Scott Snyder has gained both critical acclaim and a fan following for his consistently stellar writing of Gotham’s caped crusader, and he’s now brought his epic storytelling to the entire Justice League.
At this past weekend’s San Diego Comic Con, we got a chance to talk to Snyder about his current Justice League run, the importance of the kind of stories he’s telling right now, and his upcoming projects—the “Drowned Earth” Justice League arc that will eventually cross over into Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Aquaman, and his new mini-series, The Batman Who Laughs.
Snyder’s Justice League is an expansive tale that builds off of the events from his limited Batman series Dark Nights: Metal and the miniseries Justice League: No Justice. By the end of Metal and No Justice, the boundary to the known universe, the Source Wall, has been broken. This unleashes all manner of dangers, including the Totality, a massively powerful energy source that hurtles towards Earth. It’s up to J’onn J’onzz and the Justice League to figure out whether to intercept or accept this mysterious comet, which may just be the original source of all life. It’s through this fantastical set-up that Snyder is able to explore themes of human nature, leadership, community, and belonging.
In speaking with Snyder, it’s immediately clear he cares deeply about the legacy of DC Comics and the ideals that its superheroes have classically stood for. His writing in Justice League not only pays homage to the idea that heroes strive to be their best selves—and thus encourage us to do the same—but also aims to attract readers who have perhaps never felt like the comic book target audience. “My whole goal with this was to make it feel like if you have never read a comic, you can come in and read Justice League and be suddenly immersed within the entire grandeur and the majesty of it," he said. "The kind of epic, comical lunacy of the story, all of it at once.”
Snyder said, “For years, the Justice League was always, for me, the book I wanted to write. And I felt that if I got it, my two goals—three goals, really—were to make it connective, so it felt reflective of the great stories happening at the DCU and also drove the story. That it felt epic in scope on purpose, and that it also felt inclusive for readers.”
Inclusivity is a major theme that threads through Justice League, from featuring the Hall of Justice (a staple of the animated series, but not so much in the comics) to scenes of J’onn J’onzz creating a mental boardroom for all members so they can both openly discuss matters and, you know, banter and have actual emotional conversations. When asked about what he was most proud of this run, Snyder explained that he loved writing the relationships between the heroes. “I love the scenes where it’s like Flash talking to Kendra [Hawkgirl] and both of them expressing their fears. There’s a scene coming up between Batman and Superman where they really talk about the things that they’re afraid of...those are the moments that really speak to me.”
There’s a level of sensitivity and human connection in Snyder’s writing that speaks to the issues of the present day, and what we need our heroes to stand for currently. “At this particular moment, I feel like we’re facing challenges that require a sense of community and inclusion, and so that’s what the Justice League is about,” Snyder said. The Justice League “put their base here on Earth...they’re in it with us.”
This is contrasted with the Legion of Doom, who believe in embracing our base human nature because history has “proven us to be tribal and small and selfish.” Rather than striving to be better people, the villains advocate a return to our more biologically animal instincts, where the strong prey on the weak and discriminate based on who they feel is worthy enough to belong in this world. “In that way it kind of felt like this story is crazy, and robust, and bombastic, but it’s also very personal,” Snyder said. “It’s about what I worry about for my kids and about what heroes, I think, mean to me.”
Unlike past Justice League runs where the iconic DC heroes were more like “these looming godlike characters,” who fought these villains, Snyder ultimately said he wanted to give his run a “sense of fun again, and that sense of warmth, and of intimacy." That means really bringing in the entire pantheon of JL heroes.
“I wanted, you know, when you open up a two-page spread, you see Adam Strange, and Swamp Thing, and Plastic Man, you know, you see everybody,” he explained. “I want the League to feel inclusive, and expansive, and again, celebratory about the whole DCU. And that means, arc by arc, you’ll see characters like Firestorm and Blue Beetle and all these kind of ones that you might not expect to see in the book coming in.”
Snyder also discussed Justice League’s next arc starting in issue 10, “Drowned Earth.” As the Source Wall deteriorates, ancient gods and beings start to break out of the prisons they were locked into. Snyder promised vengeful gods, “fish monster zombies,” and a crazy, fast paced tale, but beyond that a thoughtful exploration of its heroes. He said it’s set to be “an intimate story about Wonder Woman and Aquaman, and what it’s like to be somebody connected to magic and infinity in a time when those things aren’t what they used to be.” This arc will eventually feed into DeConnick’s Aquaman solo series.
Dying to see more of the Batman Who Laughs? Writer @Ssnyder1835 and artist @Jock4twenty bring him back alongside a NEW evil Batman in THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS — a new miniseries coming this Fall. #DCSDCC #SDCC2018 pic.twitter.com/cyVciJmsbP
— DC (@DCComics) July 20, 2018
Snyder also talked about The Batman Who Laughs, a miniseries focused on the breakout character from Metal. Batman Laughs is a nightmare version of Batman who exists in a world where Batman kills the Joker, and a toxin in Joker’s heart makes it so that whoever kills him must become the next Joker. It’s an exploration of one of Bruce’s greatest fears come to life. Snyder will author the new series alongside artist Jock, who he worked with on his first Batman story, Black Mirror. “We’re going back to our horror roots for this one, and we want to sort of make Bruce Wayne experience his worst nightmare,” said Snyder.
Both The Batman Who Laughs and Justice League’s “Drowned Earth” are set to premiere in November 2018.
What project are you most excited for? Sound off in the comments!
Images: DC Comics