It’s a fight that’s taken place in the imaginations of fans for nearly forty years. It’s one recreated over and over again on the playroom floors of action figure-wielding children the world over. It’s a blockbuster event that fans of DC and G.I. Joe have hoped might be brought to life one day in a crossover series—and at last, it has.
Just not in the crossover anyone was expecting.
Issue #3 of Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point hits stores this week, continuing the mysterious tale of Batman’s excursion on Fortnite Island. But this pivotal chapter of the six-issue miniseries boasts an unexpected twist that surprised and delighted fans when it was revealed earlier this year—a battle between the Dark Knight and the sword-wielding silent soldier of G.I. Joe, Snake Eyes. As fanboy battles go, you couldn’t ask for a bigger one…but what is it doing in a crossover with the mega-popular online game Fortnite?
“In issue #3, we always knew we wanted to have a crossover with someone outside of the DC and Fortnite universes,” explains Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point writer Christos Gage. “There were various discussions about who would be a fun character and who can we actually use, and Snake Eyes ended up working out. I think it was great because, for starters, he already doesn't talk.”
Snake Eyes’ silence—and combat skills—adapt well to the reality of Fortnite Island, in which silent combatants battle to the death every twenty-two minutes. Over the series’ first two installments, Batman has found himself on the Island, where he’s lost his voice and sees his memory wiped every time the Island “resets” for a new round. The result is that he never knows how skilled an opponent he’s facing when he comes in contact with one of the Island’s combatants, whether it’s an Island regular like Ruckus, Renegade Raider and Fishstick, or someone specifically brought in to bring the Dark Knight down, like Snake Eyes.
“You're in a situation where it's just an island full of people fighting all the time, and they're all pretty much badasses,” says artist Reilly Brown. “So, the challenge for me was, how do I really sell it that these two are badasses among the badasses? That these guys, their fighting abilities are so above and beyond everybody else's? There's a lot of, ‘Okay, can I have them jumping out of a car, while kicking the guy and throwing a batarang all at the same time?’ Just how impossible can I make this fight look so that anybody reading it would say, ‘Oh, yeah, that's not something that Cuddle Team Leader can do. Only Batman and Snake Eyes can fight like this.’”
Surprisingly, the two highly popular characters—who seem almost perfectly matched—haven’t fought each other before (at least not officially). There’s yet to be a G.I. Joe/DC crossover, elevating Snake Eyes’ appearance in Zero Point to perhaps once-in-a-lifetime status. At the very least, it’s drawing attention from fans who otherwise would have little interest in Fortnite.
“You've got literally two of the greatest fighters in the world, or in any universe, facing off with each other,” exclaims Gage. “It's the kind of thing that you debate at the comic book store: ‘Who would win in a fight between these two?’ Only, you never actually see it. Okay, well, now you're going to get to see it.”
Gage continues, “What's interesting to me is some of the reactions. I've seen comments from a lot of people my age who have said, ‘I don't play Fortnite, but I am dying to see Batman fight Snake Eyes, so I'm going to pick up this miniseries.’ And it would be great if some of the Fortnite fans said, ‘Hey, I'm really enjoying this. I'm going to seek out some other comics.’ By the same token, some of the people who just want to see Batman fight Snake Eyes might say, ‘I'm going to try out this game.’ So, that would be ideal.”
Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point aims to accomplish a lot with its six issues. As the first comic set within the world of Fortnite, it’s expanding the backstory and lore of the deceivingly straightforward game with each new issue, making it a must-read for Fortnite fans. Unsurprisingly, they’ve been eating it up. Both issues released so far have gone back to print and the title’s quickly become the most widely read comic on the DC UNIVERSE INFINITE digital service. However, if all of the attention and outsized expectation is causing Gage and Brown any stress, they hide it well, choosing simply to focus on telling the most exciting, impactful story that they can.
“It surprises me what we are able to get away with,” says Gage, excitedly. “I've worked on crossovers before and usually it's a fun sort of thing, where it's like, ‘Hey, let's have these characters fight these characters and do something fun.’ But in this case, from the start, (Epic Games Chief Creative Officer) Donald Mustard was like, ‘No, this is going to have a lasting impact on Fortnite.’
“That's the cool part,” Brown agrees. “A lot of crossovers, they're fun, but they don't impact the canon of the other storylines. But with this, a huge part of the Fortnite mythos going forward is going to be what Batman does in this storyline. So, this is really part of the continuity. That's awesome because that's not something you see all the time. This story is really going be part of the DNA of Fortnite going forward.”
For anyone who’s been enjoying Zero Point, the good news is that things only get more impactful from here. Snake Eyes’ appearance marks a turning point where Batman stops merely reacting to the situation he’s in and begins getting to the bottom of what’s going on. That involves more characters from the DC Universe entering the story, starting with an equally quick-with-a-sword antihero who promises to play a key role.
“At the end of issue #3 and the beginning of issue #4, Deathstroke shows up,” shares Gage. “And then there will be some other characters showing up. And then in the final issue, we have some more characters showing up. So yeah, hopefully, there will be more surprises.”
For now, though, readers should just kick back and enjoy one of the best cross-universe fights they’re likely to see in comics this year. After all, it’s taken four decades to bring these two powerhouses together and the Zero Point team is determined to make sure the wait was worth it.
“In the entire series, that issue is the only one with double page spreads in it,” Gage says. “Which was just to showcase the whole widescreen spectacle of this fight.