WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for “Batman” #28, on sale now.
DC Comics‘ ongoing “Batman” series took a break today from it’s months-long “Zero Year” story arc to give readers a teaser for the upcoming weekly series “Batman Eternal,” revealing returning characters and introducing a whole new Batman sidekick in the process.
Written by “Batman Eternal” architects Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV with art by artist Dustin Nguyen, “Batman” #28 introduced fans to the brand new Bluebird (AKA Harper Row), lent readers a glimpse of what a Catwoman-controlled Gotham underworld looks like and gave Stephanie Brown fans a reason to celebrate as the character appeared as Spoiler and seemed to be positioned at the very center of the action and mysteries in “Batman Eternal.”
Speaking with CBR on the heels of the “Batman” #28 release, Snyder discussed the “Batman Eternal” spoilers, introducing Spoiler and the post-apocalyptic Gotham soon to come in “Batman Eternal” and “Batman.”
CBR News: Scott, it must be a relief for you to be able to talk to people now that the literal Spoilers are out with this “Batman” #28 issue!
Scott Snyder: [Laughs] Yeah! I kept trying to tell people there would be some really fun things in it, but I’m a bit overwhelmed today by the response — me and James [Tynion IV] and Dustin [Nguyen] and the whole team are really appreciative of the support for it.
Let’s dive into this issue, which has a lot of big reveals for characters and plot points in the upcoming “Batman Eternal.” On the most basic level, what is the timeline for the events we’re seeing in #28? Where does that fall in “Batman Eternal” and the regular “Batman” series?
I think it would actually be issue #29 or #25 or something like that, we actually mapped it out as if this were an issue of “Eternal” and where it would fall. We won’t repeat it once we get there, we’ll just do it from different points of view and probably jump the beats a little bit, show it from Stephanie’s point of view. So it comes out, I’d say, about halfway through the series. If it starts in April you’re talking a good eight or nine months from right now.
Along those lines, you’ve talked before about how you wanted to bring back Stephanie Brown and there have been rumors going around about the Harper outfit designs, which people were identifying as a possible Nightwing. With all this swirling around, why did you want to do #28 as a teaser and give answers to those questions rather than just waiting for the actual series to start?
For a couple of reasons, one that was logistical: we were working on “Zero Year,” Greg [Capullo] has been really far ahead with the art, and this last issue for the second chapter — which I easily believe is one of our best issues — has all this big material in it, from the Crime Alley scene to the big showdown with the Riddler for the heart of the city. It was always planned to be oversized, but it came out to about forty pages in the script. Greg was willing to do it and get it out on time because he was ahead, but I was thinking to myself, “Why am I punishing my friend constantly for being ahead when he could take time off?” [Laughs] So what it boiled down to was sort of saying, “Why don’t we take an intermission? And if we take an intermission, what’s the most exciting thing to do?” We looked at all the stuff we’re going to do in “Eternal” and all the stuff I’m going to come back to and be dealing with in “Batman.” We had so much coming we could definitely spoil some things — so why don’t we do a reward issue? A fun issue of teasers of all the stuff you’ll get once you come with us back to Gotham in the present after “Zero Year.” That was the thinking behind it, and Dustin is an old friend at this point and he was up for it and it just sort of came together on the fly that way.
Of the things this issue revealed for “Batman Eternal,” the biggest to my mind is that Harper is Bluebird, which seems like an amalgamation of Nightwing and Robin. Why did you want to give her a totally new hero identity rather than have her pick up the mantle of one of the preexisting legacy Batman allies?
I thought about it; I think part of the fun is, when I created her, I tried to not have a status in mind for her. I wondered if maybe she’d become Robin or maybe she’d be a lady Nightwing or maybe she’d become someone else entirely. But it was really more important to me to develop her as a character first. The big issue of why she is called Bluebird and why she picked that persona have a lot to do with her background and the mystery surrounding her mother and some of the material that’s going to come out in “Eternal.”
Just so people are clear, she really doesn’t step into costume for a couple of months into that series. You’ll see her growth and you’ll see why she makes those decisions in that series, and I’ll touch on it in “Batman” too. But I think part of the fun is to create new characters for the 75th Anniversary that show the upcoming generation of allies and villains and celebrate the ones that exist — and there’s going to be plenty of that, I promise you! There will be at least two really giant stories with little ones in between, don’t worry, we’ll give people a breather! But we plan on doing at least two giant Bat-stories that celebrate Batman’s cast of characters, old and new. This was about trying to begin that process of introducing you to some new characters, [like] the character in the cave, who you haven’t met yet, and Selina Kyle by way of trying to show you the kinds of things we’re going to do to characters you know, giving them new statuses. That’s really what this issue is about. It’s about going bold and getting daring this year as a team, meaning the readers and us and Gotham. Let’s try to really make Gotham fresh and exciting and different for Batman’s 75th [Anniversary] — that’s the best way to honor him and to give the perennial favorites a big brushing off and new stories for them too.
Along with the idea of giving fans some of their favorite characters a brushing off, Stephanie Brown is back! When were you first interested in bringing Stephanie back as a character, and why use her specifically for “Batman Eternal” rather than brining her back in “Batman” or some other form?
Well I would have brought her back in “Batman” but “Batman” has been in the past for the last year and there really isn’t room to do it there. So a lot of the things we’re doing in “Eternal” are things I plan on playing into with “Batman,” or things I would have done in “Batman” or things like that if I was on the book for very long and had a lot of time. I plan on being on the book for a while, but it feels like you have so many ideas that having a book like “Eternal” where you can start to get some of them out there is great! Honestly, the other guys on the book too — James and Ray [Fawkes] and Tim [Seeley] and Kyle [Higgins] and John [Layman] before that, this is a place for them to do everything they want to the city as well. So we are all really excited about bringing her back.
For me, I’ve been a fan of her for a long time, all the way back from her Robin status through what Bryan Miller did. I love that series, the “Batgirl” series, I love it dearly and he’s a good friend. So it became about how do we bring her back if we’re going to do the New 52 version of her in a way that honors that character and keeps who she was at the core, but updates the notion of Spoiler? If she’s going to be Spoiler then why is she called Spoiler? What does that mean? Is she someone who knows everything, and does she know everything because of her father or something overheard or because of breaking in somewhere? Does she have all the secrets that everybody wants and that way can we update the idea of Spoiler to be the modern definition of what a spoiler is, and at the same time keep her who she was? It became about those questions, and we’re really happy how it came out.
One of the other ex-Batgirl characters that fans have been clamoring for has been Cassandra Cain. Since now we have Stephanie Brown, does that also open the gates for Cass?
The first Tweets I got about the book were like, “We’re so happy about Stephanie! Now can we get Cassandra back?” [Laughs] All I would say is that we definitely have ideas for Cassandra and we want to bring her back the right way. Sometimes it comes down to when DC thinks that’s the right thing to do, and hopefully one of the stories we have in mind will bring her back in a way we’re all happy with. I’d hope to — I mean I love the character, I wrote her in “Gates Of Gotham” and had a blast.
Selina Kyle in charge of the Gotham Underworld during the events of “Batman” #28, there’s some sort of infection and Gotham’s on lockdown. Meanwhile in “Zero Year,” Riddler’s also putting parts of Gotham on lockdown. Both stories feel apocalyptic. With that in mind, what do you see as the big theme for “Batman Eternal?” Is it another one very similar to “Zero Year” in Gotham breaking apart?
Yeah, because the scope of the series — there’s going to be 52 plus issues, that’s more than double what I’ve written on “Batman” at this point — you can imagine with that space and room to breathe we want to show every corner of Gotham from the newspaper, the Gazette, to the absolute baddest super villains and so on you can bring to the streets. For me, the theme of it is that we want it to be a story that really shakes Gotham. From the very first panels you’ll see Gotham really brought to its knees. I know we say that a lot — and you know, we do it a lot! [Laughs] I feel like we don’t just say it, we do it — wait ’til you see Gotham in “Batman: Zero Year” #29, it looks like “The Last Of Us” or “I Am Legend” or something like that! It’s a lot of fun, I’ve never seen it as this post-apocalyptic looking interpretation. In “Eternal,” you’ll see it covered in almost magical flames in the opening panel and burning.
It’s not the best place to live, clearly, I feel like we keep coming up with ways to torture the populace! But ultimately the reason people stay and love it is because of the same things that are the themes of “Batman Eternal.” That ultimately you stay because as Batman teaches you, this city is here to challenge you, but you come out the other side of that trial by fire and you’re your own favorite hero.
Finally, you mentioned that you wanted to focus on the new generation of these new Bat allies — does that mean we’re not going to see the regular Bat family members making an appearance?
No, they’re all over the book. Tim is all over the book, Harper is all over the book; I don’t want to say anything about Dick only because his status is more of a mystery right now because of what’s happening in “Forever Evil” and I don’t want to give away any spoilers about what’s going to happen to him. There are big stories for your favorite Bat characters and there are stories for the new ones too — we just want it to be a big celebration of all things Batman this year.
“Batman” #28 is on sale now. “Batman Eternal” begins April 9.