SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Batman” #47, on sale now.
If there’s one thing superstar creators Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have taught readers to expect over the course of their “Batman” run, it’s the unexpected. This week’s “Batman” #47 proved no different, with twists and turns so relentless the issue felt like like a runaway train. Except it wasn’t a train — it was a giant, fangs-out, wide-eyed bat.
CBR News connected with Snyder and Capullo to discuss the return of Batman’s most infamous archenemy to the best-selling DC Comics series, as well a face-to-face meeting with Bruce Wayne and Duke Thomas that the creators teased will most likely lead to the former returning to his rightful place in Gotham City under the cape and cowl.
Snyder and Capullo also shared their thoughts on why Jim Gordon would never use a gun as a lethal weapon out of respect for the “real” Batman and how every street and alley you walk down in Gotham inherently leads to The Joker.
CBR News: Obviously, the big reveal in “Batman” #47 comes on the final page with a bearded Bruce sharing a moment on a park bench with an oddly handsome, green-eyed man that we can only assume is a de-clowned Joker. I have to ask the obvious question here: Are you spinning “Batman” off into a buddy comedy series like “The Bucket List” with LumberBruce in the Morgan Freeman role and The Joker perfectly cast as Jack Nicholson?
Scott Snyder: Don’t think that I wouldn’t write that. [Laughs] I would write the two of them ‘de-powered’ forever. I had so much fun writing the next issue and Greg drew it so gorgeously that I honestly though that Joker should stay with [Bruce] and they could fight crime together. Maybe he can move into the cave? It was so much fun to write him from that standpoint. And that’s been the joy of this whole arc, casting characters in different roles.
And Greg, was it weird to draw The Joker without his trademark facial aesthetics or, more specifically to your run, without his face sewn to his head? [Laughs]
Greg Capullo: I think Scott was probably pretty nervous when he wrote that scene about how I was going to make him look like The Joker, if he’s not The Joker. But honestly, he didn’t change that much. His haircut is pretty distinctive. And the structure of his face and his body is the same. I just toned everything down. And I really tried to play on body language. When he turns to address Bruce in that frame, that’s all body language to convey it’s The Joker. It all works together. You just have to take some of the crazy out of it.
Last time we spoke about “Batman,” Scott, you actually said the closest Bruce has come to any kind of romance during your run, prior to Julie Madison, was his relationship with The Joker. It sounds like it’s not going to happen but there is obviously a history in DC Comics of Superman and Lex Luthor teaming up to save the day. If The Joker’s abilities could actually be harnessed for good instead of evil, that would be a pretty powerful force.
Snyder: Honestly, I had an idea, which I may still use, of how Batman and The Joker would team up — or at least why — but no immediate plans.
But for me, the reason I always come back to The Joker in every arc, one way or another, is because at the core, especially in a post-9/11 world, he represents the darkest, scariest thing creeping in the shadows. With all of the efforts that you do to make your life meaningful, they don’t mean anything when The Joker, and what he represents, is lurking. He was very openly that in “Endgame” as the Red Hood. And in “Death of the Family,” he told Batman that he could escape all of that by coming to him. None of it means anything. It all just goes to the flies. That’s why Greg’s idea of using the insects to represent him is so brilliant.
It’s why it’s also so inspiring to write because you’re writing the exact moment when everything is falling apart. A big metaphor for this arc is a particle collider, this idea that there are these elements that are created but because they are unstable, they dissipate and the world that we have created — this life that Bruce has created for himself, the hero that Jim has become — is becoming unstable. And this is moment where The Joker, in whatever iteration he manifests, always shows up.
Wow. That’s a powerful message. Another big moment in this issue is the confrontation between Duke Thomas and Bruce on the subway tracks when Duke basically challenges Bruce to step up and return to Gotham as Batman. It reminded me of a situation a few years back when Neil Gaiman stood up for George R.R. Martin telling a reader that the novelist of “Song of Ice and Fire” fame wasn’t ‘your bitch’ and ‘letting you down’ because it was taking longer than expected for “A Dance With Dragons” to come out. Is Duke asking a lot of Bruce considering he doesn’t owe Gotham anything when he has already given so much to the city?
Snyder: That’s exactly what we’re going to explore in “Batman” #48. It all comes down to who you are. Bruce doesn’t owe anybody anything. He doesn’t need to become Batman again. But is he the type of person that always does the most that he can to help — even if that means death? Is he somebody that can live with himself knowing that he isn’t doing everything that he can. That question is going to be answered in a conversation with The Joker. And for me, this is a really interesting construction that is almost at opposite sides of the spectrum for these two characters without giving anything away about what’s to come for The Joker.
Greg, I love the way you drew this scene, too, except for the nightmares you caused with the image of the giant bat barreling down the tracks I couldn’t get out of my head. [Laughs]
Capullo: In the description, Scott likened the train to a bat with the sounds of the wheels screeching and the headlights being the eyes and it just dawned on me that it would be really cool to make the train into a giant bat, which would be a nice nod to Bruce’s first experience with bats when he fell down the well and first decided to become Batman. I made the bat extremely large and destructive because Bruce’s whole new life that he’s built is going to be destroyed. I don’t want to spoil anything but Bruce is probably going to don the cowl again. [Laughs]
I’m glad you mentioned the cowl and not the cape. With Jim Gordon currently protecting Gotham as Batman, he obviously has a different look, specially sans cape. Not only did we get to see him capture Mister Bloom this issue (and nearly unmask him) but we also got to see Jim fire a gun at ‘Rookie,’ which is a very anti-Batman thing to do. Does a gun-toting Batman change the way you tell stories?
Capullo: Well, first of all, the gun isn’t lethal. [Laughs]
Snyder: But we did have that discussion. Early on, I remember talking to Greg and saying, “Jim uses a gun as a police officer in real life, shouldn’t he use a gun as Batman?” But after we thought about it, we decided that he would never use a gun as Batman. He understands what the Batman who came before him stood for. And even though he is basically deputized into the role of Batman, it would still be stepping on the legacy of the real Batman too much.
Capullo: I remember saying at the time to Scott about how we both are with our families. And if one of us died and the other one had a chance to help out with the other’s family, you would do it a different way because we love each other and respect each other and it would play out the same way. [Wielding a gun] would be something that Jim would naturally reject out of respect for his fallen friend.
“Batman” #47 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is available now from DC Comics.
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