Everyone knows Batman’s origin story: young Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered, inspiring him to one day become a dark vigilante to protect the streets of Gotham City.
But few people know what Bruce Wayne’s life was like when he was a teenager.
All that is about to change, thanks to bestselling author Marie Lu’s upcoming YA novel Batman: Nightwalker. The book follows a teenage Bruce Wayne, on the cusp of inheriting Wayne Enterprises and his parent’s fortune. After a run-in with the police requires Bruce to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the soon-to-be Dark Knight meets Madeleine Wallace, a brilliant killer connected to the Nighwalkers, a group terrorizing Gotham City. Soon Bruce is pulled into a world of deception as he tries to unravel the mystery of Madeleine, a girl who may be his worst enemy.
While the book doesn’t hit shelves until January, you can now see the novel’s cover in all its brooding teen vigilante glory. MashReads also spoke to Lu about Batman, covering an iconic character, and what readers can look forward to.
What drew you to Batman? Were you a big fan before?
My first exposure to anything Batman was Batman: The Animated Series! It was my introduction not just to a superhero, but to a nuanced character, and from then on, I was hooked. I don’t think I’ve ever agreed to anything as quickly as I did to this project when my agent first approached me about it.
What was it like transforming Batman for a new medium, from comics to YA?
I didn’t grow up with comic books, so stepping into the territory of Batman was incredibly daunting for me. Things that may work really well in graphic form might come across as overdone or under-baked in a novel, and vice versa.
One of my biggest hurdles was trying to get into Bruce Wayne’s headspace and understand his thought process. It’s done so differently in graphic form — in a non-illustrated novel, you can’t convey mood by a carefully drawn expression or color palette, or by Batman’s looming silhouette against the night. He’s a character so suited (pun intended) for illustration! How do I tell his story without seeing his presence on the page? Trying to recreate him with only text was a challenge.
As a writer, what are some of the challenges and opportunities of working with such an iconic character?
An interesting thing to me about Batman is that there aren’t any stories told about Bruce Wayne as a teenager.
Everyone knows about Bruce as a child and how he lost his parents, but then we jump in the narrative to him as a fully realized adult, navigating an adult world with adult problems as an established billionaire.
But Bruce’s teenage life is a black hole. As such a high-profile kid, what was it like for him to lose his parents? To have his trust funds open for the first time? How did he cope with having reporters trail him around when he was so young? Did he have friends who betrayed him in school, or sucked up to him because of his wealth and fame? How did he navigate the challenges of adolescence?
I found it an intimidating and exciting challenge to tackle questions like this about such a little known part of a well-known (and much loved!) character’s life, especially before he becomes the Dark Knight.
Can you give us a teaser: Are there any surprises we should expect from this new book?
The most fun I had in this book was creating a new villain to challenge Bruce! She’s young, she’s in Arkham Asylum, and she’s a mystery. I hope readers have as good a time reading about Bruce’s interactions with her as I did writing them.
For more information about BATMAN: Nightwalker, visit : http://bit.ly/2u8iYYz