Matthew Manning Strikes with "The Batman"
A recognizable name to readers of DC Comics animated comics lines, writer Matthew Manning will return to familiar animated ground this month with The Batman Strikes #10, hitting shelves this Wednesday. Having written for Justice League Adventures, previous experience and a bit of good timing helped him land his latest gig.
“It just so happened that a random call to the Bat-offices was at the time when they had been discussing doing an inventory issue,” says Manning. “So I jumped at the chance. And six or seven months later, here’s the result.”
However, this would prove to be a little tricky for the writer. Since The Batman Strikes, as well as its parent animated series, are so new Manning found difficulty in perfecting the lead character just right.
“There wasn’t over ten years of episodes to draw from, so I had to make a lot of my own decisions when dealing with characters, and just hope it matched the long-term plans of the cartoon,” says Manning. “But when all else failed, I just tried to write classic Batman. His essence really hasn’t changed that much over the years, and that’s a pretty large pool to draw from.”
This isn’t Manning’s first time taking on the Dark Knight. He wrote the character in Justice League Adventures, finding the character during the League-era is easily his favorite.
“This is Bruce Wayne at his prime and if you go back and reread my two issues of Justice League Adventures, issues #14 and #33, you’ll see the stories are very bat-centric in nature,” says Manning.
Manning’s attraction to the character is how the Dark Knight is able to handle himself among the super-powered heroes in the League. However, there is a slight problem when tackling this character with the League as a backdrop. Taking the character out of his element and throwing him in alien situations, such as cosmic stories, run the risk of damaging the character.
“It’s a lot easier to find a suitable challenge for Batman than it is to find a conflict worthy of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman when they’re all hanging out together,” says Manning. “So in that aspect, The Batman Strikes was a bit easier and gave me a little more freedom.
Manning now gets to tackle Batman away from the League for the first time, albeit in a different animated continuity. The Batman backdrop is small-scale, taking place on the cold streets of Gotham early in the career of the iconic hero.
“Batman gets to mess up once in a while, and even can be wrong for a change,” says Manning. “But what I played on in my issue mainly was his determination and his ability to figure things out in the end.”
With only twenty pages to work with per story, Manning hopes to get a second shot at The Batman Strikes in order to explore the inexperienced side of Batman that readers rarely see nowadays.
But his main interest is writing a good story, something he believes he has accomplished with The Batman Strikes #10. With the story taking place in the hellish confines of Arkham Asylum, Manning could only think of one character that would work the best.
“Man-Bat came about because, frankly, no other villain would fit into the story I wanted to tell,” says Manning. “The story involves a blackout in Arkham Asylum, and what other beast would thrive in such a chaotic environment more than a bat?”
“Or in this case, a pair of bats.”
And he even has ideas for the comic if he gets the chance to return, citing Cluemaster, Firefly, and The Penguin’s henchmen as strong visual characters he’d like to work on. Having a great time writing for the comic, the biggest surprise was how his story turned out.
“My story actually turned out radically different from my pitch, and I think for the better,” says Manning. “It was interesting how the story seemed to evolve on its own, and I think the readers will find it a fun little change of pace.”
Until he returns to tackle the Dark Knight once again, Manning has a series of projects coming up to keep his readers and fans occupied!
“Production just wrapped on an independent film I wrote called One Bdr, Spacious Bath, and God-in-a-Can, so that’ll be fun to see,” says Manning. “On the comic front I have short stories coming out in both the newest issues of the Meathaus and Reflux Comics Anthologies, and I have a few projects in the super secret, and super beginning stages at a couple different major comic companies.”
For information on all his past, present, and upcoming works, check out Matthew Manning’s official website at www.matthewkmanning.com.
The Batman Strikes #10 hits comic shelves and newsstands on June 8th!