SPOILER ALERT! As the headline implies, there are spoilers in this article for BATMAN #16, so if you haven't read it yet, you'll want to stop here. Go read who we think are the 10 Greatest Batman Villains instead. Ready? Wait. Stop. Spoiler time!With this week's Batman #16, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo pulled readers even further into the Joker storyline "Death of the Family" by inviting everyone to dinner.
In issue #16, Bruce was able to beat Joker to the punchline and thwart the threat of his allied rogues. But Batman became paralyzed from action when Joker proved he had captured other Bat-characters. Now, with February's Batman #17, the Bat-family is going to dinner for the finale of "Death of the Family."
Newsarama talked to Snyder about what happened in Batman #16 and what's coming up, including Andy Kubert drawing the return of Harper Row and a major, long-form storyline in 2013 that the writer hinted will center on The Riddler.
Newsarama: Scott, we found out in this issue why the villains were recruited, but heading into issue #17, Batman is invited for dinner and the other Bat-family members are in peril. So everything comes down to this last issue?
Scott Snyder: Yeah, definitely, the next issue is the big finale. With issue #16, Joker is essentially making his point to Batman. This is the issue where he presents his notion that the family is a weakness. This whole arc, I really wanted to make it so that Batman was thinking, if I can just get there fast enough, if I can just get to him before he expects it, like I have in the past, I can beat him. I can stop him from doing whatever he's doing to Alfred, I can beat him to his own punchline.
Nrama: And he succeeded in issue #16.Batman #17
CoverSnyder: Yeah, this is the place where he does that. He gets to Arkham before Joker expects it. He makes it to the room before Joker's prepared. And then he outwits him in the room.
But then Joker has this ace up his sleeve, which is the point of the whole story: As long as you have them, and as long as you care about them, you'll never beat me. You'll never beat me to the punchline. You'll never outwit me anymore.
In that way, he makes his thesis. And Bruce loses.
The finale is now Joker saying to Bruce, you've lost, so close your eyes and let me give you what you want. The finale is really the terrible thing that it's all been building toward.
And I'm really, really excited and proud of it. It's like a 30-page issue, just me and Greg. So we took the back-up and didn't do a back-up, but made it one giant feature. So it's like a really big, oversized finale. It brings everything that's been building to a head.
Nrama: How has it been working with the other writers on this, as well as dealing with all the Bat-characters as you've coordinated this massive story?
Snyder: It's been great! I had a blast on "Night of the Owls," but that story didn't have the same emotional investment for those characters that this one does. I was so proud of the structure of it, in that it gave them a lot of freedom to make up their own Talon and have that Talon represent something that meant something to the main character and go after somebody that mattered.
But this is the Joker coming for them personally, giving those writers room to bring those characters' worst nightmares to life. And I really do stand by it when I say I think Batman and Robin, Batgirl and Nightwing — and Teen Titans and Red Hood as well — some of these issues are some of the ones that are my favorites of those series. Not because I had any hand in them, because I didn't. It was more just seeing what the writers came up with when they were pushed toward bringing the most horrific thing they could, through the Joker's doing.Batman #17
InteriorNrama: Does your issue #17 directly lead into the next storyline for you? I know it does for several of the other Bat-character writers, having spoken to them about what's coming in issue #18. But is that true for Bruce as well?
Snyder: Yeah, it definitely does. There's going to be big repercussions from it emotionally and just in general, for him and his life, and also for his relationship with the family, assuming everybody lives.
Nrama: As you mentioned, Joker did prove his point at the end of #16. Doesn't Bruce have to face that, himself, in future issues? And deal with the family, and define the reason for having them around when they can be a weakness?
Snyder: Yeah, he's in a black place, but I think even though Joker's right in that "I'll always win," the question remains, are you better for having them or not? Both as a hero and a person, you know?
Nrama: So Bruce has to consciously decide? How would you describe the choice?Snyder: Whether he's created his own worst weakness, or he's created his own great strength. That's what Bruce needs to wrestle with in issue #17 and in the aftermath of the whole thing too.
But you know, the thing that's so scary about The Joker is that there's a kernel of truth to anything he comes at you with, otherwise he wouldn't be scary. He looks at you and assesses what he thinks you're most afraid of about yourself and then brings those things to life. And of course, he's all about Batman all the time. So it wouldn't be scary to Batman if there wasn't some truth to it.
In that way, anything Joker ever does is going to leave a lasting impression, because he cuts really deep when he cuts you.
Nrama: Speaking of nightmares... the platter that was presented for "dinner" at the end of issue #16 — any hints on what's in there? Because it horrified even the villains. Something pretty disgusting?Batman #17
InteriorSnyder: We're not pulling any punches in this issue. I will say that. It's not for the squeamish.
Nrama: Would it be accurate to say the thing in the platter is symbolic of something? Does it tie into this idea of Bruce's worst nightmare?
Snyder: Well, yeah! I can't say what it is. I wouldn't say it's symbolic so much as it's something that's designed to be very painful to see, to have it revealed.
I don't want to ruin it, you know? It's not appetizing. I'll say that.
Nrama: I don't think this is going to be a good dinner.
Snyder: No, it's definitely not. Joker thinks it is. He's all excited about it. But it won't be anything they're happy to see at the table when he lifts the lid on that thing.
Nrama: Not to skip too far ahead of ourselves, since we don't know the outcome of this storyline yet, but since you can't reveal what happens in issue #17, can you give some clues about what comes next? Can you talk about what you're looking forward to for the next storyline?
Snyder: Yeah, issue #17 is what we've been building toward from go, so hopefully everyone will hate it and love it and be excited and upset and all of those things at once with it. But it will set the tone for what's coming up after, in Batman for the next few issues.
The issue right after this, #18, is drawn by Andy Kubert. I'm really excited. And it brings Harper Row back, and you see the aftermath of things through her eyes.
And then we're going to do a really fun two-part story, me and Greg. And it focuses on another favorite rogue.
And then we're going to launch into our biggest thing we've done in awhile. Bigger and longer and more ambitious than anything we've done since "Court of Owls," and it will make up a large part of our 2013.
I don't want to give it away, but I tried to hint before that, like, Riddler is a character that we're really going to be focusing on in 2013.