Scott Snyder has written three different men under Batman’s cowl, from Dick Grayson in his initial “Detective Comics” run to Bruce Wayne and later Jim Gordon during his New 52 tenure on “Batman.” One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the overwhelmingly positive fan response to his tales of the Dark Knight. Snyder’s Batman run is already considered a modern classic, cemented even further by a lengthy collaboration with artist Greg Capullo. So when Capullo announced a hiatus from “Batman” and rumors began to swirl about Snyder’s time coming to an end, fans started to worry.
DC’s Rebirth initiative changed all that, however. While Snyder is indeed moving on from “Batman,” he isn’t moving on from Batman. Instead, he’ll head up a new “All Star Batman” series featuring art by John Romita, Jr., Jock, Sean Murphy and more. And if anyone was worried about Snyder going anywhere, he also signed a new, exclusive contract with DC Comics.
During WonderCon 2016 in Los Angeles, the same convention where DC made their big Rebirth splash, Snyder sat down with CBR TV’s Jonah Weiland to talk about his plans for “All Star Batman,” the highlights of his collaboration with Capullo, and what advice he has for the team taking on “Batman” after he departs.
Scott Snyder’s conversation with CBR TV begins with a discussion of what it’s like to working with a variety of artists, including superstar John Romita, Jr. and frequent collaborators Jock and Sean Murphy, plus reveals that “All Star Batman” will have backup stories starring supporting character Duke Thomas. He also talks about new price points for monthly comics and how they might affect readers.
On why he decided to sign an exclusive contract with DC and move to a brand new Batman title:
It’s been really interesting, dude. I feel like what happened was Greg [Capullo] decided he was going to do some stuff with Mark Millar for a bit — and he plans on coming back pretty soon. So I had this choice to make of whether or not I stayed at DC and did superhero work continuously, or I took some time and came back with him when he came back, or you know, anything. So I did a lot of soul searching at that time and what I realized was a I had a lot of Batman stories I still wanted to tell, and I told Greg. So when I saw you in October I was just beginning to tell him — literally in October at New York [Comic Con] that I pitched him — I said, “What if I do something while you’re gone that’s like this series where I invite some of the best talent in comics and some of my friends in to do really special takes on all these villains that I’ve never gotten to use: Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, Catwoman. All of these.” And he was like, “Dude, you gotta do this.” He knows the stories and he was like, “You don’t want to save them?” I’m like, “I can’t.”
He was super supportive, and my feeling was that if I could get the right artist for it, and the people were available, then it could be something really special and some of the best work that I’ve done.
So there was a period there though that was very fluid, where I was trying to make sure that Sean [Murphy] could do stuff because Sean is so in demand and has a lot of different plans and, you know, he’s one of my very good friends. And John Romita — who lives right down the street from me, funny enough — was available and willing to do a story.
One of the things we did not mention at the announcement, so this is kind of new, is that the book will have backups. And so the backups are largely about Duke Thomas, one of the characters that we introduced in Batman, and his growth as a superhero under Batman’s training. And so those backups are really essential part of it, and so those backups also offer a really interesting opportunity for a combination of art. So for example, when Jock does Mr. Freeze, Francesco Francavilla is going to do the backup, so we have the “Black Mirror” team together again. With John, Declan Shalvey’s going to do the backups. So we’re trying to really balance it and do very different stuff with each issue. So you get almost a package of things that you’d never expect together. There are so many people involved in this at this point that I didn’t get to mention, from Afua Richardson and Paul Pope — and I’m just really thrilled. My anchors, my big anchors are really John and Sean. Jock is doing some of the character designs and a short Mr. Freeze in the middle. But Sean is doing like my [“Dark Knight Returns” thing, which is the last one, which is huge. And John is doing the Two-Face one, which is first. And the whole year it’s almost like a big 13-issue story that’s called “My Own Worst Enemy.” And each one is sort of a story about one of the great villains and done in a different way, and it all culminates. I didn’t say this earlier — I’m not supposed to spoil this yet, but I’m just gonna. They’re like, “You should roll this out in July,” I’m like, [Joking] “I don’t do July. What if I don’t go to San Diego this year, I don’t know” — it’s sort of one big story even though it doesn’t seem to be, and it culminates in this question of: Who’s the greatest villain of all time? And it won’t be the Joker in this one, so it’ll be a big surprise.
I’m really, really proud of it. It’s almost like my “Long Halloween” or “Hush” where every villain is sort of incorporated and redone in continuity, and I’ve been thinking about it forever. And my Two-Face one I’ve been really working on for a long time.
In part two, Snyder looks beyond the world of comics, explaining why the real world needs its own heroes, and how that’s reflected in fiction. He also discusses his lengthy and fruitful collaboration with artist Greg Capullo, discussing their high points and what the future holds for them together.
On ending his “Batman” run with Greg Capullo on a message of hope:
I think the thing I’m proudest of, honestly, in our entire time on “Batman” and our friendship — which to me I’d say, in all honesty, If I had to trade my run on “Batman” and go back to being a no one, or someone who’s just started and keeping my friendship with Greg, or trading my friendship with Greg for the kind of success that we’ve had on “Batman,” for 100% of my kids I’d trade the success of Batman to keep the friendship that I’ve made with Greg. I mean, he’s become a brother to me.
So that’s what I’m proudest of, but in terms of the book itself or our configuration of Batman, what I’m proudest of is I really think that when I was a kid, Batman represented this figure that kind of scared people back into the shadows, and that was necessary for that moment. Especially New York in the ’80s, where the fears were very, very small, about urban decay and crime — very, very circumscribed by the city itself.
Today with the internet I feel like we live in a very global community, and our fears are much larger. They’re national and global — you fear terrorism and resource depletion and all this kind of stuff, and Batman can’t fight those things. And so, what I really hope what we’ve turned him into — instead of a symbol of intimidation, which is a fine symbol to be back then — he’s kind of a symbol of inspiration. Where, instead of scaring bad people into the shadows, he brings good people out into the light, and inspires us to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be, and overcome our fear — like you’re saying — fear is playing a large part in this mythology. I think he says, no matter what Gotham throws you, no matter what terrifying thing it generates for you to face, you can overcome that in your life. And I feel that’s why he’s such an enduring character, and why he’s endlessly so fun to write. Because people always joke about “Batman always wins” whenever I say like, you know, “X-Men vs. Avengers, who wins? Batman always wins no matter who it is.” But he wins in a way that’s funny, but he also wins in a way that isn’t funny, which is he teaches us that no matter what the obstacle and no matter how entrenched or intractable the kind of issue we’re facing seems, you can make baby steps toward it.
And that’s what Batman is. And so for me, that’s what we were trying to end on, was this sense of problems that Bloom is pointing to are things that will not be solved in this arc, but what Batman says is it’s worth trying.
In the final part of the conversation, outgoing “Batman” writer Scott Snyder talks about what’s next for long-time villain Two-Face after building him up in his run, and offers advice for new writers who will take on the series and character after he hangs up his pen.
On what advice he’d offer to future “Batman” writers:
James [Tynion IV] is my brother and Tom [King] and I started becoming friends long before he got the job. When he was working on “Grayson,” I started showing him my stuff about a year ago, and then when they were looking for someone to take “Batman” because “Batman” was going to be double-shipped — and even before it was double-shipped, just to be clear, when Greg said he was going to take some time off, I knew I was going to switch titles at that point, it wouldn’t make sense — I didn’t feel like it made sense for me to stay on “Batman” without my partner. So I was pushing for Tom internally as well, and my feeling is that those guys — I cannot tell you what terrific people and terrific writers they are, both of them. They have such great stuff coming, I swear to God, the “Batman” stuff’s in great hands, and “Detective [Comics].”
But my advice to them would be what we tell each other all the time, because we trade, and we’re always like, is this the story you’d like to pick up and read today about this character. Where what Tom is doing really speaks to his experience in the CIA and it speaks to some of his darker sensibilities that I think you sort of see on “Vision,” and he’s sort of bringing this bombast for David Finch. And so ultimately what I’d say is that Batman, you have to write him so he’s a creator-owned character, you have to write him as though you’re taking a character and saying, “These are the fears I have in the middle of the night.” For me it was, on “Death of the Family,” it was being a father, you know, I could name each one. You right him as though he’s the hero you’ve chosen to fight your worst nightmares in the middle of the night, and work you through them. You can’t be afraid even he’s such a storied character with such a legacy of amazing stories, to make it personal and make it individuated, where you’re giving a lot of yourself and making yourself vulnerable on the page. Because when you’re emotional and vulnerable and say this is what I’m scared of, and I hope Batman can make me brave when it comes to this, like in “Superheavy,” the way the country is, you know? People respond so rewardingly to that. They love when you’re willing to make yourself — to show them what you’re thinking and feeling and afraid of in the middle of the night. Because it makes Batman your hero, and thereby by proxy their hero as well.
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