Scott Snyder gave readers a treat with the release of this week's Batman #28, but the writer was probably just as excited about anyone else.
The stand-alone issue reveals what will be happening about a year from now, in both Batman and the upcoming Batman: Eternal weekly series (see our spoiler-filled breakdown of the issue for a recap).
The issue told a full scene from the life of Batman in the future, but it also left a lot of unanswered questions about the status of Gotham City and its inhabitants.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the issue revealed that Batman will have a team of female characters helping him next year, including Harper Row (fighting crime under the identity "Bluebird"); a revamped, New 52 version of Stephanie Brown, who calls herself Spoiler; and a mysterious new character in the Batcave.
The issue, which was co-written by James Tynion IV with art by Dustin Nguyen, also teased a new "Kingpin" role for Catwoman — one that Snyder told Newsarama will evolve over the course of upcoming stories in Catwoman, Batman: Eternal and Batman.
What else can Snyder tell us about the flash-forward issue of Batman? Newsarama talked to Snyder to find out more.
Newsarama: Scott, I bet this was a fun day for you, wasn't it? For people to finally see this issue?
Scott Snyder: I know! I know, right? I'm excited. It was a fun issue to do. I'm really, really proud of it.
Nrama: After reading the issue, someone asked me to, what's the first reaction you have to it? And I said, "Girl power!" There are all these women on his team! Was that intentional? What was the thinking behind it?
Snyder: Yeah, absolutely, it was intentional.
Batman has had some incredibly strong female characters in Gotham. And he still has allies and villains that are some of the best female characters in comics, from Batgirl to Poison Ivy and beyond.
But one of the things we thought was, with the Robins in new roles and Damian gone, it's time to start thinking about — for Batman's 75th anniversary — new characters that we could bring in, or old, familiar characters that we could bring back in new ways.
It would be a new generation of allies for him.
That doesn't mean in any way that our plans for the older generation and the established allies and family are any less bombastic or important this year, for the 75th. But it's also a celebration of all things Bat, and that means giving Batman some new people in his life. So we wanted to start in a way that made it clear that we're interested in doing some new things.
And really, this issue is just the top of the iceberg — both in terms of the characters that are going to be introduced, and the characters that you know and love who are going to get new statuses.
Nrama: You know, talking about girls… we all assume that's a girl in the Batcave in this issue. Can you confirm that it's a girl?
Snyder: [Laughs.] It definitely looks like a girl. I'll say that.
Nrama: While the Batcave girl is a mystery, you've revealed what's going to happen with Harper Row. As you were coming up with her character, did you know her eventual path? Or was this something that evolved?
Snyder: It definitely evolved. One of the things I wanted to do when I created her was not to have a set point in mind, in terms of her eventual costume and status. Part of me thought it might be fun to keep her entirely out of costume, and part of me wondered if maybe there was room for her to be Robin, and part of me wondered if we'd do something brand new with her.
And really, it became about feeling it out as it went, and trying to put the emphasis on her and her brother Cullen, as real and viable and, hopefully, exciting characters to readers, before anything else.
What she is for me is, she's someone who lives and struggles in Gotham, and serves as a tribute to the type of characters you see in Gotham Central and a lot of the animated series — the people on the street, that we can forget about when we get all wrapped in the giant figures that we know from Gotham.
So that was the most important to me, to make sure she was a character, and her brother was a character, that people responded to. And then to figure out her status after.
Nrama: Where did the name Bluebird come from?
Snyder: Actually, nobody has really said this yet, so it's a spoiler… but there's actually a piece that says "Bluebird" and one that says "Lark" in the Detective [Comics] #27 short that I did with Sean Murphy.
And one of the hopes, eventually, is… for me, I think Batman should always have a Robin, eventually. Robin is such an iconic figure that you know he will.
But one of the things I love, reading Pete Tomasi and Pat Gleason's book, and other books, is seeing him team up with other… birds, basically. [Laughs.]
You know, seeing him team up with Red Robin or with Nightwing. There are different colors as well. I wanted to think about, with some of the stuff that's going to happen, trying to create figures that would be fun to see Batman next to, that didn't necessarily have the baggage of a Robin, and didn't have the weight of that mantle on them at the same time.
So for me, creating a character like Bluebird, and the implications there — it has a lot to do with the mystery of who her mother is, and all of this stuff that we've been playing with — was to try to give Batman a sidekick that was very different from anything you've seen before.
One of the reasons I think she's so different is that she doesn't want to know who he is under the mask, ever. She shows up when she knows he needs her, because of the police scanner. She teams up with him. And whenever he tries to let her in at all — to a cave, to anywhere that's close to him, she doesn't want any part of it, because she thinks that people really let each other down.
So ultimately, she's a really interesting character to write by his side, because she's just an ally in costume.
Nrama: It was interesting to see Catwoman as a Kingpin of crime, but it's also notable to see the anger she has toward Batman. Where should we look to find the incident between Catwoman and Batman, where he leaves her? Is this a Forever Evil thing, or a Bat-books thing?
Snyder: Yeah, it's going to be part of Batman: Eternal and it's going to be part of Batman, and it's also going to be part of Catwoman, honestly.
Her status is really — we're going to try to reconfigure her status in a way that I think people, hopefully, will really like. It's something that I think will give that character a new energy and a new sense of importance to Gotham.
I really like what Ann [Nocenti, Catwoman writer,] has been doing with the book. And this isn't, in any way, to cast aspersions at what the book has been, because I think it's been tremendous fun.
But I also think that this kind of a change to the character will really make her a powerful, powerful figure.
And Gotham really hasn't had a Kingpin before, you know? Certain figures have kind of stepped up, like Two-Face, or Black Mask, at different times. But ultimately but the idea of an actual, kind of Wilson Fisk figure, I think, is something pretty new.
And then having that be Selina brings all kinds of interesting layers to it.
Nrama: It was surprising to see Spoiler revealed when her "introduction" is coming in Batman: Eternal. Are you going to have to repeat this scene in Batman Eternal, or the things we saw in this issue? How is that going to work?
Snyder: No, we won't repeat the scene, per se. If we touch on it, it will be from her point of view, so you'll see what went on leading up to that point. You'll see her in the dark, and then you'll ultimately see the door open and it's Batman. You know what I mean? So we won't repeat it so that you feel like you're getting ripped off, or anything like that.
But with Stephanie, we wanted to emphasize that she's not only back in Gotham, but she plays a really, really important role.
The idea of Spoiler, and why she's called Spoiler and all those things, are re-imagined a bit, while still hopefully keeping very true to what the core of the character is.
Nrama: Since this is a short interview and we're running short on time, let's do a little word association. Ready?
Nrama: Harper Row's costume (and hair).
Snyder: Her costume and hair? I would say, "punk."
Nrama: Alfred and Jim Gordon next year.
Snyder: Oooohh… "jeopardy."
Nrama: The Batman Eternal writing team.
Snyder: Rock solid.
Nrama: Nightwing's future.
Nrama: Gotham City 2015.
Snyder: Oh, I would say… let me think. Don't move there. That's would I would say.
Nrama: It does look pretty bad, with this infection, and curfew. I don't suppose you can give us any hints about that?
Snyder: It's coming! You'll see! I don't want to give it away. Yeah, it's a big part of the story in Eternal. That's going to be in Eternal.
There are a lot of things having to do with that that will be played out in that book. I mean, it's a year-long, weekly book. If you think about it, there are almost issues in that than, like, double what I've written in Batman already. So there's just so much space and room.
We thought it would be fair to spoil some things [in Batman #28], because there's just so much material in it. But at the same time, I want you to go see it, and read it, and see how all this stuff comes about.