Batman has already shown up in the hit battle royale game Fortnite, and now that battle has expanded back to the Dark Knight's home territory of comics.
Available now in comic shops and on most digital platforms, Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point #1 (of 6) drops DC's Dark Knight onto the Island for round-after-round of 22-minute battles. But despite his memory of how he got here being wiped out, Batman is still a detective - and he's figuring out ways to get around the rules of the Fortnite world.
With the first issue of this unique crossover series available now, Newsarama spoke with series writer Christos Gage and artist Reilly Brown about how they got involved, how the Fortnite characters are adapting to the comics medium, what Batman is doing to break the code of the game, and by the end of it we convinced both to give out their screen names so you too can look out for them the next time you play Fortnite.
Newsarama: I sense a special kind of crossover magic with Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point. As Frank Miller has said, Batman is one of those characters who you can drop into any setting and make things more interesting.
Christos, what were your first thoughts when this project came up to you as a possibility?
Christos Gage: Like I was being made an offer I couldn't refuse.
Reilly Brown: My first thought was just how amazing it was that they were doing a comic like this, and how lucky I was to be asked to be a part of it.
Gage: Donald Mustard pitched a premise that sounded to me like the ultimate challenge for the World's Greatest Detective. He's in an unfamiliar world - an unfamiliar universe. He can't speak. He can't remember anything, including who he is. And every 22 minutes, his memory gets wiped again. Oh, and there's an island full of violent lunatics trying to kill him. How does even the finest analytical mind in the world solve that mystery?
That alone was irresistible. Then I found out we got to put Catwoman in it too, which opened up a whole new realm of possibilities...like whether emotion endures when memory doesn't.
Brown: This is the first time I've had the opportunity to draw Batman in a comic, so that was exciting enough on its own, but then the fact that he's teaming up with the hottest video game in a generation... It really made me think of my favorite video game from when I was in high school - X-Men vs Street Fighter - and how much I wished there was a comic book to go along with that. I wanted to give the gamers of today the crossover comic that I never got when I was younger.
Nrama: Your first time drawing Batman professionally - that's great!
How does Batman acclimate visually into the world and design of Fortnite?
Brown: Batman fits pretty well into Fortnite Island, because all the other characters there dress in costumes just as crazy as his, so he's a perfect match. On top of that, the great artists over at Epic Games designed a new costume for him just for this project, so he really does fit into their world.
It was a lot of fun to be brought into that process and give feedback on their designs and see what came out of it.
The biggest difference is that Fortnite Island is a very colorful place, but Gotham City is generally pretty dreary, so there's a fun contrast there. John Kalisz does a great Wizard of Oz-type thing in the opening scenes to really play that up
Nrama: Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point seems to really give Batman fans a guided tour inside the world of Fortnite and its concepts - the Island, the Loop, the timed fights, the Zero Point, etc. I don't know the last video game Batman has played, but how does he acclimate to this world?
Gage: I doubt Batman has ever played a video game, though he's probably nailed some bad guys with bat-drones.
The answer to your question is that he doesn't acclimate to this world. You can't, when you lose your memory every 22 minutes. But he figures out that inanimate objects don't reset, so he starts leaving himself messages, clues, and helpful things. You can take the bat out of the cave, but he'll find a way to make another one…
The subtitle of this is 'Zero Point,' the big Macguffin at the center of Fortnite. Can you tell us the role of it in this series, and if you might be exploring some of its mysteries?
Gage: I can't tell you the role without spoilers, but yes - we will be exploring many of its mysteries. Way more than I imagined possible. Frankly, I'm stunned at what Donald is letting us reveal here rather than in the game!
Nrama: Batman's in the title here, but you already mentioned Catwoman, and DC just announced Deathstroke. Who else could we see in this? I imagine Damian might be secretly playing Fortnite and harassing his dad.
Brown: Man, you totally guessed it! The last page of the series is Batman getting eaten by a shark, and then we zoom out and see that the whole thing was just Damian playing the game on the Bat Computer. Spoiler alert!
Since you guessed it I guess Christos has to change the ending…
Heh, but really, we've already seen Harley Quinn in the preview, and she's an important player here, and Catwoman has a big part as well, and they were both on my comic character bucket list.
I've been wanting to draw Harley for years because I've drawn a lot of Deadpool comics, so I feel like I know just the kind of fun and madness to bring to Harley. And Catwoman and Batman are one of my favorite superhero couples, and since I've always been a sucker for superhero adventure-romances, getting to have them together trying to figure out the whole Fortnite mystery has been a lot of fun.
Gage: We talked a lot about whether we should put the Bat-family in this and if so how many of them. For a bit, we were going to flash back to Gotham and see how Robin and others were handling things on that end. But ultimately, there was just so much story on Fortnite Island that we stayed there.
However, there will be familiar characters - Harley Quinn, Catwoman, and others, including whoever kicked Batman through the rift in the Gotham sky. And hopefully a surprise or two in the final issue.
Nrama: On the Fortnite side, I'm told to expect Renegade Raider, Fishstick, Bandolier, and more. As a comics fan and comics pro, how are these characters fitting into the world of comics?
Brown: Them and so many more! For a lot of the big battle scenes in this comic, I spent a lot of time looking over the long list of characters, and picking the ones I wanted to use.
There are so many great characters that it was hard to choose who made the cut and who didn't. A lot of times video game character designs are a bit complicated and detail-heavy to translate as well to a comic as you wish they would, and, sure, that can be the case with some of them here simply because of the wide variety, but for the most part, the Fortnite combatants have great comic book looks. Lots of bright colors, unique silhouettes, masks with a lot of personality, etc. I think they fit right in.
Nrama: Christos - how do they fit for you?
Gage: Dude, I grew up on Devil Dinosaur, Kamandi, Warlord, Godzilla, and the Shogun Warriors. They fit in beautifully.
Nrama: Could you see more comics in these Fortnite characters' future? Perhaps a gritty, back-to-basics 'year one' style Catrina and Grave limited series?
Gage: I can see many, many more.
Brown: Oh yeah, I could totally see more comics with these guys. Honestly, I hope we actually do see more comics with them someday.
There are so many cool character designs in Fortnite, I'd love to learn a bit more about their personalities, and see them star in their own stories some time. Either on Fortnite Island itself or learn more about the worlds these guys come from. There's a lot of fun characters that could be a springboard to some very creative and fun stories.
Gage: The great thing about working with Donald is he doesn't set up artificial limitations. He wants to try everything, in every medium. And I hope we will.
Nrama: You two worked previously on a few issues of Amazing Spider-Man over at Marvel. How is the collaboration here?
Gage: I know Reilly can handle anything beautifully, so I'm being really awful to him, especially in issue #6. However, I did give him some splashes and double-page spreads in the Snake-Eyes issue. And let me tell you, he is killing it throughout.
If you want to buy the original art for any of the pages, move fast, because Donald has seen it already and he might beat you to it.
Brown: And Chris's scripts are fantastic. He gives me scenes with a lot of room for action and a lot of space for big battle scenes with all the crazy characters. Lots of room to play. He also does a fantastic job of weaving a lot of emotional scenes into all that action as well, which really brings the story together. If all works out like we want, we'll have turned all the wanton chaos and excitement of the Battle Royale into a really compelling mystery with some great characterization.
Gage: Reilly can handle both action and character acting with incredible skill and the inking of Nelson DeCastro just makes it look even more stunning. I should also mention Christian Duce, who is doing killer work on issues four and five, and John Kalisz is putting so much thought into the coloring. It's like a master class on all fronts.
Nrama: Last question... I'm not going to ask for your Fortnite display name (although...), but how much fun was it to get to play the game for 'work'?
Brown: Heh, well, I got a lot of weird looks from my wife when I'd turn the Playstation on and say "this is for work, honest!" And it... usually was...
Gage: It's both fun and humiliating because I am terrible at it. I feel like the opposite of the Flash...I'm in a world where everyone is moving faster than me and where my reflexes are comparatively like molasses.
But I love exploring the island. Often I don't even fight anyone, I just go around exploring and fishing and driving trucks and such. And my display name is 'VincentStegron.' Be gentle.
Nrama: Oh boy...
Brown: My handle is 'BigTimeWRB,' and for the last few months if you've seen me in the game, I was most likely the Thor or Mando who was standing still, staring off into the distance making an easy target of myself, because, in reality, I was scoping out locations for the comic, and trying to get good photo reference of certain Fortnight landmarks.
Either that or I was trying to drive cars to places where they're not supposed to be and drop them off of cliffs onto people. Which was also for work... honest!
You remind us of Batman - someone who wants to know more about Fortnite. Check out GamesRadar's Fortnite guide.