DC is currently in the midst of the Year of the Villain. In honor of this sinister celebration, the minds behind the ongoing event took to the stage at Comic-Con International in San Diego to shine light on what else the big bads of the DC Universe have planned.
First up was Amy Dallen and she was joined by Tom Taylor, Josh Williamson, James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder.
"It's something we've been building for a long time," Tynion said. "This is the huge story we've been building to since Dark Nights: Metal."
"We're really big fans of bad guys," Williamson added.
"We have our own mini secret summits," Snyder said about the process of creating Year of the Villain. "It's basically the biggest thing we've ever tried."
"We have The Batman Who Laughs in one corner," he added. "He comes from the Dark Multiverse and he's the embodiment of the fear Batman has that one day, he'll kill The Joker. That character has been a blast to write and he's been secretly creating a serum that will turn us into the worst versions of ourselves. Meanwhile, over in Justice League, we've been doing this story with Lex Luthor and Perpetua. He feels this incredible revelation because we used to be this great animal, this great thing, so he's been building that. He realizes what's needed to unlock [Perpetua] is faith in her. So he blows himself up, he kills himself. He takes all his resources and give them to DC's greatest villains. It might be connections to other villains, it might be money, weapons. He really believes this is what we're meant to be."
"While Lex is building this army, The Batman Who Laughs is on a different mission," Williamson said. "He's out there seeding all this stuff to build his plan. We started building a list of all the people he can infect and Billy Batson is one of the most innocent heroes out there. There's this mystery of who else has been infected so while this is happening, you have these two villains that are on a collision course."
"When we're done, you'll look at this and see what's almost a four-year plan," he added.
"When you see what's coming, it's just a culmination of so much of the stories we've been building in other books," Snyder said. "You don't need to read them together to understand them separately. But if you do, we promise it's all one piece and it will all come to fruition soon."
Taylor then brought up Black Mask: Year of the Villain, his one-shot with Cully Hamner.
"I kinda like playing with villains, too," he said. "It's like, you have to start thinking of what Lex would do. What would he offer Black Mask to upgrade him? It's really exciting. I can't tell you what it is because that'd spoil it but it's about the mask. He gets an offer that really does upgrade him. He's given so much power that now this is a guy that can change the world."
Dallen then asked what's so appealing about Year of the Villain.
"As much as we say it's dark, it is, it's crazy fun, but all of those stories are really testaments to the heroes," Snyder replied. "We wanted to create a challenge that really makes the heroes tremble. What would you do if the only way to beat this onslaught might be to be bad? Do you compromise who you are? That question is at the heart of Year of the Villain. It's all in service of showing how great these heroes are."
Over the last few years, you're starting to see it all pay off and all culminate," Tynion added. "It really is asking the question, are things meant to turn towards doom, towards evil?"
"I really feel like it's an urgent story, too," Snyder said. "I look at my kids and I feel this story urgently. This story really does matter to us. And all the fun stuff is coming."
"Not to spoil too much but [Luthor] makes his case to the world," he added. "It's a really tempting thing. I read it and it's scary to me."
"The core flip that happened in Luthor is the selfishness has always been about Superman," Tynion said. "He always felt small. And now that he knows deep down that the universe intended for him to be better, that's the turning point."
"The best villains think they're the hero of their own story," Williamson added.
"I think it's the best thing we've done," said Snyder. "And it will end. It has a really big endgame coming in fall into 2020."
Regarding Lex Luthor: Year of the Villain, Williamson said, "I hear the script Jason [Latour] is doing with Bryan Hitch is amazing."
"We've collaborated with a lot of people over the years," Snyder added. "The goal is not to say, 'this is what we want you to do.'"
The discussion then shifted to DCeased.
"You are really great at the interpersonal relationships," Tynion said to Taylor. "It's like you have the whole DCU in you're head, and now you're ripping it apart."
"This is such a big story," Taylor said. "It begins with 'Darkseid was.' We kill God, essentially, in the first issue."
"As a writer, when you're working on these superheroes, you have to be the villain," Williamson said. "It gets in there," Snyder added. "There's a temptation there."
Regarding The Joker, Snyder said, "To me, Joker says the opposite [of Batman]. You win when nothing else matters. He wants to prove it to Batman. He never really wants either one of them to win." He then explained the dichotomy between The Joker and The Batman Who Laughs.
Dallen then asked what's coming up in Justice League.
"We see Lex Luthor reemerge into the story in a terrifying way," Tynion replied. "The move he makes will be devastating to the Justice League. Essentially, he rips the heart of the Justice League out. He has become 'Apex Lex.' He is this soldier in this neverending battle to reshape the Multiverse."
"It's a horrifying story built lovingly from the biggest pieces in all of DC lore," he continued. "The toybox of the DCU has been dumped out on the table and we're playing with all of them."
"You're gonna see how bright our heroes shine through that darkness," Williamson added.
Tynion then teased potentially bringing other iterations of Starman into Justice League.
On the subject of "Justice Doom War," Snyder assured readers they can pick it up cold without needing to have read earlier Justice League issues.