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Interview: Scott Snyder Talks BATMAN #36, Endgame, and What Joker's Been Up to

Where has Joker been? How long was this planned? What does the future hold for Joker?

Most likely you're aware that Joker is back. After a long absence (after Death of the Family), last month's BATMAN #35 revealed that Joker was back and had somehow Joker-ized the entire Justice League, who then attacked Batman. One question we all had was, what has the Joker been up to all this time? We also wanted to know what he would look like after having lost his face.

Those answers are revealed in this week's BATMAN #36. We spoke to Scott about the issue, Joker, and coming up with all those contingency plans against the Justice League.

There will be spoilers below!

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COMIC VINE: With more information revealed in BATMAN #36, basically Joker was hiding under Batman's nose for some time?

SCOTT SNYDER: Pretty much, yeah.

CV: Is Batman going to reflect on this at all? He’s the World’s Greatest Detective and didn’t see Joker coming?

SS: He will. I’m sure he’ll beat himself up over it. But at the end of the day, if anyone is going to do that to him, it’s the Joker. For me, the Joker represents Batman’s worst fears all the time. He’s a character that’s a reflection of your most nightmarish thoughts. The idea that Joker could pull it off, for me, he’s the only character that could put Batman in that position. That’s what he’s designed to do. That’s who he is. At his core, he’s there to terrify you. So he’s going to terrify you in ways you think are impossible. That’s what makes him powerful and scary. He thinks of the things when you think, “What would I be most afraid of? Well, having Joker right under my nose.” “You know what? I’m going to make that possible.” In his way, that’s what he is. He’s a bringer of nightmares.

If you’ll forgive Batman for not realizing that was him, I think there was a lot it would have taken Batman to put together. I mean Joker suddenly has his face back. He’s coming to help people. His skin is back to normal. His hair is back to normal. He’s thinking, or hoping, that maybe Joker died or maybe was so badly injured he wouldn’t see him for a long time. To have him come back as quickly as Eric [Border] did, because Eric was there by BATMAN ANNUAL #2, which is well over a year ago at this point, I don’t think anyone was prepared for that. Something must have happened to Joker to heal him and put him there that fast. I think that would have been bewildering to Batman.

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CV: Was it always the plan to bring him back this way when Batman Annual #2 came out?

SS: Yeah, 100%. I mean 100, 100%. I hope that’s really clear. His name…everything. He interrupts when they say “Joker.” I was worried people would guess it when ANNUAL #2 came out. I thought people would guess it was Joker when we said “Endgame.” I thought they’d guess Eric was Joker back when we first introduced him. Basically Marguerite [Bennett] actually wrote a thing where he was more talking about the Joker and how he was glad Joker wasn’t there when he first came to Arkham. I was like, “I think that’s going to give it away.” Now looking back, I’m like, “You’re such an idiot. That wouldn’t have given it away.” I was just so paranoid about it at the time.The only people that knew that was Joker was me, Marguerite, and James Tynion for a while. And then as we got closer, I told Gerry Duggan because I wanted to get his opinion on the story. That was about a year and a half ago at Kansas City. He started talking about how much he liked it. That kind of lead to ARKHAM MANOR ideas because he knew what we were doing on ETERNAL.

So yeah, it’s been there in the DNA for a while.

CV: As far as Batman fighting the Justice League, how much time did you spend coming up with the different contingencies so they weren’t too outrageous or convenient for Batman?

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SS: [laughs] A lot. I worried about that quite a bit, actually. I think one of the saving graces is that they’re not completely at full strength, because they’re Joker-ized. There was always that slightly muted quality to them so that way it wasn’t simply “Batman could take them all down so easily.” That said, I tried to give it a lot of thought. I did give it a lot of thought. I did wrestle with it. I was like, “What’s the best way and how do you make it fun, also? And funny?” Because honestly, it’s Batman’s 75th and you want to see him be badass. You want to see him be that guy that could take down the Justice League without getting his…ass kicked.

Similarly, I think at the end, you want it to be threatening and scary. The scariest thing about it for him is, as much as we like to joke around, who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman? Bruce’s line, to me, is my favorite line in the issue, when he says, “Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman? Neither of us.”

CV: Will the Justice League be angry or thankful Bruce came up with all these plans?

SS: I think they’re okay with it at this point. After Tower of Babel, they know he has contingency plans for them. That’s really not a part of the story, where they question his morality.

CV: Will we see if anyone has been working with Joker?

SS: Yeah, you’re going to see…this story really brings in the biggest cast I’ve ever tried to bring in. You’re going to see a lot of villains and a lot of heroes. You’re going to see a lot of people that are obscure, people we’ve used before, people we’ve never used. I really want it to be all of Gotham in this story, as much as I can fit into six issues. I’m trying to make a big celebration of Batman’s 75th, but the funny secret is, it’s actually Joker’s 75th. It’s the end of the year…1940 is when he was introduced, so this is really his 75th birthday, beginning with the end of Batman’s. So he’s here to say, “The party’s over, it’s my party now.”

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CV: Does Joker still not care about Batman's true identity?

SS: Oh, you’ll have to see. I don’t want to give that away. His relationship with Batman and how he sees him now is a big part of issue #37. He’ll reveal…you’ll see the full scope of what he’s been up to.

CV: Do you ever worry about going too far with Joker? How would he top all this next time? Or do you just focus on story at hand?

SS: For me, honestly, this is the last time I plan on using the Joker. I always knew there’d be this story. If you asked friends of mine or privately in the Bat-Offices, it’s been on the docket since Death of the Family was going. For me, that was always going to be love and this was going to be hate, it was going to be a comedy and a tragedy. I had this whole idea for it. I thought we might do it a little later in the year. I thought we might do it after the 75th, but then I realized it’s a great story to set up what I want to do next year. So we pushed it up to celebrate Batman’s 75th a little bit.

My feeling was it’s going to be the last time I use that character. I don’t really worry too much about how am I going to top it just because, for me, the big challenge is to make sure it’s the biggest, most personal Joker story I can do, given how Death of the Family was. Meaning, that one was a point Joker was trying to make saying, “You got into this to be immortal, to be bigger than yourself, to be bigger than human and to be forever. You’re not doing that by being with these stupid heroes. You come with us, the villains, and you’ll be what you want to be.” When Bruce rejects that, now Joker is here to say something different. “I gave you a chance to be like me. But you’re not. I’m going to show you just how small you really are.” That’s part of what it is. He’s there to break all the pieces.

There’s a different feel and different message. It’s a different tone and scope to the story. I’m really happy with it and it took a lot of planning. I don’t want to go so far as to say hopefully it’ll be stronger than Death of the Family, because I love that story, but it’s very different. To me, they’re two halves of one person…crazy psychology.

Don't miss out on BATMAN: ENDGAME. Look for BATMAN #35 and 36, now on sale.