(Warning: This article contains some spoilers for Batman #38.)
The fourth issue of “Endgame”, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s second epic Batman/Joker story, was just released this week and it sets the Caped Crusader up for a huge ending for the story. In response to the release of the issue, Scott Snyder conducted interview with IGN, Newsarama, and Comic Book Resources talking about the end of the arc, and plans for where the creative team intends to go with the character and the title after “Endgame” ends in March and after the two-month break for the “Convergence” event. Snyder made basically the same comments in each interview, so I’ll just hit the highlights with some selected quotes.
First, Snyder commented that while the story has been hinting strongly at the possibility of Joker being immortal (even going so far as to provide a possible connection to Vandal Savage and Ra’s al Ghul, the reader is meant to refuse to believe that can be true just as Batman does in the issue. Snyder said to IGN,
Well, what I want you to believe is whichever side you prefer, because he’s trying to make an argument to Batman that Batman absolutely will not accept. It’s not meant to be something you see and say, “Oh, of course that’s true.” You’re supposed to be with Batman, kind of like, “That cannot be true. Is it true? I hope it’s not true,” all of that stuff. Death of the Family was basically Joker saying, “You always wanted to be immortal. Come with me and be immortal,” and this is where he says, “Guess what? I’ve always been immortal, and now I’m closing the door on you, little mortal Bruce Wayne.”
I think it’s the reason I relate to [Batman] so much. He’s my favorite character. Deep down, in my interpretation of him, that’s the thing he wrestles with more than anything but doesn’t want to admit. He’s constantly preparing for situations where his body might fail him in some way, or he might not be fast enough, might not be strong enough. And Joker is saying, “Guess what? I’ve always been that. You had a chance, and now you’re not. I would have given you my blood, something to make you what you always wanted to be, and now you’re going to go down, just in the way you’re afraid you would.”
For me, I wanted to make something that felt real and was believable, while at the same time was mythologically big and epic, the way the story is, so that it is material that might have been here and might have done this to Vandal Savage and might be the basis for the Lazarus Pit, or Electrum — which is what keeps the Owls coming back from the dead, the Talons. It might have something to do with other figures as well, for Solomon Grundy… I wanted to create something that links all that. So the Joker says, “I knew this. I knew this part of it. I’m older than Gotham. I’m the Pale Man that walks these shores, and I’ve seen all of it. I’m the immortal person here. You are nothing. I let you believe it for a little while because I wanted you to come with me and become something important, but you had your chance in Death of the Family, and you threw me off a g—–n cliff. So… you’re done.”
Batman #38 also saw Bruce saving and working alongside Duke Thomas and Harper Row/Bluebird. We’ve already seen Bluebird join the Bat-Family in the pages of Batman Eternal and seen Duke as a potential future Robin in Future’s End and Snyder talked to IGN about him using both of the characters in future issues of Batman.
Well, for me, Duke is a special character just because I love making up people who live in the streets of Gotham — like Harper, for me. And now that Harper is graduating in some ways to being Bluebird — and she has a very big role in the Bat-books, and our book, honestly, in June. I felt like Duke was a character I was really interested in once we made him up — not to make him a superhero but to have that view of things again and to see what it’s like and to have a lens of Gotham life. So as I was writing him I realized, you know what, he did this great thing for Bruce Wayne, he and his family. He essentially saved him. That’s isn’t really a character you can bring in and leave. He did something that changed the course of Batman. So in that way I felt like it’s important to see where all of that goes and what his life is like. As I was writing him I realized he had a bigger role to play. So he’s in this story, and honestly I think he’s got an interesting and very exciting place in the DCU coming up.
This week’s issue of Batman also saw the Dark Knight being forced to turn to the Court of Owls for help in learning some of the truth about the history of the Joker in Gotham. Snyder said in these interviews that part of the reason for this is the scope of the “Endgame” story and also because originally, this was going to be his last arc on the title. Snyder commented that he had always intended to bring back the Court of Owls at least as a last mention and “Endgame” gave him a way to do that. However, Snyder used these same interviews to say that issue #40 of Batman was supposed to be his last on the arc, and as a result, “Endgame” was meant to be a goodbye to the Court as well, bringing his time on the title back in a complete circle. He commented to Newsarama,
The Court, for me, is something that I’ve always wanted to bring back. And you know, when I was writing “Death of the Family,” and I was aware we would do a second part — it would be a tragedy part — as I was about halfway through, even though I didn’t know the bones of the story, I knew that that would be my last thing on Batman. That was my feeling, that Endgame, as it was originally designed, would be that. But then, as I was getting closer, as I was writing “Zero Year,” I realized… Wait! I have a way of possibly staying, if Greg wants to stay, and using Endgame as a transformative story.
It really changes things. So a lot of the things, like the Court of Owls and the villains — all the stuff coming into the story soon too — was a way to say goodbye to a lot of things I got to write, and I made up, or that I loved that other people made up. But the way it’s changed is that, it’s still a goodbye to a lot of that, in that I don’t intend to do another big Court of Owls story, but, that said, it’s a way of also beginning all over again, coming in June.
Also, in these interviews, Snyder commented that DC was allowing him to do something truly game-changing with Batman and the title when it returns in June after Endgame and Post-Convergence. While the immortality of the Joker is meant to remain open-ended, there is supposedly a huge twist coming that will alter the status quo for the character. He promises that this will be something that he is certain that has never happened in the 75-year history of Batman and that it will either be his best idea yet or his worst idea yet. True to his style, Snyder gave no real details about what the changes might be he said that he was getting “a new lease” on the book and it would be like having a new issue #1 without actually renumbering the book (perhaps almost in the same way that Batgirl recently got a complete overhaul without a restart on the title). He told Newsarama,
And I don’t mean, like, beginning with a new #1. I mean beginning story-wise with a new status quo, new villains, a new lease on the book for a bit, and see how it goes, you know? “Endgame,” for me, was meant to be both goodbye and also Batman wrestling with the idea of whether or not his mortality is something to be afraid of, at the end of the day. And the story that I thought of for after this — it was like, wait a minute. If I do that, it’s exactly where I am emotionally, meaning I kind of thought I was done, but then I have, like, you know what? If I did that, it would give me a whole crazy lease, and it would give me characters that are in a different place in their lives, where I am, and it would really… I know I could do it.
It’s easily — it could be the dumbest thing I’ve ever thought of, ever. Or it could be the best thing. I have no idea. I really don’t know. I mean, everybody at DC is really excited about it now, luckily, and I’m very excited. But I always have to be, like, “hear me out” before I tell them where we’re going with it. And it’s not Joker becomes Batman. I’m not going to rip off Dan [Slott] with Superior Spider-Man. It’s not that. But it’s a very high level of crazy.
This story [Endgame] is transformative. And the only way to stay on the book, I feel like, as much as I was like, “I’m going to do some small stories with Bluebird and Batman and Julia.” That would be great. That would. But then I think of something like this and I’m like, if I don’t do that…. it’s an idea that I promise hasn’t been done in 75 years of Batman. And you think of it, and I’m like, that speaks to where I am! If I don’t do it, I feel like, I’m going to regret it.
Either it’s a jump-the-shark moment, or it’s a great moment. I really don’t know. It could be the worst idea or the best idea I’ve had. I have no clue. Bottom line is, I couldn’t be more excited to try it, because it hasn’t been done, and it’s personal. It speaks to me. And Greg is 100 percent behind it. So we’re all ready to go, and excited. So “Endgame” really is a goodbye and a hello. It really is sort of like saying goodbye to a lot of things that — really, everything we’ve done on Batman and all of that. And then where we land in June is sort of like, “Whoa! What?”
I’d speculate about what these changes might bring, but I’ll be honest that Snyder seems to be making promises that might surpass the extent of any speculation I could make. There are a few things interesting to me about the interview, though, that I will mention. The biggest thing that sticks out to me is how much Snyder reiterates that the ending of “Endgame” will be what brings the huge changes to Batman, not Eternal or Convergence. He says that these changes will come after Convergence but suggests pretty strongly that those changes will be because of “Endgame.” We already know that “Endgame” comes after the end of Eternal which really begs the reader to question if Eternal will have many last effects at all beyond (hopefully) having been a really great, entertaining story. To that end, the presence of the Court of Owls in “Endgame” and the fact that the arc was meant to be Snyder’s farewell to the characters suggests that the Court will have little impact on Eternal, if any, as some had speculated.
Also, by stating that the repercussions from “Endgame” would be something that had not been done in the 75 years since Batman’s creation, Snyder implies that we could eliminate from our speculation things that have happened in the past. Striking some things off the list may bring us closer to imagining what could be coming. For instance, some things that have happened in the past include Batman being incapacitated or “dying,” Batman being replaced by someone else both from within the Bat-family and without, members of the family dying (or now gaining superpowers as well), Batman being without his Batcave, Batman franchising himself to the rest of the world, and even Batman traveling through time. So, if all of these things are off the table, Snyder must be truthful when he claims that whatever is coming could be the most game changing thing in three-quarters of a century. Either way, it seems we’ll get some clues with the ending of “Endgame” and find out for sure in June when the title returns after Convergence.