By GBrutality 0 Comments
Hello everyone and anyone (probably no one),
This pains me to say, but I think it's time we talk about Scott Snyder. I've written that for a long time I took a break from reading comics and that a few stories I had heard about as well as some writers were what drew me back in. That main writer that piqued my interest was none other than Scott Snyder. What had made me want to read his work was that, from what I read, he wrote things in more of a space where horror would normally reside. Before I continue i want to be clear that I won't talk about every piece of work he had a hand in. The Eternals or one-issues don't really measure up when they're one-offs or there is a team of writers that he has to be the head of. Strictly about the books he has been the brains behind.
Anyway, my favorite genre that I feel never gets the justice it deserves is horror. Having super heroics meeting horror sounded like a knock out of the park. From the first issue of The Black Mirror, I was hooked. I love Dick Grayson as a character and I felt Snyder was able to accurately depict him if he were Batman. Everything about it lined up just right for me.
It was then I decided to read some of his other work, those being American Vampire and Severed. American Vampire was addictive in how well the story enveloped me and Severed sent chills up my spine. American Vampire with it's ever-growing cast of rotating badasses that spanned history was a book I actually had trouble waiting for monthly issues for. Severed creeped me out in ways that I don't normally. There was something about Severed, American Vampire and his run on Detective Comics that screamed to me that he knew what he was doing; he had a plan. These were written with a beginning, middle and end in mind. He had parameters that kept him focused. The problem with becoming the top of the pack is, at least in the creative spectrum it's clear, once you're of the mind that the pressure of performance has dwindled, you're just going to do whatever you want. Even if there isn't much of a game plan.
Once the new 52 was moving forward, everyone was excited. Myself included. DC wanted their top talent where they thought they would make the greatest strides, and Snyder was at the tip. They also wanted to give him freedom to explore indie, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink style series as well. Gotta keep the talent happy! So, within the first three years of the New 52, Snyder was now the head writer of Batman, Swamp Thing, Superman Unchained and The Wake.
Now, no matter how you cut it, that sounds like a lot. I hold firm that his run of Swamp Thing never had a low point. That never really traded hands, though. Once Snyder wanted off, that was it. Throughout his entire run of it, he stuck to the same threat that was also seen in Animal Man (which is also an incredible read). The various parliaments of the world, waging war with one another. Incredible concept. Clearly though, he had an ending in mind. It goes across multiple stories, but the original threat pretty much stays the same for every issue. It's horror with very few random threads, with a beginning, middle and end. Snyder at his best.
Then there are the others. The Wake had promise. At least with the first issue. The time jump also helped with the mystery element (another thing he is normally excellent with). After that though the story went nowhere. I remember that randomly they tacked on an extra issue to help wrap it up. I may be wrong, but I always see that as a publisher bleeding their fan-base on the basis that an event is occurring or a well-known writer is penning the story. Either way, the resolve we were given was a mess. The mer-people were devolved versions of humans that were cast into the sea to survive? It has been a while but I'd remember there being a curse or a significant piece of technology being used as the explanation for the conflict. I remember waiting for something big to happen, and it never did. There weren't any characters, other than the pirate captain, who wasn't all that interesting or else I would have used his name and not 'pirate captain'.
There was also Superman Unchained, which anyone who was reading DC during that time would know was a huge misstep by the company. Jim Lee, to me, defined the look of the 90s in comics. He also drew the world for Hush which is one of the best looking Batman stories ever. However, there are a lot of great artists out there now. You know what they do? Get the work out relatively on time. Superman Unchained had 9 issues and took two years to complete due to Lee's art taking forever. The story, especially during the time it was coming out, was the best Superman story being told. It had all the classic Superman fare but didn't fall into overly hokey Super tropes either. This had nothing to do with Snyder running out of steam, but definitely hampered his story to seeing the correct completion it deserved because of another big name needing to get their way.
Then there was Batman. For the most part, I really enjoyed Snyder and Capullo's Batman. The set ups were always amazing, and the middle always drove up the intensity. Then the end would sort of arrive and that'd be that. I'm serious, every single ending to each Snyder and Capullo Batman arc kept getting worse. A secret society that has had its hand in every power play in Gotham that not even Batman could prove? Genius. The main person behind the entire gambit being his possibly long lost brother? Not so much. It was less Detective Comics and more As The World Turns. But that was fine! The Joker is coming to enact a sinister plan where he believes himself to be the real partner Batman has craved and all others were imposters and/or crutches? Terrific. Making the finale be a chase where the Joker slips off of a cliff in the batcave that he inexplicably knows? Convenient. Zero Year was probably the best out of all of them and even that dragged. Endgame brought Joker back, again, only now being really mad at Batman and deciding to poison the city. The stakes aren't really laid out well and everything seems cobbled together. Superheavy was just a mess that could have worked out better if more planning had gone into it. Nothing about that story is worthy of going back to.
The other thing that the Batman series brought to the front was Snyder's desire to create characters along with his inability to make them compelling. Mr. Bloom was a villain that was out of control on the power level. Forget the mystery. He grew taller than a building. How didn't the Justice League show up for that? Duke Thomas and Harper Row are shoehorned to the extreme in every story they are apart of. Of course the kid that finds Batman in Zero Year has to be the same one whose parents are attacked by Joker which he gets to hone his desire for revenge for by using his intelligence to become the leader of a group of Robins. It' can't just be a kid trying to help. Harper Row would've been great as a street level mechanic or IT person, but she had to become a crime fighter too. Never mind there are numerous other people that have bee put in the dark in recent years, we have to make time for new characters whose back stories, I'm sorry to say, aren't interesting enough. I'm Duke Thomas doesn't have much over any of the other Robins and Harper Row doesn't come close to Stephanie Brown and is mile away from Cassandra Cain, the most interesting Batgirl ever.
It also showcased that continuity, or clarity for that matter, wasn't as important as getting to the point. Maybe it'd make more sense contextually to see the heroes meet up with the other villains before they agree to join Batman and crew against the Joker? It might help with more detail how Joker knew about the batcave, or why his face was scarred upon entering the cave? It could've been a whole lot clearer how Batman was able to take a mech and turn it into a Bat-mech in less time than it takes to wait on the line of a nearly empty convenience store.
I know it sounds like I'm tearing into Batman real hard for a guy that said he liked it, but I swear that I have a point. That point gets explored more when he writes Wytches. It seemed like maybe being away from the indie scene (except for American Vampire) had taken away some of Snyder's tightness. Too much big hero focus with too many mandates that had to be met. This was going to show there was more gas in the tank creatively. Now, to me, this should be a home run. Creepy premise? Check. Mystery theme? Check. Lovable Jock art? Double check. That's why when it was time to show what the story was about it felt...hollow. The premise of witches being some unspeakable terror that you must make offerings to in order to obtain something was great. Even the stuff with the main girl and her bully, the town that knew, the mom (?!), it all seemed to work. It just wasn't the outcome the likes I had seen in previous works he had put out. There was too much coincidence, a few characters that should have had more presence than they did, and though Jock's art was great, the random blots of color always took me out of the story. I really don't know why stylistically it didn't mesh to me, but I couldn't get around it. The other problem is, I don't know what the story is, but that last issue, which was its 6th, came out in May 2015. It's been a year and a half, and no word on anything. Probably because there's too much on the plate now, but I have no idea why anyone would come back to it after all this time. The story didn't flow organically and the intrigue wasn't there.
American Vampire Second Cycle wasn't as good as the first, which was weird considering it was only 11 issues, but it was still miles above most that is out there. I read there is supposed to be a Third Cycle, but that doesn't feel like a priority anymore. I know that he's gotten busier, but the reason that is so clear is because it shows now.
Recently All-Star Batman, Snyder's new book has started. The story seems good. I like that Batman is facing a ton of crazy assassins. As played out as it may be, I am interested in why Alfred would betray him. Why would Gordon (who I always assumed was a good enough detective to have figured Bruce and Batman were one and the same, but just didn't feel the need to let it be known) and Bullock be storming the manor? Great questions. What I couldn't notice was the familiarity in the story. Not from other universes or heroes, but from Batman itself. More specifically, The Animated Series. One from an episode called Double Talk where the Ventriloquist has been let out of Arkham, given a clean bill of health. However, Scarface had planned for it. Lying dormant until release then having his thugs try to psychologically break him out of the Ventriloquist's mind. The other is an episode called Second Chance when, who else, but Two Face is supposed to be receiving a cure so that Harvey can move on with life. Lo and behold right as the operation is about to start, thugs that Two Face had hired storm the hospital and get him before anything can be done. I know it's not technically the same, but it's close enough on the regard that a couple of years ago if I had been told this would be a Snyder story, I honestly wouldn't believe it.
God's honest truth, I'm a big Snyder fan to this day. But the one that pulled me into comics again. Past all the needless resurrections and had me questioning what was going to be around the corner in every issue. That's the writer I would throw my money at. I just hope we get another story by him sometime soon.