Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Batman Knightfall #1
Credit: DC
Credit: DC

Although DC’s Tales from the Dark Multiverse one-shots each tell complete stories, Scott Snyder told Newsarama they will provide “pieces” for his 2020 sequel to Dark Nights: Metal — and DC’s heavily teased 2020 “crisis” that already got a mention in this week’s series debut.

DC has been teasing it’s “big event” for 2020 for months now – now confirmed as a “crisis” – and the Dark Multiverse appears to be playing a significant part. Not only is the Dark Multiverse important to the events of Flash Forward (which DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio already promised would lead into the 2020 event), but Snyder and Capullo called their next big project a “spiritual” sequel to Metal, which introduced the Dark Multiverse.

So although the Tales from the Dark Multiverse issues may have seemed like throw-away, Elseworlds-type stories before, this week’s issue implies that they’re probably not. Co-written by Kyle Higgins and Scott Snyder with art by Javier Fernandez, this week’s Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Batman Knightfall already declared on its final page that a “crisis” is looming. And according to our interview with Snyder, all the Tales from the Dark Multiverse one-shots will not only be part of the build-up toward the Metal sequel project he’s creating with Greg Capullo, but some of the characters and concepts from Tales might become more permanent parts of the main DC Multiverse.

Credit: DC

As these Dark Multiverse issues revisit beloved past stories like the “Death of Superman” and “The Judas Contract,” Snyder said their popularity will determine whether they “bubble up” into the main DC Multiverse to stay, similar to how fan reaction drove the continued presence of Snyder’s Batman Who Laughs.

Newsarama talked to Snyder and Higgins to find out more about this week’s debut of the Dark Multiverse one-shots, how they tie into the upcoming “crisis,” and how the writers and artists at DC are utilizing the creative canvas the Dark Multiverse provides to try out new ideas and revisit popular stories from the past.

Newsarama: Scott, how did you choose the stories that you’re revisiting for this series of Tales from the Dark Multiverse stories?

Scott Snyder: We wanted to choose things that not just felt like the biggest, but the ones that I think were gripping and anxiety-provoking - it felt like they really could have gone either way.

I remember as a child, or a younger fan, reading “Knightfall” and being sure that… maybe this is the time that Bruce never comes back. Maybe he will always be broken and other people will be Batman from now on.

That fear was a testament to the story being compelling, you know?

Credit: DC

So we wanted to go back to key moments that gripped readers’ imaginations and felt really tenuous as story points - a moment where things could have gone either way.

Ultimately, the fun of a Dark Multiverse story is that the Dark Multiverse was created to be a place where all of our creative hopes and fears actually exist in material form, so that your greatest nightmare and your greatest desire are their own worlds there.

So we wanted to go back to the stories that captured our imaginations the most strongly, and to be able to show what might have happened if we take those stories to wildly new, imaginative places while staying true to the core aspects of those tales.

So we didn’t want to just do, like, “Oh, it’s the end of ’Nightfall’ and it’s two days later.” We wanted to say, hey, we haven’t visited this story in 15 or 20 years. What if that long has passed? What would have happened?

Nrama: You’re using the words “what if” a lot, and it feels like these are those types of stories. Yet you’ve made them part of canon, part of current continuity. Do these really tie into the current DCU

Snyder: Yes. Any story that people really love - like, if people pick this up and love it and want to read more about ‘Knightfall’ in the Dark Multiverse, then that means that world might be something we revisit.

Credit: DC

Nrama: So, like the Batman Who Laughs, these characters might get an extended stay, so to speak?

Snyder: Yeah, those characters might be characters that we pull into the real Multiverse.

We wanted to use the Dark Multiverse as an imaginative playground, where we go back to stories that we love - and sometimes we’ll actually create things from whole cloth as well. They’re stories that we couldn’t do right now in the main line. This is a place where writers and artists can let their imaginations run free and go to the darkest or most hopeful places - usually they’re the darkest [laughs] - and create whole worlds based on possible scenarios involving our great characters.

That’s the idea. The mechanics of the Dark Multiverse are supposed to work like this - if enough heroes in the DCU or villains in the DCU or people in the DCU are afraid of something, then that world built on that fear becomes material, goes out through the House of Heroes and becomes a Multiversal world in the real way.

We almost think of it that way when it comes to the books. If you love any of these worlds, or any of these characters, there’s a chance they might materialize in the DCU.

Credit: DC

Nrama: I know you and Greg are following up Metal next year with a sort of sequel story, and this issue teases a “crisis.” Do all these Dark Multiverse stories play into the bigger plans for your events next year?

Snyder: Well, every one of the stories is meant to function independently - you can pick them up and have a whole world created for you. You get to really enjoy that world and feel like it’s a complete story.

But, yes, we are building something that’s really comprehensive and big for 2020, and we’ve been building it since Metal.

You can see the pieces start to come together, the pieces that were in the very first issue of Justice League playing out in “Year of the Villain” and elsewhere, and the pieces that you saw playing out in Flash Forward, and the infection that started in the Batman Who Laughs mini-series playing out in Batman/Superman.

We’re really trying to build something so that when you look back at 2019, you can say, “Oh, this is where all those storylines started to come together for something huge in 2020.”

And even though the historic Multiverse stories are isolated and meant to be one-shots - just like everything else, we’re just trying to give you a modular experience - when you put all those pieces together you’ll see the makings of something gigantic that we’re going to explode with.

Nrama: You and Greg.

Snyder: Me and Greg hopefully in 2020.

Credit: DC

Nrama: Kyle, how did you get involved with this Knightfall project, what interested you about it, and why do you think you were the right person to explore it?

Kyle Higgins: It really came out of two places. First, Scott had built out the idea of the Dark Multiverse during Metal last year, then continued to explore it with Batman Who Laughs. I had been following it all just as a friend and a fan, kind of from afar, as I was building out “Shattered Grid” and the big Power Rangers event last summer.

Also, Alex Antone, who’s an editor at DC that I’ve worked with quite a bit, had the idea to create a line of books that further explored stories in the Dark Multiverse and some of these worlds that were created and rose up out of some of our character’s fears and the dark possibilities.

With all the world-building I’d been doing in Rangers, and with the fact that Scott and I had worked together in the past, it was kind of floated to both of us, what do you think?

For me, it was a lot of fun to come back to not only play in a world that had so many wonderful creative possibilities, but to work with a friend again. And to know in my own journey some of the things I’ve learned in the last few years and the way that I’ve grown as a writer, it’s been a really awesome experience to kind of come back to some of my all-time favorite characters and put that to use.

Credit: DC

Nrama: Ryan, you’re writing more than one of these Tales of the Dark Multiverse projects. Can you walk us through what this week’s issue did with the original “Knightfall” story?

Higgins: For this story, the point of divergence is Bruce’s return to try to reclaim his mantle. He was not successful. We wanted to shine a light on Jean-Paul Valley and what made him a different type of Batman, including his upbringing and emotional foundation he was built from.

The story is set 30 years after that point of divergence, and that gave us the opportunity to explore those ideas to their fullest potential. How would he not only reshape Gotham City, but reshape the mantle of Batman and all of the people that are in Gotham?

We also allude to what happened to the outside world once Gotham was cut off from it.

Also, each one of the Dark Knights from Metal is built on a clean foundation, so building out some new characters in that mold was the other goal here.

Credit: DC

Nrama: And Scott, there will be a lot more of these stories, right?

Snyder: Yes! We’ll revisit stories like “Death of Superman” and Blackest Night. We want to go back to key moments - not just in Gotham or in Batman’s mythos, but go to places throughout the history of the DCU when it really felt like things could go a completely different way than they did with a character or even with the entire line itself.

Then we give writers and artists the opportunity to explore those possibilities in ways that you couldn’t otherwise.

So you’re going to see the ones we announced, but if people like these, we have plans for a whole host more.

Again, our plan is to eventually be able to pull some of these characters and storylines into the main DCU if people like them. And if they don’t, that’s fine; they can stay in the Dark.

But the hope is that people enjoy them enough to bring them up into the main Multiverse and have them wreak havoc up here with all our favorite heroes and villains.

I just want to also say what a joy it’s been to work on this week’s issue with Kyle and Javi and Alex Guimarãs, the colorist on this. I helped guide the story, but all credit should really go to them in terms of the great work done on this one. I honestly think people are going to go nuts for it.

Credit: DC

Higgins: And paying it forward a bit, I co-wrote the “Judas Contract” one that’s coming up as well, and the writer I did that with is Mat Groom, who is one of the most talented new writers I’ve ever met. I edited his Image book, Self/Made, and it was cool to go from “Knightfall” straight into “Judas Contract” and have the roles flipped a little bit.

Nrama: We’ll have to talk about the point of divergence in that one… I’m sure fans can imagine what might have happened with “Judas Contract.”

Higgins: Yeah, that’ll be one that I’m also very excited for people to check out. The story of Terra and what we did with her in that upcoming one-shot is going to definitely open some eyes.

Snyder: That was always the job of the Dark Multiverse for us. Anything is possible there.

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