Scott Snyder Teases JOKER Return, Talks BATMAN, SUPERMAN, Vertigo Books

DC Comics' December 2013 solicitations
Credit: DC Comics

A quick look around the sprawling Javits Center on Friday afternoon of New York Comic Con showed the convention halls were packed full of enthusiastic comic fans lining up in droves to meet and greet the many talented creators involved with delivering the four-colored funny books we all enjoy every Wednesday. Based on the massive lines for his signing Thursday night, it's no surprise Scott Snyder was one such person people were coming out en masse to see. Yet in spite of his busy schedule, Scott found the time to sit down for a few minutes to talk with Newsarama about the many projects he has going on right now and in the coming months.

Credit: DC Comics' November 2013 solicitations

Newsarama: Scott, let's start from the very top: Batman and "Zero Year." It seems you've been breaking the larger story into smaller arcs or chapters — first, Bruce's Return, and now the Riddler's attack on Gotham. What's next?

Scott Snyder: It's a good question. I haven't really said but the truth about the thing is it's designed to be three succinct chapters, and each is fast, bombastic, and big. So even though it's a long story – 11 issues – it really goes boom, boom, boom. It grows more and more severe in terms of the stakes. The second one, if you look at the cover of Batman #25 that was teased, it's black. So, the first issue of "Zero Year" was blue, the second is black, and the third one is green. So the idea is in the second section is the Riddler has just blown out the power in the city, and he says "Go ahead and turn the city on, I dare you. I dare you to try and go bring it back to life and see what happens.” And so the cops don't know what to do, but they're working to bring Gotham back and they think he's just a freak while Batman suspects he has a bigger plan.

And then there's another villain, but I don't want to reveal who it is, but it is a really old villain running around the city doing something pretty nefarious. [Newsarama Note: At the "Batman" Panel on Friday, it was later revealed Poison Ivy would appear in "Zero Year," so she could be the mystery rogue, although with the green cover for the third arc, she may be relegated there] So this will end up being Batman's first real detective case. Now Batman and Gordon are trying to solve this case from different ends of the spectrum, and everything is happening in this blacked out, blown out city that is essentially dead. It was really, really fun as I wrote in blimps into the story, that Wayne donated, so it looks like Batman: The Animated Series. The biggest element that I'm really, really proud of is it's deeply about his relationship with Gordon, and in our version Bruce Wayne doesn't actually like Gordon – as Bruce, he hates him and we don't know why. In the first issue of that chapter, in Issue #25, Bruce tells Gordon: "You know what happened on the night my parents were killed. You know what your role was. I'll never forgive you" And you the reader don't even know what he's talking about.

Credit: DC Comics

So this section's really about scares from the past, bones being broken, and then reset. It really has to do with this idea that something has happened between Bruce and Gordon that turned the relationship - that fuels the antagonism between them where Bruce sees Gordon as the worst kind of cop on the force and doesn't even want to go near him and how they eventually overcome this to become allies.

It's a big, big mystery with a lot of moving parts, and I'm really proud of it. It's much more like "The Black Mirror" or "The Court of Owls" than anything we've done in a while. So it's black, and dark, and everything in that section happens in the shadows. Bruce's father says how his grandfather told him "Your fate always forms in the dark," and this section is really about that idea coming to fruition.

The third section, which I haven't really said anything about yet, is something you got a glimpse of in the very beginning along the lines of I Am Legend or The Day After Tomorrow with the sense of a city grown wild [Newsarama Note: there’s that Poison Ivy hint again!] – almost along prehistoric lines. So the fun of it is that the first part is "Secret City," the second part is "Dark City," and the third part is "Wild City." Riddler is the "big bad" throughout, but there are different levels and there are other villains in it too.

Nrama: It definitely sounds like an ambitious plan. Now, I don't know if this is something you can mention right now, but can we expect to see the return of the Joker in "Zero Year" given the way the story ended in Batman #24?

Snyder: Well, I don't want to say when [laugh], but you're definitely going to see him return at some point during our run. All I want to say about it is if you think about the first big Joker story being about love, where Joker is telling Batman "You're one of us, we're here to accept you as our king, so why don't you kill your family kindly instead of letting it drag out through the years." So you can only imagine the next time he comes back if that's how he shows his love, where Batman basically tried to kill him by dropping him, then the next one's going to be even darker. It's going to be a lot of fun. So, I have the story in mind, I just don't want to say when.

Credit: DC Comics

Nrama: Totally understandable, though I'll be looking forward it—as will many others, I'm sure. Moving over to The Wake, I'll try to keep this one real quick: That last image—Oh my God. [Laughter] How do you top that final image at the last issue's conclusion?

Snyder: Wait until you see that creature. It actually has arms on the sides! Sean is just the master at doing really believable, realistic but imaginative sorts of science fiction, you know? The monsters he comes up with, the machines, they're all just passed plausible so you can really feel their presence as if they could exist.

Nrama: I know! And I remember as soon as I saw that panel, I went right back to Issue #1 with the massive shape rising up out of the water. It all started to come together. Now, as soon as you wrap up this ten-issue story, can we expect more maxi-series from you through Vertigo? Any idea what sort?

Snyder: Yeah, definitely, but I don't want to say anything right now though as I'm really focused on bringing American Vampire back right now.

Nrama: Speaking of American Vampire, one of the really fun things about the series that many people enjoy is you get to bounce back to different periods of time in the United States' history. What time period are you most looking forward to exploring next? Any you want to revisit?

Credit: DC Comics

Snyder: Honestly, I'm really looking forward to this period coming up that brings us back to this place in 1967 where Pearl is back on her family farm and doing something I think will surprise people. She's turned a corner and found a new purpose in life. It has to do with something secret with the vampires. Meanwhile, Skinner is working in the borderlands of Mexico as one of the most vicious hit men working for the different cartels. So it's a really fun arc, and it brings everything back together in way that where you see the biggest enemy they've ever faced is biggest sort of ancient monster that you got a glimpse of in "The Gray Trader" is coming back. There's going to be another big character coming back to the series very early on that will play a very big role in Gus' future, Alicia's future. This arc is one of the most comprehensive in order to welcome people back, and then after that, we're going to do another collection.

Nrama: I was going to ask if there were plans for another American Vampire short story collection.

Snyder: Yeah, definitely. I'm already working on writing it right now.

Nrama: Of course, the worst part for fans is the wait for when it's back on newsstands.

Snyder: Honestly, I've always struggled with anxiety, depression, and stuff like that. When I gave up American Vampire, I was like "It's okay, I'll come back to it" since I had all of this other stuff going on with Batman and Superman. But I got really depressed being away from the series and not having a creative refuge before The Wake started because I didn't have a creator-owned going, and I was missing those characters. It was very difficult, and so I could not be more excited to go back into the series and power through it – very, very thrilled.

Credit: DC Comics

Nrama: Now, one last question before we wrap up, and this one has to do with your fourth title, Superman Unchained. I, for one, am not a big fan of company-wide crossovers as it's hard to keep track of all the moving parts – and I know a lot of fans feel the same. There's a lot going on in the DC universe with "Forever Evil"; however, it seems like Superman Unchained has been largely "off to the side" and not affected by the main continuity yet. Will this series cross over into the events unfolding in the greater DC Universe or no?

Snyder: It is actually going to tie into some continuity, and there is some stuff in Superman that's going to play out in what happens in Superman Unchained. There's also going to be a reference in Action Comics picking up on some stuff from Superman Unchained after this current arc we're doing is finished. So it is pulling in some continuity, but I just didn't want to do something that tied in so much that you had to read the other books. My only feeling is that the stuff they're doing with Psi-War in the other books is that they're going back and forth. So I thought let's doing something singular so you can get just this one book and read the whole story there. I love cross overs and multi-book storylines, but I wanted Superman Unchained to be something where you could read just this and that was it, you know?

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