Scott Snyder recently sat down with Comics Alliance to talk about his upcoming Zero Year story, why he's doing it, and his love for Year One. He also talks about how he pitched it to the DC editors, Damian's death and Grant Morrison.
Comics Alliance: When I heard about Zero Year, I was a little apprehensive. It's pretty well-trod ground, but I know you're a guy who really likes Year One. I mean, you're the one who brought James Gordon Jr. back into continuity.
Scott Snyder: Right. Year One is literally one of my two favorite pieces of graphic literature ever, with the other one being The Dark Knight Returns. I would never, ever go there to tear that apart.
Comics Alliance: So does that intimidate you, to take on Batman's origin story, if that's what Zero Year is?
Scott Snyder: I'll be totally frank with you. We've sort of danced around it, but it is the origin story. It goes back to show how Bruce became Batman in the New 52 continuity. I'm incredibly intimidated and incredibly nervous, and have had horrible sleepless nights and panic attacks about it already, I promise you.
But the reason I'm doing it, again, to be totally straight, is that I wanted to do an "early years" story that was really different. I had an idea for one that would just cut away from what you've seen before, before I was even doing the #0 issue. The #0 issue gave me the chance to do it a little bit, in a world I wanted to sort of create, and it was definitely the quietest moment in the story I had in mind, but would give you a window into it to see how people liked it. I really fell in love with that world there, and I started thinking about doing another "early years" story after I did Joker, and after Damian died.
For one thing, Pete Tomasi and Pat Gleason, who are both good friends and guys that I admire tremendously, and whose book I look up to all the time, had been doing such a good job with Damian and Bruce that I felt like it would be a good time to give them the pieces on the board to deal with that relationship, and not mine that same vein. What happened was that I was developing the story, and it got bigger and bigger, not just in length, but bombastically and in a fun way. It became a thing where I was working around the pieces of Year One, so that I could show the readers, look, this is still there, this is still there, and this part is there too.
It became clear to me that the more people asked at cons and on Twitter about different moments in Batman's history to see if they were still there in the New 52 that most of my favorite stuff from Year One wasn't there anymore. James Jr. would be six years old in the New 52, if Year One happened the way you saw it. Selina has a completely different origin story, Barbara Gordon has a completely different origin story, Jim Gordon has a different origin story, the Falcone gang has a different origin story. It became clear that it just doesn't exist in continuity the way that I hoped it would when we began the New 52.
Nobody was more protective of Batman's history than those of us who were working in the Batman books. Me, Gail Simone, Kyle Higgins, Pete Tomasi, we all wanted to keep everything the way it was, but as the New 52 progressed, it's become an environment where people came up with stories they loved that, little by little, rewrote parts of that history. So as much as I like to think that a lot of those stories still happened, and I try to reference them as much as I can, like No Man's Land, or a ton of stuff that we referenced with the Joker, the basic bones of Year One can't have happened the way they were presented in that book.
So it became a thing of, if you're not going to do a reclamation of that book, or a project where you're showing pieces of Year One, show the story you're going to tell. Do what you can to protect the pieces of Year One that could've happened there, but don't make the story about trying to make readers feel okay or safe about what's still there or not. Do a story that, hopefully, we can be proud of, and that's different and new, without treading on Year One, without tearing it apart. Just say "I have a story that's very different, it will show you things you've never seen before."
That's something I'm very cautious about. I don't want to do a story that's treading on stuff you've seen, but to do something that, even though I know in my heart, dude, I can't write something as good as Year One. It's just not going to happen, it's a f**king masterpiece. I read it over and over, I teach it in class every year, and every year I find something new that I love about that book. But if I approached Joker that way and said "I'm never going to write something as good as the Killing Joke, so I won't do a big Joker story," or "I'm never going to write something as good as Year One, so I'm not going to touch Bruce's early years," then I feel like I wouldn't have done anything I was excited about on the book.
I can promise you guys on my kids, honestly, this is the best story that I have come up with, in my opinion, for Batman. It's the one that I'm proudest of for its originality and ambition. If I didn't do it because I said "you know what, it's not as good as Year One," when there's no Year One in the New 52 in terms of its entirety, then I'd be doing a disservice. I teach a class where the goal of the class is that you have to write the story that you want to read the most, even if you think that no one will like it, even if it's not the smartest or the best. Whatever it is, if it's funny, if it's political, if it's superheroes, if it's memoirs, you have to do that.
That's one of the reasons I like teaching, it makes me come home and try to stay honest about it. I'm incredibly nervous, yes, 100%. But I'm also 100% proud of this story. I really hope you guys love it. I'm really scared, but I promise you that I'm only doing it because I think it's the best thing I've done so far.
Comics Alliance: Part of my curiosity about it was wondering how much of it, if any at all, was motivated by you being the guy who called dibs on the Joker. You very clearly wanted to do the first big Joker story in the New 52, you wanted you and Greg Capullo to be the guys who reintroduced him with "Death of the Family." How much of Zero Year was you wanting to stake a claim and be the guy who did the origin story for Batman that we're going to have for the forseeable future? Was it a matter of you just wanting to do a story of Batman's early years, or was it "If I don't do it, someone else is going to, so I have to preserve what I like."
Scott Snyder: I definitely don't perceive thinking that I wanted to be the guy to do it. That, I can promise. That sort of sentiment doesn't really cross my mind. Believe it or not, all of this stuff is pretty overwhelming to me personally, I didn't start in comics to be handling things as big as this. I'm from a short story prose background, in terms of my ambitions, I never expected to be able to write these characters on the scale that I am. It's not something that I approached saying "I have to be the guy who gets to do Batman's origin."
Scott Snyder's Zero Year will begin in Batman Issue #21 which is scheduled to hit the shelves in June. To read the entire interview click here!
Posted by Dane Haji