Why does Bruce Wayne love Gotham City, “Batman” writer Scott Snyder asked a packed room during the “Zero Year” panel Saturday morning at Comic-Con International in San Diego. “His parents were killed there, he doesn’t live there. Why would he protect it?
His answer: “He loves it because he knows it’s the greatest antagonist in the world, and if you stay there it will burn you down and build you back up. If you can survive that, you will come out the greatest pinnacle of human achievement and the hero you know in your heart that you could become.”
He and artist Greg Capullo – who have teamed on the bestselling “Batman” since DC’s New 52 continuity reboot began in the fall of 2011 – talked about their thinking in telling a new version of the Caped Crusader’s origin story and teased the next two issues. Snyder said the 11-issue “Zero Year” arc, which is already two chapters in, will be a three-part story, with three different moments when Gotham is wrecked and challenges its greenhorn hero.
Snyder, anxious about telling a Batman origin story, especially in the shadow of Frank Miller’s “Year One,” which he reveres. In talking about taking a different approach to certain things, he sincerely said, “You might hate it.”
“You won’t hate it,” Capullo said.
The artist, who works the mike with the energy and confidence of a professional wrestler, said, “We’re just cranking the Marshalls all the way up; we’ve got our Les Pauls strapped on and we’re just gonna hit these chords so hard… You’re gonna see your hair being blown back, and in some cases off.”
“Zero Year” kicked off with “Batman” No. 21’s arrival last month, and that first chapter is getting a 64-page “Director’s Cut” version ($5.99) – featuring Capullo and Rafael Albuquerque’s pencil work and Snyder and James Tynion IV’s scripts – that will be released July 31.
The next chapter – No. 23 – lands Aug. 14. It contains three interweaving stories – Bruce falling into the cave; Bruce at the hands of the Red Hood Gang; and a “spooky” one with a mysterious gate. The refrain hanging over the issue will be from Bruce’s father, Snyder said: “Bruce, what do you see in the dark?” And the Red Hood Gang will try to recruit him cruelly, thanking him for walking his parents out of that theater to their deaths: “I owe you one.”
Edward Nygma also figures into the story, and Snyder said of his thinking on the character, “The Riddler believes that he, in loving riddles, loves the purest form of warfare – the battle of wits.”
In No. 24 – an extra-long issue due in September – shows Bruce in his first Batman costume and with his first Batmobile, which Snyder said are very different looks from what readers are used to.
In considering redesigning those iconic symbos, Snyder said the thinking was, “What if Batman was 25 today and bad-ass, he’s a rebel, he’s an outlaw…. So what if the car is hot-rod bad-ass and colorful and different – what a young dude would do to intimidate everybody.”
The audience to got a look at art from first few pages of No. 24, where Snyder says Bruce tells Alfred, “This is madness this thing we’re building down here, Alfred.” The reply? “Yes, sir. But the very best kind.”
“Zero Year” tie-ins, coming in November, will include one in “Action Comics,” written by Greg Pak, and in “Green Arrow,” written by Jeff Lemire, who Snyder did the “Rotworld” Swamp Thing – Animal Man crossover with.
In response to an audience question, the writer said that after “Zero Year” the team will do “Batman cold cases / detective stuff — get really back to intimate detective stuff for a bit is my plan.”
– Blake Hennon | @BlakeHennon
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