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A Very Minor Moment?

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As the majority of the Batman titles are wrapped up in the major crossover epic known as Infinite Crisis, Legends of the Dark Knight (issues #197-199) has been flying under the radar with a smaller self-contained story arc. With the final chapter due in comic shops January 11th, writer Will Pfeifer stopped by to talk about how a career criminal plans to take Batman, and himself, out in a “Blaze of Glory.”

Broken Frontier: Obviously, Batman is a multi-faceted character. In Infinite Crisis, the writers are focused on the "Dark Knight" aspects of Batman. Matt Wagner is doing a Golden Age version of the character in The Monster Men. What is Will Pfeifer's interpretation of Batman?

Will Pfeifer: I've never been a big fan of the "Batman as a psycho" take on the character. He's driven, yes, and can be obsessive in his pursuit of justice, but I don't see him as being cruel or inhuman. In my mind, the fact that Bruce Wayne puts on the suit and fights crime is an outlet for him, something to keep him from succumbing to despair and insanity. He's making a difference - he's trying to prevent the tragedy that happened to him from happening to someone else. Batman isn't an easy person to know, but there is a person in there - a flawed, fragile human being - under that cape and cowl.

BF: What is your Legends of the Dark Knight story arc about?

WP: "Blaze of Glory" is about how a very minor moment in Batman's life - he stops an armored car robbery with one well-placed Batarang toss - become the crucial turning point in someone else's. Batman stops hundreds of crimes, both major and minor, but the man committing this one - thanks to cruel fate, dumb luck and that Batarang - essentially had his life ruined by Batman.

BF: And who is this criminal gunning for Batman? What is his grudge against the Dark Knight?

WP: The criminal is a guy named Eric Webber, an otherwise normal guy whose obsessive - and meticulous -- plan of revenge is what sets him apart. He wants revenge because Batman stopped him from committing a crime, which sent him to prison for years. When he gets out, he can't find a job. What he does find is a tumor in his brain that's going to kill him before long. So now he has no job, no prospects, no friends and no future. His only goal before he dies is to get revenge of the man who sent him away - our friend in the Bat costume.

BF: What can we expect to see in the final chapter of "Blaze of Glory?"

WP: The final chapter is where Webber's plans come to fruition. He's lured Batman to his apartment, first with acts of vandalism, then with a shooting spree in downtown Gotham. Each time, Webber made the bat symbol a focus of the crime, which led Batman to finally go through his old crime files - specifically his "batarang arrests" file - and track Webber to his apartment. But this is just what Webber wants. He has big plans for his grand finale, and if he's successful, a lot more people are going to die than just Batman.

BF: Considering Batman has survived the likes of Joker, the Black Mask and even Mongul, what makes Webber a threat to the Dark Knight?

WP: Webber is using Batman's strengths against him - specifically his strength as 1) a detective, which I don't think we see enough of these days, and 2) as a brutal avenger, which we see a bit too much of these days. It turns out Webber is mistaken about one of these strengths, which eventually leads to his downfall. Also, the mere fact that Webber is a nobody, a forgotten man, gives him an advantage. Batman is so used to dealing with the big names - Joker, Riddler, etc - or far-reaching criminal conspiracies that one lonely loser almost slips beneath his notice. Almost. Finally, Webber is already operating under a death sentence. Win or lose against Batman, he's going to go. So he has no qualms about risking - or even sacrificing - his own life to get revenge.

BF: Many of Batman's rogues are certifiably insane, giving them at least some measure of an excuse to for their crimes. How does Batman react to a foe that does horrible things by choice?

WP: The only thing he can do: He figures out who he is, and figures out how to stop them. By the last chapter of “Blaze of Glory”, the clock is ticking and if Batman doesn't act fast, terrible things are going to happen. Like a cop on the street preventing a crime, he can't stop and worry about motivations or character flaws. He has to stop the bad guy and save the day - and do it quickly.

BF: What do you think the most interesting element is that artist Chris Weston brings to "Blaze of Glory?"

WP: Oh man, I don't know where to start. Every time Chris sent me a page via e-mail, I'd just sit back and marvel at it. He packs so much detail into each panel, and yet somehow keeps everything clear and well-designed. I guess, more than anything, Chris makes Gotham City feel like a real place, a place that people live their lives in. Just check out the highway, or the tavern, or Webber's apartment. Those locations add a whole other level to the story, bringing an extra layer of realism and verisimilitude to “Blaze of Glory.” I can't say enough about the art, really. It's something else.

BF: One last chance to sell the book - why should someone pick up Legends of the Dark Knight #197-199?

WP: It has stunning art, a pretty solid story (if I do say so myself) and reveals a side of Batman and the world he lives in that you don't see very often.

BF: Quickly touching on some of your other books - what are the next challenges that Captain Atom will face in Armageddon? 

WP: After tangling with Majestic and tussling with the Wildcats, Captain Atom is going to go up against the really big guns in the Wildstorm Universe - the Authority. I'm a big fan of those guys - especially the Mark Millar/Frank Quitely era - so getting to write a few stories involving them is a lot of fun. It's not just slam-bang fighting, either. In many ways, their long-term approach to global affairs appeals to Captain Atom, so he's surprised to find he has something in common with them. Also, it turns out he has more than a bit in common with the Engineer, and their relationship takes some very strange turns. Two metallic-looking super-heroes, one silver, one gold? Think of the possibilities.

BF: Can you tease us a little as to what adventures Catwoman will see as she we move towards the "One Year Later" jump?

WP: In Catwoman, as the news is now spreading over the Web, Selina is indeed going to have a baby. Can't say who the father is - though we've seen him before - and I can't reveal how this is going to affect her life, both as Selina and as Catwoman. I will say that it's giving me a chance to explore some different sides of the character, and readers who think this is going to make the comic nothing more than Selina changing diapers 24/7 are in for a surprise.

BF: Any other upcoming projects you'd like to mention before we wrap things up?

WP: One more - I'm going to be writing a three-issue mini series called Spectre: Born Again that sets up the Spectre's next host. It's fun stuff - I've always been a fan of The Spectre, but I've never written this sort of cosmic stuff before. The person taking over the job not only doesn't want it, he doesn't even believe in the afterlife. And though he's got a strong concept of justice, the Spectre's brand of unknowable, often cruel divine justice goes against his view of right and wrong.

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