Writer Scott Snyder And Artist Greg Capullo On ‘Batman: Zero Year’

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo just finished two absolutely amazing, dark, Gothic Batman stories: The Court of Owls and Death Of The Family. So naturally their follow-up is going to be a take on Batman’s origin that’s bright, fun, and features Bruce getting pantsed. Capullo and Snyder were good enough to sit down with us and talk about what’s in store, and how much fun they had making it.

Gamma Squad: What made you decide to approach Batman’s origin for the New 52?

Greg Capullo: First off, Scott and I love Batman: Year One as much as everyone else. It’s fantastic stuff. It’s one of the books I hold up as a flag. We’re not looking to destroy that, it’s beautiful. Scott has come at it from a whole different angle, a whole different slant, on the origin.

Scott Snyder: I couldn’t agree with Greg more, Year One is one of my very favorite pieces of literature. DC came to us and said “That origin doesn’t hold anymore.” Selina Kyle has a different background, Jim Gordon has a different background. We need an origin. And all the major characters have had their origins told. We’ve kind of held out on doing Batman because we were hoping Year One could stay. So it became “Are you guys going to do it? Or do we get somebody else?” I feel like we’d be doing a disservice to the fans to not do it. We’re doing it in a totally different way that’s got a different feel, a different scope.

And we don’t retread, we don’t try to do the same moments they did because we’ll never do it as well as them. So we’re showing different things, different stories. In that way, that’s what it is: Year One will always exist and be a masterpiece, but since it can’t be his origin in the New 52, here’s something new and special that you’ll hopefully love.

Gamma Squad: Bruce is obviously in a very different place mentally when this book starts. What can you tell us about what’s going on in his head?

Capullo: He’s like a lot of us when we’re young pups. He’s got a little more fire, a little bit more ill-tempered, a little bit of poor judgement, a little bit of “knee-jerk reactions that turn out not to be the best move”. I can relate to that guy. I keep saying he’s like the best Metallica, when they were young and pissed off.

Snyder: YEAH! (Editorial Note: Snyder does a surprisingly good James Hetfield impression)

Capullo: He’s brash, and he doesn’t have all the answers. This is the young heavy metal Bruce Wayne.

Snyder: He does something in the first issue that requires a CENSORED sign. (laughs)

Capullo: I pantsed Bruce!

Snyder: It’s meant to be like that. We want it to be kinda crazy.

Gamma Squad: It’s a big story you’re telling, in eleven parts. What made you choose that length?

Snyder: I’m just really wordy. (laughter) It’s done in chapters, and they’re different stories from early in Bruce’s life. It’s a very fast-paced, big, almost compressed story to move brightly and fast through big adventures in his first moment in Batman.

Gamma Squad: Will we see any of the classic mobsters come back? Or will there be somebody new?

Snyder: Both! You’ll see mentions of the Falcone gang early on, mentions of classic villains, and some new ones too.

Gamma Squad: Balancing the demands of what comes before with your own style can be tricky. How do you handle that task?

Snyder: There’s been so little done in the New 52 that touches on Bruce’s early years. In any continuity, there’s all these different Batbooks, so if you wreck Gotham in one and not the others it doesn’t seem real. But if you go back in time, Bruce’s early years haven’t been explored yet. If you show those years, that Gotham in some ways wants to forget, you have the opportunity suddenly to tell a big epic story. It became very freeing.

Gamma Squad: How much world-hopping are we going to see?

Snyder: INTERNATIONAL BATMAN! (laughter)

Capullo: It’s all centralized in Gotham and, believe me, I’ve got my work cut out for me there. We don’t need to go anywhere else! (laughter)

Gamma Squad: Building a city especially, when you have to go back in time, it must be an interesting art challenge.

Capullo: Oh, it’s interesting all right! (laughter) Oh, how I want to reveal… I can’t wait for you guys to crack the pages of the first issue, you’re going to be like “What the?!”. Wait until you see how I’ve designed some of the architectural features.

Gamma Squad: Did you have to approach the action sequences differently with this young, inexperienced Bruce?

Snyder: It’s hard because you don’t have the majesty of Batman, so you have to make the action sequences really bombastic and crazy. I think the action sequence in the first issue is probably the craziest action sequences I’ve ever written.

Capullo: There is a brilliant action scene, but as soon as I read it, I went “Holy s***, how can I carry this off in a comic book?” If I had a film crew, I would have had a zillion ideas on how to shoot that scene. But you have the limitation of pages with only so many panels, so you have to pick just the right clips. It was the most challenging action scene that I ever had to draw. You’ll look at it and think “That looks easy”, but trust me, a lot of man hours went into the logistics of how to shoot that scene. This is the most fun Batman book I’ve done. We’ve brought Bruce to Disney. (laughter)

Snyder: I couldn’t agree with that more. I really believe that this is the best art yet on the book. I’m humbled when I see the art. We want to win you over with the sheer fun of the book. Year One is this gritty, grim, wonderfully intimate masterpiece, and you can’t go there again. So for us, let’s go the other way, let’s do the biggest, craziest, most fun take on the origin that we can, that has all those layers and that stuff beneath the surface when you look for it. But part of the emphasis was this was meant to be bright, fast and fun.

Batman: Zero Year starts next month.