DC Comics rolled out the red carpet with a big snazzy Entertainment Weekly interview for their latest creative team that effectively butchers Batman canon.
Melissa de la Cruz and illustrator Thomas Pitilli spoke with the magazine about their upcoming graphic novel Gotham High, that EW describes as “Batman meets Gossip Girl.”
The interview began with de la Cruz admitting she has no clue about Batman.
No Knowledge of Batman
She states, “My husband is a big Batman fan, so when DC called and said, “We want to do a YA line, what character do you want to do?” I wanted to do Batman. It’s such a fun, iconic character that I could put my own spin on.”
Pitilli did express his knowledge of the character admitting he grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series, “I grew up on the Batman: The Animated Series cartoon back in the ’90s, so ever since then I was hooked. As far as superheroes go growing up, he was always my number one, so for me to get to work on any incarnation of Batman, it’s a dream come true.”
Radically Altering Batman And His Mythos
After admitting she has no clue about Batman, De La Cruz then details her lack of knowledge doesn’t matter because she’s radically altering the character anyways.
She explains, “Bruce Wayne is the billionaire. He’s the richest man alive. So I thought, wouldn’t it be fun if his family was Chinese and from Hong Kong? That made it feel real.”
De La Cruz then details she’s basically telling an autobiography of her own life using a DC Comics character, “There’s been a big influx of wealthy Chinese people who moved from Hong Kong to Arcadia in Los Angeles, and that’s where my mom lives, I’m part-Chinese, my brother lives in Hong Kong, so I thought it would be great to put what I know into Bruce Wayne. I just wanted him to be a little bit more representative of my background and giving him an authentic family.”
As for how Bruce becomes a billionaire, a preview of the graphic novel indicates the money comes from his mother, and his mother alone.
She then admits that Alfred will be gay. She states, “Alfred is not just his butler but also his uncle, his gay uncle from Hong Kong. It gives it this fabulous Crazy Rich Asians sheen to it.”
If it wasn’t clear this entire book was about pandering, Pitilli details, “That breathes new life into the character, especially in today’s world since we’re living in the most diverse world we’ve probably ever lived in, so it’s more representative of Batman in 2020.”
He adds, “And since he’s a teenager, I tried my best to put a little bit of myself into the character as well, channeling those feelings of being an adolescent and feeling like an outsider. I definitely wasn’t a billionaire, but oftentimes I felt very separated from everyone else around me.”
When asked on what her inspiration for this story was, De La Cruz admits she wanted to reinvent Chuck Bass, a prominent character from Gossip Girl. “I pitched a kind of Gossip Girl Batman, and in my mind I wanted to reinvent Chuck Bass. He’s still Bruce Wayne, it’s not the Great Gatsby, so he’s still brooding, he’s still a loner, he still has all that iconic Batman personality,” says De La Cruz.
She added, “But making him Chinese was a no-brainer — everyone was on board from the beginning.”
Pitilli was much more upfront admitting the entire slate was wiped clean. He explains, “From an artistic stand point, the history of Bruce Wayne and Batman was essentially wiped clean. I wasn’t held down in any way to one specific thing.”
He added, “It gave me an opportunity to think of this character completely differently than how other artists have drawn this character over the years.”
Joker Not A Villain
It’s not just Batman and Bruce Wayne that are being radically altered, but Joker is as well.
Pitilli explains, “There’s so much of that Instagram culture and social media culture with teens today, so I tried to interject that into the style and look of the characters, specifically with the Joker character.”
He adds, “He was the hardest character to visualize and design because he’s not your average villain. He’s almost not a villain at all, in a way. He goes back and forth where you sympathize with him sometimes and sometimes you see him as a villain. So I wanted to give him a look that played off both sides of his personality.”
He then admits he modeled the character on his own look, “I had this haircut and it’s the same haircut we ended up giving the Joker. It became a great reference throughout the process since I just had to look at myself. In a weird way, the Joker character is the most like me.”
A Love Story
De La Cruz then details the main focus of this story is a love story. She explains, “I wanted to write about a young Bruce Wayne, so obviously there’s going to be a love story. The Joker’s pretty hot, so he’s got to be in there. That’s where I started.”
In fact, there is an apparent love triangle between Catwoman, Joker, and Batman. She explains it by referencing Truman Capote’s Cold Blood.
“I always remember this quote from Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, where he’s talking about the killers and he says something like, “We came from the same place, but I walked out the front door and he walked out the back door.” There’s this feeling that they’re the same person, just with different circumstances. I wanted to put that in the Batman-Joker dynamic: They’re almost the same person, but Bruce has all this privilege and Jack has nothing. What does that do to who they become? And then there’s a girl in the middle — the hottest girl to ever walk the halls of high school [laughs] — and what does she want?”
She adds, “It came out of trying to figure out all their desires. What does Jack bring to Selina that’s different from what Bruce brings to Selina? Ultimately you don’t know who she’s going to pick. You root for both of them, and there’s a surprise in the end.”
Plans To Ruin More Characters
De La Cruz then revealed she plans on destroying more characters.
“I would love to play a little more. We have minor characters that we can get to know a bit more, like Poison Ivy and Harvey. And I don’t think it’s the last we’ll see of Selina, Jack, and Bruce either. I’m hoping to do more of Jack’s story in the second book.”
She even adds, “And we barely even saw Robin!”
Pitilli adds, “I love the idea of building up more of that Poison Ivy character and Harvey character, so hopefully that happens. I’d love to continue drawing these characters.”
It looks like DC Comics saw just how amazing and brave and stunning Marvel Comics’ New Warriors and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The High Republic pitches were and wanted to get in on that.
They wanted to absolutely destroy their bread and butter character of Batman and Bruce Wayne and turn him into Jakeman and Jake Wayne. It worked so well for Disney’s Star Wars sequel trilogies.
But they couldn’t just stop at Batman, they decided to eviscerate Joker and Catwoman as well and have plans to do more.
Circling the drain might be an understatement, this book deserves to be immediately shredded and then flushed down the toilet.