This week marks the return of the Joker in The Batman Universe with the release of Batman #13. The issue kicks off the multiple month storyline Death of the Family featuring the Joker returning to comics for the first time in over a year. Comic Book Resources talked with writer Scott Snyder about what can be expected from the Joker.
CBR: You're working with James Tynion IV, who is writing the backup features for "Batman." How do the backups relate to the main action? Will it be similar to how the Jarvis Pennyworth backup worked during the "Court Of Owls" story?
Scott Snyder: Yeah — one hundred percent. One of the things I love is the relationship between backups and features.The idea really was that we would create something that show these kinds of secret moments behind the scenes in the backups. So the backups really focus on Joker taking some of the major rogues to task for what he sees as a failure to challenge Batman appropriately! [Laughs] That way, it'll tie into the main story and you'll learn little secrets of what's coming in the next issue and why certain things happened in the issue you just read. But they'll all also be relatively stand-alone moments between Joker and some of your favorite villains. He isn't just jokingly or lightly calling them out — they really are moments between them where we try to explore what makes these villains who they are, and the Joker challenging them the way he challenges the heroes, on a deeply psychological level. He sort of says, in harrowing ways, "Are you strong enough to face me and to listen to what I'm about to tell you about yourself?"
CBR: Now, this is looking ahead a little bit, but the Joker story ends around issue #17. Both this and the "Court" arcs have been really huge, game-changing stories for Batman involving the rest of the Bat books. When you look to the future, are you worried about following up such two huge events?
Scott Snyder: [Laughs] Well, I think if I stopped and thought about it that way, it would freak me out entirely. But the way I try to think of it is to figure out what excites me about the character, even where he is emotionally at this particular moment. For me, "Court Of Owls" was about, in a lot of ways, [Batman's] relationship with the city, like you said. When I was writing — one of the things that interested me growing up in New York City [is], I've always been fascinated and haunted by the notion of the history of the place, that there's all these facts you can know about the past, but the lives that were lived there you can't know. That sort of questioning sense of what's knowable and not knowable and the weight of that history is what makes me endlessly interested in New York. To me, the responsibility — if you were supposed to be the person who knew it best, and thought you knew it best, is something that is both really heroic and also terrifyingly impossible.
Coming over to this, it's really about figuring out what's exciting about the character beyond the general stuff I'm always excited by. What particular thing do I want to explore next? Here, it's not just saying, "I want to do a big story with the Joker." That's not how it works. I don't think that way, like, "Oh, how about the next thing I do is a big Riddler story?" Instead, what I try to do, and I hope this makes sense to readers, is think about what aspect of [Batman's] psychology I have wanted to explore for a while. The thing I was interested in was this accumulation of family that he cares about and has responsibility for. As the father of two young children, that feeling of suddenly being afraid of the world and scared of things that you weren't before, for their safety. When you were a reckless kid, you didn't think about how dangerous it was to hang onto the back of a bus on your skateboard, but you see a kid doing it now and you completely freak out and yell at him, "Get off that bus, kid!" [Laughs] That sense of suddenly becoming afraid of the world is something this story is deeply about.
That Batman is maybe a better person for having a family, maybe he's a stronger hero — that's not the Joker's take. The Joker's take is the opposite. To him [Batman is] frightened and old and scared and I'm Peter Pan here to tell you come back with me. I'm at your window, pressing my face against the glass. That's really the way I approach it. I don't worry too much about what the next big thing is going to be because I have my face up against it in a different way, where it's about figuring out what story is interesting to me next rather than trying to create something big or bombastic or epic. I do know what the next one is going to be, though, and it is pretty big! It is actually another big story!
For the entire interview, including talk about the art team behind Batman, head over to Comic Book Resources. Batman #13 hits stores this Wednesday, October 10.
Posted by Dustin Fritschel