And speaking of collaborators, you and Jeremy Haun are moving from your Arkham run of stories into "Azrael" with July's #10. In general, what clicks in that partnership, and in what ways are your strengths suited to a book like "Azrael"?
I would have loved to work with Jeremy again, but that solicit was a little premature. Jeremy is committed to his creator-owned work for the immediate future so he wasn't able to commit to an ongoing series. The artist will be Guillem March. Guillem is a terrific artist. I'm just starting to discover the massive body of work he has done in Europe before he began working for the US publishers. I think "Azrael" is a book where he'll be able to show off a side to his work that American audiences haven't seen yet.
Azrael as a character has always trafficked in religious iconography and themes, and it seems like you're taking those associations to a new level with your "The Killer of Saints" arc. How do you ratchet up the kind of cult conspiracy mystery story while also keeping this a superhero comic?
I tend to forget I'm writing superhero comics, and after a while most of my readers seem to forget about that too. Azrael wears a costume and he gets into fights, but so did Robin Hood, so does Doctor Strange. What I'm interested in is the mystery, the cult and the occult. There are strong elements of horror in this story too. Fabian Nicieza set up some really strong plot lines and I'll be drawing on some of that – particularly that "suicide" scene set up in issue #1. But it will be a while before we get to that.
I'm leading off issue #10 with a whole new mystery that ties in to the history of The Order of Purity. I've done masses of research on the history of Christianity and the various offshoots of the early Church. What starts out as a murder mystery ends up tracking back to the a conspiracy by the established churches to suppress the heretical religions of medieval times. That conspiracy continues to this day, and in "Azrael" we will finally reveal the truth that has only been touched on in books like "The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail." All the so-called revelations you've heard about are just more lies and disinformation. For the real lowdown, you'll need to read "Azrael" in the coming months.
The hook is that someone is tracking down members of the Order of Purity and killing them in grotesque imitations of the martyrdoms of various saints. And believe me, a lot of saints experienced some horrendous deaths. This killer also displays paranormal abilities that appear to be miraculous in the Biblical sense.
Overall, there have been a lot of changes to the Azrael name since Nicieza brought the character into play last year. What are the pieces of Michael Lane's personality and background that you're looking to build on most over the course of this arc?
Poor Michael is, dare I say, even more screwed up than Jeremiah Arkham. He had Dr. Hurt messing with his head, preparing him to take over from Batman in the Grant Morrison "Batman R.I.P." stories, then he gets stuck with a costume that drives the wearer insane and ultimately kills them. Michael has to fight to maintain a balance between good and evil, sanity and insanity, and in the end to confront his own crisis of belief and faith.