SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "Batman" #51, on sale now.
The superstar creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo draw the curtain on their best-selling "Batman" run this week, but it has to be asked -- why stop at the 51st issue rather than #52, especially since it's the flagship title of DC Comics' historic New 52 initiative?
The dynamic duo not only shared the reason with CBR News, they also discussed the closing salvo of their opus, including what Gotham means to them both as creators now that they have completed a run largely considered the crown jewel of the publisher's massive 2011 relaunch.
They also revealed details about their next projects as Snyder is set to launch "All-Star Batman" with an all-star roster of artists as part of DC Comics' Rebirth, while Capullo is illustrating a new series for mega-writer Mark Millar.
Snyder also teased what's next for the Court of Owls, including the hope that when he returns to Gotham's secret society, Capullo will join him for the ride.
CBR News: I love James Tynion IV and Rafael Albuquerque's work, but something has been nagging at me since the solicitations for May 2016 dropped. Why aren't you finishing your run with the series' final issue, "Batman" #52?
Scott Snyder: [Laughs] We didn't know that there was going to be a Rebirth. And really, it boiled down to schedule. James and Rafael are going to kill it. I know that story up and down, I talked it through with James. He's, obviously, one of my closest friends, as is Rafael. Greg and I talked about the ending of our run a long time ago, and "Batman" #50 was going to be our extravaganza. Then we had one more coda issue before we even realized that DC was going to do Rebirth or any of this kind of stuff. It was long in the cards.
"Batman" #51 is beautifully done. You're right, it lacks the action of #50, but this is really a love letter to Gotham and your entire run. Let me ask you the question that you ask readers to answer, and finish this sentence: "Gotham is... "
Snyder: Gotham is them. It's them, as readers. That's what we were trying to say in the issue. As much as Gotham is this fictional place, it's powered by all of the people that love Batman and read "Batman" and love the mythos.
Growing up in New York, the funny thing that you realize is that the city is the city at the moment that you live in it with the people that you live in it with. And then you all move, or you die, it changes, and it's new stores and new people. You might come back to visit, or you might move out of your neighborhood, but it existed because you guys were together at that moment in that place.
And Gotham is us. It's me and Greg and that fanbase all at the same moment, feeling the same way about Batman. Trying new ideas, trying to make him modern, trying to make him be a hero for right now and face things that we are afraid of right now, as opposed to 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, or even 10 years from now. It's all of us, together.
Greg Capullo: For me, after five years of living in it, Gotham is home.
We've talked a lot about the near-symbiotic relationship of Batman and the Joker in the past, but what abut Gotham. What's Batman without Gotham and vice versa?
Capullo: They are definitely linked. They're attached at the hip. I'd say that they are one and the same at this point. It's not to say that Gotham won't survive should Batman perish -- we tried to show in the last arc that it wouldn't be the case. Someone would rise up and be that symbol. But certainly, I would say that Batman is Gotham City, and Gotham is Batman. They are two lungs in one body.
Snyder: Gotham, to me, is this imagined landscape or All-American city that then gets a hero that faces off against the problems of its population. For us, the Red Hood Gang represented gun violence. Riddler was an Ã¼ber-terrorist. Gotham is the place where you get to go where a hero faces off against your biggest fears. Batman is essential to Gotham in that regard.
Bruce is almost like the ghost warrior that goes up against the things the people of that city are afraid of. Even if he can't save them from the real world problems or the real world extensions of those things, he can help people feel brave enough to take baby steps towards the tangible versions of those problems. You might not be able to face a giant Mister Bloom, but when it comes to things that [Bloom] really represents, Batman says you should feel brave enough to face the things you can fight.
Does Gotham get a bad rap? I mean, sure, there seems like a lot of supervillains like to hang out there, but Batman is there as well, so no worries, right?
Capullo: I'd say it's a deserved reputation. [Laughs] It's a rough town, man.
Snyder: On a Wednesday, you get Joker-ized, and Thursday, you might get a giant kaiju. Never a dull moment. [Laughs] I get asked a lot about why would anyone move to Gotham given everything that goes on there?
Capullo: Must be cheap. [Laughs]
Snyder: Right. It's rent controlled! [Laughs] But I come back to this idea that, when you move to a place like New York, or anywhere, really -- it doesn't even need to be a city. When you're pursuing what you want to be in life, you go somewhere that will challenge you and say, "You can't do it." And Gotham is the ultimate version of that. You go to Gotham, and it throws all of your worst fears at you, like it does to Bruce, and if you can overcome those, you can become the person that you have always wanted to be. As evil and frightening and terrible as it is, you stay there because it's this kind of ultimate trial by fire.
Your run comes full circle as we get a glimpse of the Court of Owls in this issue, and eerily, they are discussing something known as 'The Mantling.' Is this a tease into what's to come in your new series "All-Star Batman," or are you laying the groundwork for future "Batman" writers?
Snyder: I have a full second wave of the Court of Owls planned out in my mind, but I don't know when I will be able to get to it. It's one of those things that I would really want to do with Greg, they are so deeply our characters. But yeah, hopefully, it's a story for the near future.
And what about "All-Star Batman"? Anything you can share about your new series?
Snyder: Working with Greg on the main book has been the ride of my life. On "Batman" itself, it will always be him and me. But one of things that has been really fun over the years has been trying to use different muscles and write different ways for different artists. Again, Greg is the best in the business, but there are still a lot of villains that I haven't had a chance to write on "Batman." So I had this idea to write a comic where I would invite some of the best people in comics, including some of my friends, and do new takes on a bunch of the classic villains.
"All-Star Batman," for me, is all about swinging for the fences. We're doing Two-Face and Catwoman and Mr. Freeze, and I get to reunite some really great teams. Jock and Francesco [Francavilla], the "Detective Comics: Black Mirror" team, are doing Mr. Freeze together. John Romita, Jr. and Declan Shalvey are doing Two-Face with me. It gives me a chance to do really big stories with villains that I haven't had a chance to write yet, and do my take on them. The same way we did our take on the Joker or Riddler, these are very different takes, but in continuity. Everything will be filtered down, meaning our designs for the villains will be the designs for the main line, and our takes on the villains will bleed into what happens in Tom [King]'s "Batman" and the other Bat-books. I get to work in tandem with Tom and the Bat-team and, at the same time, have a bit of room to do a story that has a different spin than some of the stuff we did on "Batman."
The secret is, even though it feels compartmentalized with Two-Face, Mr. Freeze and Catwoman, it actually all leads to one big finale that I'm doing with Sean Murphy. He's a joy to work with and, obviously, a really good friend and a long-time collaborator.
Greg, can you give us a tease about what's to come from you and Mark Millar?
Capullo: Next month, I'll be able to talk a little bit more about it and show some stuff that I've been working on. Until then, the only thing I can tell you is that I have had a pretty long career, I have done a lot of different books, and this is by far different from anything I've done in my professional career. It's all the kind of stuff that I loved as a kid, and now I'm able to bring them to life and create these worlds. You are going to see me like you have never seen me before. And it's a great story. It's touching, it's moving, it's got tons of action.
"Batman" #51 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is available now.