From boy to Batman - new Batman series The Knight elaborates on his path leading up to becoming the Caped Crusader

Batman: The Knight #1 excerpt
Batman: The Knight #1 excerpt (Image credit: Carmine Di Giandomenico/Ivan Plascencia/Pat Brousseau (DC))

The upcoming comic book series Batman: The Knight dives headlong into the relatively untouched period of Bruce Wayne's origin after his parents' murder, but before he decided to become Batman.

As writer Chip Zdarsky tells us, this isn't Batman: Year One. This is before Bruce became fixated on bats.

Batman: The Knight #1 cover

Batman: The Knight #1 cover (Image credit: Carmine Di Giandomenico/Ivan Plascencia/Pat Brousseau (DC))

In the 10-issue series Batman: The Knight, Zdarsky and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico delve into this raw and emotional period for Bruce - beginning right where Alfred Pennyworth picks him up from a Gotham City police precinct after his parents' murder, and into his crusade to grow some being a defeated child into being something that could've saved the people he lost.

Ahead of Batman: The Knight #1's January 18 debut, Chip Zdarsky spoke with us about the challenging task of revisiting the Dark Knight's well-trodden origin and how he's finding deeper truths - and untold connections to new characters like Ghost-Maker - in it all.

Newsarama: Chip, Batman's origin has been told, re-told, examined, and subverted numerous times. How do you go about separating yourself from that and creating something creatively rewarding?

Chip Zdarsky

Chip Zdarsky (Image credit: Thought Bubble)

Chip Zdarsky: I mean, it’s daunting, for sure. But I’m lucky that we’re dealing with a time period that’s been picked at here and there over the years, but not in one full story like this. I wouldn’t dare re-do Batman: Year One, but Bruce’s travels and road back to Gotham feels much more open and creatively interesting at this point.

Newsarama: Carmine Di Giandomenico is doing the work of his career here, from the looks of it. How much of your writing is informed by what you knew of him before, and what he's doing with your scripts so far?

Chip Zdarsky: Oh yeah, he’s levelled up here. 

I was a fan before, but I think we speak the same artistic language which has brought out the best in both of us here. We had a lot of back and forth on tone and layout and style with the first couple of issues and now it feels like we’re reading each others’ minds a bit. He’s spectacular.

Newsarama: We have some pages from Batman: The Knight #1, here.

From reading this preview and what DC has advertised about Batman: The Knight, this seems to drill down on the tactical training Bruce Wayne undertakes as he prepares himself to become the Batman - like those training montages from films, but in-depth over 10 issues. 

How did you go about trying to get a realistic take on what this kind of training would be like?

Batman: The Knight #2 cover (Image credit: Carmine Di Giandomenico (DC))

Chip Zdarsky: I mean, it’s semi-realistic, obviously. But being able to dig in with some research, especially about global locations, has helped a lot in keeping things feel grounded and somewhat possible. 

Basically by the end of writing this series, I too can be Batman!

Newsarama: [Laughs] Wait for the Bat-Signal, Chip. 

Who will Bruce Wayne be training under in this series?

Chip Zdarsky: Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but in the first couple of issues we revisit an old favourite, the manhunter Henri Ducard, in Paris. 

Though Bruce’s training here is more under a new character, a woman named Lucie Chesson, an infamous cat burglar dubbed 'The Grey Shadow.' Bruce has a thing for cat burglars, apparently!

As we go on, there are other masters, but also another student: Ghost-Maker. Here we get to finally see how they met.

Newsarama: There's a new character here named the Foundling - a serial killer operating in Paris at the same time Bruce is there training. What can you tell us about the Foundling? 

Batman: The Knight #3 cover (Image credit: Carmine Di Giandomenico (DC))

Chip Zdarsky: The creepiest character I’ve ever worked on, made even creepier by Carmine’s art! He’s a serial killer orphaning children in Paris. 

And Bruce has some history being orphaned, so there’s some real conflict there. But is he ready to take on that kind of monster? No. He is not.

Newsarama: How do you think the idealized vision for what Bruce Wayne wanted to become as Batman matches up with what he actually became as Batman?

Chip Zdarsky: In our series Batman isn’t on his radar. He doesn’t know what he wants to be, which is part of the problem. All he knows is he needs to be the best at everything in order to stop criminals. 

So his vision for what he wants to become is incredibly murky, but it gets a lot sharper throughout our story and the people he meets along the way.

Once Batman: The Knight begins on January 19, it'll be in the running for being one of the best Batman stories of all time - but it has some strong competition.

Chris Arrant

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)