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Interview: Scott Snyder Talks Joker, 'Death of the Family' and Harper Row

The writer of BATMAN shares his thoughts on the Joker and explains why he's so mean when writing Batman.

This week we saw the release of BATMAN #16. The Death of the Family story is quickly approaching its conclusion but there's no telling what might happen. Scott Snyder has managed to deliver one crazy story after the other. With the end of Joker's story coming up and those ominous Batman-Family solicits for March, we asked Scott a few questions about what's coming up and how long is he going to put Batman through the ringer.


Comic Vine: Let's go over this again, when did you first come up with the idea for Death of the Family?

Scott Snyder: It was while I was doing A Court of Owls. I knew that I wanted to use Joker badly. When Tony [Daniel] did his first issue of DETECTIVE and they told him they wanted DETECTIVE to be responsible in some way for taking Joker off the table for a bit so he could come back later, I knew that I had a Joker story sort of in mind. It would pit him against the Family in some way. We discussed it and the way that he removed the Joker and leave his face, we were both on board with all that stuff in terms of having a couple options he came up with and that was his favorite. I told him I could completely work with that and use it thematically later in a story I wanted.

Over the course of the next seven or eight months, I started building it. I had help from Pete Tomasi, he's a great guy to run ideas and stories by. He came up with great stuff and so did the other Bat-writers. It kind of formed over that period while I was working on A Court of Owls in the same way while I'm working on Joker, I'm working on the next big story too. It's been brewing there for a while, for the last year or so.

CV: Has the direction or ending changed at all?

SN: No, it hasn't. Honestly, it's stayed very true to the outline, the same way the A Court of Owls did.

CV: How do you feel about the numerous tie ins and has Joker taken lessons from Wolverine in being able to be everywhere at once?

SN: Yeah, you sort of have to suspend your disbelief in the way that he is in many places at once. At the same time, I think that's part of the terror of the Joker. Is it really the Joker in that book or this book? Is he here, is he there? How did he get from this place to that? The fact that he's capable doing that is one of the things that makes the possibility that he got into the Batcave despite all of these obstacles and impossibilities that Bruce keeps listing about getting in. It's scary because it seems like he can do anything in this one.

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CV: Will Batman ever do anything to make sure Arkham Asylum is truly secure?

SN: I think he does his best in that regard. I think part of the fun of Arkham is, like Gotham, it's always mysterious and gives up its secrets in strange ways. I would love to write a whole other story with Arkham. In fact, I've been thinking of it in the back of my head. Another story that involves Arkham more centrally that Joker. But it won't be for a while. Just the idea that it's the great haunted house of Gotham. It's something that no matter how familiar you are it or how much you feel as though you know it, it always seems to have some hallway or secret compartment that you didn't know existed.

CV: Is the fate of Alfred revealed in issue 17?

SN: Yes.

CV: How mean are you going to be to the supporting characters?

SN: Very very very mean. I feel bad. I really do feel bad. We're not being mean to be cruel but the Joker is the cruelest character there is in all of comics. He's about being your boogeyman. With Batman, he believes he's the guy that makes him stronger by bringing his worst fears to life. And that means some terrible things. We're not gleefully trying to make him awful and do terrible things. I'd never want to give the impression we're writing these horrifying things he does into the stories for shock or just to one-up things. It's meant to be a psychological and emotional attack on Batman. The Joker wants to see him survive. He believes he'll be stronger on the other side of it.


CV: How long do you think it should be until we see Joker return again?

SN: Oh, I don't know. I totally leave that up to DC. I'm strangely hands off when I'm done with a story or character, like James Jr., Joker or the Court of Owls. It's not that I don't feel a tremendous bond to those characters. I just love seeing what other people do with them once I've told my story. I don't feel possessive of them. The same way as I'm stepping off of SWAMP THING. I'm happy to see wherever Charles Soule wants to go with the character. If it were up to me, I'd probably leave him off the table for a while simply because by the end of 17 and the events of the whole story will definitely leave an impression on the Bat-Family. I think he'd probably be better to go and rest for a little bit. But I'd be happy to see him come back if somebody had a good story.

CV: Will we get to see under his face?

SN: Well, I don't want to give that away. That might be part of the story...

CV:How does he keep it from completely decomposing?

SN: It totally decomposes in 17. I'm not joking either. It's not decomposing to the point you totally see through it. In 16 you can see it starts to get really gross. It's a different color than his white skin and there's flies and stuff. In 17 it's really scary looking. He can only hang onto it for so long once it's out of that freeze chamber/preserving compartment thing it was in at the GCPD.

CV: It probably stinks too, huh?

SN: It looks awful. You'll see. It looks terrible. It's scary because his skin is white. You actually see his neck and the sides of his face beneath it, looking brighter than the face.


CV: A certain other publishers likes to do series where a character destroys the entire comic universe. Could you ever see writing a Joker story where he absolutely defeats everyone (assuming he doesn't kill everyone in 17)?

SN: Yeah! I could see that. Honestly, I loved Grant Morrison's BATMAN INCORPORATED #5. That future vision of a world where Joker did win. He's threatening in that way. I wouldn't put it past him to be the last one standing if it all came down to it.

CV: Do you plan to let up or go easy on Batman anytime soon?

SN: No way, man. Wait until you see, we're going crazy next year. But he can stand it, that's why he's the greatest superhero. Deep down, he's one of us, he's human. You put him through the ringer, you bring his fears to life, you throw these horrific things at him, all these physical and emotional challenges and he comes through. He's inspiring in that way. He can do it. He'll be okay. Don't worry too much about him but I guess worry about him because there's definitely some big bad stuff coming up.

CV: What can you tell us about the mysterious solicit for 18?

SN: All I can tell you is I can't wait for you to see Andy Kubert's amazing pages and for you guys to get to catch up with Harper Row. The issue is really told from her point of view, her and her brother. And you'll see Gotham and the Bat-Universe in the aftermath of the Joker story through her eyes.

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CV: Besides being in the back up for 18, will we be seeing more of Harper?

SN: Yes, definitely. I have big plans for her in the Bat-mythology. She's not somebody we're writing to have go away. We really want her to have an important role and we have an important role in mind. We want to make sure you guys really enjoy her character and like her and want her to be part of the Family as much as we do. We don't want to shove anything down your throat. We're trying to really patiently build her up. 18 is also an issue you're going to learn more about her past and some secrets about her history as well.

BATMAN #16 is now on sale. BATMAN #17 is on sale February 13.

54 CommentsRefresh
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Avatar image for ccraft
Posted By ccraft

@regrivett: that would be horrible :(

Avatar image for zetazero
Posted By ZetaZero

Regardless of how this goes down, I really can't wait for the conclusion. The story thus far has just been beyond spectacular and although I'm not the biggest Batman Fan, this story arc has made me re-fall back in love with the jokers true nature, his psychoticness if you will. It reminds you just how truly messed up he is.

Avatar image for dud317
Posted By Dud317

How can people have problems with the Jokers ability to accomplish so many things in so little time, or seem like he's in multiple places at once? Batman has 45 books and has been fighting crime at this pace once the dawn of time. Let's not forget, he's fighting Scarecrow and dealing with INC while this is all happening. I'm stoked I get to ready so many Joker tie-ins.

Avatar image for akbogert
Posted By akbogert

No matter how obvious you think killing Alfred is, I think we'd all probably be legitimately shocked if that's what happened.

That said, we haven't (as far as I remember) been privy to whatever horrific footage (not a blindfold) several of the family have been shown. I think it's safe to say that if his eyes truly were destroyed, his usefulness as a butler is over anyway. As for Harper's role, I haven't a clue, but I actually am very excited to hear they plan to make something of her because I really got a sense of potential from her brief appearances thus far.

Avatar image for mycomicstoredotnet
Posted By MyComicStoreDotNET

My guess is Joker kills Alfred, for whom Harper will then try to replace as far as "person helping Batman from the Batcave" is concerned.

Avatar image for deadcool
Posted By Deadcool

CV: Is the fate of Alfred revealed in issue 17?

SN: Yes.

I don't think that my heart would take it.

Avatar image for tobiaspunk
Posted By tobiasPUNK

AWESOME! Scott Snyder is doing such an amazing job with Batman. And overall he is one of the best writers I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I can't wait to get my hands on this arc.

Avatar image for webjaker
Posted By Webjaker

I love Snyder's writing, i loved black mirror and court of owls


Im really tired of this storyline!

Snyder is always about psychology, but this storyline is just as much gore and violence as possible with VERY little actual story. And yes, you can argue the psychology of the batman/joker relationship and how he's affected by all this, but if you step back and look, its just gore and violence and no point - Can we please just fast forward to the riddler!?

Avatar image for entropy_aegis
Posted By entropy_aegis

@jsphsmth said:

Thank you Scott. Great stories. Black Mirror, Court/Night of Owls, and now Death in the Family are very welcome arcs after years of suffering with Moronison's work.

You really are kinda pathetic aren't you?

Avatar image for stormbox
Posted By Stormbox

Cool, i cant wait to see how this whole thing ends

Avatar image for redheadedatrocitus
Posted By RedheadedAtrocitus

Snyder pushes Batman to the limit, that's why he is awesome, 'nuff said. Death of the Family is just another way he does that for the Dark Knight and its why I'm so loving this arc thus far.

Avatar image for MadeinBangladesh
Posted By MadeinBangladesh

ohh man scott snyder is the best and i get more and more excited for the coming issues!!!! cmonnnn #18!!!!!!!!!

Avatar image for knightrise
Posted By KnightRise

I love Snyder's open ended answers lol

Avatar image for gotwillpower
Posted By gotwillpower

@Squalleon said:

The fight is happening in the CAVE or a cave anyway :-P

Holy mothers, like seriously, why are they showing us those pages? It's either a major spoiler or purposely misleading.

Avatar image for muyjingo
Posted By MuyJingo

If Harper is the new anyone, she will be the new Harold.

Avatar image for loki2u
Posted By Loki2u

Maybe Harper Row will become Bruce Waynes Butler if Alfred Dies

Avatar image for rellik21
Posted By Rellik21

@ILLO_29 said:

@MrShway88: There is something rather interesting in Batman and Robin....

There's a part where Joker starts singing Hush, little baby and after awhile he just kind of trails off and keeps repeating hush...hush...hush... I might be reading to much into it

I think they're bringing Hush back or rather re-introducing him, and maybe fix Joker's face back to normal.

Avatar image for wolfyboy21
Posted By wolfyboy21

I hope Harper Row gets hired by batman to work in the cave and other bat locations.

Avatar image for jsphsmth
Posted By jsphsmth

Thank you Scott. Great stories. Black Mirror, Court/Night of Owls, and now Death in the Family are very welcome arcs after years of suffering with Moronison's work.

Avatar image for illo_29
Posted By ILLO_29

@MrShway88: There is something rather interesting in Batman and Robin....

There's a part where Joker starts singing Hush, little baby and after awhile he just kind of trails off and keeps repeating hush...hush...hush... I might be reading to much into it
Avatar image for tdk_1997
Posted By TDK_1997

It seems like Batman won't catch a break.

Avatar image for jawshco
Posted By Jawshco
@MrShway88 Exactly, what I was thinking. Or Bruce's brother. Someone is secretly helping joker.

What's on the platter!!?!? If it's Tim's head, I'll be very miffed.
Avatar image for stormtrance1618
Posted By stormtrance1618

Ugh Harper Row. I thought her last issue was just so uninteresting. I'm not looking forward to seeing Batman and Gotham through 'her eyes' again.

Avatar image for daredevil21134
Posted By daredevil21134

@Mutie199 said:

i feel so sorry for the batman. please just let him rest one issue at least and then you can destroy his mind all over again ;p

Let Mark Waid write him and that will take care of all your problems

Avatar image for jonny_anonymous
Posted By Jonny_Anonymous

Jeez Snyder will you slow down?? We all love your writing and all but can't we have a slower more drawn out mystery arc like the Black mirror or Long Halloween?

Avatar image for lvenger
Posted By lvenger

I have to say it is starting to sound plausible that Harper Row may become the new Oracle. Although that would make 2 oracles in the New 52. But given her electrical and tech expertise, I have a feeling that's where Snyder's going with this.

Avatar image for kzr
Posted By KZR

@MrShway88: why do you think that?

Avatar image for mediumflyer7
Posted By Mediumflyer7

@regrivett: I was thinking she will become Batgirl for some reason. But you're probably right

Avatar image for reignmaker
Posted By Reignmaker

I don't mind Harper becoming an Oracle or something like that, but I kind of wish Batman would get more of a supporting cast to go along with Bruce Wayne's world. It's always been pretty shallow in that department, and maybe that's what makes him Batman. I just think that's a side of the story we haven't seen a lot of.

Avatar image for azrael66
Posted By Azrael66

He has written an amazing story so far.

Avatar image for mediumflyer7
Posted By Mediumflyer7

@MrShway88: why do you think that?

Avatar image for kingdomenic
Posted By kingdomenic

I trust Snyder. I am just not sure what the devastating event will be. Can't really be the death of Robin/Hood/Batgirl/Nightwing/Tim. They all have their own books basically. Alfred's death would be devastating but not sure if that is where Snyder wants to go. I feel like it has to be something that tears the Bat family apart. Joker's point is to separate Batman from those that make him weak. Just killing one of them wouldn't really accomplish that goal.

Also, I hope that nothing game changing happens with Harper. She really isn't doing anything for me. If she some how get a bigger role in the bat family after this I am not gonna like it.

Avatar image for luisaraujo
Posted By luisaraujo

I've really been enjoying DOTF, but the tie-inns are ruining it a bit, the stories feel like a more obvious then usual ploy to buy every bat comic you get every month, doesn't feel like the tie-inns have been properly timed and thought out, apart form that im enjoying this batman run very much!

Avatar image for muyjingo
Posted By MuyJingo

So Snyder's plans for the next year involve more torture porn with villains and storys as the background. Does he realize the character he is writing is a detective?

Avatar image for mrpandopool
Posted By mrpandopool

I think Harper Row is going to be the next oracle or somethin like that

Avatar image for jameskm716
Posted By JamesKM716

Ugh... I really really hope Harper Row doesn't become a Robin or Batgirl.... At most she can be the new Oracle.

Avatar image for phaedrusgr
Posted By Phaedrusgr

Snyder's the best in the game and he knows how to write a good bat story (and not only).

Avatar image for mrshway88
Posted By MrShway88
Avatar image for cakeman3000
Posted By Cakeman3000

I'm absolutely obsessed with Snyder's writing. He is definitely one of my favorite writers of all time. The only problem I see coming though, is that everything needs variety, and if all we see is this fall of Batman just completely getting trashed every time and then rising up, it may get "old". I know, in general that, that's how a normal story arc in comics goes, but sometimes a little change up, even if it's in the benefit of the character proves to be a refreshing read. (Spider-man BIG time). I love the stories Snyder comes up with, and I'm not asking for an arc where Batman goes on vacation, just a little mix up. I mean after all, he is The Batman. Nevertheless, I still can't wait for every issue Snyder cooks up. Oh and Greg Capullo's art is fantastic...of course.

Avatar image for kesho_ronin
Posted By Kesho_Ronin

right now the best comic book writer

Avatar image for slickymike88
Posted By SlickyMike88

I don't really care about Joker , he's all wacky and crazy and nobody dares to gun him down:P .

I'm more interested in new stuff like the Court of Owls or Harper Row and her brother .

I'm Jokerd out in all honesty , and can't read more about the Death in the Family:P

Avatar image for the_mighty_monarch
Posted By The Mighty Monarch

Also, this interview basically confirms that he's not going to be killing the Joker as many people have speculated.

Avatar image for dondave
Posted By dondave

@Lvenger said:

Scott's as awesome as ever. He knows what drives Batman and can put him through gauntlets that reach the core of his character. And his Joker is as dark and twisted as ever whilst remaining unique to Snyder's writing style. Cannot wait to read Batman 16 (in February due to a comic subscription grrr) and Batman 17! Snyder sounds like he's going to nail an awesome conclusion and if he does, this might rocket to my favourite story arc of the New 52 yet!


Avatar image for the_mighty_monarch
Posted By The Mighty Monarch

The solicit for #18 wasn't NEARLY as mysterious as the one for #19. Was REALY hoping for the tiniest hint about that one.

Avatar image for entropy_aegis
Posted By entropy_aegis

Next time there's an interview with Snyder could G-man ask him about that Dealer guy? I thought he was a vast improvement of the near obsolete Man-Bat concept and Lincoln March.

Avatar image for zereta
Posted By Zereta

Harper Row is SO the new Robin.

Avatar image for ett
Posted By Ett

What bs anwers about the tie ins. It doesn't make any sens when they happen. Not even talking about the joker being in al places at ones. In #15 batgirl comments on her incounter with the joker. But in #16 batman acts like it happend between #15 and #16

Avatar image for squalleon
Posted By Squalleon

The fight is happening in the CAVE or a cave anyway :-P

Avatar image for regrivett
Posted By regrivett

I'm waiting for Damian to die and Harper Row to be the new Robin.

Avatar image for entropy_aegis
Posted By entropy_aegis

Cant wait to see Joker get his ass kicked.

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