During DC's “Year of the Villain" event that starts in May, Lex Luthor will be visiting various DC titles, offering villains a powerful way to finally defeat their hero once and for all.
And according to Justice League scribe Scott Snyder, the event will culminate “in a battle between good and evil in November when one side will win, and that will propel the biggest story we’ve told, at least in my time in DC, from December through spring of 2020.”
The event kicks off May 1 with DC’s Year of the Villain #1, a 25-cent issue that will be released just before Free Comic Book Day. Featuring a story by Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Jim Cheung, the issue will show Lex Luthor making a sacrifice in order to achieve his goal, leveling up the villains of the DCU.
And in response, Snyder explained to Newsarama, the Justice League will “gather every hero throughout the entire scope of the DCU to be on the Justice League to fight this,” leading to what the writer describes as one of the biggest fights in the history of the DCU.
Newsarama talked to Snyder to find out more about the 25-cent issue, how it leads into a line-wide trip by Lex Luthor, and how other DC writers and artists have decided to participate in “Year of the Villain.”
Newsarama: Scott, how did the idea for “Year of the Villain” come about? Was it just a matter of you realizing that Justice League and other DC titles were featuring villains in their stories during the coming months?
Scott Snyder: Honestly, “Year of the Villain” is a culmination of all the stuff we’ve been building toward on Justice League and since Metal. I told DC really early on, in the end of 2017, that we were going to do this story in Justice League that had Lex Luthor learning that the original form of the DC Multiverse had humans at its center, but they were very different iterations of humans.
Lex Luthor realized that the original version of the DC Multiverse had humans at its core as this kind of predatory, immortal species that could almost take down anything else. The cosmic mother of the DCU, Perpetua, originally started our universe as this kind of immortal, predatory space where humans were at the very center.
Once that was found out, after she was turned in by her sons, the Monitor, the Anti-Monitor, and the World Forger, the universe was restarted, she was imprisoned, and humans were kind of divested of all these abilities and turned into this kind of fleshy, weak creatures.
Lex believes this is the scar that essentially is at the core of who we are. It’s why we feel such longing and misery and why we have this sense of purposelessness, at least for him, sometimes.
Now he feels invigorated. “Year of the Villain” is about him finally believing in something bigger than himself.
Nrama: So what is Lex Luthor doing in “Year of the Villain?” What action is he taking?
Snyder: Lex is basically saying, "I’ve found the key. Everybody out there, we all feel these same things. We all feel we should be more important than we are. We should live longer than we do. We should have more than we have.
"And I have the proof that this is the way we were always meant to be. So I will sacrifice something of myself in a way you’ve never seen me do before, because I finally believe in something bigger than Lex Luthor.
"And now I’m going to offer you, each of you villains of the DCU, something that will help you defeat your hero in a way that will finally put them into the ground and allow evil to win across the galaxy, and allow us to be the greatest heroes in the history of humanity because we will lead people forward to the golden future they were always supposed to get to, where they all embrace evil and are evil."
So in that way, he finally feels a sense of purpose and almost faith.
Nrama: So does the 25-cent issue feature Lex Luthor kicking off this plan? And the “Year of the Villain” shows what happens as these villains attack?
Snyder: Yes. In this issue, Lex says to the rest of the DCU, "These are my findings. This is what I’ve learned. We as a species are meant to be evil, and I’m going to give you the means to join me in that crusade to make humanity become what it was always meant to be.
"We are its real heroes, the villains of the DCU. And I’m going to make a sacrifice that allows you now to beat your heroes. And if we do that, we’ll lead humanity forward to its great goal."
So the 25-cent issue is Lex doing these shocking things to approach every villain with an offer that allows them to level up across the DCU and take down their heroes once and for all.
And in response, we see the Justice League saying, the only way we can fight this is to level up as well. We’re going to gather every hero throughout the entire scope of the DCU to be on the Justice League to fight this.
So we’re gearing up for the biggest fight in the history of the DCU - that’s basically what the May issue is about.
And then in July, across the whole line, you’ll see Lex appear in the different books - basically every book - and offer the villain of that book something special and particular to that character that says, this is how you beat your hero.
And the villain will either take that offer or not take that offer. Maybe the hero will take that offer. Each story is particular to the writer and artist on that book.
Together, we’re telling a story that kind of culminates in a battle between good and evil in November when one side will win, and that will propel the biggest story we’ve told, at least in my time in DC, from December through spring of 2020.
Nrama: And does the ending of your Batman Who Laughs story also play into this?
Snyder: 100%. So does Justice League Dark and Justice League Odyssey and other books outside of it, like some of the stuff Tom’s doing in Batman and some of the stuff that Brian’s doing in Superman. All of it winds up playing into this same uber-narrative that eventually crescendos and culminates in fall-winter of 2019.
So what you read now in “Year of the Villain” in May really is the first shot of a bigger story that will cross through the whole DCU and bring it to this incredible head in fall-winter of this year, and then propel it into the biggest battle possible in 2020.
The thing that I would also impress upon people, if I can, is that we never want you to feel like we’re shoving a story down your throat that wrenches your book out of its natural course. For us, we’ve worked really hard to try to make sure each writer and artist team gets to tie in if they choose in a way that’s organic to the story they’ve been telling on their book.
So the prompt from Lex Luthor, when he offers something to the villain of that book, is really based on whatever the writer/artist team of that book have decided to do or not do.
We want you to feel like each thing is an individuated read and singular to your experience - not something that’s going to be co-opted by the story I’m talking about. But at the same time, if a writer and artist choose to tie in, and basically, everybody has, they’ve chosen to do so in a way that elevates the story you’re reading to the highest stakes possible.
So that was the goal, to do something that was organic to each book individually, but ratchet up the entire DCU towards a point that would tell one huge story. If your’e reading everything, you’re getting more than your money’s worth times 10, hopefully.