In DC Comics’ solicitations for December 2013, the term “Batman” appears 51 times. No doubt wanting to stick with its self-imposed rule of 52, the publisher announced today a new weekly series, titled: “Batman: Eternal,” which is set to debut in Spring 2014.
Superstar scribe Scott Snyder, who writes the Dark Knight’s ongoing monthly adventures in “Batman,” is serving as show runner on the title and sharing writing duties with his frequent collaborator James Tynion IV (“Talon”). Ray Fawkes (“Constantine”), John Layman (“Detective Comics”) and Tim Seeley (“Hack/Slash”) will also be writing stories for “Batman: Eternal,” while Jason Fabok (“Detective Comics”) is the series’ lead artist.
On the eve of New York Comic Con, Snyder shared some of his early thoughts on “Batman: Eternal” with CBR News, hinting at how the series ties into “Batman” and, specifically, the current “Zero Year” arc.
Snyder also revealed how he and his fellow writers will rotate on the series, how many issues he thinks he’s going to write personally and his initial trepidation about the project.
CBR News: Does the world need more Batman?
Scott Snyder: You can never have enough Batman. [Laughs] I was sitting around, thinking what could the world need more of and I thought to myself, “Batman — on a weekly basis.”
To be totally honest, it took some convincing for me to be a part of [“Batman: Eternal”]. I’m really content with what I’m doing on “Batman,” and I am also trying very hard this year to manage the return of “American Vampire” as something that is a top priority for me alongside running with “Batman” and making it as big and strong as I can with Greg [Capullo]. Taking on anything like this on the side, I had to ask myself: “Do I really want to do this?”
The way I got enticed was, DC approached me and James Tynion and said, “We want to do this book, and we’ll give you creative control of its direction. You can come up with a big story or a small story or anything you want and with whichever characters that you want. And, you can bring a team of writers that you get along with to write it and basically build Gotham while Batman is in ‘Zero Year’ so that when he returns ,there is a status quo that you can dive right into.”
That really excited me, because I knew what was coming in “Batman” after “Zero Year.” There is some big, game-changing stuff. But it would take me a year to come back and set it all up. But if I had this huge, comprehensive series on the side that allowed all of my friends that I’ve invited in — people that I really admire — to come in and work on and do their own takes on that story and explore the different corners of the story that builds towards the story we’re doing in “Batman,” that would be great.
It quickly became about being able to do the most comprehensive, epic Gotham story that we were capable of, in a format that would allow us to make it really, really exploratory and bring in a bunch of characters that you just don’t have room to look at in the main series.
To clarify, continuity-wise, this dovetails directly into what’s to come in “Batman.”
Yes, 100 percent. Basically, it will set up the status quo for what “Batman” will return to after “Zero Year.” This is game-changing stuff. Gotham becomes greatly altered over the course of the book, and that’s the Gotham that the Batman of “Batman” will come back to, because he’s the Batman being written in “Batman: Eternal.”
If will perfectly dovetail right into “Batman,” the main series, and the status quo that he comes back to will be set up by this weekly series.
How is this working in terms of writing? You’re joined on “Batman: Eternal” by James, but you also have Ray Fawkes, John Layman and Tim Seeley along for the ride. Are people writing rotating arcs, or is everyone co-writing the series together, like “52”?
We had two really big meetings where we essentially talked the whole story through. James Tynion and I came up with this general, loose idea for this big, year-long story that would shift the status quo in Gotham in a variety of ways. We presented it to the writers that we talked to and brought in — Tim Seeley, Ray Fawkes and John Layman — and said, “Do you like the story? Do you want to be a part of it? And do you have ways of making it better by doing arcs within it using characters that you love? Meaning, if you want to do an arc about the Penguin or an arc about Leslie Thompkins or Harvey Bullock, you are more than welcome to. This is our Gotham to explore. But just know that at some point in the background, even if it’s just a mention, you have to move this bigger story forward, because it needs to move.”
Some of the arcs are going to take that story on, front and center, and push the mechanical wheels of that story forward in big ways, while other ones are going to have it more in the background and not really address except for in little ways. But the whole series is built around this giant story that’s going to roll Gotham into a new shape at the end.
We didn’t want to have everyone writing parts of an issue or anything like that. We’re five guys with interests in Gotham, and there are things that we love writing about that are different from one another so why not just allow everyone to go where they want, as long as they’re moving the story forward and giving you the best arc by those people possible? Instead of saying to someone like Ray Fawkes, whose interests clearly lie in the macabre and the supernatural and the occult of Gotham, “No. You’re doing a superhero arc.” Or, “You’re doing one page or one part of a superhero arc.” That doesn’t make sense. Instead, why don’t you do an arc with a really creepy character that returns from the past and plays a really big role in the big story that is an occult character? Why don’t we do that? That way, he decides what he wants to do and rolls with that.
That was the idea; to make Gotham a really open, fluid, fun place for writers that we admire tremendously to play. And it’s a fun room to be in. The first arc is by me and James. It’s the only arc that I will probably be writing for a while, and it will have some big, newsworthy stuff in it. After that, John Layman has an arc, and then Ray has an arc and Tim has an arc and we go like that. We’re writing right now, and we’re many, many issues into it.
No doubt that’s a fun room. Ray, Tim and John all seem like a great fit for this puzzle and guys that would be fun to jam with, and they also all bring something quite different to the table.
Exactly. We had a weekend-long meeting where they all flew into New York. I had approached Ray, Tim and John about it earlier, but we had a big, official two-day meeting, and it was really fun. And you’re right — they all bring something different to the table, which is great.
Tim is an incredibly character-driven writer. You can see on “Revival,” where it’s almost like the return of the undead is secondary to the incredible drama that he creates with his characters. And John [Laughs] is a great character writer too, but he’s also really zany and imaginative. He loves creating big, fun, epic storylines, which is hugely important to Batman and Gotham. James is a terrific world-builder and really thrives with the smaller characters. He loves young characters, he loves teenage characters and he loves characters in peripheral positions at the Gotham Gazette and the police force — “Gotham Central” kind of stuff. And Ray, he really loves the dark, tragic, haunting occult stuff.
Again, I’m not really writing the series beyond the first three issues. I’m overseeing it with James, and it’s built around a story that we developed together, but each arc is really meant to be a writer and an artist getting to explore what they want to, in Gotham with this bigger story running along in the background but independently from arc to arc so you really get the best of what they can do individually as opposed to something watered down or dictated to them.
Speaking of artists, Jason Fabok is the only one listed in the announcement. He’s not the only artist, is he?
[Laughs] No, we’d kill him. But it’s going to be his main gig for the next year and he’ll be doing a lot of the major arcs. We’re really excited to have Jason on the book. He’s become a real integral part of Gotham already. We’re going to try and get a real good variety of artists for the stories and issues in between.
The subtitle “Eternal” infers many things. How does it relate to Batman and the series?
The idea that is important to me, and I think is really important to all of us — and was a major part of Grant [Morrison]’s run, which was incredibly inspiring to me — is that Batman never dies, no matter what you do. Here, the way we’re really approaching it, is to try and do something where — we want the series to have a really expansive feel. We thought about titles like “Gotham” and “Batman’s Gotham,” but the series actually goes beyond Gotham in a number of ways, to become more global and speculative in all kinds of crazy ways, so it became more about how elastic and how big and how inspiring Batman is. In that way, to me, it’s about Batman and his city being changed — and shaken. Everything is really turned around. But he always fights for it and he’s always there. He’s always inspiring.
“Batman: Eternal,” a new weekly series by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, Tim Seeley and John Layman, launches in Spring 2014.