Scott Snyder made his first big impression on fans of the Dark Knight back in 2010 with BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR. Since then, he’s anchored the Batman family of books, serving as writer of the monthly Batman title since the launch of The New 52 and overseeing Batman’s two recently weekly comic series (the second of which, BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL, ended last week). Yet while Snyder will be stepping away from Batman’s flagship title when Rebirth launches in June, he isn’t done with the Dark Knight.
In August, Snyder will be launching a brand new monthly Batman comic, ALL-STAR BATMAN, which will feature a rotating cast of popular artists including Jock, Sean Murphy, Tula Lotay, Declan Shalvey and more. But it all gets started with a five-issue, thrill-a-minute Two-Face tale drawn by John Romita, Jr. the likes of which fans have never seen in a Batman comic before. When this was revealed last weekend at WonderCon we were excited to learn more and knew that all of you would be as well, so we spoke to Snyder and Romita about what fans can expect from their story and the series as a whole, how it fits in with the other Bat-comics, and what it all has to do with an early Sylvester Stallone movie.
So what can you tell us about All-Star Batman?
Scott Snyder: All-Star really came about from having worked with Greg Capullo for a long time. When Greg decided he was going to take a break, I realized there were still a lot of stories I wanted to write, especially with our villains. I had this idea of bringing in the artists I’ve always wanted to work with. John was at the absolute top of that list for me. We had talked about a year ago where I basically said that the moment I have an opening in my schedule or any free time at all, I couldn’t wait to work with him on something. I would run for the chance, whether it was something like this or something creator-owned. Anything.
What it came down to was that I realized I wanted to do a series called All-Star Batman that would invite all-star artists to work on some of the best characters in the world and kind of reinvent them within continuity for the Batman mythos. So I pitched him on a crazy Two-Face story. We live near each other, so we got to do it over beers in town. Honestly, it’s just been a big thrill and honor.
John, I know you’re working on THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: THE LAST CRUSADE, but this is the first chance you’ve had to draw a Batman story that’s set within regular DC continuity. How does it feel to be working on something like that?
John Romita, Jr.: Luckily, I got a chance to do Last Crusade first because hopping onto a title with that kind of character unprepared is much akin to getting on the 405 on a tricycle. There’s so much that’s come before that I’m not familiar with. But I got a chance to work on Last Crusade, and I read Greg Capullo’s run. I looked at the artwork first and got extremely jealous. I started reading it because I realized it can’t just be because of Greg, and I realized how good the writer is. Then I got a chance to talk to Scott and interestingly enough, it all coalesced. I’m lucky to have been doing the work with Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello on Last Crusade. It’s warming me up in the bullpen to work with this guy. I’m thankful because I think I would have struggled otherwise.
Scott: It doesn’t show. I think his Last Crusade pages that he sends are some of the best pages of his career. Every page is just gorgeous—the batmobile, the batcave… I was showing them to other people in the Bat-group and everybody was dazzled. For me, I’m on cloud nine about it.
John: I’m feeling the same way.
Art by Sean Murphy
So John will be drawing the first storyline?
Scott: Yes. It’s really an anchor of the series for me. There are two big anchors in the book. The first is John’s story and the second will be Sean Murphy down the line. But this is our big lead off. We want to show you all the big, crazy stuff we’re doing with series.
The story takes them on the road. That’s one of the fun things that I pitched John on. If we do this story, how about we do it in a way we haven’t really seen before in Batman? I wanted to do a sort of grindhouse Death Race, Fugitive, Running Man, Defiant Ones, out-of-control story. Batman is completely out of his element, desperate to get Two-Face somewhere upstate, and just about every assassin in the DCU is hunting them at the same time. It’s really, really fun.
I wanted All-Star to be a book that said not only are we doing something different with the character, with Two-Face, but we’re doing something you’ve never seen in Batman before. That, to me, is saying “All-Star.” I would feel badly not writing something like that for John. I could do Gotham, and it would be safe. I know how to do stories in Gotham. But I wanted to take the risk and shoot for the moon with this. He deserves it as an artist, and the fans deserve it.
I wrote John this long note at the beginning of the first script where I said that I really want him to go to work proud and happy every single day. That’s above all what matters to me—making something we both look at and say, “We did this amazing thing that nobody has done before.”
Art by Jock
John: I’ll try to give a good example of how I knew this was going to be outstanding. When he first started describing the story to me, both of us were in a bar near where we live. He starts to describe it to me and it’s like you’re on a computer screen, maybe ten years ago, when you accidentally touched the wrong thing and pop-ups would fill your screen. You remember that?
I’m sitting there and he describes this little vignette to me in lieu of describing the storyline, and all of a sudden in my head it’s like “Pop! Pop!” and I’m thinking of movies I’ve seen and images in films. Like this movie called Nighthawks with Sylvester Stallone where he stops this mugger, and he’s dragging him on a platform in a subway, and he’s reading him his rights as he’s dragging this unconscious guy. I’m picturing Batman dragging Two-Face before Two-Face wakes up and causes more trouble. These are the kind of visuals that are popping into my head, and he mentions a movie that he likens it to himself and it’s a movie that I love, The Defiant Ones. Everything started coming together and I started giggling, just thinking, “This is f***ing great!!!”
With Rebirth, we’re going to be getting quite a few new Bat-titles along with the ones that are currently running. The Bat Universe has always been a pretty big universe, how do you fit everything together and make sure you’re not stepping on each others’ toes?
Scott: We work really closely. We actually just had a Bat summit yesterday. We’re going to do some mini-Bat events down the line and we’re all going to co-plot them. We’re very entwined with each other in terms of the stories and the Bat mythos.
But I really feel like the books each have a very different flavor. What Tom King is able to do in Batman now that it’s double shipping is a really fast-paced and muscular classic Batman. He’s in Gotham, fighting villains and protecting the city. What I’m doing on this is very different. I get to use all of the classic villains redone in a new way largely outside of Gotham. What James Tynion is doing [in Detective Comics] is dealing with all of the young characters training under Batman and Batwoman. It really is very tailored for all your different tastes. There’s a Bat book for everybody right now.
Art by Sean Murphy
I feel like Tom’s book and mine complement each other really well. We’re very good friends and he’s the first person I told about the idea. In fact, he suggested I call it All-Star Batman. I wasn’t sure because there was already [Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s] All-Star Batman and Robin, but he said that no one had ever done an All-Star title just focusing on Batman, and he was right. So I was like, “Let’s do it.”
John, any last thoughts?
John: Before I worked on Batman in Last Crusade, I hadn’t realized how great the character was. I hadn’t physically worked on the character. I read Batman books and comics, and those are great reading and great stories, but until you physically get your hands on it, you don’t realize how great a character is. Frank Miller did something with the character, but Greg and Scott did something with that character too, and that’s what I’m following. I’m such a big fan of Greg Capullo’s artwork, but Greg’s Batman art is so great because he’s also been working with Scott and I’m hoping that the same results will apply to me.
Scott: There’s nobody Greg loves more artwise than John. My goal is to make John feel like he’s going to work and thinking that this is some of his favorite stuff he’s done. Any way I can make that happen in the story, I’m game. I mean, we have the best job in the world thanks to all the fans out there. We get to work on the best characters and do these crazy ideas.
John: I hope they have as much fun reading it as we do making it.
This is the first in a series of interviews looking at the many DC comic books that will be spinning out of this summer’s Rebirth. Keep an eye on DCComics.com for more!