BAT-Breakdown: SNYDER Defines DICK GRAYSON's DETECTIVE Role
Jock is the New DETECTIVE COMICS Artist
Beginning in November, two Batman comics will feature Bruce Wayne in the lead role: Batman Inc. by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette, and Batman: The Dark Knight by writer/artist David Finch.
Three comics will feature Dick Grayson in the lead role: Batman by writer/artist Tony Daniel, Detective Comics by Scott Snyder and Jock, and Batman & Robin by Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason.
But what makes each of these comics unique? What styles and stories do they represent within the Batman Universe?
We recently spoke with Tomasi and Gleason about how the developments in The Return of Bruce Wayne are affecting that title.
But now we turn our attention to the rest of the Batman office. Today, we talk with Snyder about how Detective Comics will fit into the mix.
Snyder already told Newsarama that his comic will focus on "hard-core mysteries," teaming Dick Grayson with the Gotham City Police Department while introducing new villains to the mix.
Detective Comics will also feature a Jim Gordon back-up story that will take place simultaneously with the main stories. "They'll stand alone, but they will really inform each other and influence each other," Snyder said of the co-features, which will be drawn by Francesco Francavilla.
As Snyder and Jock begin their run with next month's Issue #871, we asked for a few more details about the comic and how it fits into the "two Batmen" universe.
Newsarama: Last time we talked, you revealed that Detective Comics will have a crime story focus and will be based in Gotham. But we didn't know very many details about what would happen after Bruce returned. Does his return play a role in your run on Detective Comics?
Scott Snyder: You know, it does play a role in the book. The basis for this story is that Dick Grayson has been given Bruce's blessing to be the Batman of Gotham. So it all extends from that.
Originally, and particularly as he suspected Bruce was alive, he was playing Batman as role for a certain period of time. And he even says there is a feeling of wearing a shroud.
But now Bruce is back and has given him the OK to be Batman. And so our whole story is really based on this idea of Dick Grayson's trial by fire.
Nrama: How does that "trial by fire" for Dick Grayson begin in the first story arc?
Snyder: Our story is called "The Black Mirror" because the idea we're playing with is, what if Gotham is kind of a dark, funhouse mirror for whoever takes on the mantle of the Bat? Bruce's enemies are such an extension of his own psychology, you know? The Joker being who he'd become if he broke his rule and fell into madness, and Two-Face being so emblematic of the duality of his life. It's the idea that Gotham, in some way, throws your worst nightmares back at you if you take on the mantle of the bat.
So the idea is, now that Dick Grayson has been given that mantle officially, what is Gotham going to change itself into all around him? So he's going to be facing new villains. We're not really dealing with supervillains, but we're dealing with the new faces of street crime and the new faces of terror. Not terror like terrorism, but terror like madmen and murderers — villains who will challenge him on every level.
Nrama: Can you reveal anything about these new villains that Dick is dealing with? Or are they designed to be surprises?
Snyder: I think they're going to be surprises. The person who will cause the most ripples, in terms of continuity, is a character who comes back to cause trouble for Jim Gordon, in the back-up. But Dick will also be dealing with some other people from the past and new characters.
We want you to meet this new Gotham that's being born right around Dick Grayson as he takes on the mantle.
Nrama: Can you give an example of how Gotham transforms or reacts to Dick as Batman?
Snyder: Well, we play a lot with the mythology of Batman. It's not so much supernatural, although there have been elements of that. But one of the theories we put forward in the series is this idea that Gotham comes from "goats homestead," and that it has to do with protecting your goats, and a safe place for goats. But one of the things vampire bats feed upon is goats.
Dick has very different problems from Bruce. Bruce is a dark, obsessed, solitary soldier who has this incredibly dark view of the world, even if he deep down has a determination and hopefulness. Dick is the opposite. He's openly optimistic. He's a social creature. He's very extroverted. So the weaknesses he has, and the flaws and the strengths, are different, and so the kinds of villains that Gotham will throw at him, that are particular to him, will have to do with breaking down his view of the world.
Bruce doesn't have a bright, hopeful view of the world. He has to be challenged on different levels to get to him. To Dick, he hasn't seen the worst of what Gotham can throw at him personally.
So I think the idea is that Dick has a psychological profile that we try to build villains out of. What if there was a villain that was going to show him the ugliness of Gotham, to prove to him in some way that he's not strong enough to handle it, and that Gotham will break him somehow.
Nrama: You're also doing a back-up story with Jim Gordon, furthering the crime story feel of the issue. But how do Jim Gordon and the GCPD play a part in the main story?
Snyder: Part of our story is about Dick Grayson figuring out who he is in Gotham and putting down roots. He has people he's very close to there, from Barbara to Jim to others, but he's always been sort of a circus tramp. Going from here to Bludhaven to the Titans, he's been all over. So the idea is that if you're going to be Batman in Gotham, you have to really live in Gotham, and almost be a piece of Gotham somehow. So part of the story is him establishing a life in Gotham.
What we did was we set it up so that Wayne Enterprises has opened a new state-of-the-art crime lab and offered it pro bono to the GCPD, within the Wayne Industries tower.
The opening issue, in Detective Comics #871, it's been open for a while. But nobody in the GCPD, because of their pride, has come over and used it. And Jim Gordon comes over with a case. You see the reasons why he brings it over, as opposed to anything that's come before.
The idea is that his relationship with Dick develops a lot in the space of the crime lab as well. You see the crime lab in the building as being, like, beneath is the bunker, and above is the penthouse, and this is kind of the middle ground, in some way, for both of them. I think it's always a little under-the-table as to whether or not Jim knows that Dick Grayson is Batman or was Robin. So we wanted a safe space, whether or not they would address this explicitly. This is almost a haven for them to talk in private and talk as friends — someplace that exists outside standing on the rooftop with the bat signal, which you'll see too, but it will have its own place.
Nrama: We've also heard that Francesco Francavilla is drawing the back-up feature, which will come after the main stories drawn by Jock. I assume you've been seeing some pages. Anything you can tell us about the art?
Snyder: I've seen pages from Francesco Francavilla and they're amazing. He's coloring it himself. I'm so happy with it. It's real dark and gritty, but it has a real, super-bold style, with blues and yellow and blacks. It has a real sort of crime and noir-ish feel to it.
And I just saw a scene from Jock that blew me away. It's the first time I ever wrote Jim and Batman talking on the roof of the GCPD with the bat signal. And the pages are amazing. It just sent chills up my spine when I saw it. It's going to be so beautiful.
I feel like I have secret weapons in both of them. I'm trying to work in conjunction with them and make them part of the whole process, but even if the writing was terrible, they're elevating the book with their art. I'm pretty proud of the way it's turned out.