As DC Comics decided to relaunch its entire line with Rebirth, writer Scott Snyder realized that he still had stories about the Dark Knight left to tell after his 52 issue run on Batman. So, with his longtime creative partner Greg Capullo taking a hiatus to work on a creator-owned title, Snyder decided to go in a different direction. Teaming up with a murderer's row of artists on shorter arcs that highlight classic Batman foes, Snyder will launch All-Star Batman as a part of Rebirth.
At WonderCon 2016, in the wake of DC's Rebirth announcements, Newsarama sat down with Snyder to talk about his vision for All-Star Batman, including his first arc in which he teams up with John Romita, Jr. to redefine Two-Face. Snyder also discussed some of the big name artists that will be joining him on the book, his overarching plans for his future with Batman, and why that loaded title is the perfect moniker for this type of Batman story, which he described elsewhere as "his Long Halloween."
Newsarama: Scott, let’s talk about All-Star Batman. You dropped a lot of hints at C2E2 about what your Rebirth project would be, and so this title makes a lot of sense. In a way, it almost feels like a victory lap, coming after your incredibly successful relaunch of Batman in the "New 52." Do you see this as the next chapter of your Batman story?
Scott Snyder: Yeah, I didn’t want to do something that would be repetitive where I felt like, if Greg Capullo was leaving the book, it wouldn’t be right for me to do another Batman #1. And knowing they were thinking about Tom King coming over, I became very vocal about him taking the book because I knew he would do an amazing job. And he’s going to. I think he’s the best up-and-coming writer in comics, and Batman is gonna be great.
But I was like, “What does that leave me when I have all these stories I want to do, particularly with all the villains?” And I started coming up with this idea back in August, where I started thinking, what if I do a series where I invite some of the best artists in the series in to do Batman stories, but in continuity with All-Star Batman for the first time ever, make it a new ongoing series that allows me to work with different artists. So it’s not really the same thing that allowed me to work with one guy the way I did with Greg, but I’m working on every villain with a different artist that’s paired to them, that loves that villain and has a new idea for how to do them. The way we revamped Joker, John Romita, Jr. is revamping Two-Face. And all of that’s in continuity, so when they show up in other books, they’ll look like these character you see in All-Star Batman.
Their origins are the same, nothing is changing, in the way that Rebirth isn’t changing the origins of characters, we’re not. But it’s the same thing we did with the Joker where we didn’t change what came before with him, but we introduced him in a way you hadn’t seen before. So I was like, if I can get John to do an arc with me, and I can get Sean Murphy to do an arc with me, and Jock? I got my anchors. So I couldn’t have been more excited when they all said they could do some stuff together. Really, the big anchors for me are John and Sean. Jock is doing a smaller one in the middle. It really is a dream series. I started inviting people like Declan Shalvey, Francesco Francavilla is doing a part with Jock, so we’re getting our “Black Mirror” team back together. Tula Lotay is doing Poison Ivy. Afua Richardson, who has become a friend and someone I admire so much, is gonna do one. So for me it’s just inviting in some of the best in the business, up-and-comers and rock stars, to reinvent Gotham a bit, and do stuff that matters in continuity. Give fans a different flavor than Batman, because Tom’s just gonna kill it on Batman.
Nrama: All-Star Batman is a loaded title for fans of DC Comics. How did you arrive at using the name?
Snyder: I know! Well, I debated it. But what Tom reminded me is that there’s never been an All-Star Batman, there’s only been All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder. When I realized that, I said, “You know what? There’s never been an All-Star Batman. All-Star Superman is my favorite Superman story of all time.” And what “All-Star” means to me is that it was a brand that invited my favorite creators to do books that were special to them. For me, this book is about inviting creators that I admire to do Batman with me. It’s an appropriate title.
I thought about some other ones. I thought about calling it “Shadow of the Bat,” or “The Batman,” but what it really came down to is that All-Star Batman, for me, said what it is. It’s not that I’m an all-star, it’s that I’m inviting the best people in the business outside of Greg, because it doesn’t get any higher than Greg, to come do this with me. And my friends, also - I’ve been dying to do a Batman story with Sean Murphy for years. And when John said he was available, a year ago, he said “Let’s do some Batman,” so how do you turn down John Romita? I’m very excited. I can’t wait.
Nrama: You mentioned Paul Pope earlier, as well.
Snyder: Yeah! Paul Pope. I was just talking to him a few days ago. We’re gonna do a short one together too. We’ve got a couple of ideas. I don’t want to give away which villain he’s doing, cause I want to make sure I can clear it. But if he gets to do what he wants to do, it’ll be pretty crazy.
Nrama: Batman was really based on these long, operatic arcs that it seemed people really responded to. Will All-Star Batman be based more on shorter, brief stories that focus on individual villains?
Snyder: Yeah. The first and the last are longer. The way I see the series is 13 issues. I’d like to do unlucky 13, and then it could go on. I shouldn’t spoil this, but I’ve got a story I’d like to do with Lee Bermejo after that, so it’s a true ongoing.
But the first arc is called “My Own Worst Enemy,” and it’s about 13 issues. The first part with John is about six issues. It might be packed into five with the last one being double-sized. Then we’re gonna do some one-shots and short stories, then we’re gonna do the finale with Sean. It’s almost like my Dark Knight Returns. It’s crazy, crazy “Old Man Logan” Batman who winds up coming back to the past. It’s really nutty, I can’t wait. Sean and I have been talking about it for a long time. All of it is in continuity, and secretly, it is all one big, operatic story where it’s asking you, “Who is the worst enemy?” And I think it will surprise people, cause in this one, it’s not the Joker. It’s someone where people will be like “What???” so I can’t wait.
Nrama: What’s the one element that you’re bringing into All-Star Batman that you didn’t get to do in your 52 issues of Batman that is the one big thing you knew you had to do?
Snyder: That’s a great question. I mean, I think with Batman itself, with Greg, part of the fun is you learn how to write for one person. You’re always thinking of them, and writing for them in ways that flex certain muscles. And I was always trying to push him, and push us as a team, but when I got a chance to write for Jock for an issue, and for Becky Cloonan for a couple issues, it changed my whole style, and made me, I think, a better writer, to be able to work in very different ways. So I want to show people what I can do differently on this character.
For example, the first story, the Two-Face story, literally takes place as Batman is taking Two-Face – and our version of Two-Face is different from anything you’ve seen - he’s taking him somewhere upstate for reasons I don’t want to give away. But when the Bat-Plane goes down, cause Two-Face engineers a crash, they’re on the road being hunted by every bad guy in Gotham, who’s trying to kill them before they get where they’re going. And everyone on the road wants to kill them as well. So it’s sort of monster trucks, and motorcycles, and chainsaws, and really, really bombastic fun, but it’s also a personal story. It’s very much about Two-Face saying, “Everyone has a monstrous side they don’t wanna show the world, and those are our true sides. You’re not the person you show the world. You’re the darker face,” and he decides to prove it to Batman with a very dark twist.
So I guess what I’m getting at is, this series allows me to flex very, very different muscles. I promise you this – you’ve never seen me write Batman like I’m writing Batman in this series. That’s the one thing I said to John Romita, when we met. We live very close to each other – I run by his house actually, which I didn’t realize until we met and he was like, “We live in the same town.” So we met at this bar and he was like, “Look, I know you do a lot of Batman. I just wanna do a good job.” So I was like, “Listen, if we do this, the only reason to do it is to do something that neither of us has ever done before,” and that’s what I’ve said to every artist on the book. I want every story to be something you would not expect from me, that you’ve never seen me do. And this one literally takes place on the road, almost like “Death Race Batman.” I hope it sounds good, I hope everyone is looking forward to it. I’m excited.
Nrama: You had me at “Death Race Batman.”