Even though there's an all-new Batman taking over the mantle in this week's Batman #41, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo said the story still feels like "classic Batman."
"Like Batman: The Animated Series," Snyder said, "but with a brand new Batman at the center, and a cast that you'll recognize."
Yet the story is also what Capullo called "loaded with cool," thanks to its mech suit-wearing lead character. The brand new Batman is Jim Gordon, a development that happened after the apparent death of Bruce Wayne at the end of the blockbuster Batman storyline, "Endgame," which concluded in April. In the new role, Gordon will wear a Batman mech suit — one that's equipped with a Batarang-shooting gun and, as Capullo told Newsarama, even has wings.
Capullo and Snyder have been creating Batman since the reboot of the DC Universe in September 2011. Within that timeframe, they've retold Batman's origin story in their "Zero Year" storyline, have introduced a new generation of Batman allies, and have built the Batman title into DC's best-selling monthly title.
Will that best-selling status continue with Jim Gordon in the lead role? Will there be more Batman stories from Snyder and Capullo after this one? And what's the story behind the silhouetted figures that everyone thinks are a resurrected Bruce Wayne and his son Damian? With Jim Gordon debuting in this week's Batman #41, Newsarama talked to Snyder and Capullo to find out more.
Newsarama: Now that people know Jim Gordon is in the suit, why Jim Gordon?
Greg Capullo: Scott can go a little deeper on this, but I think it was just the natural selection for us. I mean, we could have used Alfred, but he's a little long in the tooth and we would have had to eliminate one of the gauntlets on the suit, and it looks better with the symmetrical design.
Scott Snyder: For me, the story really ended for Bruce — the Bruce that we've used, or that we've built for ourselves with "Endgame."
The city needs Batman, and my feeling was that there's all these characters who are waiting to be Batman — not waiting, but they're preparing in case they have to be, whether it's Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, you know, a lot of them. And I love stories where they sort of step up.
But I was always more interested in Gotham as a city, one that Greg and I try to write as a real place for us. You know, with neighborhoods. And the idea, for me, was well… what if somebody comes to you as a citizen of Gotham and say, "you're a fan of Batman, you've helped him, and in fact, there's a reason why only you can be Batman right now."
It's almost a story about, what if somebody gets asked to be Batman, who suddenly discovered they are the right person for it, but is really one of us. It's like, what would it be like to be Batman and have this crushing responsibility and have your supervillain designed for you and all this kind of stuff. And you're just somebody who has the psychology of a regular citizen of Gotham.
Jim Gordon, to me, has always been that kind of lens.
Nrama: The lens of a regular citizen — a Batman fan, as opposed to a "cape."
Snyder: Yeah. I mean, he's a tremendous hero. He's somebody who does everything he can to defend the city, to work for the city, and he believes in the system. He believes in the police. He believes in local government.
So the opportunity he has to be Batman is really an extension of his belief in the kind of things that people put in place to protect themselves in a city.
So on the one hand, it's like, he has to do it because no one else can. But on the other, I wanted to create something that was really active for him — a mission.
The mission for him is, can Batman be better as Batman if he's an extension of the system, if there are checks and balances on him. If he represents the things that people expect to protect them and make the city a safe place for them to thrive.
Nrama: Let's talk about the supporting cast. We've seen Geri Powers step up as part of Jim's team, but are there other familiar people from the Bat-family who will carry over into this part of your run?
Capullo: Everybody's going to be familiar to the readers. We don't want to give them all away. But you'll say, oh, yeah, this feels comfortable.
And even though some of the players have changed, to me, it's a mirror of the traditional Batman that everybody is still familiar with. I think Scott some smart choices of where he set up his players so that it's going to feel very much like what's all gone before.
Snyder: Yeah, I want it to feel almost like classic Batman. Like Batman: The Animated Series, but with a brand new Batman at the center, and a cast that you'll recognize. You'll see Harvey, you'll see Maggie Sawyer. You're going to see characters, I think, that you're surprised by. You're going to see characters that support Batman, that supported Bruce, from Alfred to Julia.
So you understand that it's the same Bat-universe entirely, and the feel of the mystery is very, very classic Batman.
And if you're asking about the other Bat-family characters, I mean, when I pitched this story, it was at this Bat-summit that [Batman Group Editor] Mark Doyle set up in the last fall or winter last year, right after I came up with it. And he invited me to come in and pitch to them.
And so I sat down with Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart and almost everybody working on a Bat-book that would be affected by this — everybody that could make it.
I pitched it to them, and the idea was that if they didn't like it, or they felt like there wasn't a better story for them in their book, on the other side of this change, then we could say we wouldn't do it.
So luckily (and very thankfully, for me), they did like it. A lot of books, obviously, have great stories coming from this change. Like Batgirl — I mean, because her father is now Batman.
Or Detective Comics gets to focus a lot more on the police in ways that I think they were hoping to do before.
Grayson, you know, you have Dick Grayson completely lost without his point man suddenly, without Bruce.
We have a great team on the Bat-books, and my feeling was to let them tell the stories with their characters, rather than push them into Batman. I had an idea, actually, for a back-up, where I would do a conversation with Barbara, at the end of #41, because she's the one person he has to ask permission, really, before he does it. And I started writing it. But then I heard what Cameron and Brenden had planned, and I realized, you know what? Let them do the full thing and give them the breathing room.
So that was the initiative from go — let everybody tell the best story they can with this, if they're up for it, and happily, they are.
Nrama: Greg, we talked a little bit last month about drawing the new Batman suit — and I think we're all looking forward to seeing the wings you described. But Scott mentioned earlier that the comic feels like Batman: The Animated Series, but Greg, can you address how it's been to draw that?
Capullo: It's a thrill ride. We've got this new character, Jim Gordon as Batman, and it's almost like drawing Iron Man (I hate to go on the other side of the fence, but that's where I'm going). But Scott came up with all these new villains, and larger-than-life guys. You know, everybody loves monsters, so I'm having a roller coaster ride drawing the new guy fighting all these new villains.
To me, it's fresh, it's new, and it's an exciting ride.
There are going to be twists and turns that aren't expected. So the book might start off with one particular feel, and you'll say to yourself, "Oh, I see where it's going." And all of the sudden, boom! A hard turn left. It's very much like a roller coaster.
Nrama: Is that how you'd describe it too, Scott?
Snyder: Yeah! The goal is to take full advantage of the fact that we're almost on vacation from regular Batman with this one, and explore every nook and cranny of this strange and exotic territory that we're in.
Because eventually, we all know, we'll go back home. That's just how it works.
So the first issue really establishes how Gordon becomes Batman. The second one is really about, not only the kind of Batman he has to be, but it throws a tremendous twist into the whole story. And then the third one is almost like, we introduce a new villain, and you see how big the story is going to be, in a certain way.
And then the fourth issue [#44], you see a case, actually, from Bruce in the past that informs the villain in the present.
So we're really all over the place with this one. But I want the feel to be celebratory and fun. I want it to feel like, after the darkness of "Endgame," and the real twisted psychology of the Joker, to try something brighter and more colorful here.
But, at the end of the day, the thing we're kind of Trojan horsing in, I think, is that it's really one big, noir-ish mystery that has to do with the question that Gordon asks himself, which is "Can Batman be part of the system? Can he work better this way?"
And the villain is designed to be completely antithetical to that question. Mr. Bloom comes in at #43. He's there, lurking in the corners of the first two issues, but when you see the connective tissue between the capers of the first couple, you realize there's this big bad, you'll see that what he stands for and where he comes from and who he is, it's completely opposed to Gordon's set of beliefs.
So it's one big Batman mystery.
We do get to go to crazy places. You see past Batmen and future Batmen, and crazy, crazy visions of stuff where it's all over the place. I mean, I think every issue has…
Capullo: Yeah, it's loaded with cool. Loaded.
Snyder: Yeah. Yet it's actually a very grounded mystery.
Nrama: You mentioned Mr. Bloom being the "antithesis" of Gordon's ideals. Is that connected to your ongoing theme of Gotham throwing villains at people that are almost designed for them? Is Mr. Bloom a specific villain to Jim Gordon?
Snyder: He's very specific. Maggie Sawyer actually, in #43, has a line, when they start to realize that all the cases in the first couple are connected, she says, well, welcome to your first supervillain. You know?
Gotham is basically a mirror. If you step up and try to be a hero, everyone knows at this point it will create or send you a villain that's sort of your worst nightmare.
So for us, Mr. Bloom is a character who sort of blows up through the social cracks in the system, where things don't work. One of the things you'll see in #41, and then they mention more strongly in #42, is how badly the city fell apart in "Endgame" — certain neighborhoods weren't protected the way they should be, and it was chaos.
In the rebuilding of that, when people lose faith in the things put in place to protect them, things can go very, very wrong. And that's where Mr. Bloom kind of grows. That's where he kind of steps in and says, "Of course it fell apart. It's supposed to fall apart. So here I am. Come to me. I can help you when it falls apart next time."
And in that way, he's very scary to me.
Not to give too much away, but it's a story that's very resonant with me right now. Gotham, again, we try to make a real place, with neighborhoods. A lot of this story takes place in the Narrows, and you'll see in issue #41, we try to make Little Cuba a real section of the Narrows, and in #42, their Chinatown, their Koreatown, Japantown — all those places you'll see in different ways on a map. You'll see the different neighborhoods, and we want this to feel real.
The story is about, what does Batman mean to these problems — you know, systemic problems, problems between neighborhoods, racial problems — can Batman really mean anything in that way?
Even though, on the surface it's just robots and monsters and really out-of-control fun, it's got stuff that's personal to us. We wouldn't do a story like this if we didn't think it was a good Batman story about a question that's important to all of us, on the book, about Batman. We've done that through our whole run…
For this one, the question is, how does Batman work in a city that's become broken and afraid because of "Endgame" and because of so many entrenched problems?
Nrama: Last week, we saw the first batch of DC books, and readers noticed the ads across the bottom of a couple pages. Are you guys working with that?
Snyder: We tried our best to work with it so that Greg's art wouldn't be compromised. And also to take our own little dig at it.
Capullo: Look, I understand it. You have to generate revenue. But what I don't get is truncating the art, because to me, it changes to the priority of what our books are even about.
I would have preferred, actually, if you wanted to go that route, then let me do a product placement. I'll incorporate it into the art, like they do in movies. Now we all accept it in film, and it's right in our face. And some filmmakers actually make a joke about it by putting really blatantly, right in your face.
But I'd rather do something like that, to put it in the art, then to truncate artwork.
Snyder: I would happily write Batman fighting a gigantic Twix.
Nrama: When you said to put it into the art, Greg, I immediately imagined the Batcave having Apple logos everywhere. But Scott, you said there's a bit of a joke in the issue about it?
Snyder: Yeah. Greg and I, we try to roll with what we have to roll with. But Batman is an outlaw. Whether he's Jim or Bruce, the spirit of that is always a part of the mythos. So of course he's going to take digs whenever he can.
Nrama: Let's talk about Bruce Wayne. I know we pretty much covered this in past interviews, but you guys are starting this story under the premise that Bruce Wayne is dead, yet you've pretty much admitted in interviews that you left a way for Bruce Wayne to come back, whether it's in a story you write or a later story by someone else. Why take that approach?
Capullo: People already knew that. I mean, when I showed it to my 13-year-old at home — the end of "Endgame" — he goes, "Well, we all know Bruce Wayne's not dead. He's the main guy." They know the true hero never dies, at least not permanently.
Nrama: OK, but can you guys answer whether the silhouetted characters you showed in the last couple stories — a man with bandages on him, walking next to a young character with an "R" on his jacket — represent Bruce Wayne perhaps surviving? Was that image put there on purpose, and if so, any comment on it?
Snyder: I don't want to comment on it. Greg?
Capullo: You know, if it's a good thing, I want to take credit for it — yes, it was definitely intentional. And if they don't like it, then it was completely unintentional. So whichever way is best for me, that's my answer.
Nrama: OK, another point blank question. I've heard you guys use language, in interviews, about "one last story" or "if we can only do one story" — particularly for this All-New Batman. Is this the last story for you guys? Is this the end of your run?
Capullo: You know, early on, Scott was going, like, "I don't know if I have enough ideas to continue this going forward." And that was a couple arcs ago. And then we're together at some con and we're walking around and he goes, "Hey, I have these ideas; what do you think?" And I go, "It's awesome!" And then he goes, "I've got this other idea! We're going to do this!" And I go, "It's awesome!"
So, uh, there's already more stuff that Scott told me, story wise, where we can go. And they're great, great, fun ideas. So… no, we're not done.
I've got some miles left on my contract. And Scott's got some cool ideas in the pipeline.
So no, no, this won't be the last arc.
Snyder: Yeah, my feeling is the same as it's always been, which is… like, when I started even on Detective, I was always expecting to get booted off after each arc. I felt like there was always, you know… what if they don't like this one? You know, because, each arc has something in it that I felt like, could go the wrong way, whether it was re-introducing James Jr., or in "Court of Owls" introducing Thomas — all those kinds of things.
But at this point, I feel like we've done more than I ever expected to do on the book. And Greg's right. There was a period where I worried, like, what if I don't come up with anything else?
I still have at least a couple stories I'd love to do. But honestly, that just depends on how people feel, I guess, about us, and where we are when we finish this one.
We'll just sort of play it by ear at this point. But I think we're both pretty full of ideas. The fans have kept us this long, so if they'll keep us longer, great. But if our time is over, that's OK too.
Capullo: If not, they'll miss out on some really awesome stories that Scott has planned!