story?
Marc Andreyko: That’s going to be left dangling. I don’t know if you read the new issue of Final Crisis: Escape, but Cameron Chase is a character in it and I spoke with Ivan Brandon before that and said, “Hey, don’t worry about her being pregnant. That’s going to be addressed at a later date, you don’t even have to mention it. So hopefully someday either Manhunter will get her own book back or maybe if I generate enough goodwill, I’d love to do an original graphic novel of it because that allows a level of freedom—if you look at Brian Azzarello’s Joker graphic novel, that has a little more freedom of content than a regular monthly comic would.
Blog@: Given that Kate and friends are now returning to regular publication, do some of the more dramatic changes in the Some Years Later story take on a different bent? Are they more or less likely to happen, and do you still think of that story as canonical?
MA: I absolutely think of it as canon for Manhunter and yes, things that we saw in those issues in the future will be happening in the course of Manhunter in this book.
Blog@: One of the best aspects of Kate has always been her supporting cast—but with a “friend” killed leading up to her first Streets of Gotham issue, and substantially fewer pages in which to tell stories, will we be seeing less of them?
MA: We’ll definitely see them—we’ll see them a lot, actually, as much as I can get them in there and as much as the story allows. The thing that’s great about the nine-page thing and daunting about the nine-page thing is trying to get enough story in there and have a beat that has a beginning, a middle and an end but is still propelling things forward. And I’ve already been playing a little bit with the format—one of the chapters is a nine-page that’s basically one scene. But, you know—sometimes it’ll be nine, one-pagers. It just depends. As far as the supporting cast—some of them aren’t available right now, which is a good thing; they’re being utilized elsewhere. But they’ll be there, absolutely. A lot of this stuff is addressed; Kate addresses that she’s not in Gotham permanently; she’s doing this to help out Gotham City in a short-term sort of position. This being comic books, not being permanent can be twenty years from now that she leaves Gotham City—when I’m no longer in the business and someone else turns her into a cyborg. But yeah, there’s definitely in my mind a plan and I’ve got to say, at the risk of sounding like a company guy, that my hat’s really off to DC for doing this because I think it’s a smart choice. You know, people always complain that new characters don’t sell and then people complain that there aren’t enough new characters. DC’s doing a real smart thing, I think, in long-term investment in their intellectual properties in the sense of taking characters who are newer, who may have a little cache, and putting them in a place where they’ll be seen more for less of a risk. I’m telling you right now that unless I’m completely mistaken, the first issue of Batman: Streets of Gotham will outsell the best-selling issue of Manhunter thus far probably by five times. So, more people are going to get to see Kate in the first issue of Streets of Gotham than have ever seen her before. And it’s in a Paul Dini-written Batman book main feature, so what have you got to lose there? I couldn’t be happier! And I think it’s a real testament to DC, and a real vote of confidence in the character, that they said, “Hey, you want to make her the DA of Gotham City?” Okay, yeah, I’ll include her in your number one character. Sure, twist my arm!
Blog@: What’s Ramsey’s status quo going to be here, given that Kate is moving all the way across the country from his father?
MA: My answer for publication is a lot of these questions are the questions I had with “What’s going to happen here, what’s going to happen here?” and I answer as many of the big ones as fast as I can in this first chapter. Ramsey’s going to continue to be a character, but for the time being it’s going to be all about Kate kind of growing into her paws in Gotham. It’s a good thing Bruce isn’t there, because he didn’t like her very much. [laughs]
Blog@: If I remember, Bruce doesn’t like Cameron very much either, so this whole book is kind of chock full of people he could do without.
MA: No, and what’s great too is that Kate has a playground of great characters to deal with. I mean, Oracle’s there, Huntress is there, Batman is there, Robin is there, Red Robin will be there, I’m assuming. And the great villains, you know? Everybody was let out of Arkham—okay, cool! For me as a writer, getting to be a part of the Batman universe on the heels of a huge Bat-event is really, really exciting.
Blog@: What was the reasoning for bringing her to Gotham?
MA: I can’t tell you. A lot of the stuff will be revealed in the first chapter. And it’s pretty clear what’s going on—I really, really think the first chapter in Streets of Gotham is really accessible. And Georges Jeanty and Karl Story—Whoo! Amazing work, some of the nicest stuff I’ve ever seen Georges do. And Karl’s a phenomenal inker.
Blog@: Did you have any input in deciding who the artist was going to be on the new series? You’ve been blessed with a string of great collaborators—even the last issue of the monthly, all those guys were strong enough that it didn’t bother me so much that the style was jumping around.
MA: We’ve been really lucky. There were people presented and names bandied about. People I suggested and people they suggested and names you just throw out there, you know? “Hey, how about Walt Simonson or Jose Garcia Luis-Lopez?,” you know? You throw those names in there hoping you’ll catch them on the right day. But Georges’ name was tossed out and I was intrigued by it. It’s a real departure from what Manhunter looked like the last time, but it’s really great. His storytelling in this first section, and his use of transition between scenes is really, really, really just smart and subtle and doesn’t call a lot of attention to itself and yeah, I’m just thrilled. And like I said, Karl’s inks on him are just gorgeous so I’m really excited. Karl Story is one of the best inkers in comics and I don’t know why he doesn’t get the accolades he deserves because when Karl inks someone—and I don’t know Karl at all, I’ve never spoken to him, I wouldn’t know Karl if I backed into him with my car—but his inking? He never overpowers the artists so much that you’re like, “Oh, Karl Story inked this,” but he’s got a definite personality in everyone he inks. His inks are really great, and I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, and getting to peripherally work with him has been really nice because Georges’ pencils were amazing and Karl’s inks just brought so much to the table as well. I hope to work with him again.
Blog@: I know how much you thought Joan Hilty was an asset to the book; will you still be working with her now that you’re a Bat-book?
MA: Joan is not. Joan is now a Vertigo editor; they’re doing a bunch of cool special projects there; they’re doing an initiative of expanding their original graphic novel material. I guess like The Alcoholic, and stuff like that, which is great—if you haven’t read it, pick it up, check it out, it’s fantastic. But we do have a woman editor, which was a very big thing for me. Janelle Siegel (and no, she’s not related to those Siegels, I asked her, too). But she’s a great editor and she’s really excited and enthusiastic and answers my questions quickly, and with correct information! I love her; I’m going to miss Joan greatly and I’ve always said if we ever got a “created by” credit, it should be “created by Marc Andreyko, Jesus Saiz and Joan Hilty,” but I’m really excited to be working with Janelle because I think she’s going to be a big deal in the future. I kind of wish that I had some sort of awful dish to say about the people who I’ve worked with on the book, but other than the fact that it’s been canceled like twelve times, everything else is wonderful!
Blog@: What do you think about the prospects for Kate to become a character with some mainstream awareness?
MA: It takes time, it takes time. I mean, who would have thought there’d be a Deadpool movie in development? It takes time for these new characters to build up and that sort of thing, you know? And I’m still deeply humbled and moderately confused as to why the character has resonated with so many people, so deeply and so quickly. I take that responsibility very seriously—it’s actually more intimidating when you know that there’s a core group of people who really love the character because now I’m not just writing for me, I’m writing for you guys. And even with all the cancellation stuff, we’ve been incredibly lucky with this character. A new, female character based on a superhero name that’s been done seven or eight times before? You know, we got 38 issues and we’re now in the Batman universe. Ultimately, that’s pretty fucking cool.
Blog@: For how long are you—at least ostensibly—going to be around? Have you got more than one arc already written?
MA: We’re the regular monthly backup co-feature actually is what they’re called now. It’s open-ended unless people absolutely hate it and write in and say “Get rid of it,” or people write in and say, “It’s brilliant, it’s brilliant, it’s brilliant, give it its own book back.” I’m hoping that at least five percent of the people who are introduced to Kate form this new book like her, because if you add them into the regular, other people, we’d have a decent circulation! And look at it this way: If I pick up a comic book and it has a backup feature, and I’m paying $4 for it, I’m going to read the backup feature and see if I like it. And if I do like it, that’s awesome. I got another book I like, I’m getting basically a book and a half for an extra dollar. That’s great. And if I don’t like it, you know—unless I absolutely hate it I’m not going to drop the book, I don’ think. So I think this whole co-feature thing is really, really smart. The potentials for winning so far overwhelmingly outweigh any sort of risks, I love it. But there’s also the intimidation factor because at this point it’s mine to fuck up, you know? How many times—I’m beginning to feel like Michelle Pfeifer at the end of Batman Returns; I’m like, “I think I’m running out of lives now, Max.” [laughs]
Blog@: In terms of fallout from the Mexico story—at the end of that, we saw that Vesetech had deep ties to a number of individuals and corporations in the DC Universe. Also, we saw that Kate’s interference with the Suicide Squad brought the hammer down on her relationship with the DEO. Are either of those going to be threads that we get to pick up and run with in the near future?
MA: That’s stuff for down the road. The first arc will basically be Kate adjusting to life in this new town. It’s going to be a lot of Kate settling into the city and initially trying to figure out who the hell ordered the hit on the DA. No one knows who the killer was, and the killer, “Jane Doe,” lied when she said “This is from Two-Face,” as we know from Battle for the Cowl. So there’s lots of misdirection going on. As Kate tries to find the actual assassin, she’s going to then go after who she thinks ordered it, and his name is Two-Face and he was the DA of Gotham as well, so I can’t wait to get to write that. That’s going to be so much fun! And one more thing, remember: going back to the supporting cast issue…Dylan went to Gotham. That’s all I’m saying.