Spoilers ahead for this week's Batman #51.
Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder have ended their almost five-year run on Batman with this week's #51, a story that not only gave Batman a "day off," but also tied up some loose ends to give the next creative team a clean slate.
For example, Alfred has his hand back — Bruce Wayne having fixed it after the character had lost it in a fight with the Joker. And the Joker himself, who lost his memory during the team's last storyline, is ready for another writer to form him into the type of Joker they envision.
Snyder and Capullo have already announced that the end of their Batman run doesn't mean the end of the creative team's time together.
"What we'll be doing next… we think is just going to smash the roof right off DC," Capullo told Newsarama. "It'll be very explosive stuff when we reunite."
"I'm already thinking about what we're going to do next. I already laid out the basic idea for Greg," Snyder told Newsarama. "Seeing what he's able to do with Mark Millar, and the different flavor that that book is going to be, and the creative expansion available on it — the work he's doing with Mark is so great. I'm so excited for what he has this time, and what they have together. So it's become this happy thing, because it's like, 'Oh, if he'll do that, I'll do this, and then we'll get back together and do something really fun and big.'"
The issue also isn't the end of Snyder's time in Gotham City, as DC announced in March that the writer would be working on a new, twice-monthly All-Star Batman title beginning in August, this time uniting with a variety of artists — including John Romita Jr. and Sean Murphy.
"I wouldn't try to do Batman without Greg and the art team, the way I've been doing it, at all," Snyder said. "We've had a special run. And it's something we created together. The stories are tailored for the kinds of stuff that I love to do with this team, as opposed to other artists.
"So Batman as we know it — this run — is always us," the writer said. "I have a different sort of idea for what to do with the character when Greg goes away."
The end of the Snyder-Capullo Batman also makes way for the next creative team on the series, writer Tom King and artists David Finch and Mikel Janin, who take over in June.
Newsarama talked to Snyder and Capullo about what they were trying to say in Batman #51, how they would describe their version of Batman, and how their stories are united into a statement about the kind of Batman they wanted to create.
Newsarama: Scott and Greg, Batman #51 gives almost a clean slate to the next writer. Not only did you fix Alfred's hand, but the next writers can now write their own Joker, kind of starting over with him. And even Batman doesn't have scars anymore. Was that to leave a clean slate?
Greg Capullo: Yeah, there's that.
But I hope that people, it's not lost on them, how painful that scene is with the mention of the scars.
We had, in the past, Alfred had a dream, a vision for how he wanted Bruce's life to be — married with children and the whole thing.
But now, we took that up a step in "Superheavy," and Al's dream actually came true. He could touch it and see it and he was filled with joy over it.
And so, when he's looking at that pristine back, now Bruce knows he was Batman, but he still hasn't lived that life as he had.
Alfred knows the end of this book. He knows the following chapters that are ahead of Bruce.
I mean, if you put yourself in Al's place, looking at that virgin back, knowing what it's going to look like, and knowing what you're going to be stitching up, and what you're going to be pulling out of his flesh.
Nrama: It's like a father knowing his son is doomed to servitude or something.
Capullo: Alfred is like a father to Bruce, and if you think about a father going through that, knowing what's coming for his son — wow, that's heartbreaking. And it was heartbreaking drawing that particular scene.
Scott Snyder: That panel was actually silent too, by the way. I'm going to change that back in trade. I wanted it to be just what you said, where he's just quiet, looking at his back.
Nrama: There are hints in here about the Court of Owls. Are there things in here that maybe you set up for your friend Tom King?
Snyder: Yeah. Well, Tom's more than welcome to use them. I think the story that is actually… the funny thing is, actually, as I was writing that, I've been playing around with an idea for a new Court of Owls story. And I started to put in some of that stuff about the Strigidae and the Mantling — it got me really excited to write it. I almost called Greg up to be like, "hey, when you come back…!"
But then I was like, no, I'll leave it off the table.
So the Court is fair game to anybody or any Batman.
I can tell you that I'm very, very pleased with Tom, and we've become really good friends.
Nrama: So the things mentioned here are related to something you want to write?
Snyder: Yeah, the things mentioned are part of a story that I'd love to do one day.
Nrama: We've talked a lot over the years about what aspect of Batman you were highlighting with each issue or storyline. How would you describe your Batman looking back at your run, and taking into account everything he's gone through? As we read Batman #51, who is Batman?
Scott Snyder: It's hard, because we tried to explore so many different aspects of him. But, above all, I think what we've tried to do in a conscious way was shift him over from being a darker figure. I know Grant Morrison, he certainly wasn't dark with Grant. He was, you know, off the wall awesome. But to do it in a way that was more about what he could mean to the outside world, rather than in comics.
Our Batman, to me, is kind of a figure of inspiration, and a little bit about sort of getting out of your house and being brave when you're facing either your personal demons or you're facing problems that seem too big to solve on a national level or a global level.
Nrama: Does Batman #51 highlight that? I know it's a day off for Batman, and your final goodbye to the fans, but isn't it also about him being an inspiration to others?
Greg Capullo: That's a fair assessment.
Snyder: Yeah, yeah. It's a day off. And I hope that comes across, that it's a thank you to the character and to the fans themselves. It's hopefully a kind of thesis on what he is — a character who, again, to me, is a symbol of bravery and inspiration, rather than one who… sometimes he gets portrayed very darkly. I love those versions of him, and I grew up with them. And I'm always up for a story that shows him as a scary, obsessive figure. But I think he's also a figure of tremendous light, and of inspiration.
Nrama: So if you had to pick an overarching theme, would it be related to that idea?
Snyder: That, to me, is what may be a uniting factor through the different stories. You know, it's Batman saying, what I'm facing is something that's impossible to beat, but I'm going to fight it best I can so that you can get up and fight and take baby steps towards the things that might be insurmountable in your life.