Hey hey everyone. Not a lot of pre-amble required here. I went to New York Comic Con and jumped into the first slot I could get to speak to one of the most influential voices at DC and in comics; Scott Snyder.
Rob Patey (RP): How you doing man?
Scott Snyder (SS): Running on fumes. Do you need me to stand is this another video interview?
RP: No this is Ain’t It Cool, I’ll be recording on my palm pilot and taking a lithograph at the end. So you’ve written BATMAN, SUPERMAN UNCHAINED, AMERICAN VAMPIRE…I know I’m forgetting something what is it?
SS: THE WAKE…
RP: Right, underwater horror with Sean Murphy. And the recently announced BATMAN ETERNAL.
SS: That’s right.
RP: Excellent, so what’s happening in BATMAN ETERNAL?
SS: Well, it’s the first time we’ve tried a weekly series, which excites me. Writing-wise I’m really only involved in the first arc of it. In terms of terms of design and structure I wrote the bible with James Tynion who is just a mastermind of story. He writes TALON and RED HOOD and some other exciting stuff coming out this year. So we plotted out a giant story that would really transform Gotham and be a very very bombastic big sensational game changer of a narrative.
We then decided to invite a bunch of our favorite writers in to tell their arcs on any characters or elements of Gotham that they want as long as they pushed the main arc forward a little bit. So the big story is rolling with all of these small turns about your favorite villains, gang wars, GCPD. All of the things you can’t deeply explore in BATMAN because he has to be center stage all of the time.
RP: Awesome, I was just talking to James in artist alley and he’s really stoked to be doing this book. You guys have done a lot of books now together, how did you guys hook up?
SS: He was my student in a writing class seven years ago. I really loved his stuff and he was a huge comic fan. I then started teaching comics, so we stayed in touch and he sent me some of his scripts and I really needed help with the back-up stories in BATMAN. So I thought those would be good training wheels so he could get in the door. And now the grasshopper has become the master and the teacher. He’s a man I now admire as a colleague. It’s been inspirational to the teacher in me to watch him grow. The stuff he has coming out this year is really thrilling.
RP: You recently just farmed out a bunch of AMERICAN VAMPIRE stories in the midway anthology that came out. What’s happening for the future of AMERICAN VAMPIRE building off that book that took us into the 1960s.
SS: We’re coming back in March actually. I’m literally back from the AMERICAN VAMPIRE Bloody Mary Brunch. The next arc will be bringing back Pearl, Skinner, Felicia, the vassals, the Dracula character…everyone comes crashing together again in the first arc.
RP: So what year are we in?
SS: 1967, it’s going to be Easy Rider meets Straw Dogs, meets the Magnificent Seven. At least that’s how I think of it. It’s a mish mash of all my favorite 60s fun and violent films.
RP: So the series is going to keep advancing through time, no pauses for a prolonged period?
SS: We were just talking about this at the brunch; the series is going to come all the way up to the present. There is a gigantic cumulative finale that’s been in the outline since day one. We’ve always known where it’s going to end. The thing that’s been surprising to Rafael Albuquerque and our editors is that along the way we made up characters that we didn’t think would have their own stories, like Calvin or Felicia or Gus even. Bit now they’ve become so important they’ve earned their own arcs. We’ve known the main road from beginning to end, but we’ve also been able to take these side paths along the way that have been incredibly exciting.
So it’s going to be Cycle 2, number 1, really really big relaunch. When I gave up AMERICAN VAMPIRE because I had SUPERMAN and BATMAN, and Rafael had some stuff he wanted to do, I figured it’s not a big deal; we’ll just come back. Now, I’ve always struggled with anxiety and depression and giving up AMERICAN VAMPIRE was really psychologically difficult for me. I did not see that coming at all. It was very tough those first few months off. I thought at first it was because I didn’t have a creator owned, but I did have THE WAKE, which I love. I was still down…anxious. I finally realized I simply missed the characters and working with Rafael. I was frustrated. So I couldn’t be happier to coming back or more grateful to fans who have been very vocal to us personally, privately and publicly.
RP: I’m one of the public ones who yelled SNNNYYYYDDDEEER like Kirk when I heard about the hiatus.
SS: It really means a lot man. We cannot wait for you guys to see what’s next. From the bottom of my heart it’s the best time I’ve had on a book.
RP: This next question is from one of my four fans, how do you want your time to be remembered at DC 20 years from now?
SS: Oh my God, that’s a tough question. I have a golden rule in the class I teach, it was told to me by one of my first teachers, “You can only write the stories that you want to read more than any other when you leave this room.” It doesn’t’ have to be he smartest, best or funniest. It just has to be the one you want to have read because it means something to you personally. What I hope is that people look at the stories and see that’s the compass we’ve used on these books; from BATMAN to AMERICAN VAMPIRE to THE WAKE and SUPERMAN UNCHAINED. They might not be the best stories in t8eh world, but these are the ones that affect me personally as I’m writing them. I hope that shows.
RP: How hard was it taking on BATMAN in the context of the New 52, being one of the few titles that brought over baggage from before FLASHPOINT?
SS: Very hard and super intimidating. When I took the gig I thought I was going to be writing BATMAN seven hundred and eighty whatever and then they told me after I signed on it was going to be BATMAN 1. I had kind of half nervous break down about it. Super intimidating, especially to know you’re building the mythology from the ground up.
It basically came down to talking to the other Bat writers and deciding what thing we wanted to keep and what we wanted redone. Over time it became clear that the origin itself couldn’t be kept because of the changes in CATWOMAN, in BATGIRL and other books. BATGIRL is now Jim’s biological daughter so that changes things. James Jr. if he’s born 6 years ago, like in YEAR ONE, he a child. Well, he’s not – he’s a full grown adult.
RP: Who is also utterly insane.
SS: Right, the Falcone and Maroni families all have different histories as well so these pieces just don’t fit together anymore and DC was adamant that we need a new origin. It is baggage and there are a lot of things from continuity that are still there from KNIGHTFALL, NO MAN’S LAND, CATACLYSM, which I love, and I keep that in mind when I’m writing. We just really try never to address them and simply go forward with new stories. This is a Batman born in modern day and even though those stories are there this is our version and will proceed as they would be told in modern context.
RP: Where did you come up with the Court of Owls?
SS: I came up with it because I grew up in New york, on the Lower East Side. I always loved going out to the South Street Seaport, I live pretty close to it. I don’t know, I always loved the idea you can know the factual history of your city or neighborhood it self, but you never know the lives that were lived there. So it’s always fascinated me, this notion of Batman knowing the city better than everyone else. So you can know the geography, the present day sociology, but you can’t know the lives of generations over generations. So what of we built a mystery that exists inside those crevices, the secret layered history. The catacombs of Gotham almost. That would be something that we should Batman to his core, because he would realize he didn’t know the city as well as he thought. It’s a haunted and changing city, the past is fully unknowable, it’s the city looking at him and saying, “I’m a mystery and I always will be.” That was the impetus, then picking the right symbol. He owl idea spoke to me because of Owl Man and owls are predators Bats.
RP: Shifting gears, SUPERMAN UNCHAINED. What drew you to the character and the project?
SS: I’ve always been fascinated by the character. I love at the end of the day he’s just a guy trying to do the right thing. When I take on a new character I always like to go back to the origin material to see if there’s stuff that excites me and I can turn into something modern. Sometimes you don’t find anything, but with Superman I was looking at the old stories about him fighting during WWII, you know throwing Nazis out of subs and being in the crosshairs of some Japanese warplane. The violence of those issues surprised me as well, he’s willing to kill. So, I thought what if there was a Superman that arrived seventy-five years ago on the anniversary of when ACTION 1 was released and he was actually the Superman that existed back then, but acting in secret until now. It challenges all the things that the modern day Superman has become and represents. Wraith is the ghost in history; he’s part of the machine, this kind of secret organization that does what it wants militarily. Wraith is the hand that pushes things forward in a creepy way. He’s an invisible force in history that changes things.
So, I wanted Wraith and General Sam Lane to be able to say to Superman, “You like to think you’re above all of it, but this will end. As Clark, imagine going into the Planet 50 years from now, everyone will we dead. What’s he going to do? Start over? You’re still going to be young, so why are you doing this? As Superman you float above all of it, saving kittens and stuff, what’s going to happen when North Korea or someone does something cataclysmic and you don’t want a bomb to be dropped? You’re going to evacuate everyone and become an enemy of the state so both of these identities can’t last so you might as well come over and actually be the person you’re supposed to be a Superman of a country. Otherwise you be welcome in any country and they will try to kill you. So that’s the idea on how to create something new while bringing in all the old characters like Lois, Jimmy and Perry.
That’s it folks keep an eye out for Scott’s new releases and return to yore as we move into 2014.
MY DREAM STORY FOR BATMAN ETERNAL: I want to close out with the story I would most like to see in BATMAN ETERNAL and I want all of you to tell me yours. (No I didn’t bother Scott with this.
The Women of Batman. They all love him and they all need him in some way; Catwoman in an animalistic way, Vicki Vale career wise and in a hero worship sense. How do the other men or significant others in these women’s lives compare to the Bat and what does it do to those people who try to get close to the ladies while they hold a torch?
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche -Ain’t It Cool News)
The frenzied pace that has been Death of the Family doesn’t stop for the opening pages of its final chapter. The eyes are wide open, the narcotics and concussions have worn off, and at last the platters are ready to be revealed. What follows will be one of most divisive moments in comics this year.
The “reveal” that we’ve all been waiting for, the thing that was theorized so much it approached Godwin’s law seconds after the series was announced (and no the Joker is not Hitler, just in case those folks thought they were right), is a delight of massive morbidity. It’s an atrocity exactly on par…I mean exactly….with the fate that befell the Joker at the start for the New 52.
Face…it’s what’s for dinner. Dick, Damian, Jason, Tim and Babs are all served a hearty helping of their own puddum puddin. It was a moment of horror, insight into the true face of evil, and a poignant, if batshit crazy poem to Batman’s one Achilles’ heel as Joker uses this to moment to show just how soft the family literally is beneath their respective masks.
And then we find it’s all just a fugazi, a falsehood meant to satisfy the sensationalists of the world who needed this to culminate in physical, not emotional entropy. The truth is The Reveal has been in front of our faces all along. I would say, “No pun intended,” but I’m honestly not sure there isn’t some kind of meta level joke in all this being played on us as well.
The true purpose of The Joker’s plans in Death of the Family was revealed two months ago when the clan found out the Joker had been in the cave and Bruce never told them. Death in the Family was all about deconstructing trust. It’s ultimate purpose was to separate all of the Bat titles so each character can find a light to grow outside of Bruce’s shadow. And more importantly add much needed continuity distance from the carryover Flash brought back with him from the Flashpoint universe.
So, no one’s dead, the atrocity is that of the sprit: Babs’ limbs all function, Jason didn’t take another crowbar to the face, and Damian still faces more danger from his mother in BATMAN INC. than he does inside the Bat-Cave. I know there will be fans who will cry foul in the fact the worst thing to happen to any character is a waft of ultra potent Joker toxin. But, when I’m asked the inevitable question of whether I liked Death of the Family the answer will be, “Yes, but only if…
Only if Bruce truly has to fight his way back into the family’s hearts and souls (including Damian). Only if once Snyder sets his sights on Metropolis we see other writers truly embrace the foundation Snyder laid before them. Only if DC commits to taking a break from Bat cross-overs for a while to let each character develop independently. This last point is most important. Snyder did what he does best, he built mythos through history. Now its time to honor this path and tread it truly, press forward with more tales of detective work in the now and let history come organically moving forward.
Death of the Family is a tragic story of love unrequited. This is the Joker’s tragedy. Even though he knew who Bruce was all along, it was never about exposing Batman, it was about keeping him hidden so the game could on and on and on….
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: James Tynion IV
Reviewer: Rob Patey (Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
I can’t cast one negative barb at TALON from a creative stand-point. Snyder is a tits writer and Tynion has a flair for both action and quieter moments of reflection. Together the team did an excellent job peeling back the psyche of former TALON (not an undead one just to be clear), Calvin Rose, as he returns to Gotham to see if the Court of Owls was truly caged and summarily put down by BATMAN.
Now, those that don’t enjoy Snyder’s reflections on history will be slightly annoyed. Personally, I don’t understand your gripes; I like how Snyder has always made Gotham a character in the mythos…but to each their own. The first two pages is very heavy on GOTHAM itself as we learn more about the Rogue TALON and his mission to regain his life before owls.
For as good as this is though, I still question the necessity and value of this project.
This book is a “Joey” not a “Jefferson.” For anyone who isn’t as old as Moses’ balls, I use these TV shows as an example of characters that were perceived to be too popular to contain within their parent properties. With the Jeffersons, good call. Joey, not so much. Some characters, some mythos, are better as garnish than the actual meal. I feel this way about the RED LANTERNS book as well. It’s not a bad book, just egregiously unnecessary in telling the grand story of the DC Universe or the pocket that is just GREEN LANTERN. I like my books to have weight and consequence on the Meta level. TALON just doesn’t give me that vibe, it feels like a schill based on popularity rather than adding anything further to GOTHAM or BATMAN.
Wafts of Azrael permeated my mind as I read each page and with that conjuration of nostalgia, I also was reminded of the bank breaking deluge of titles that permeated the early 90s.
The New 52 was supposed to be DC’s line in the sand on how many titles would be produced. Yes, we all bemoaned this many titles in September of 2011, but it actually was a pull back from the stable prior to FLASHPOINT. It was DCs caring hand reaching out to assist our beleaguered recession struck budgets. Personally, I liked when 52 had a little more significance than a publishing count: the weekly book, the idea of 52 separate universes and other actual reasons for the number seem to have faded into the ether, but I truly believed the publish number would stick.
In September I counted 57 books and this excludes anything Vertigo or some of the younger DC fare, hell I was even kind enough to take anything BEFORE WATCHMEN out of the count. That’s expensive. Sure, if you have infinite dollars and infinite time, there’s a nugget of goodness and at least one moment of enjoyment to be found in any DC book including TALON. However, if you’re an actual human being, you must be cautious of dollars and life really sucks up a ton of comic reading time.I just don’t feel TALON is one of those enduring characters that will carry weight through the DC Universe anytime soon, and for me that means I’m going to divert my 30 DC Titles a month budget or whatever it might be to books that I know are truly interconnected creating a larger cohesive narrative.
As a man who was clearly not a fan of the 52 moniker to begin with, I become even less enamored when the number loses all significance beyond a marketing slug line. At a certain point I know our dollars will decide the fate of all books, to that end I give DC credit in its ability to cast away dead wood, but I also know this book will get readership based on the Snyder name alone. And in my mind a book without purpose and consequence cheapens its respective universe regardless of how it sells.
I also have a personal problem with this book since the 0 issue. Where the FUCK IS BRUCE WAYNE’S brother? When I picked up a book with one central protagonist in the COURT OF OWLS, yes I was fully expecting a resurrection of a character thought dead. I mean, this is kind of a serial staple, no? Instead I Get to meet Calvin Rose. Whose kinda cool…I guess.
If you’re the type to read comics by particular creators, buy TALON today. Your Snyder stalking will pay off in spades. But if you’re like old Optimous and want your stories to truly matter, to be part of a grander and more glorious design, you would be best sharpening your beak on the current “Death of the Family” crossover in the main Bat properties.