Some of the characters in the DCU may have thought they knew the Multiverse, but they never suspected the existence of the Dark Multiverse.
With Dark Nights: Metal, writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo are opening up a whole new part of the DC cosmos as Batman and other DC characters discover the previously unseen Dark Multiverse.
Snyder calls this Dark Multiverse an "ocean of possibility" that is filled with "reactive matter," hinting about countless universes existing in an unknown realm. And Metal will explore, what if these infinite, dark possibilities invade?
Linked to the mysteries of Hawkman's Nth Metal, the Dark Multiverse and its many possibilities will give Snyder and Capullo the chance to have DC characters battle robots, dinosaurs, and all sort of threats that make Metal a "big, popcorn extravaganza," Snyder said.
And in Dark Days, readers will discover that the Dark Multiverse mystery can trace itself all the way back to the 2011-2015 Batman run by Snyder and Capullo - and thus, even their version of the Joker will play a role in the story's introduction.
Newsarama talked to Snyder about the Dark Multiverse, how it speaks to the diverse ideologies doing battle in the United States now, and how this story supports - but doe not answer - DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns' "Rebirth" mysteries.
Newsarama: Scott, I've got to start by asking about the Joker, because we've seen some pencils of him in Dark Days: The Forge, and he's been billed as important to that story. You said at the end of "Endgame" that you were done with the Joker for a while - what brought you back?
Scott Snyder: [Laughs] To be totally fair, it's plotted by me and James [Tynion IV], but it's written by James. So I did not actually script the Joker's line in this one. So I was trying to stay pretty true to my word.
The Forge and The Casting are essentially Metal #0. The only reason we didn't call them that, which I wanted to call them, was because we hadn't announced Metal yet. We had to start working on it.
That's the truth! We wanted Greg there to be able to announce Metal, and we had to announce and get these ready first. So…
You know, there's a concept in Metal that we're really excited about.
I love the Multiverse that's been set-up by Grant in Multiversity. You know, the 52 universes as established in 52, and then through Multiversity itself and Final Crisis - the entire cosmology of it.
But I've been fascinated by the idea of Dark Matter the last few years.
Nrama: Yeah, that's key to this story, obviously. It's the name of the spin-off group of titles coming after Metal. Should we start there? What piqued your interest in Dark Matter?
Snyder: I think I told you before, my five-year-old, he loves the show Cosmos. He thinks Neil deGrasse Tyson's name is "Cosmo." And we watch together all the time.
I became really fascinated though. I got really into this idea - it was pretty terrifying to me, this notion that in the last 10 years, we've discovered that essentially everything we see and perceive in the universe - all matter, positive and negative, anti-matter and positive matter - comprises less than, like, 15 percent of the actual matter and energy in our universe.
And what they've discovered is that there's dark matter and dark energy which we literally cannot perceive around us. We don't know what it is, but we can see its effects in holding galaxies and star clusters together and all these kinds of strange things.
So I started thinking, what if the Multiverse is that way? What if the Multiverse essentially has these 52 universes, but has almost this ocean of possibility, this ocean of almost reactive matter beneath it that's like a Dark Multiverse.
Nrama: Ah, so thus the "dark" in all the titles.
Snyder: Yeah, that's why we started talking about Dark Days, Dark Nights, The Forge, The Casting as a unifying concept, because we couldn't say "prelude to Metal" yet.
Nrama: OK, so Metal is about the Dark Multiverse? We've seen hints about this in the Dark Matter title that follow Metal. Are there characters in this Dark Multiverse? Can you describe the story at all?
Snyder: Metal is about discovering that DC cosmology is much bigger than we thought it was, and that cosmology might be coming to invade - through this mystery of Nth Metal.
And Nth Metal, because of its strange qualities, Hawkman and then Batman have come to suspect that it's not from our Multiverse.
And in that way, it becomes this massive, explosive story that kind of crashes together all these different elements of the DCU.
Nrama: And the Joker is part of this?
Snyder: Yeah [laughs], to go all the way back to your question about the Joker, in The Forge and The Casting, because the story also has clues that lead through our entire run on Batman, what Batman realizes is that this mystery is something that's been prepared for him almost unbeknownst to him, throughout the seven years that I've been working on Batman - and through Tom's run as well, because we planned it with him before he started writing his take.
We needed a character that would be able to say, "I've been there with you from the beginning, and let me show you something you don't want to look at."
And that's Joker. There's no other character that would fit that role.
He makes an appearance, and it's a key role, so I think it will really surprise people. So I don't want to give too much away or lean too hard into what his role is or any of that kind of stuff.
Nrama: Have you seen the photo a few weeks ago, that scientists took of dark matter?
Nrama: It's so creepy!
Snyder: Right? It's super creepy.
Nrama: So is the Dark Multiverse creepy? I mean, I know you don't want to give too much away, but can you describe the Dark Multiverse?
Snyder: The Dark Multiverse essentially exists as this ocean that our Multiverse floats on, the same way our universe essentially is, like, foam floating on an ocean of dark Matter and dark Energy.
The mystery is largely about the need to explore. Metal is about the ways in which our characters are sort of emblematic of the kind of human drive to be better and to explore both their own nature and also the physical world around them - the cosmos itself - and to push to the very corners of exploration that way.
The story speaks to all of those things.
Nrama: Yet "ocean of possibility" sounds like a sort of Pandora's Box - like you could discover some really horrible things.
Snyder: Yeah, Batman, for the first time here, he finds a mystery that he does not want to solve past a certain point, because he's afraid of what he's going to find.
I'm super nervous about the story. I don't want to let anybody down. I want it to be huge fun. And I've vetted it with everybody from Geoff Johns to Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, and all the way down through every creator that is in any book right now. Just saying, "What do you think? What do you think?" and asking, "Do you want to be a part?"
The real feel of it, I just feel like it's been a rough year for everybody in different ways. Whatever side you're on politically, whatever you believe, it has been a harrowing journey for all of us and left us, I think, raw.
And for this summer, this story is about that in the way that, I think, All-Star Batman has been about the things beneath the surface that are hidden but, you know, sugar-coated. So you'll have a story in there like "My Own Worst Enemy," the Two-Face one, where Batman doesn't take any political sides - it's not political - but it's meant to be about the ugliness that was infecting the discourse at that time. It was meant to say people are selfish, all of us - we don't really want to get along and talk to each other. We just want to retreat into our bubbles and do what we think, for ourselves, is best. And Batman's saying, no, that's not how it should be.
And similarly, Metal, for me, is largely about Batman believing that he's part of a tradition of history, and Hawkman as well, of detection, of exploration that says, every discovery, even when you find something bad, inevitably pushes things forward, because history moves up in a diagonal line – and then suddenly realizing, no, history doesn't move up. It can fall backwards at any minute into, you know, disarray and destruction.
And the things that you take for granted, in terms of alliances, in terms of the stability of the world, for whatever reason – not just politically, but climate change, any of it, it can fall backwards. You know? It can go back the other way.
And Batman realizes that, in a lot of ways, some of the things he thought he had done that were good, unbeknownst to him, might have set up the doorway for these things to come true from the Dark Multiverse.
What I'm getting at is that it's a story that's very personal, like pretty much everything I've tried to do in Batman, and it's about things in the air.
But what I want is, after a tough year, for you to be able to go in there and say, "I want to have a story that, yeah, is about something, but essentially is robots and dinosaurs and, like, out-of-controls gladiator death-pit fun with these characters, that takes you from the Source Wall beyond.
Nrama: So mind-bending concepts and blockbuster adventures linked to the concept of a Dark Multiverse?
Snyder: Yeah, it's like if Frank Frazetta and Jack Kirby had a baby to, like, a heavy metal soundtrack. I want that feel.
Yes, it's been a rough year, and this addresses those things in a way that is almost sublimated at first. The same way that the beginning of All-Star Batman #1 is meant to overpower you with fun, this is like that, but I want you to be able to pick it up and say, "That is what I would like from a summer event. I want that."
I want in the same issue a dragon, a giant robot, and I want to see our characters being amazing in that.
So that's what I'm going for. I'm going for the big, popcorn extravaganza. I don't believe in escapism. I love so many things that people call escapist. Like Star Wars, right? People say that Star Wars is escapist. And I understand that it's something that distracts you and takes you away. But even the stuff that distracts you and maybe seems silly at first, for the most part, if stuff like that lasts, it's because they're speaking to bigger truths. They're speaking to things that matter to us, about human emotion and human nature.
So although this will feel like, woah!, this is the most bonkers, most crazy thing I've read, at the same time, it has a heart and is about something that matters to me and, I hope, matters to other people as well.
Nrama: You mentioned before that you ran this by Geoff Johns. There are all these "Rebirth" mysteries out there that trace back to the DC Universe: Rebirth #1 issue. We know Geoff is picking those up later this year. But does Metal touch upon those at all? (Like, the Joker showing up makes people think of the Three Jokers.)
Snyder: No, no, no, no, no. Geoff was great. I went out there and met with Geoff in December and in January. And we just spent a weekend together at his place, basically, in his office, away from the main offices, vetting everything that he's about to do and that I'm about to do. And he helped me with my story, and I helped him a little bit with his. And we just kicked the tires on both things.
He's got a million things that he's doing that are incredibly important and amazing for DC. He has a big story he's going to tell. But it's his story. And it involves a lot of those mysteries that he set up in "Rebirth."
I think what my job is, with Metal, is to give you a story that works in coordination with that and also speaks to that a bit.
There are reasons that Metal happens before that. So you'll see Batman and Flash talking about things that happened in "The Button" and that stuff. It will work in collusion with that story.
So they're coordinated with each other really carefully, so that they speak to each other and they support each other.
But I would never - it was the same as when we were on Batman and Justice League: I would never take a beat that he wants to do and tell it. Similarly, there are characters and beats that he knows that I've wanted for a long time, from different mythologies and different character legacy stuff that he's been extremely gracious and generous to me about giving me.
Nrama: Like which characters?
Snyder: I don't want to spoil stuff! But it's characters that I've never gotten to write before, and mythologies I've never gotten to play in in the DCU, that Geoff's more known for, from Green Lantern stuff all the way down through Hawkman stuff through all that…
There are a lot of surprises in Metal that I think you'd be, like, I never expected Scott and Greg to do those characters. And that really is Geoff being generous with material that I think stands outside what he's planning to do in his story later.
So yeah, I would never do that, nor would he, to each other as writers. I would never think that I could answer as well as he could things that he set up and mysteries.
I know the answer to "Three Jokers," Wonder Woman's brother, and Dr. Manhattan 100% .I've sat through, with him and me, those story meetings up and down. So there's nothing coming from him in any way over the next two years that I'm not aware of. And similarly for me, he knows every single beat of every single issue in Metal.
And then he knows what I plan to do afterwards for DC too.
Nrama: So what I'm hearing is that although you're not specifically answering "Rebirth" related questions in Metal, the story works in conjunction with them?
Snyder: Right. And what I would stress to everybody - and I think this is one of the most far-reaching interviews that I think we've ever done - but one of the things that I would stress is that, to get a little bit of an arial view…I've been at DC when we've been really criticized, and I've been at DC...
I've been at DC, I don't know, almost eight years now.
Nrama: Has it really been eight years?
Snyder: Yeah! I know. I didn't even have a second kid. I've been here a long time. I mean, not nearly as long as Geoff or other people. But I never thought I'd be at one company this long.
I love the people I work with. I love editor Mark Doyle, and the creators I get to work with and the editors - it's been a joy.
But I've been on both sides of that fence. I've been with DC when we've been under fire, for things that happened both with the "New 52" and then afterwards in different ways, and then I've been on this side with "Rebirth," where it's been incredible. It feels like, when the "New 52" started and people were really excited in that way too.
So what I can say is that, when you're in a good position, what you realize is that you can take stock of the things you think people are responding to - and of course, the biggest and brightest is story. What they want is great story about these characters that are emotional, that show the connections between them, the legacy of those characters, takes them in new directions, all that.
But the other thing they want, honestly, is to feel like you have a plan. [Laughs] They want you to feel like, as a company, you have a plan. That you know what you're doing, and you're going forward in a way where you have story laid out and it's coordinated.
We've been there - we've been criticized for being reactionary and all that. And I've been there for that.
But the thing I can promise with this is that we have a serious, serious plan, which is great. It's the first time I got to go out there and just talk with Geoff. You know, we've become friends over the years and I've met with him many, many times as friends or to talk about a particular arc. But this was, like, sitting down and saying, here's the whole next year. Here's the year after that.
And that's true of everything that's going on at DC, not just the two of us.
So it really is a good feeling. I think I've made it pretty clear to fans and readers that I'm not - I'm not a shill for DC. I have a lot of other projects. I wouldn't be here talking about things that I wasn't proud of. I've never defended things at DC that I thought were not good or not true, in terms of our practices and those things. And I've been critical of them at times.
I can tell you honestly that I'm extremely excited, not just for what "Rebirth" did, but even more excited for the plans coming, both over the summer and into the fall and the winter and beyond. It's a good time.
I was just out there last week with Sam Humphries, Josh Williamson, and James Tynion, and we were just planning stuff for post-Metal, and it was great. And talking to other creators, and bringing in new voices - you know, I'm excited, I'm really excited.