Interview: Writer Scott Snyder Talks “Batman”, “Swamp Thing”, And His Indie Horror Book "Severed"

Interview: Writer Scott Snyder Talks “Batman”, “Swamp Thing”, And His Indie Horror Book "Severed"
 
So all of your favorite stories from Year One through Return of Bruce Wayne, really from beginning to end, whatever was in continuity before, we have not made any effort to change that stuff. Bruce is the Bruce you knew before. It’s just a fresh, fun take on him, but it’s still the same Bruce.
 

Was this new direction for the character a collaborative process with other Batman writers like Tony Daniel and Peter Tomasi?
I pitched this story to [Batman editor] Mike Martz before there was a relaunch. It’s a lot about Gotham’s history and it’s all this stuff I’m interested in, and he said, “Well, we’re thinking about switching Bruce back to Batman, so do you want to talk to Tony [Daniel] about switching books?” So I went over to Tony and he said he was eager to get on something darker like Detective Comics, so we switched. Then they told us there was going to be a big initiative where everything was going to be #1.

They gave us time to get together [Peter Tomasi, Tony Daniel, Gail Simone] on the phone. We're aware of each other and we went back and forth. And we decided what would change and what would stay the same. For some characters I know things changed a lot, for some of the big characters, too. For us on Batman, we really looked at it and decided, we tossed around ideas like changing Two-Face or making the Riddler more like Jigsaw from Saw. But at the end of the day with the stories we had in mind already for the characters as they were, they were better than the stories we would generate by changing one thing or two things.

So we really collaborated a lot in terms of thinking about what we could change and what we might change. But at the end of the day, we decided that the status quo of Batman is one of the most exciting times in Batman right now. With all of the relationships with former Robins and Nightwing, and enemies; it’s just a really vibrant time for Batman, so we didn’t want to change anything.

Longtime fans won't feel like they’re reading a completely new character?
No, I really want to make that clear, too. If you were a fan of Batman, the writers on Batman and the editors on Batman decided that the stories going on right now, and the stories that came before, are so rich and so much a part of the character’s history and make him so exciting right now, we didn’t have an interest in changing those things.

So all of your favorite stories from Year One through The Return of Bruce Wayne, really from beginning to end, whatever was in continuity before, we have not made any effort to change that stuff. Bruce is the Bruce you knew before. It’s just a fresh, fun take on him, but it’s still the same Bruce.

How is this story going to be different in tone from what you just wrote on Detective Comics with the story that involved Gordon’s son and the Tiger Shark?
That was a lot of fun for me, I’m really proud of that one. [Artists] Jock, Francesco Francavilla, and Dave Baron, the colorist, were like superheroes in their own right. With Detective that was a story that was really about Dick Grayson under the cowl as Batman for the first time, other than a brief moment in a story called Prodigal. What I wanted to do was show how Gotham challenges its heroes. And the way it challenges its heroes, in my opinion, is by generating enemies and antagonists and challenges that are really extensions of the character’s greatest strength, but in ways that make that strength look like a weakness.

So for Bruce, the Joker is sort of who Bruce would be if he broke his rules and lived in the cave forever. And Two-Face is kind of an extension of the duality of his life. So you see a twisted funhouse version of yourself in these villains, and that’s what makes them scary and that’s what makes them potent. What we wanted to do with Dick Grayson was something similar, which was, instead of him going out and facing Bruce’s villains, it was almost like Gotham was creating new villains for him that really were reflections of his strengths and weaknesses. He’s a character that is very compassionate and empathetic. He's outgoing and social; he doesn’t have the same baggage as Bruce. So we wanted to create a world in Gotham that, little by little, was showing him how ugly people can be, why you shouldn’t be empathetic, why you shouldn’t be compassionate, and to try and break him down. 

With this, the tone is different because he is a different character. For me, Gotham doesn’t have to be as vicous and dark from the start. The thing that Gotham is doing to Bruce in our story is that it’s sort of sneaking up on him. He comes back and feels great; he feels like “I’m better than ever.” And it’s almost like a friend patting you on the back, and then as you turn around, stabbing you in the back. The tone is a little more cumulative; the story builds. The other story, the Detective story, had little arcs, little chapters.

This one is really like a juggernaut where it goes issue to issue to issue, where it really builds up in the fashion of stories like Hush and The Long Halloween, where very issue will be really accessible and an easy jumping-on point. It’s one big story building towards this one really Earth-shattering set of revelations towards the end and this big war for Gotham’s soul that is going to happen.

Tags: scott-snyder, batman, swamp-thing, image-comics, severed, dc-comics
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