DC Comics’ best-selling writer Scott Snyder spent some time with CBR TV during 2013’s recently-concluded Comic-Con International in San Diego where he sat for a spell and talked about working with artist and DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee on “Superman Unchained,” the current relationship between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight Detective and his and series artist Greg Capullo’s plans for Batman as “Zero Year” rolls on.
On defining the New 52 version of Lex Luthor in the pages of “Superman Unchained”: He’s got a great role in it. Next issue is one of my favorite moments with Jimmy Olsen. But what he has planned is really nefarious and really surprising in some ways, because he’s not really the big bad of the story, and I think that’s partly why he does what he does. He’s kind of in an interesting role, almost being uncomfortably paired with Superman. I’m really excited [about] where it’s going to go with him because he’s a blast to write. I adore him.
I try and play in the continuity sandbox in that nothing is impossible. It does sort of dovetail off of what Grant did and what Scott Lobdell has been doing, but I really feel like if you’re going to read our book, it’s going to be a completely different flavor than the other books, and that’s the way they should all be. It does sort of fit into continuity, but our interpretation is meant to be something that’s really our own.
On the physical strength of Superman in “Unchained”: It’s a big part of the story. Our story, to boil it down and spoil it in some ways, is about Superman being this hero that we all look up to, and yet, being accused and challenged in a way that he hasn’t been yet. I really wanted it to be the story where if I told one Superman story, this would be it and to take him apart, really rip him apart. First, I want to show you how powerful and big he is, that way where he’s the greatest hero in the world; this God on Earth. Then, in issue #3, we just dismantle him and have it where he faces off against this guy Wraith. The idea behind Wraith is that in 1938, a bunch of scientists with the military when the world was on the brink of war sent a mathematical equation into space. The mathematical equation added up to more than it was supposed to. It was supposed to be, “Help us be better. Send something to us to help us stop the world from becoming this awful, war-torn place.” Eleven seconds after they sent it off, this ship lands, in the year that “Superman” was first published. This guy is from a different galaxy, he’s not from Krypton, but his physiology is similar to Superman’s. In #3, Superman goes up against him for the first time, and Superman just gets owned. Jim was like, “How about if he bicycle kicks him across Utah?” We got a Google map satellite and you see him [get bicycle kicked across Utah.]
On the relationship between Batman and Superman: That relationship between Bruce and Clark is one of — to me — the richest, most interesting friendships and frenemy things in comics and literature. I love writing them. I wish I could have Bruce and Clark in every issue together. It is meant to echo stuff in “The Dark Knight Returns” and that — you know someday they’re going to break, and they might come back together, but you look at them and you know something terrible is going to happen between them. They might come back and they might be friends, but they’re two opposed and too good, both of them, to not almost kill each other at some point. That’s meant to be an undercurrent, too. Because Batman has a lot to say about what happens later on.
On his involvement in future “Zero Year” tie-in issues: Well, what happened with that was — I’ll be honest — I didn’t want to do tie-ins at all on this one. I wanted it to just be a singular story, and then DC approached me and said, “We’d like to do them.” I said, “I’m not going to do them.” They said, “Well, the writers would like to.” And I said, “I’m going to call the writers.” I called Lemire and I called Greg Pak and they actually did want to do them. I love Dan [DiDio] for that reason — he would do them if they wanted to do them. I knew he was telling the truth, but I called them up to make sure they weren’t doing it because, it’s not — are you doing it because you want sales or are you doing it because you want story. They were all great. So I said, “You know what? We’ll do it.” I don’t manipulate them in any way with those. The point is, tell a story in a seminal moment in Gotham’s history and your character’s history that works for what you’re doing in your series. … I’m really proud of the tie-ins, the ones that I’ve seen so far.
On his next big challenge in comics: It’s been a tough year, honestly. I’ve had a lot of anxiety about launching all these things at once and it was a lot to take on. I’m really proud of the stories, I really feel like it’s my best work. This stuff coming in Zero Year and Gotham and what Gotham means and why we love it — because it’s an antagonist that burns you down to its core and this hero who you know you can be and that’s why you stay. It’s the stuff that I’m proudest of that I’ve done in comics, “Zero Year” and “Unchained” — outside of my creator-owned work. In terms of one-upping myself the next time, I try to just do the stories that I love and I’ve been very lucky that they’ve just had so much support behind them. I could easily scale back and just do “Batman,” “American Vampire” or maybe something will come along and I’ll try something else. But I promise, it’s not about trying to be big — it’s just, “Hey, here’s the story I would tell with this character.” I would do it with Jim or Chris Samnee or anybody. … The thing I want to do with “Batman” after this is a little bit smaller, but I’d like to do a series of Batman cold cases and make it detective, small and in the present — really show him as the greatest detective in the world. I have some ideas for Superman, too, if he survives.