Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV are two of the most important writers working at DC Comics right now. Both together and separately on titles like Detective Comics, Batman, Justice League, Batman Eternal, Dark Nights: Metal and its sequel Dark Nights: Death Metal, they’ve spent the last decade helping to shape the future of Gotham City and the larger DC Universe through epic stories. They’re also close friends who, by their own admission, talk every day about life and the stories they’re telling. At NYCC Metaverse on Friday, Snyder and Tynion gave us a brief peek into those conversations, and charted the ambitious future courses for the massive stories they’re at work on right now.
In a half-hour conversation between the two creators, Snyder and Tynion largely focused on the biggest stories they’re both currently publishing in DC Comics. In Snyder’s case, that means Dark Nights: Death Metal, the universe-altering sequel to Metal that finds the DC Universe transformed by the sinister Batman Who Laughs, and Wonder Woman leading the surviving heroes on a quest to reshape to the Multiverse through the use of “crisis energy” harvested from major events of the past. To do that, they must make dimension-hopping journeys into versions of those crises, where they run into triumphant visions of past DC event villains.
It’s here that, for Snyder, the Death Metal ethos of “everything matters” really comes into play. Amid all the multiversal fun of the story, amid all the dark versions of Batman we see popping up under the command of The Batman Who Laughs and all the twisted adventures DC’s heroes must have to finish this fight, it’s ultimately a story about refusing to deny any part of DC history, and instead embracing all of it in one way or another.
“What you learn in [Death Metal #4] when they do revisit these crises and they see Superboy Prime and they see Darkseid and they see the Anti-Monitor, is that what villains do is try and kind of erase history or make a certain moment more important than the last and draw you in and say ‘The things that you don’t want to think about, or the stories that you don’t want to address, or the things you’ve done you don’t want to address, you don’t have to. We’ll start over, don’t worry,'” Snyder explained. “And what Wonder Woman really comes to realize, and Superman and Batman, going through this battle and seeing these kinds of horrible future crises where the villains have won and seeing what they might become is that, at the end of the day, they have to kind of reckon with the whole history of the DCU. Every story they’ve been through has happened, and the only way forward is to not only accept that, but have that as their arsenal to fight with.
“What that means is, on the other side of that battle, you say ‘I’m not going to take the power to erase my enemies, erase what I don’t want you to look at, and start over in a brand new way that makes me comfortable. Instead what I’m going to do is say ‘Everything happened, everything’s true, and what I need to do going forward is accept all of that even if you wind up, as a reader, as a person of Earth within the story looking up the heroes, reject me, and find new heroes.’ That, to me, is a love letter to all of DC Comics. What it says is all of these great stories you’ve grown up with, whether you love them or hate them, they all matter. They’re all real, they’re all part of this one epic generational story. And at the end, what we do is we say all of it was material, all of it was consequential, and now whatever DC is going to be going forward, both narratively within the story and the characters, and as a company — because there have been a lot of changes as well — we’re excited for that, and we welcome it with open arms, and we hope that it’s going to be even better than what it was before. And you can only move forward with that kind of faith if you’re a comic fan and you look up to superheroes.”
Though he’s also contributed to Death Metal through various tie-in stories, and Snyder noted the duo has talked about the ideas behind the stories for years at this point, Tynion’s particular big event right now is his run on Batman, which just celebrated the conclusion of the epic Joker War story with Batman #100 earlier this week. That story, which saw The Joker take over all of Batman’s resources and attempt to turn all of Gotham City against him, was always about tearing down the various bells and whistles that we’ve come to associate with Batman over the years. It’s an idea that Tynion noted was helped along by recent stories that both killed off Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred Pennyworth and removed Jim Gordon as Gotham City’s police commissioner. With those key pieces gone, Tynion had to get inventive, and what he ended up with as we head into Batman #101 and later, is a story about the Dark Knight contending with a different kind of Gotham City.
“All of these classic pieces of the Batman mythos are changed, and it’s not that they’re gone forever or anything, but it is interesting to write the character where the core, iconic Batman history — and this is something I point to in issue #101, actually — he remembers how good it felt, the days in which Alfred was in his ear back at the Batcave. And Jim Gordon would light up the Bat Signal, and he’d land on the roof, and he’d swing into action with a Robin at his side. All of those core iconic elements of Batman, they’re such a part of him, but they’re in his past, and now he needs to figure out in this moment, how can he be Batman today? Knowing that the city is growing more and more dangerous. The key thing with Joker War was basically to set off a whole bunch of change in Gotham City, and it’s going to deeply affect the status quo to the point that Batman need to change his approach. He’s going to need to change his base of operations. He’s going to need to change how he’s interacting with crime in the city. And this is something that is scary on one front, but it’s also really exciting, because Batman loves building things. That’s why he has the big crazy Batcave with the giant T. rex and all of that. He is a builder, he is a thinker. He likes figuring out how all of these pieces come.”
To hear more from Snyder and Tynion, including some discussion of their early days talking about their ambitions as comics writers, check out the full panel. Dark Nights: Death Metal #4 is out October 13. Batman #101 is out October 20.
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