Have you marked September 21 on your calendar yet? That is the day that Scott Snyder's Batman #1 is on sale. If you haven't yet, be sure to check out our podcast with Scott where he talked about Batman, Swamp Thing and American Vampire. Because he has so much planned for Batman, we just had to go into more detail. If you haven't been drooling at the mouth already for his Batman after his successful run on Detective Comics, wait until you see what he has planned for Bruce.
Comic Vine: You mentioned in the past about completing your stories with Dick. Have you completed all the stories you had in mind with him?
Scott Snyder: Not at all. I have tons of stories in mind for him. I don't see it as a completed story so much as the beginning of material I really want to get out there with him. I mean, he's a character, to me, that has so much potential and so many variations in the Bat-universe. As Bruce's closest ally besides Alfred but somebody who Bruce probably pushes away more than any other person.== TEASER ==
To me, one of the things that's really interesting about Dick Grayson, and this will be something, a theme that's mined in Batman too, is that relationship is pathological at times and completely endearing at others. Dick always wears his heart on his sleeve, he cares about Bruce openly. He's compassionate and empathetic. Bruce is just a darker character, and for me, he's someone who needs that connection but won't admit it. That's why he as all the Robins and so on. He needs people and he's not fully...crazy, the way you'd imagine he'd become as an old and wind up in the cave all the time.
The idea is that Dick Grayson is also the person who is his greatest tether to humanity. When I think about the future for Bruce, I think about him either very very lonely, sort of like the Batman Beyond version of him or dying in the line of duty as Batman or...you know, there aren't a lot of good endings. Dick's the person that would pull him back from the edge, or even bring him down, honestly if he needed to if Bruce really went too far in some way and bring him in. It really wouldn't be Clark, as much as I love the stories with Clark, I feel like Clark would lose to him, to Batman. But the person that would probably really get him is Dick. That story is in the back of my head as something that might never ever happen. But if you take the characters, I love Elseworlds and futuristic versions of them. From the Dark Knight Returns to Batman Beyond to everything, even things like Red Son and all sorts of stories that imagine what would happen if you took this character through a logical extension like Kingdom Come.
My opinion is Dick would be the person to bring Bruce down. I don't mean kill him, he'd bring him back from the edge and have him locked up if he went too far in some way. He's the final battle for Bruce in that way and not Clark. I know some people think it would be Clark, Dick would be the second to last if he were doing the levels in a video game. It would be Dick Grayson and then finally Superman but to me it would be the reverse. The final guy would be Dick Grayson. I think he knows Bruce better in some ways.
I know this is a long answer but to me, Dick is an integral part of the Bat mythology and an endlessly interesting character. There's a lot of things I want to do with him and a lot of things in the works that we're doing with him. Beyond just the Nightwing book, which is going to be great. Kyle Higgins is doing a wonderful job and beyond the first and second arc of Nightwing, we just have a lot planned for that character. All of us do, in the Bat-universe. He's a huge part of it. I have a lot of stories I want to tell that I hope people will like.
CV: I'm sure they will. How will the tone of your Batman compare to Dick's in Detective Comics?
SS: The tone will be very different. In terms of the story itself, it'll be different because Detective was really a story about somebody who is stepping into the cowl, despite Batman: Prodigal, for the first time. I wanted it to be the way the city adapts to challenge him at the weakest points in his armor.
What Gotham does is try to convince you that the things that are your strengths are your weaknesses. It'll send you villains that are sort of twisted versions of the things that are your failings. Bruce gets, for all of his obsessive tunnel vision, the Joker, someone who lives in the equivalent of the Batcave in his own mind. Basically if Bruce didn't keep some tether to humanity and he fell completely into Batman, he'd almost become someone like the Joker. Two-Face is kind of the reflection of the duality of his life and all that.
I wanted it to be a story where Gotham is generating villains for Dick Grayson and changing itself to be a reflection of the things he takes pride in. It's trying to show him those are weaknesses that will make him incapable of defeating the city and the challenges the city throws at him. That's why for me, Dick Grayson is a character who is extremely optimistic. He's really social. He relies on friends. He is empathetic and compassionate. He does this not out of a sense of pathology, the way Bruce does, Bruce is really about doing this out of a sense of obsession and Dick does it more out of the goodness of his heart. He doesn't do it out of a sense of guilt or anger. He doesn't have the same baggage Bruce does. The story in TEC was more about the city changing to attack that aspect of his psychology.
Bruce is like the consummate warrior for Gotham. There's not a lot you can throw his way that would surprise him at this point. He is not someone that has the same sort of chinks in the armor that Dick has for the city to go after. Those chinks in the armor are strengths for Dick, in my opinion. That's why he wins out. They're strengths, not weaknesses. But that's what Gotham tries to do, it convinces you they're weaknesses.
For Bruce, his greatest weakness is his confidence...his faith in his own abilities. At the end of the day, it's all he has. Superman really is Clark. To me, Bruce is Batman. It's not like Bruce is some phoney thing he wears but in the scale of the superhero identity, Bruce is deeply tilted towards Batman. This story is a lot about that. He's given up so much of happiness in his life just to do this. So the way to really terrify him is to show him that his world and everything he thinks he's confident about in terms of Gotham and its villains is just a tiny little part of Gotham's scope.
Gotham is about to bring all of this crushing history to bear on him in some way that's going to shock him. The plot is about him realizing that there's a very deeply embedded mystery that's part of the folklore of Gotham. It's built into the architecture and the secret social network in Gotham. There's an enemy of the Wayne family and of Batman thats been there for a long time. It just hasn't been paying attention to him or just hasn't turned its big eye toward him in a long time. Now it's ready to fight him and the shocking thing to Bruce, that would break his heart is he investigated this thing and didn't find anything. He's confident it can't exist because he looked into it. There couldn't be something big in Gotham that he wouldn't know about. If there is, it would shatter a lot of things for him. Even if he didn't admit it. Both stories are similar in Batman's relationship with Gotham and Gotham is a character in both. They are different in theme and the way the city attacks makes for a very different reading.
In terms of the art, for Detective, I really wanted art that really matched what the story was about. In terms of being unsettling, kinetic and not superhero-ish. For this book, when I heard the possibility of getting Greg Capullo, which I'm over the moon about, I have to say a thousand times on the record how incredibly excited I am for people to see his work. It doesn't even begin to do it justice to see little snippets of it. When you see how dynamic and how energetic, how fresh and charismatic Batman is...I can't wait. He's just killing it page to page. I couldn't be more thrilled to be working together and I'm not just saying that out of PR. If I didn't really like it, I'd just focus on talking about the story. I love his stuff. He's my partner in crime on this and I couldn't be happier.
For this, it's really about Bruce being very very confident at first. He comes back from all the stuff he's doing on INC, you don't have to have read Batman Incorporated at all, you just know that he's here in Gotham. He says, 'There's no place like home. I'm here. I'm going to re-invest in the city. My interests have been a little far-flung. This is the place that made me. This is my oldest friend."
I wanted it to look really big and bold and superhero-ish at the beginning. I want you to feel like this is Batman in his element. The great thing about Greg is he can do that to a tee. He's also done Haunt and Creech and all that stuff where he does creepy and horror really really well. As the book begins to turn, in issue 1 (and 2 and 3 and 4) and as Bruce becomes aware of this thing, of this almost system of enemies that might be there behind the scenes that could really be built into the foundations of the city itself, Greg has changed the style. He's made it much darker and moodier.
Tonally, I'm really proud of the way the book is shaping up. I really feel that the art is objectively amazing. I'm also proud of it because, I think together, he and I see the way, the same way me and Jock and Francesco on Detective and the way me and Rafael on American Vampire, the point of the story. We believe in what we're doing, the whole long form narrative. In that way, he's adjusting his style, bringing it to life thematically. Tonally there will be a big difference. It'll look very different but there's a story reason for all that.
CV: How much coordination will there be with the other writers on the other Batman books?
SS: Well there's a lot right now. We all started to coordinate a few months before the New 52. We just started reading each others' stuff more because we had all been on the books for a while at that point. I just e-mailed Pete Tomasi when he got back on Batman and Robin, when he was doing his first issue and I told him how much I loved his stuff on Nightwing and how influential it was to me. When writing Dick, I tried doing some nods to it. It started us talking and he couldn't be a cooler guy. And Gail obviously is a hero of mine. I told her the same, I was reading Birds of Prey, Secret Six and all her stuff. And then we started trading. There's been a lot of coordination just as friends and Mike Marts has been great about cultivating. With Kyle on Nightwing, obviously he and I are great friends from Gates of Gotham. Tony Daniel, too, has become a very good friend. I have become I'd say there's a pretty high level of collaboration. Things that are out of play will be out of play in other books. Things that are happening in one book might be mentioned in another. There'll be moments that really cross over between Batman and Nightwing. We're all really excited about the New 52.
As someone who's read Batgirl #1 and Batman and Robin #1 and Nightwing #1 and all those, I can generally say they're terrific books. I'm proud to stand next to them in the Bat-U.
CV: What is your approach to the New 52 in general?
SS: I know there's a lot people out there afraid of it. It can be scary, the changes happening here and there. There isn't a tag. You can't say everything is different because everything isn't different. And you can't say everything is the same. Where does that leave you? The best thing I can say about it is, the best way I can describe it honestly is DC gave us creators the chance to tell whatever story we thought would be the best story with these characters that we love.
For me, this is the Batman story I'd been working on for months, just before the New 52. This is the story I wanted to tell. It's barely adjusted to be a number one except it's slightly more accessible. This is the story I'd tell about Bruce if someone gave me carte blanche. I know that's the case in a lot of these books. I know that it's the case with Jeff Lemire over in Animal Man and with his Frankenstein. I know I, Vampire is the book Josh Fialkov would do. It's what he does. He loves vampire fiction. He's written all these vampire novels as well. And I know J.T. has a love for Captain Atom, it's a character he really wanted.
What I'm saying is DC gave us an opportunity through the New 52 to tell them what we would do if we could do anything with a character, as fans of that character. Among the people I know, my friends, and what I know of this initiative, there's a tremendous excitement at this point.
All of us in the Bat-world talked about it. We talked about...should we reboot the Joker? Should we reboot Two-Face? Should we change Jason Todd's history? What we really came down on was the feeling that we love the stories that were there and the history that was there. It wasn't really worth it to change any of that stuff and wipe it out or alter certain characters. For Batman, as big fans of him, all of us working the Bat-U felt we were excited what was happening right then. That's why Batman and the immediate Bat-family, meaning Bruce, Dick, Damian, Tim, Alfred...those relationships and the stories that have happened to them are all there. Tim was Robin. Dick was Robin. Batman did die and disappear for a while. All those things are referenced in little easter eggs and open references Batman.
In Batman #1, you'll see the whole Bat-family in their tuxes. And Jason's around too. I'm not leaving him out because he wasn't Robin. Everything that happened to him happened to him. It's just that he's in another book. He wouldn't be there in a tux with them. The idea is one thing I wanted to do in Batman #1 is just show fans that if you love something about Batman, it's a pretty sure bet that we love it too. And it's a pretty sure bet that it's still there. You'll see the rogues gallery in issue 1, the whole rogues gallery. Professor Pyg, the Flamingo, Two-Face, Joker, Clayface and James Jr. too. You'll see he makes a cameo too.
I wanted it to be the issue to really get the mystery going and for you to really feel the tone of the book. It's a fresh, very high tech, tough badass Batman. That's the way Bruce is to me. He's a lone warrior with the greatest gadgets and the greatest tech in the world. But I also wanted it to be a celebration of all things Batman. There's a speech he gives in issue 1 to a bunch of rich people. In that speech he says the way to shape Gotham, instead of looking around and asking what the city is and what you like and don't like in the present, why don't we look to the future? Let's build on what's already there instead of changing things. Look to the future and ask what could tomorrow bring? That's the whole tone of the book. The history is there. The legacy is there. The continuity is there. But we also want to do something fresh and move forward with it.
CV: Bruce is going to be working with Damian in Batman and Robin, is your Batman going to be working alone or is Damian or Dick or anyone going to be popping in?
SS: Well...they pop in. Especially Dick because in a lot of ways, the story does have revelations about all of them. I also want it to be Bruce alone. It's been a long time since we've had a long form story with Bruce by himself in Gotham. I love what David [Finch] is doing in The Dark Knight. It's tough because he's also overseas in at the same time in a big way in INC. While INC is sort of on hiatus, everything in INC stands, by the way. INC is still part of continuity. The stuff happening there will be referenced. It's almost like there's going to be a big break while this stuff is happening. This is where you'll see Bruce as Batman back in Gotham. He's more confident than ever. He has new gadgets but it's the same Bruce with everything having happened.
I felt it was important to do a solo story. He's been so enmeshed in the Bat-family, which I love, but I want to see a story about Bruce all by himself. This is really Bruce versus Gotham.
CV: You made some new villains for Dick and we've seen the new villain in the solicits for Batman. Do you have other new villains planned?
SS: Oh yeah. There's a whole network of villains. [laughs] There's going to be a whole army of villains. I'm really really excited about it. I don't want to give it away at all but there's going to be an almost war for Gotham's soul with a lot of soldiers on both sides. I'm very thrilled and the designs for the villains and the things Greg is coming up with behind the scenes is going to be really fun. It's going to have a lot to do with Gotham's history as well.
I've never written a story in this structure before. TEC was built around these little mini arcs. This, even though it has smaller three-issue stories or two-issue stories, it's really one big story. But you can jump on at any point. If you haven't read issue 1, you can jump into issue 2, but you really should read issue 1 for fun because issue 1 is going to be really good [laughs]. I'm trying to make every issue accessible but it's going to be something for Bruce that's building paranoia, building fear, building an enemy. There's something in Gotham that he didn't see that now threatens to bring all the weight of history against him. Something that could crush the whole Bat-family.
It's fun in that it's one big solo story about Bruce versus Gotham. If there was a tag for it, it really would be like, "Bruce, you don't know Gotham."
CV: Has the villain's name been revealed?
SS: It hasn't been revealed and I don't wanna give it away because his name sort of ties into a lot of the stuff that's happening. The way it's discovered is part of the fun. I will say this, there's part of an old Gotham City nursery rhyme that has his name. It's stuff that Bruce doesn't believe exists, stuff from children's scary stories. He doesn't want to see it even though the ghosts of the organization are all over the place. I mean the whispers of it, not the supernatural things. There really isn't any sort of supernatural anything in this story. It's all pretty grounded.
If you look at TEC, at the end or if you look in GATES...if you want, you don't need to. You don't need to read any Batman, you don't even need to know who Batman is, you can pick up #1 and be able to read it. I promise you that. If you have been reading it, though, there'll be references and easter eggs. There's also stuff embedded in the architecture in TEC and hints in GATES about the stuff we're going to do in Batman and I'm really really excited about that too. We're trying to really build layers of history into Gotham that are going to come to bear against Bruce in some way.
CV: You kind of touched on this but are any of the villains going to get updates?
SS: The villains? No, not that I know of. I mean you see the whole rogues gallery in issue 1. Unless they're going to change it up on me and in issue 1 they're all wearing Kryptonian armor or something like that.
I don't think that's going to be the case in all seriousness because we really discussed it among the Bat-writers. There was talk about it like should we redo Two-Face in some way? There was some talk, honestly about the Riddler, maybe making him a character who is scarier in terms of the games he played. Sort of like Jigsaw from the SAW movies. But at the end of the day we really loved the characters as they are.
It came down to instead of radically changing the designs of any of them to people coming up with good stories for the characters as they are. The discussions about this stuff lead to huge fun stories that are coming with the Joker in a really big way, with Two-Face...it lead to us saying we don't need to reboot them because this is the story I want to tell.