Bleeding Cool first broke the news of 5G's existence in 2019, as we built up what it was meant to be. Generation Five, the fifth generation of DC Comics as seen in the new planned DC Timeline, which would assign major stories a year in which they happened, how old characters were, and in the process aging up Superman and Batman to their fifties, Wonder Woman even older, with new characters like Jonathan Kent, Luke Fox and Yara Flor taking over the principal roles with Damian Wayne as the Big Bad of the Universe. That all changed when a) publisher Dan DiDio was fired and b) the pandemic saw DC Comics shut down production for a short while. 5G was repurposed in some ways for Future State and Infinite Frontier but much of it, including the Generation Zero Free Comic Book Day comic and the Generations series were pulped or dumped. James Tynion IV was in the middle of this, he had taken over Batman as a last-minute fill-in replacement on Batman when then-EIC Bob Harras had found an opportunity to fire Tom King off the book. Tynion IV was to write the series until Batman #100, when 5G would kick in and the series would relaunch by John Ridley and Olivier Coipel with Luke Fox as the new Batman. And James Tynion wanted nothing to do with 5G and was all set to leave. Then a) 5G didn't happen to the extent that some people think Bleeding Cool just made it up, and b) Batman started rocketing in sales, especially with artists Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey. So James stuck around.
And now on his Substack subscription service, he is about to reveal the secret DC History of 5G. Bleeding Cool is very aware we only got the crumbs off the table of what was planned. What will James reveal? He writes on Substack today;
- I am immensely proud of what I've done on the Batman title, and the stories I was able to tell, particularly with Jorge Jimenez and Guillem March over the last two years… But I've also been pretty blunt in saying that the process of working on the book, especially in the beginning, was really f-cking rough.
- Every head inside the company was turning toward what was going to be the 5G publishing initiative, but what the rules and details of that initiative entailed were changing rapidly week to week. And the priorities of Batman kept changing, rapidly, with them. One week the book was going to be coming out monthly, the next week it was going to be coming out twice-a-month, and then it was going to be monthly for part of the year, and twice-monthly the rest of the year, and then fully twice-monthly again. Key story pieces I asked for kept getting taken away, and some of the decisions of where they wanted to take the character of Batman and his relationship with the characters around him ran fully counter to everything I believed about the character. I had to work on the fly, because the goal posts were shifting as issues were written and turned in and were being drawn.
- There's a weird kind of zen mode I hit in and around that time, where I let go of the things I couldn't control and began to focus on the ones I could. The biggest reason I leaned into new characters was that none of the powers that be at DC had any preconceived notions about my new characters so they couldn't give me shifting mandates about any of them. And once I started letting go of everything I couldn't control, I found a new rhythm and a new energy that got readers really really excited, and taught me a lot about what works in Superhero comics in a way I never really saw before. At least not clearly.
- So, I thought that I would spend the next few months telling THAT story, while you read the conclusion to my Batman run in the Fear State event.
- I think a lot of creators don't like to show the sausage-making process. A lot of fans would rather believe that the stories come fully cooked, ready to go out the door, but it's rarely that way. Writing in a mainstream superhero universe requires you to be deft on your feet and adapt to a hundred different masters who want wildly different things from you. Half of the job requires you to be a politician, and the other half requires you to be a kind of mathematician. There's a strange mystic algebra to all of it that becomes a bit second nature after you're doing it for a while, and frankly, I'm probably going to lose that when I fully leave mainstream superhero books. There is this joy to solving a story problem that you had no control over existing, in a way that satisfies you and the players who threw the wrench at you in the first place. I don't know that I'm going to miss it, but learning to be quick on my feet and how to problem-solve superhero stories is how I became the writer I am today. And I'm proud of the way I ducked and weaved between the wrenches thrown at me over the years.
- So, fuck it. I'm going to show off my original plans, talk about the wrenches that got thrown at those plans, and how I adapted and maneuvered around each of them. I'll talk about what I was planning on taking over before I got the Batman gig. I'm going to show you the things I pitched for 5G, and the reasons I stopped pitching things for 5G, and what I pitched instead (Hey there, DC vs Vampires!). I'll show you the different iterations of my Batman pitch, and how I came up with The Designer and his original secret identity. And a lot more…
- And I'll talk a lot about everything I've learned about Batman and Gotham City over ten years of working on the character and his world.
- These posts are going to run weekly, on Wednesdays. We'll dive in in earnest next week with my thoughts on Batman's continuity, which is really how I started cooking up everything I've done over the last few years.
I can't wait…