Exclusive: Scott Snyder on the New Batman and Batman: Eternal Season 2

DC Comics’ New 52 initiative may be coming to an end, but writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo are staying on “Batman” after the current “Endgame” storyline comes to a close.

This June, “Batman” #41 will feature a major shakeup to the book’s status quo. Today, DC released the cover of “Batman” #41 and solicitation text that said “The all-new Batman makes his debut! Who is he, and what happens next? Find out here as a new era begins in Gotham City!”

When DC summoned the comics press to its new Burbank offices last month, that particular image wasn’t available… otherwise it would have been the focus of several questions. However, SuperHeroHype was able to sit down with Snyder to talk about the consequences of “Endgame” and to tease the new era of “Batman” stories.

Snyder also provided some hints about the second volume (or season) of “Batman: Eternal,” which will tie into the 75th anniversary of Robin.

SuperHeroHype: You’ve teased a new status quo for Batman after the Endgame storyline. Are you ready to talk about that now?

Scott Snyder: No, we’re gonna reveal it in May, for Free Comic Book Day. But I can tell you that it is the most dramatic new status quo that you can imagine with us. It is definitely the riskiest, weirdest thing that we’ve tried on the book and it’s the thing that I’m intensely excited about and proud of.

I feel that my biggest heroes on the book: Grant Morrison, Frank Miller, Denny O’Neil… they were always fearless with the character and the mythology in a way that even when I didn’t like the stories they were doing (and I usually liked all of the stories)… But if there were things that I didn’t like, I always respected how bold they were with Batman… adding characters, changing his status… all of that. And I always thought to myself “do I have a way of doing that?”

For me, a story that was a blue sky, “what if it was almost an out of continuity story. Do I have one?” And I do have this one that is really wacky, but I think it says a lot about the characters in a deep way and it changes things so drastically that it’s almost as if you would never get to these character moments unless you moved all of these chess pieces everywhere. “Endgame” is really transformative for us where it completely reinvents the mythology in a big way. It’s not like a repercussion where it’s the death of a sidekick, or something like that. It’s really a massive reformation of things.

SHH: I don’t remember a time when the Bat-family has been as large as it is right now. There are so many sidekicks and potential sidekicks now…

Snyder: Yeah! It almost wouldn’t matter if you killed one! But we are not planning on that.

SHH: Besides Batman, who will continue to play a big role going forward in the book?

Snyder: Well, there are characters who I can tell you who survive and make it out of Endgame and will be in there. Duke Thomas is a character that’s important to me that has a role in other books as well. Julia Pennyworth, Harper Rowe, her brother, Cullen… that supporting cast plays a big role in the story coming up.

They’re kind of a cast for Batman that really is sort of more Gotham based where you see the city (I think) through different lenses than you’ve seen it before. I get to actually be among the people of Gotham in a way that I haven’t had a chance to in “Endgame,” because “Endgame” is so big and so bombastic and muscular. This is a story that is much more character driven and a drama. This is sort of a summer blockbuster…This is one that has a huge WTF sort of premise that changes things, but it also explores the characters very deeply from very odd angles because of where they end up.

SHH: You’ve also got Batman: Eternal coming to an end. Does that play into the status quo of the book?

Snyder:Yeah! Every book is going to play into actually going to play into this. Every Bat-book will be reflective of what happens in “Batman.” Nothing is siloed. What happens at the end of “Endgame”… you’ll see it in “Batgirl,” you’ll see it in “Detective Comics,” you’ll see it… obviously “Eternal” addresses it, so yeah… It’s definitely something that changes things. I’m very excited about “Eternal” too, because it’s Robin’s 75th anniversary this year, so “Eternal” focuses heavily on a lot of the characters who have been Robin.

SHH: At this rate, you’re gonna hit 75 Robins.

Snyder: I know! First it was Batman, then it was Joker and now it’s Robin.

SHH: No, I meant you’ll have 75 Robins running around.

Snyder: Oh yeah… well…

SHH: Do you have a favorite among the supporting cast members that you’ve brought into the book?

Snyder: It’s hard, because they each offer a different thing. I’m really proud of Harper. Harper for me, was the first character that I created who was brand new, boots on the ground Gotham. And her role coming up is big, so she’s a character I’m very proud of.

Julia, I love using her. It wasn’t my idea to bring Julia into “Eternal,” it was Tim [Seeley] and James Tynion’s idea. But once she was in there, I’ve been like “let me use her, let me use her!” She becomes a very big part of the story after “Endgame” and so does Duke Thomas. I’m pretty excited about the plans I have for him.

SHH: I remember you were on Detective before the New 52. How many years have you been writing Batman at this point?

Snyder: I started in the spring of 2010, so we’re going into five years.

SHH: Do you have a favorite Batman moment that you’ve written?

Snyder: That’s hard… Batman wrestling a lion is one of my favorites. That’s definitely one I remember being like “this is our jump the shark moment, isn’t it?”

SHH: Which issue was that?

Snyder: It was in Zero Year. It was issue… I can’t actually remember where we ended “Zero Year.” I think it was issue 30, but I’m not sure.

SHH: In “Endgame,” you’ve gone in some really wild directions with The Joker. And you’ve mentioned a few times that this is your last Joker story. Are you really not back to The Joker after this?

Snyder: Yeah! It’s my last Joker story where he appears that way. It is. I love that character dearly. I wouldn’t say that I’d never write him again, because maybe ten or twenty years from now I’ll get to come back and do a Batman story with The Joker. But in continuity, on Batman, this is pretty much the last time I’m writing Joker.

SHH: You know, when I see James Gordon Jr. in The Dark Knight movie, I always laugh and think “that kid is gonna grow up to be a psycho!” And that’s down to you.

Snyder: Yeah. My policy has always been to try and zig and zag on the book in a way that challenges me. So if I do “Detective” and I use James Jr., then I never use that again and try to do something different.

I won’t do another detective mystery like that, that goes on with that sort of empirical clue by clue by clue the way I did with Dick [Grayson]. Then it’s sort of like “let me see if I can do a superhero story, and a bigger sort of mystery that really challenges Batman on an epic city scale like “Court of Owls.” If I do that, then I see if I can do horror and I use the Joker for five issues and go small. Okay, let me see if I can do something that is bright and colorful and a new origin for Batman that’s mine.

My feeling has always been as a writer to try and follow in the footsteps of the guys who I admire the most. And they’ve always done story after story, each one is completely different and surprising and almost challenges the last one. That’s why I don’t go back. The first time I’ve really gone back to a character is this arc [“Endgame”] where we’re using the Court of Owls and we’re using The Joker to say goodbye to a lot of that stuff.

SHH: Are there any Batman villains that you’re dying to get your hands on who you haven’t written for yet?

Snyder: There are a lot! I’d love to do a Two-Face story. I really wanted to get to write Selina [Catwoman] more… But honestly, my goal with the new arc is to not use any of them. I have a new villain in mind and I want to go back to trying to invent new elements in the mythology and not rely on those characters. Between “Eternal” and “Endgame”… Riddler was in “Zero Year,” Penguin was in “Eternal” and I love using them.

But I just feel like… because of how bold and inspiring the Batman line is right now under [Editor] Mark Doyle and how vibrant it’s become, it’s time for us to up our game, to try the strangest stuff… the stuff that’s personal and daring. To make new characters and stretch the mythology in a lot of places where you wouldn’t think that you could. For me, that means not falling back into those other characters. I’m sure they’ll be in other books, but I’d really like to focus on new villains.

SHH: Have you decided how long you’re going to stay on Batman?

Snyder: No! Honestly, I really didn’t think we’d stay. “Endgame” was originally designed to be my last storyline. When I thought of it during “Death of The Family,” I realized that I was going to write a two part story or a story that was going to come back to The Joker to sort of balance that story. I thought it would probably be my last. My feeling is that we’re on through issue 50. Greg [Capullo] is contracted through 50.

SHH: That’s actually quite an impressive run.

Snyder: Thank you! I never thought we would stay this long or be allowed to stay this long and do the things that we’ve done. It’s a liberating feeling, because I feel that we got to do the things that have been “if I got one chance to write this character, this is the story that I would do.” “Zero Year” is the one I feel that way the most intensely about.

But at this point, we’ll see where we are around issue 50. If it’s time for us to go and fans are sort of tired of us or Greg decides he wants to draw something else then we’re a team and that would be okay. I’m very grateful for our time on the book. If the fans really want us to stay and Greg wants to stay, I have an idea of how to do a couple more things and I’d love to stay and do that. We’re just playing it by ear, which is a very different feeling than I’ve ever had. It’s really liberating.

SHH: Are there still plans for Batman: Eternal Season 2?

Snyder: Yeah! That’s what I was saying. It’s going to be more Robin focused. “Batman: Eternal Season 2” or “Year 2” is in the works. It’s definitely happening and it really celebrates Robin’s 75th anniversary by creating this big story that focuses on the characters who have been involved in that franchise as Robins.