If Bruce Wayne and the Joker were just two normal guys, sitting on a park bench in Gotham City, what would they say to each other?
With next week's Batman #48, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are getting the chance to explore that idea. The latest chapter in their "Superheavy" storyline, the issue continues a conversation teased at the end of Batman #47 — between a formerly amnesiac Bruce Wayne who just remembered he was Batman, and a character who appears to be a similarly forgetful-of-his-past Joker.
Yet the events of "Superheavy" have placed this much-anticipated discussion in the midst of disastrous circumstances in Gotham City, as the new Batman Jim Gordon is confronted by the creepy new villain Mr. Bloom and a slew of his look-alike, super-powered-by-seed minions.
Newsarama talked with Snyder and Capullo to find out more about Batman #48, with Snyder claiming the park bench scene is the "keystone" of "Superheavy," and according to Capullo, the Mr. Bloom storyline reflects current events with ISIS.
Newsarama: Scott, how would you describe next week's Batman #48, particularly what goes down on that park bench with Bruce Wayne encountering a man we're being led to believe is the Joker?
Scott Snyder: This issue is the one where we pull out all the stops. The fact that the readers have been so generous to us and let us do a story that's so far left of center, and kept the book selling during that time, this is where all the pieces come together. So you'll start to get the most fun stuff — like your giant monsters and robots — and you're also going to get this kind of stuff on the park bench.
Nrama: You said during our last interview that the park bench discussion was, you felt, the scene on which the storyline hinged. It was something you planned all along?
Snyder: Yeah. For me, this is the keystone of the arc. I told Greg before we started, I'm like, "then we're going to get to this moment where Joker and Bruce are on opposite sides of the mirror from where they normally are."
Ultimately, Bruce is asking the very questions that Joker is constantly trying to inspire in him.
Nrama: I know you don't want to spoil that conversation between these two characters. But can you describe the type of questions you're talking about? What is Bruce asking at this point, and what is the Joker saying?
Snyder: Bruce is saying, "Does my life mean anything? What's the point if you do stuff and it's cut short and it comes to nothing, and you never finish the narrative?"
And Joker's the one that says, in a lot of ways, "that's OK."
For me, this issue really is the kind of culmination of everything we've been building to for Bruce. This is really the beginning of the end of our Bruce, and it's the beginning of the welcome back of not just the Bruce you knew, but of a new and improved Bruce.
Nrama: In the last issue, we also saw that Mr. Bloom has help. We don't know what those other Blooms are yet, but I think it plays to that idea of weeds — the weeds you've describe before, Scott. That's important to the idea of Bloom, and now these other Blooms?
Snyder: Mmm-hmm. And a lot of that, in this story, relies on Greg's art, because so much of the weed aspect is through this terrific kind of visual underscoring of the character.
Nrama: We already know Bloom has been handing out seeds to people who feel like they've fallen through the cracks of the system. Is the idea of all these "Bloom" seedling, then, that if you stop one weed, there's always more popping up, and they're often connected?
Snyder: Yes. And you'll see that idea played out even more in this issue.
Bloom is asking all of us to see things his way, and his way is essentially the things that a lot of are afraid of, and those things have to do with both a city like Gotham or New York or Chicago or Baltimore being kind of experiments of futility. It's this idea of, like, we don't get along, we're never going to get along, there's inequality that's entrenched, so you'd better just get yours. Go get your superpowers.
Greg Capullo: I think it's a real mirror to what's going on in the world today. Obviously Bloom is a big, scary monster, and there are seeds and they look like flowers. But we know a group, right, out in the Middle East and they're using the same kind of inspiration that Bloom uses. So this, to me, is very timely — with ISIS or whatever you want to call them. It's an offer to people who are angry and want to fight back. I mean, there's also people who just want to do bad and this is now their Green Card. It's like, oh, here you go — take that seed, and now you have a pass for all those things you do. So I think it's very much a story about what's happening right now.