There may be rumors about something big coming to the Batman universe this fall, but for Detective Comics writer Scott Snyder, big things are already happening.
American Vampire, the Vertigo comic he co-creates with artist Rafael Albuquerque, is up for a 2011 Eisner Award as "Best New Series.". The nomination comes only a year after Snyder first broke into comics in March 2010.
But the excitement for Snyder's work is also building in the DCU. As he wraps up a 10-issue story in Detective Comics in August, Snyder and artists Jock and Francesco Francavilla will finish one of the most critically acclaimed Batman stories about Jim Gordon and Dick Grayson.
In July, Snyder gets the chance to portray a Joker without Bruce Wayne, and DC will ship two issues of Detective Comics. Then August's oversized Detective Comics #881 will conclude the creative team's story, although there's still not word about what they'll do next.
The writer has also revealed that fan-favorite character Cassandra Cain plays a role in next month's Batman mini-series, Gates of Gotham, which Snyder's co-writing with Kyle Higgins.
Newsarama talked with the writer to find out more about his books, which trying to clarify what "big things" might be happening in the DCU later this year, and what role he's going to play in them.
Newsarama: Scott, even though we're talking about your Batman work today, congratulations on the Eisner nomination for American Vampire. That's a great honor.
Scott Snyder: I know! I can't believe it. I'm so over the moon, as are Rafael and [editor] Mark [Doyle]. I'm just so thrilled. We all feel hugely honored.
Nrama: Readers of your work in Batman have also been raving about what you're doing, but it looks like you're wrapping things up this summer in a hurry. There are two issues shipping in July. Is that to get things done before something big that's coming up?
Snyder: The idea with the two issues in July is just scheduling with artists. We really wanted to finish strong. We had originally planned to be done this summer, and we just realized we needed a little more room to do it.So it was just about me giving the story the room it needed to breathe while still finishing around the time we had originally planned. And once we figured out we could do that, and with two artists you can do an oversized finale to the story. And we realized that would work with their schedules, that they could get it done before the fall.
Nrama: This run was always planned as one long story? And it finishes in August?
Yeah, everything we've written up to this point just continues and flows into August. Our story has been planned from the get-go as one big, long story of about 10 to 12 issues. The stuff that we've been building to will all come to a head in the issues that are coming up right now.
This week's issue, Detective #876, opens with Jim Gordon and Dick in their crime lab, the space where they talk cases over in the Wayne Tower, and Jim seems distracted at one point. And Dick says to him, "What is it?" And Jim fesses up about James being back.
He says, "Listen, will you do something for me? Will you meet him and see what you think? I can't get a good read on this one. I'm just too close to it."
So this issue, this week, is the start of bringing the threads together, of what was originally in the back-up as predominantly Francesco's story and the sort of bigger arc that Jock has been working on. It's really one big story.
They won't just be integrated in terms of them both being features at this point, but they'll be integrated narratively. James figures into the feature of Jock's work, and Batman features into the pages in a bigger way in Francesco's as we start to get to the second have of our run.
This will all culminate with big, big reveals, and many of them are in the next three issues. We'll find out if James Jr. is one of the scariest people in Gotham, as Barbara thinks he is, or if he's just a troubled man who's trying to do the best he can, as he claims he is and I think Jim hopes he is. It will definitely be revealed once and for all in this arc with Jock, in these three issues.
I promise we won't play coy anymore. This is where it all starts to be revealed.
Nrama: So you're finishing up with Detective Comics #881?
Snyder: Yeah, it's going to be an oversized issue #881. It will be the finale to our big Black Mirror story. It's not like we're just doing a story arc and jumping off the book, because this story was always planned to be this size.That's not to necessarily say that it's the end of our tenure on Detective or our tenure on Batman. I can't really say much about what DC has planned beyond that, but I can say that I'm super excited about it. And everyone knows I love being in Gotham. I'm extremely happy about where I'll be after we're finished with this story.
But it's important for readers to know that Detective Comics #881 really is a culmination of all the plot threads we've been dealing with for the 10 issues leading up to that point. It's one big story with one big ending.
I want to make sure people understand that. We're not hurrying up and finishing this because of outside pressure or because the creators are moving to other books or anything like that. This ending has always been the ending we planned. Things were a little different originally because we had back-ups and lead features, but it was always planned to have this exact shape. This has always been what we were working toward.
Nrama: I have to tell you, I didn't miss Batman at all in the last issue. Jim Gordon is great as a lead in Detective Comics, and I could totally see him in his own book if you'd write it.
Snyder: I love writing him. When I was approached to do Detective, my original job was to pitch for the back-up before they thought about giving me the feature. And my original back-up was all about Commissioner Gordon solving cold cases in his spare time, and it was going to have this case with James Jr. in the background as a backbone of the series, even though it would be episodic.
So believe me, nobody would like a Jim Gordon series more than me. That was what got me on Detective in the first place. I love writing Batman. I especially love writing Dick Grayson as Batman. But I definitely think Jim Gordon is underused as a character. So I'm excited to have him play a big part in the series.
This storyline culminates with him, Batman and some villains I don't want to give away. And whether or not James Jr. is in it, and whether or not he escapes, I don't want to give away. But it will be part of the culmination of the series.
Nrama: You mentioned some villains that are coming up, and the solicitations for July say that the Joker comes into play, right?
Snyder: Absolutely. The Joker is coming up in Detective #879 and #880. It's our take on the Joker. He's as dark as you can imagine.I love the Joker as he appeared in Grant Morrison's "R.I.P." story when Tony Daniel drew him, as that almost goth, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Marilyn Manson type of Joker. So it will be a very dark version of the Joker. He's really devious. I think it will be a fun incarnation for fans.
But the Joker will play an integral part in the story. It's not just a case of bringing in the Joker for fun. I'm very hesitant to bring in any character that's part of Bruce's rogues gallery into this story, but he has a very important function in it in terms of the story, and what secret he reveals.
Nrama: How does the Joker act when Dick Grayson is Batman in his city? Does he know?
Snyder: He doesn't know who Dick Grayson is, but Joker can sniff out if that's not his Batman under the cowl. So he'll have a bone to pick with that whole notion. We want to show what happens to Joker when he's forced to kind of amuse himself because he feels abandoned by his own Batman.
Nrama: That almost sounds sad.
Snyder: Oh, it's not a sad Joker at all. I mean, the Joker is a dark villain, and what would a villain like that do if he kind of had to amuse himself and make his own cocoon for awhile, while he was waiting to be the person that he always enjoyed being as an adversary to his Batman.
It's a twisted, fun version of him, but it's not morose. He's not going to be walking around with his hands in his pocket, sad that Bruce isn't there. I promise. He's going to be quite devious.
But I think the fun of it is playing the Joker differently each time you see him, and with this, he really is angry and gleeful almost at the idea of playing with a new Batman who he doesn't see as his old adversary. In many ways, I think he's even more deadly and frightening.
Nrama: Let's talk about Gates of Gotham. We already discussed this book in detail with you and Kyle, but since that interview, it's been revealed at a convention that one of the guest stars in the book is Cassandra Cain. Does she play a big role?
Snyder: Yeah, Cassandra plays an important role in the story. She's not just a sidekick or anything. She has an emotional stake in solving the mystery that is central to the story.
Kyle and I are huge fans of her character, and the series was conceived with her as a part of it from the very beginning. She's not a character we threw in lightly at all, as someone to just be part of the cast for fun.
The story, in a lot of ways, is linked to what I'm trying to do in Detective and stories that will be upcoming in the Bat-world to. It all ties into how Gotham is an adversary to Batman and the Bat-family. To know Gotham is to know yourself, and Gates of Gotham is really about how you have to sort of understand Gotham's history to really have a chance to save it in the present. Its history is almost alive beneath the city in a figurative way.So Cassandra, with her whole history and heritage, and who she's been not just in terms of the Bat-family itself, but in terms of her family history has tremendous ties to the history of Gotham and the mythology of the Bat. So she was an important character to use because of that. And we'll be using other characters whose families and whose stories date back through Gotham, like the Drakes and the Waynes and the Cobblepots and some of the other families that you associate with Gotham. We'll be exploring their historical links to it.
Nrama: So it's Cassandra in the present, investigating a crime of the past along with Dick and Tim?
Snyder: Yeah, Gates of Gotham is focused on a crime that is committed in the present that echoes a crime that was committed in the past, in the gilded age of Gotham. And the crime now, with the destruction of certain things in Gotham, is almost a calling card for Batman to begin to discover Gotham's dark and secret past and these terrible things that happened right around the time the skyline of Gotham was being formed.
For us, it's a story about legacy and heritage and the dark ways in which Gotham can shape who you are without you even knowing how.