The White Knight Batman universe is ready to expand once more with Batman: Beyond the White Knight, the third main entry in the series, and as the title suggests, the series is doing its own spin on the Batman Beyond story. Picking up 10 years after Curse of the White Knight shook up Bruce Wayne and the rest of the Bat-Family’s world, the universe is getting shaken up yet again with the introduction of Terry McGinnis, and ComicBook.com had the chance to speak to writer and illustrator Sean Murphy all about the new series and what’s in store for Bruce, Terry, Harley, Jason, and the rest of the Bat-family this time around.
The Batman Beyond universe is known for its slick tech-heavy aesthetic, and it provided Murphy a chance to shake up Bruce’s familiarity with the city, as after 10 years and a host of upgrades the city is not the one he knew like the back of his hand before he went to prison.
“I think every artist sort of wants Blade Runner and I’ve done it a few times in my career with Tokyo Ghost, and a few other sci-fi books I’m sure I did. Drawing traditional Gotham is great for the last two volumes but I was really looking forward to drawing sort of Blade Runner Batman Beyond, sort of Neo-Gotham. So for me, it was mostly about setting and the possibility of Bruce going out there alone and not having any idea of what this new city is. It’s like a new planet for him. I also wanted to sort of dive a little bit into how Gotham was able to advance so quickly, and with the idea that Bruce gave everything away, and donated to charity, and created all these funds for the city and whatnot, that it kind of seemed a little plausible that a city infused with a billion-dollar fortune could make these sort of changes within a 10 year period. But I love the idea of Bruce wandering into a city alone not knowing exactly where everything is anymore.
In the original animated series, Terry McGinnis befriends an older Bruce and becomes the next Batman, which Bruce serving as a mentor and ally. Terry will be making his White Knight debut in this series, but Murphy wanted to deliver his story with a few twists and not just repeat what had already been done.
“As far as where Terry goes I … The trick with Terry, for me, was how to make him a little different,” Murphy said. “I didn’t want to just mirror exactly what happened with the Batman Beyond cartoon series. I wanted to make it unique but sort of familiar at the same time. One of the things I really wanted to do is make him half Asian, which I didn’t realize this but a ton of people, including myself, always assumed Terry was half Japanese and half Irish or something. Only because there’s so much kanji in Neo-Gotham and he has long black straight hair, like a lot of people mistake him as being half Asian even though both of his parents are extremely white. So for this one, I decided to make his mom Asian and his dad’s obviously Irish, just to sort of finally create a new kind of Terry. Like maybe it’s just window dressing, it doesn’t really affect the story that much but I just thought it was an interesting way to break up my Terry from the other Terrys out there and, obviously, to diversify the line, which is important.”
Speaking of Terry, the way he ends up in Bruce’s world has changed up a bit, putting him into conflict with Bruce, though Murphy didn’t want to steer him into villain territory either, so there’s a balance.
“Yeah. For me, with Curse of the White Knight, I have Azrael destroy the Batcave, so it’s basically the ruins of Wayne Manor. I really wanted to have an opening scene where Terry is discovering something. I thought because he was a thief and ran around with a bad crowd, kind of in the cartoon. So I thought, ‘Well what if he was some kind of small-time thief or maybe a large thief, or whatever it is, and he was going in there looking for Batman’s stuff to sell?’ Then I thought, ‘Well what if he was going in there specifically for Derek Powers? Like he was already working for Derek Powers. In a way, Derek was the Bruce Wayne kind of ordering him around. So then when Bruce comes into the picture he’s opposed to Terry,” Murphy said.
“The trick there is like Terry is the antagonist for a bit but I also don’t want to make him a bad guy, he’s obviously very likable and he’s being lied to, so Terry’s confused. With the traumatic loss of his father and the things going on in his family I think it makes sense that his brain would be a little bit scrambled,” Murphy said. “He’s sort of just looking for some guidance. Derek (Powers) is taking advantage of that for his own purposes. It’s sort of going to be up to Bruce to try to win Terry over, which is tricky because Bruce doesn’t have the best track record dealing with young people.”
“So one of the tricks for … Well, one of the challenges for Bruce is going to be to take everything he’s learned about how to deal with Dick, how to deal with Batgirl, how to deal with Jason, and all these sorts of failed kids in his life, and can he move past it or somehow utilize it in a way that gives him the ability to know what to say to Terry,” Murphy said. “Can he finally use his words, and emote, and win somebody over rather than just being the elusive Dark Knight?”
As for the costume, the Batman Beyond suit is already one of the sleekest costumes around, and Murphy didn’t want to mess with the magic too much.
“It’s funny because there are so many different ways to draw the Beyond suit but it’s kind of like a Spider-Man suit, it’s so perfect the way it was originally conceived that it’s hard to really add stuff to it without mucking it up,” Murphy said. “I tried to play it around with maybe getting rid of the mouth and covering his teeth because I just thought it was weird that he could smile, but if you don’t draw the teeth it doesn’t look like Terry anymore. So I tried my best to kind of tweak the Beyond suit and I really couldn’t think of anything better. All I really did to it was add these red vents around his elbows and knees, and on his chest, to give it some extra detail. But I think generally what I’m doing with the suit, different than most artists, is I have a really scratchy rendering style. So I’m mostly going for texture on the suit rather than actual design elements. If that makes sense?”
There’s far more to dive into when it comes to Batman: Beyond the White Knight, including Harley’s role in all this, the expanded universe, the new Batmobile, and more, but we’ll save that for another time.
You can check out Batman: Beyond The White Knight #1 when it hits comic stores on March 29th. FOC for Beyond the White Knight is February 27th.
Are you excited for Batman: Beyond the White Knight? Let us know in the comments and as always you can talk all things comics and DC with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!