The words "Batman" and "renaissance" may not normally go together. But according to Batman scribe Scott Snyder, DC's Bat-office is in the midst of a creative revival that includes his plans for the just-announced, October-launching storyline, Batman: Endgame.
Drawn by regular Batman artist Greg Capullo, Endgame will begin several months before the conclusion of DC's weekly series Batman Eternal, which ends in March 2015.
But Snyder said Endgame will actually take place after the events of the weekly.
It's quite a jump in time for the title. Currently, Batman is taking place in the past, as Snyder and Capullo tell the year-long origin story, Zero Year. Next week's oversized Batman #33 will conclude Zero Year with a showdown between the caped crusader and the story's main villain, The Riddler.
However, in August, Batman will jump "back to the future." Talking to Newsarama, Snyder clarified that:
- August's Batman #34 and all subsequent Batman issues will take place after the end of DC's current weekly series Batman Eternal. "We're jumping to the end of Eternal's continuity," Snyder explained about August's issue and subsequent stories. "Endgame takes place in the same continuity as #34. They both take place, basically, right after the end of Eternal."
- Batman #34 is co-written by Gerry Duggan, who's writing the October-launching series Arkham Manor. Snyder said Batman #34 "catches" readers up to the status quo that will be seen in Duggan's series (where Wayne Manor has been turned into a mental health facility after the destruction of Arkham Asylum).
- Batman #34 will depict other changes to Gotham City and its characters in the wake of Batman Eternal, and the back-story for those changes will be shown in the weekly.
- Batman Endgame starts in October's issue #35 and will represent Capullo and Snyder going "big" for Batman's 75th anniversary. It will have the "biggest cast we've ever used" and the "biggest cataclysmic elements that we've ever used," Snyder said.
- Snyder will once again co-write back-up stories with James Tynion IV for Batman, beginning with October's issue #35. The back-ups will tie into the main story of Endgame, and the artist will change each month.
- Batman Endgame will be six issues, which means it will finish in March 2015 (the same time as many of DC's other story arcs and all three of the publisher's weeklies). Snyder indicated he was trying to fit the story into a "block of time before the move — when DC moves" its offices from New York to Burbank in April 2015.
Fans have already noticed DC's Batman office bringing an "indie" flair to its line in October, one that Snyder calls a "renaissance" that includes the launch of titles like Arkham Manor and Gotham Academy, and the new creative teams on Batgirl and Detective Comics.
But Snyder said that fresh approach, which he credits to new Batman editor Mark Doyle, will also be reflected in Batman: Endgame, which he calls a "totally different kind of story for us."
In part one of our interview with Snyder, we talked to the writer about Endgame, as well as Doyle's influence on the Batman universe.
Newsarama: Scott, after Zero Year, you've got a stand-alone issue. Is that to bring people up to speed with what's been happening in Batman Eternal, since you're moving up to present day in Gotham?
Scott Snyder: Yeah, but it's also just to take a breath.
I thought I was going to do three or four [issues like this], honestly. I really believed it. And I said it, I think, a couple times. I was like, "we're just going to go quiet for a little bit. Do a couple small mysteries with some of the rogues."
But I've pushed that back a bit in my thinking, mostly because we had this block of time before the move — when DC moves [offices from New York to Burbank in April 2015] — and I just saw this as, it's Batman's 75th anniversary, so instead of waiting to do this big story that we've been thinking about, why don't we push that up and do that?
You've got to go big for Batman's 75th anniversary, right? So that was the idea.
So this issue #34, with [art by] Matteo Scalera and co-written by Gerry Duggan, catches you up on a lot of the big changes that have happened in Eternal.
And the thing that I would really stress, that's important to realize is that, when Batman gets back in August from the past, we're not jumping into Eternal's continuity. We're jumping to the end of Eternal's continuity.
So there are going to be a lot of things that are shocking, that you realize… "Whoa! How did that happen?"
And you're going to have to go see Eternal to figure out how things came to be the way they are.
Nrama: Why the choice to go that route?
Snyder: Our feeling was, we had the option to jump into mid-stream with Eternal and then try to change as that changed. Or we could go from the past to the present, and just make the present the end of Eternal.
Nrama: You and your jumping! You guys jumped forward for Batman #28, then back to the past, and now you're jumping forward again.
Snyder: I know! But this is the future that is continuity now. You know, it's post-Forever Evil, it's post-Eternal. So I think it's fresh and new and different.
The point is to always keep things exciting for Bat-fans, you know? We try to zigzag for you guys – like with "Court of Owls" being over-the-top, whereas "Black Mirror" was meant to be more of a detective story. And then go full-on horror with Joker. Go bright and adventure and post-apocalyptic, with no horror at all, almost, except for the Doctor Death part, in Zero Year. Just sort of colorful, sort of punk rock origin.
And then zip back and do Endgame, which is a totally different kind of story for us, after the fact.
So… we try to keep you on your toes!
Greg and I have a mission, which is never relax. And it kills us! I mean, we definitely run ourselves a little ragged, meaning like, sometimes he gets mad at me; sometimes I get mad at him. Because I think we both push each other. But I feel so lucky to be on the book with him. And he's one of my best friends in life. And I learn so much from him.
But that's our goal, is to make something for you guys out there that is the best we can do, and that challenges us as creators each arc.
Nrama: OK, so #34 has a different artist, and you're writing it with Gerry. And it's a stand-alone story, about a specific mystery?
Snyder: Yeah, it's a stand-alone detective story that introduces this character. He thinks of himself as this thing called "Meek." And he's a serial killer. So I wanted to go real cold, black detective work.
It's basically a case where he's a murderer, and he believes that Gotham is the best place for people like him. He actually works at the Potter's Field, which is a concept I like. You know, the graveyard where they take people whose bodies go unclaimed (at least, in the old days).
He works there, and he buries people there.
He loves Gotham, because he thinks everyone wants to be famous, as a killer or a murderer, or as a psychopath, or as a criminal. They want to be a master, and they want to fight Batman.
But if you just want to be nameless and forgotten, and you just want to live in the cracks of the walls, and just fulfill your own appetite? No one notices you.
So it's a very spooky kind of issue. But it's also, I think, pure detective.
Nrama: But writing it with Gerry, does that mean it catches people up with what happened to Arkham Asylum, as we've seen in the description of Arkham Manor?
Snyder: It catches you up on Arkham; it catches you up on Catwoman; it catches you up on Gordon — a lot of elements like that.
And Gerry's amazing. He's a good friend, and he's one of the best writers in comics. I'm really honored to work with him, and what he's going to do with Arkham Manor is insanely cool.
And Matteo, I became friends with when we were in Dublin together for a con, and I just adored his work on Black Science. And my feeling was, he's perfect for it, because he brings a grayness, but also a kind of kinetic element to the art that makes it feel… not cartoon-y or anything, but sort of elastic.
So it's both scary and dark, but at the same time totally dynamic, where Batman is always in movement and sort of heroic. I just love the way it looks. I just Tweeted out some pieces this morning. I just love it.
Nrama: So Batman: Endgame also takes place after Eternal is finished? Is it later?
Snyder: Endgame takes place in the same continuity as #34. They both take place, basically, right after the end of Eternal.
It's not going to spoil things in Eternal, necessarily. There will be a couple things where you'll be, like, how did that happen? But my feeling is more that what it will do is create, hopefully, a sense of intrigue about how these things came to be, and you'll read Eternal and see the missing pieces, for fun.
So Endgame begins with issue #35 in October.
Nrama: Yeah, let's talk about Endgame. You've already said that it's a six-issue story, and that makes sense if you want to get it finished by March — or before the DC move, as you said. But you also mentioned that it's a big story you've wanted to do for awhile?
Snyder: Yeah, Greg and I have been talking about it for awhile.
But I don't want to give anything away about it. I really want it to speak for itself.
I feel like I always come out and hype stories. And this time, I think it's just one of those things where, I'd just love for you to come see what we have in store for the 75th.
And you should know that, if you think that we try to go big most of the time, in general, and we're pretty ambitious for the 75th, if you think we're going to go small or doesn't have the biggest cast we've ever used and the biggest cataclysmic elements that we've ever used, then you don't know us as a team.
Nrama: Can you at least speak to what the title means? It sounds final. Does it mean you're leaving Batman? Or is it just an endgame for what's been set up in Eternal? Or an endgame of another sort?
Snyder: I want it to be a surprise. But I can tell you — I mean, I don't want to tease fans; I don't want to hurt fans or make them worry about us leaving — it's not meant to be an indication that this is the last story that Greg and I will do. We've always felt that, along the way, we would stay as long as fans really want us.
This is definitely one of those stories that I felt… we have to do this one before we die.
So there's an element of, like, "Thank God we're getting to do it!" You know? And I could leave the book happy having done this. And there are a couple more I really, really want to do with big bads and stuff like that. But this is definitely one on our hit list.
Nrama: The solicitation for Endgame mentioned back-up stories you're writing with James Tynion IV. Those are tying into the main story, like you guys have done in the past?
Snyder: Yeah, we wanted to do something like what we've done before, to fill in pieces and give you different interpretations of what's happening in the main story, because the story is just so over-the-top, so I'm really proud to have him back doing those back-ups, with various artists, each one.
So there's going to be a totally different roster of artists for the back-ups, including people that are really far-flung from the people we've used — the people that I know you like.
Nrama: The language you're using about Endgame and these back-ups, and what we're seeing with the stuff announced for October, implies a changing game in the Bat-office.
Snyder: Yeah, you know, under [former Batman editor] Mike Marts, I really felt like the line was incredibly vibrant and exciting. And Mike did a great job of letting creators really do the stories that mattered to them. And I think the line had a certain color, with Grant there, and me, and [Mike] took a lot of fun risks.
I think now, with Mark, you're seeing that happen all over again, in a different way. You know, Mark is a different editor with different sensibilities. But that line, coming out in October, to me, is one of the most exciting I've seen in comics.
So between new series like Gotham Academy and Arkham Manor — and you'll hear about more — and the new take on Batgirl, the new writers' and artists' take on Catwoman, and what we're going to be doing on Batman as well, and what's happening in Batman and Robin, with "Robin Rises," and Detective with a new creative team and a new look….
I mean, every book is meant to be new and fresh, and I'm so proud to be a part of that line. And I'm so proud of Mark for what he's been able to do. He really believes that there should be a Bat-book for every fan, for every genre.
The amount of talent he's been able to bring in, that we haven't used before, and the kind of story that we've never seen before. I just feel like I'm part of something that's a real renaissance going on in the Bat-line, after the renaissance that Mike brought years ago.