[Warning: This article contains spoilers for Batman #7 and Nightwing #7.]With the release of this week's Batman #7, readers have learned that the "Night of the Owls" event will involve dozens of Talons released on Gotham City.
But writer Scott Snyder told Newsarama there's also a historical context to the "Night of the Owls" event, and each of the Bat-book writers is guiding how it affects his or her title.
Snyder's two-part interview about the revelations of Batman #7 was the result of a late night conversation we shared as the writer built his son a Batman Lego Batmobile. By the end of the interview, not only had Snyder finished the Batmobile (see the photo he sent as proof), but he had walked us through the ideas that informed both Batman #7 and the upcoming "Night of the Owls."
In the first part of our interview with Snyder, the writer discussed how Haly's Circus and Dick Grayson's past ties into his Court of the Owls story.
In our second installment, Snyder reveals the details of the "Night of the Owls" event that begins in April's Batman #8 and Nightwing #8, then spills into the other Batman titles in May.
The writer also teases what's coming up in Batman, praising Greg Capullo's role in the title and revealing that Snyder's already seeding things into current issues that won't show up until 2014.
"Night of the Owls"
Newsarama: Scott, now that we understand who these Talons are — reanimated people from Gotham's past — what can you tell us about the "Night of the Owls" event and what the Bat-family will be facing?
Scott Snyder: Yeah, I'm so excited to be able to talk about it now. You see these Talons going out into the city, and you don't know quite what they're going to do.
So now you see the scope of the attack. If Gotham is 400-plus years old, that means there's been a Talon every five to 10 years for all of that time. So you really wind up with 50-60 Talons.
Each one of these Talons is going to have a healing factor. And each one of them is brought back from the dead and has these incredible fighting abilities.
Plus they're from a different time period, and that's one of the fun things about Night of the Owls. The parameters for this event was that the writers would pick an era of Gotham's history that excites them, as a writer, whether it's the 1880's or the 1700's, or the 1950's in Gotham. And then the writers create the Talon that's coming after their character.I don't want to give away what the plots are yet, and why the Bat-family comes into conflict with them specifically, although it's kind of obvious that they would come into conflict with them in some way. But the specifics of it, I'll leave up to the individual issues. There are some fun incidences.
On the creation side of the stories, the idea was to ask writers in the Bat-universe to say, "I'd really love to explore this time period, and so my Talon is going to come from that era." And in that way, what I said was, if you don't want to, you don't have to, but I would encourage you, if you want to buy into the event, to be able to give a glimpse of that time period somehow through your Talon's history.
So part of the fun of the event for us would be to open up windows into Gotham's history, in different moments. In some stories, it's just a quick peek, like a one-page peek. Other ones go into a lot of history.
But the fun was to say to the other writers, look, I love the history of Gotham, clearly. It's one of the things that excites me most about the Bat-world, is this haunting city. And in that way, I just offered this chance for other writers to touch on those elements and get excited about that too. And to pick any era they want.
Nrama: So all these villains, the Talons, are really going to have a different feel and look to them?
Snyder: Yeah! And now the designs make sense, right? The designs that Greg did. He did such an awesome job coming up with the designs of the Talons of different eras, to work as templates. He did five or six, just to show people what variations could look like.
Some of those are being used very specifically in stories, and other comics are having completely original Talons that are sort of loosely based on the aesthetic of those designs, you know? The Talons all have to have a certain kind of look. They all have an executioner's hood and very bright, owl-ish eyes. And they don't use guns, because they're sort of silent killers. But they can use swords, they can use knives, they can use bows, they can use fire, they can use bombs, they can use anything you want. They can have para-capes, they could be steampunk, they could be anything.
The only stipulations were: Have fun with the history, and whatever Talon you use, they have to follow this "bible" of how a Talon is chosen and how they're trained. But the history of who they were before they entered the circus, what their time as a Talon was like, who they killed — all that stuff was up to the individual writer.
I mean, I said to the writers, you can create them so that they're in some way a reflection of your character, or an antithesis to your character, or whatever you want.
So in that way, it was really fun to talk to the other writers and just sort of let them loose with it.
The other thing that was important was that, whatever they did, I didn't want them to feel pressured to have to be part of it. And we didn't do that. We didn't want it to interrupt anything. So some stories you'll see will wind of being part of the event, but will also push forward the story that was already happening. Other ones finish their storylines right before this happens.I'm really excited about it. And I've read a lot of the issues, and I'm really inspired by what some of the people came up with. Batgirl and Batman and Robin are using these Talons that I would love to tell you about, but I can't. But they have really interesting Talons. Nightwing obviously has a very big part to play in it too. So he's got something important happening with his Talon as well. And it's been great to see what the writers have come up with, like what Jason Todd's reaction would be, or what Damian will think about it. And the stuff that Judd [Winick] is doing with Catwoman and Batwing and The Dark Knight — it's all just so much fun.
I know I sound corny, like I'm just doing PR for DC, but I don't care, because it's true. I like working with these people in the Bat Universe, and it was fun to get to do something together and to let them have full responsibility for their stories without forcing anything on them, and just seeing what they came up with. I'm really proud of them, you know? And proud to be part of it.
What's Coming up in Batman
Nrama: Greg told us in our interview with him this week that a lot of action happens in the coming issues. He called it "vicious, bombastic, violent, bone-crunching, gore-filled, blood-and-guts Batman stuff." I take it Bruce is going to be fighting a few Talons?
Snyder: Yeah, and it all begins in issue #8, as the Talons are released onto the city. There's something that happens within issue #8 and then it spills into #9. And there's all this craziness that I really don't want to say too much about. But it's the kind of thing Greg is obviously enjoying, and I hope the readers do too. I know they're going to love Greg's art on it.
There are so many things Greg brings to the story. Like when we were talking about the design of the Talons, there are so many things he added that complete the way they look. Like the little teeny golden beak thing that comes between the eyes — I just love that. The way that the hood points back like an executioner's hood. All of that stuff is all Greg. And like he told you in his interview, he came up with the flipping of the pages in issue #5. He comes up with these awesome visual and design elements that make the book so much better.
He's just an endless fountain of terrific ideas. He isn't just sort of interpreting what I'm saying and putting it on the page. He's adding to it. The story is so much better for his involvement. He's such a great person and a great artist. He worked for so long outside the big two publishers, so it makes me happy to see him get his due from fans on Batman.What was so inspiring about working with someone like Stephen King on American Vampire was that Stephen King could have phoned it in and it still would have been really good. Not only that, but he could have phoned it in because his reputation is already established. Everybody knows that he's a rock star. And yet what he did was he worked like a hungry, young writer on that book, where he wrote all the time, wrote above and beyond what he needed to do, rewrote, all that stuff. And to see someone of his statue do that was shocking to me.
I feel that way I feel when I listen to Grant Morrison speak, for example, when he talks about his ideas for Superman. And you think to yourself, you're somebody who has been in the industry for so many years, and has had so many amazing achievements, and doesn't need to be this excited anymore. Yet you feel this excited about what you're doing now. I'm only three years in, so that's inspiring.
I see these guys, and I think, yes! That's the dream, to be at that stage in your career and be as excited as you are right now.
And that's the way Greg Capullo is to me. Greg Capullo could have said, easily, just give me the scripts and I'll draw it. You know what I mean? He's good enough. He's established enough that it would have been really good that way. But he doesn't do that. He adds to it by getting his hands dirty on every issue, and it's his story too now, in that way. He loves it, and he's passionate about it the way I am. And we talk about story, we talk about art, we talk about all that kind of stuff, with this story and what we want to do next together too.
Nrama: His interview made it clear that he's got the same kind of enthusiasm for your writing. But Scott, I'd like to follow up on something you said earlier, about how you hinted about the circus' role in Gotham's history all the way back in Detective. I noticed all the references to birds you had — and there's even an owl flying across a panel in Issue #881 — but remind me what you're talking about in reference to the circus?
Snyder: My whole run opens with Dick saying, in the circus, there was a big map in our trailer of all the places the circus went. And they had different pins. And the pins were blue for easy cities, like small places, and red for bigger ones. And there was one place that had a black pin. That was Gotham. And that meant you put on the biggest show there.
Nrama: Yeah, I remember that. It was the beginning and end of your run. So now we know why the Gotham show was so important?
Snyder: Right. That's why it was the biggest show. It was the show for the Court of Owls.
Nrama: Even at the beginning of your Detective run, you were planning this?
Snyder: Well, I was playing with it in my head back then. I didn't have the entire full story, but I knew I wanted to do this kind of story with the Court of Owls, and how they'd be connected to the circus. And I was thinking about it back then. It's a story I've been thinking about for a very long time.But that's the way my mind works. I mean, there's stuff I'm seeding into the pages of Batman right now that's going to show up later. The next story, which starts in issue #13, is going to be a huge story again, and there's already hints of it. It's not as long as this one, but it's very big and dark and game-changing. And then the one after that, which will start around maybe issue #18 or #19, I'm seeding things in now for that too. I've got the one after that planned too. I mean, there's stuff in Batman right now that's going to play out in issue #25 or #26.
Nrama: That's insane, yet very cool.
Snyder: It's fun! One story just leads to the next with these characters. They're so inspiring to work on. I just love it. I mean, I love my job. I love coming to work in Gotham City every day. I really do.
Check back later with Newsarama as we talk to Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins about how this week's revelations about Dick Grayson will influence upcoming issues of Nightwing.
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