Next week, the oversized Batman #33 will conclude Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's 12-issue story Zero Year, which tells the origin of Bruce Wayne becoming Batman.
And although readers know #33 will depict Batman's triumph over The Riddler, who has trapped Gotham residents in a post-apocalyptic version of the city, there are sure to be other surprises — and Snyder is promising a link between Zero Year and the October-launching storyline, Batman: Endgame.
The issue also sets up a big time-jump for the series. After the Zero Year finale next week, August's Batman #34 will go "back to the future," as the title's continuity moves forward to take place after the end of DC's current weekly series Batman Eternal. (To be clear, the jump will take place at the end of Eternal's current storyline, which concludes in March 2015, since DC has indicated the title will take a "hiatus" at that point and possibly return at a later date).
Presumably, most Batman-related tittles — particularly Arkham Manor, which ties directly into Batman — will also take place post-Eternal, as will Snyder and Capullo's six-issue story, Endgame. (For more about Endgame and the continuity time-jump, see part one of our interview with Snyder.)
But readers have to wait one more issue before the jump forward. In this second installment of our interview, we talked to Snyder about Batman #33, how he feels about accomplishing Zero Year, and how the story's finale actually supports the idea of the upcoming Fox TV show, Gotham.
Newsarama: Scott, we've got one more issue of Zero Year left, next week's Batman #33. As the book shows this final showdown between Batman and Riddler, is there anything you can tell readers about what they'll see?
Scott Snyder: You know, this issue — I'll let it speak for itself. I don't want to hype it too much. But I'm pretty positive people will think of it as one of our best issues on the book. I'm very proud of it because it's both intensely personal, to me — it shows Bruce as a kid, and he confesses to how bad it got for him with his depression and his anxiety over the trauma he suffered, with his parents' death, and that cuts very close to the bone for me.
And on the other hand, it's our most out-of-control, muscular, colorful sort of action sequence that we've done.
So it has these twin elements that, for me, when I wrote it, I realized that I think it best epitomizes what Greg and I and the team bring to the book.
We try to do stories that we care about deeply on a personal level. And Zero Year, for me, is kind of reinventing Bruce for myself in a way that I think shows what I love so much about the character and why he's so inspiring to so many people and me personally.
But also, we love to embrace the craziness of Batman — the action, the color and the sort of epic, over-the-top possibilities that come with that character.
Doing it made me realize, this is our sweet spot.
I really felt that, doing Zero Year. I've always been comfortable on Batman and loved doing it. But rebuilding him made me realize what's intensely ours about this interpretation of the character.
Nrama: When we did that massive interview earlier this year about Zero Year, you said that you thought there was room for different interpretations of the Batman origin story. And I thought it was interesting that, since then, we've been hearing more and more about the Gotham TV show, learning that it's pretty much a new origin story for a lot the Batman characters. I know you're not involved with that series…
Snyder: Well, no, I'm not involved, but I've gotten a peek, and I have to say it looks great.
And on top of that, there's actually, in Batman #33, at the end — if Batman… [laughs] I was going to say "if Batman survives [Zero Year]," but obviously, you know he survives, because it's his origin. That's one bad thing about it, is that there's no, "is Batman going to live or die?"
But… after he battles the Riddler, there's a moment at the end that's one of my favorite scenes that we've done on Batman. There's a speech at the end where Bruce is talking, and he's trying to sort of motivate the city, because it's been so wrecked. And he's talking to people.
And he's saying, "Right now, this is our city. This is Gotham. It's ruined. It's beautiful. And it suffers tremendous terrors. And the terrors are ours. It's not gangs. It's not mob. It's not urban decay. It's cataclysm. And it's gunmen that step out in the middle of the day, with private ideologies. And it's terrorism. And it's super-storms." And these elements that we've tried to put into Zero Year, and have Batman wrestle with, in various ways.
That is the Gotham that I, growing up in the city, wanted to bring to the book, and to try to honor what Frank Miller did with Year One, and what so many of the great origin interpretations do with Batman, by making him modern and personal.
And seeing Gotham, and being so hopeful about how good it's going to be, my feeling really is, I hope that speech at the end [of Batman #33] speaks to that idea that I believe deeply.
And that idea is, this is our Gotham right now, in Zero Year, but I hope in 10 years, or 15 years, if the cultural climate changes, someone else will take a stab at doing the origin in a way that reflects that moment.
I honestly feel kind of badly that it's been so long, in comics, since someone has done it. And obviously, it's because of the shadow cast by such a masterpiece like Year One. And you know, there was tremendous stress and anxiety trying to do it here.
But I hope it opens the doors for other people to do it. And that's not to say we should rewrite continuity constantly. But that's part of the project of Zero Year, is just to say, you know, whether it's in comics or in another medium, it's OK to redo the origin in ways that are personal to you, when you have the chance to shepherd the character, and that are supposed to make him reflective, or make his challenges reflective, of the things you think are culturally potent right then, the fears that people are worried about, that keep them up at night, at that moment in time.
Nrama: I know Zero Year informs the present day of Batman in the New 52, from the creation of the Batarangs to his approach to being Bruce Wayne to his relationship with Jim Gordon, but are there things in there that will more directly tie into the story we're going to see in the "present day?"
Snyder: Yeah, you're going to learn more about the Riddler and how he came to be who he is now. And you're also going to see Zero Year inform a lot of things in different moments.
Without giving anything away, Endgame opens with a reference to Zero Year So yeah, you'll see it reverberate through.
Check back for part three of our interview with Snyder, when we discuss vampires in space and his current Vertigo series, American Vampire: Second Cycle.