GREG CAPULLO Warns BATMAN Readers About his New-Look JOKER


Greg Capullo has a warning for Batman readers about the Joker storyline he's drawing.

Before reading the intense, horrific scenes in the "Death of the Family" storyline that begins in October, readers with health problems might want to check with their doctor.

Capullo is one half of the creative team behind DC's best-selling title Batman, working with writer Scott Snyder on the book ever since it relaunched last year as part of the publisher's New 52 initiative.

In the title's next storyline, which begins in October, Snyder told Newsarama that Capullo gets to tweak the Joker's look thanks to his last appearance. In Detective Comics #1, The Joker had his face removed, severed from his body, allowing the next artist to give the character a new visual interpretation.

"He really is going to, obviously, have a new look," Snyder said. "At the same time, we want it to echo his iconic look. So it's Joker in a much more horror movie fashion. But, without giving too much away, you will see the iconic face and the grin, and he might look a little bit different and scarier. But you'll find that he's still himself at his core. And he's really here in his blood-stained clothes going to work."

Batman #13

Titled "Death of the Family," the Joker story will run for five issues beginning with October's Batman #13. The final issue of the Joker storyline will be oversized, and Capullo's redesign of the Joker will also be featured within tie-in comics in titles like Batgirl, Batman and Robin, Suicide Squad, Nightwing, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Catwoman, and Teen Titans.

With last week's issue #11, Capullo and Snyder just finished their debut story, "The Court of Owls." Capullo will now take a break for one issue (as Batman #12 features guest artist Becky Cloonan), but will return for September's Batman #0 before the Joker storyline starts.

Snyder told Newsarama in June that Batman #0 issue will tell a still-unseen part of Bruce Wayne's past.

"[Batman #0] will give you an important slice of Bruce's life from when he first gets back to Gotham after his travels," Snyder told Newsarama. "It will happen within the shadows of Batman: Year One, taking place in a moment of time that you haven't seen. And I think it will be very surprising to people and exciting. You'll see some things that will catch you off guard and will get you excited to see what's coming."

In the first installment of a two-part interview with did with the Batman artist, we asked Capullo about his plans for the title's #0 issue and what readers can expect from his Joker.

Newsarama: Greg, now that Court of Owls has finished up, you're taking a break for issue #12 before doing issue #0, right?

Greg Capullo: Yeah, it's the only opportunity I've had to take a break. I had initially wanted to do it all, but it just wasn't feasible, so I had to make a choice. And the choice was, do I break off at #0 or do I break off at #12? And I just thought, "I really want to do this origin in #0."

Batman #12

So that's what I'm working on while someone else handles #12.

Nrama: In issue #0, what's different about the Bruce Wayne we'll see? He's younger and more inexperienced, right?

Capullo: Yeah. This is definitely pre-Bat. He's not staying in Wayne Manor yet. And we don't have the imagery of the Bat yet.

So this issue is more like Mission Impossible or James Bond, in the sense that he's got all the cool tech, so you get all that, but without any of the pointy ears or cloaks, you know? So that part is kind of cool, because it's definitely a different slant.

All that is suddenly familiar, for me, drawing Batman, is gone. So that was a little bit of a challenge, you know?

But it's kind of cool because Bruce is not the very even-keeled guy who's methodical and doesn't get riled. He's not to that point yet.

Because of that, he can have a knee-jerk reaction. He's got a lot of temper that's not quite simmered and under control yet.

Batman #0

So you see some of his impetuous behavior in the book. In what I'm drawing right now, I have Bruce in a very, very bad situation. So it's interesting to see him handle that in a little different way because it's so early in his career.

Nrama: Have you gotten to draw earlier versions of some of the villains of that era around Gotham City? And has that been a challenge to update them for the New 52?

Capullo: Yeah, I have, and I'll tell you the biggest challenge is drawing the Red Hood gang, and having to make some pill helmet look cool and look bad-ass. You just go, "How do I make that one tough?" You know? So that's a big challenge.

And then there are a lot of guys wearing masks, so another challenge is portraying emotions, because emotion has to be solely relying on body language.

It's a great exercise for young artists, if they want to figure out how to portray emotion without faces. Keep the face out of it. Then how do you sell how a guy's feeling and thinking, just through his mannerisms and the way he carries himself.

This scene that I'm doing right now in Batman #0 is coming to a final shoot-out scene. So even though it's early stuff in Bruce's life, it's still got action and is still great fun.

Nrama: Let's talk about what's coming up in October. When you heard you were drawing The Joker for your next storyline in Batman, what was your gut reaction?

Capullo: Well, as soon as I heard, my pants got very tight and my nipples stiffened. It was just a fabulous reaction. And I just said, "I have to do this."

This is, like, super-exciting. Super-thrilling. I mean, what artist doesn't want to touch The Joker? He's just the coolest and the most badass, the most evil, the most insane, and so there's so much to play with.

And the fact that so much has happened to the Joker prior to where we're picking him up, with the severed face, we're going to be able to run with that now.

Nrama: So did you and Scott talk about the best way to handle that severed face? We've only seen the cover, which is kind of a tease that his face is different now.

Capullo: Yeah, Scott and I are working on the details now of how we want to handle that. We're putting together some visuals for the story now. It's going to be very different than what people have seen with The Joker prior.

Nrama: Are you at all disappointed that he looks different? Or are you still able to portray enough of that Joker look that it's still the character we know and love?

Capullo: You know, I'm happy to be doing this because I look at it as an opportunity to have fun. So no, this is going to be a blast.

Let's put it this way. I would have put my own slant on the way the Joker looks traditionally anyway.

Now I can go down the road of, like, Texas Chainsaw Massacre stuff.

And I'm a heavy metal guy, so stuff like Slipknot pops in my head, you know? So I'm going, "Yeah! Something really, really dark and creepy!"

It amplifies it. We're turning the Joker up a notch, you know? If you can turn the Joker up any higher.

Nrama: It sounds like you don't have the exact look ironed out yet and I'm sure it's early in the process of you drawing the story, but what can you tell us about the ideas you two have for The Joker storyline overall?

Capullo: Well, you know, Scott takes everything to 11, as do I. So it's going to be over-the-top, over-the-edge Joker stuff.

I mean, everybody saw what we were able to do in the first Batman story. And this will be even more dark, more twisted, more violent.

I guess after so many years of doing that kind of stuff, I guess, in a way, I enjoy it a bit. So it's going to be great to get my hooks into that stuff.

Nrama: Then before we talk about last week's finale for Court of Owls, what do you want readers to know about the Joker story that you and Scott are doing for "Death of the Family?"

Capullo: I would say that if you have any kind of heart conditions, or any kind of medical issues that could cause seizures or what-not, that you should check with a doctor prior to buying this story arc, because we don't want to be responsible. DC does not want to be responsible for any fatalities or hospitalization or young or old people who may encounter this story and it just simply be too much for their system.

So I would say, check with your doctor prior to picking up Batman #13.

Check back later this week as Newsarama talks to Capullo about how he approached "The Court of Owls" storyline, why he feels a little justified now that it's over, and how he chose the imagery readers saw in last week's final issue.

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