19 October 2014

Loeb’s Untraveled Road

This month John Siuntres’s Word Balloon podcast reran excerpts from some past years’ interviews with Batman story creators. Starting about 54 minutes into the recording, scripter Jeph Loeb described a story of the Dynamic Duo that never got off the ground:
My pitch on the original All-Star Batman and Robin, which is a book that I was writing when I left for Marvel and then got replaced by Frank Miller—and if you've got to get replaced by somebody, that's not a bad choice—…was going to be Jim [Lee’s] and my return to the character. . . .

At the beginning we really didn’t understand what All-Star was. The first time it was pitched, it was, “Take these characters as though it’s 1968, that’s the continuity you’re using.” And I was like, “So, basically, what you’re saying is that Barbara Gordon hasn’t been shot. I mean, is there anything different?” Because I really thought it all should have been Year One, and you should take it from there, and that way you could do whatever you wanted. And then I didn’t know how much you could change stuff around. I never had any idea they were going to change things as much as they were, like, you know, the Black Canary playing such an important role in Batman’s world. . . .

The story that I wanted to tell was that Jason was the first Robin, and that he’d been killed, and that Batman…hid the fact that Jason had died, and then met Dick in the same way that he always met Dick. And decided that there was a way that all the mistakes that he had made with Jason he could rectify with Dick. Which is a little bit more like what he did with Tim Drake, having failed with Jason.

But what I liked about this story was that the only two people who knew what he had done were Gordon and Superman, both of whom came to Bruce and said, “What the hell are you doing? Like you’ve already gotten one child killed, why would you do this again?” And then you really saw Batman’s arrogance about it, that he thought that he could make up for the death of this child by making it right with another child.

But that was not a story that ever got told.
That apparently would have been Loeb’s second take on how Dick Grayson came to be Robin, following Dark Victory. Then again, considering that All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder fans are still waiting for Lee to finish the issues Miller mapped out years ago, it might be more accurate to say it would have Loeb’s take one-and-a-half.

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