9:00am PT by Graeme McMillan
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo on The End (And New Beginning) of 'Batman'
It's the end of an era in the latest issue of DC Entertainment's Batman (No. 40, available in comic stores and digitally today). The final chapter of the current "Endgame" storyline doesn't just bring the current conflict between Batman and the Joker to a close, it appears to bring Bruce Wayne's crime fighting career to a close as well. The Hollywood Reporter spoke to writer Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo about the issue and what comes next.
When asked about the end of "Endgame," Capullo jokes that he and Snyder are "just having a little fun" with the issue, while Snyder said that neither creator has ever "done anything for the sake of being shocking. The stuff that ['Endgame'] gives us is some of the most exciting stuff we've done on the book. It definitely gives us a brand new lease on life on things."
The original genesis of the "Endgame" storyline — which launched last October — Snyder explained, was trying "to do something we hadn't seen before, with the heroes and villains banding together against one common enemy, and that enemy isn't just threatening the city, but everything they stand for." What that means in practice is that Batman No. 40 features the Dark Knight, Batgirl, Robin and other heroes fighting alongside Bane and Poison Ivy, while the Joker faces off against Batman for what might be the final time.
"The thing that Greg and I have talked about is, we never want to use Joker unless we had a new approach, an approach that felt personal or different," Snyder said. "For me, he's always stood for this sense of meaninglessness, someone who laughs at you for doing anything other than waiting for death, which is the only thing that matters [to him]. To me, Batman is the exact, diametrically opposed space to that. He's taken this tragic event and used it to shape himself into something where his life has meaning. What I love about 'Endgame' in particular is that you get to boil them down — Batman wants to make life matter, but the Joker says, 'it'll never matter.' "
The current issue is a culmination of everything Snyder and Capullo have done on the series since its launch as part of DC's massive "New 52" relaunch in September 2011, with their Batman series quickly becoming the breakout book of the line, in terms of both critical plaudits and sales. (The series has consistently remained DC's top selling monthly series for years at this point.) Originally planned as an endpoint for their time on the book, the pair decided that they were having too much fun to quit just yet.
"We work together and things happen," Capullo said when characterizing their working relationship, while Snyder says that the artist is responsible for much of his evolution as a comic book writer. "When you actually get pencil to paper, it might not look like it does in script or in your head," Capullo said of the ways in which he's challenged Snyder's preconceptions. "Sometimes, he might write something and I think, 'That might look awesome in a movie, but I don't have the mix of camerawork, quick cuts and everything to tell that with the same impact as it would on a film.' If it won't work in this medium, you have to modify it, but at all times, I always try to capture the intent that Scott lays down. You always have to be faithful to the writer's intent."
Such fidelity also carries through to Capullo's design work for the series. Not only has the artist redesigned the Joker (twice) by this point, but this weekend's Divergence, one of DC's Free Comic Book Day offerings, will debut his design for the brand new Batman, who'll next appear in June's Batman No. 41 issue.
The redesign process "usually starts with Scott giving me notes about what's he's planning in his stories," Capullo said, although he remains conscious of who's behind the mask (or, in the Joker's case, behind the fake face) as much as possible. "As long as you stay true to the core of the character, it doesn't matter whether he's got his face sewn-back-on, is clean cut, has a long nose, he's still going to look like that character," he said. "With the new Batman armor, this was pre-Chappie, so we were going in the Appleseed direction, if you're familiar with that. I knew who was in the suit, so I geared my designs towards that, to stay true to who he is."
The debut of a new Dark Knight, Snyder said, was partly the result of feeling creatively energized by other books in DC's Batman line, such as Gotham Academy, Batgirl and Catwoman, and partly a desire to keep things fresh for he and Capullo as much as the readers.
"We've been on the book for four years at this point," he said. "At this point, finding a way to make the mythology new, it's something special. It's personal. It speaks to where I am with Greg. I feel so comfortable working with him that we want to try and take on big things, because we have tools we didn't have before, so why not take the risk?"
Both Snyder and Capullo are familiar with the pitfalls that can lie ahead with a story of this nature. "Being friends with other writers who've taken their main characters off the table for a little while, like Grant Morrison, Dan Slott with Peter Parker and Ed Brubaker with Steve Rogers, I've been talking to them about their experiences," Snyder admitted. "What I've realized is that no-one goes into that without a plan, without a way to bring the character back into the story better than when they left."
What lies ahead for the new Batman — and Snyder and Capullo — is "a big, fun crazy story that's deeply about the Batman mythology from a different angle," according to Snyder, although Capullo puts it another way. "What've we got coming up? Lots of action and cool monsters," he laughs. "We haven't done monsters in awhile."
For fans worried about what lies ahead, Snyder had words of comfort. "We'd never do anything on the book that's incendiary," he said. "It's always has to [answer to the questions]: Is the story on the other side of this moment better than we had before, or better than going back to basics? For us, this story beginning on Free Comic Book Day is 100% that."
Batman No. 40 is available now. (Read a preview of its first pages below.) Divergence, which features a Batman story by Snyder and Capullo in addition to Justice League and Superman stories, will be released on May 2 as part of this year's Free Comic Book Day event.