Scott Snyder Talks Batman #43, Batman As An Inspiration, and What Jim Gordon Learns From "Superheavy"

This week's issue of Batman by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo moved the current "Superheavy" storyline forward in a number of major ways, making it one of the most interesting and complex issues of their run.

It also left fans with a number of questions -- some of which won't be answered just yet, but some of which you can already start to see taking shape in the issue.

Snyder joined to talk about the latest issue of the series, and the current storyline.

I like the fact that, with Bruce's memory loss and Gordon not wanting to come right out and say anything in public, we're still playing the "how much does Gordon really know?" game. Do you buy into the idea that he knows, and just will never say it out loud?

Yeah. For me, Batman is one of those things -- and I said it in Zero Year -- that people deliberately don't know. It's an act of will to not know. Alfred gives the speech in Zero Year that says, "They won't figure out who you are, because they don't want to. They want to believe in you. They want to believe this crazy thing exists outside of any one person. They don't want to ruin it.

So in that way, I think Jim sort of does not know -- by sheer force of will, he will not let himself think about who could be Batman. But it's almost sort of a herculean act not to know that it's Bruce. I enjoy that. I enjoy the mystery of that relationship quite a bit. I love writing it. When I wrote Dick Grayson, I loved writing it. I love the sort of gray area that exists for them.

I really liked where you put Bruce Wayne here. Do you think at a certain point, living in Gotham City, part of you wants to be like, "No, just have a good day for once?"

Yeah, absolutely. Gotham to me, growing up in New York, it's a very real place and nowhere as much as this arc. Every arc, we've used Gotham pretty centrally, but this arc, Gotham is really hurting from the results of Endgame and a lot of people feel let down by the systems they put in place to protect them. This is sort of what Bloom takes advantage of.

The divisions that exist in the city in very real ways between neighborhoods, between race, between class, between authority and the public, all of that stuff comes into play in sort of comic book language in this arc, the way that things I worry about for my kids came into play in Zero Year. That arc kind of deals with what I hope Batman will mean to my kids and what he will protect them from psychologically. That's superstorms and random gun violence in the Red Hood Gang and terrorism in The Riddler, and resource depletion and all sorts of stuff.

Here, those issues are very much a part of the story. What you're seeing is Gotham and some of the issues are mirroring things that we're dealing with now in many cities around the country. Issue #44 is a special issue in that regard. I co-wrote with Brian Azzarello and it's drawn by Jock and it's sort of a grittier look at Gotham right after Zero Year. It's sort of about the ways in which Batman realizes suddenly that he doesn't know the city as well as he should, and that he's being arrogant.

We're very mean to Gotham, but we love it dearly. I have trouble imagining ever not having an apartment in Gotham somehow.

The kind of miracle machine Bruce was working on before his death strikes me that it really syncs up with the kind of Infinite Crisis-era Bruce who really felt like he needed to manage everything. It's not even good enough that there must always be a Batman, but it must always be him.

I really believe that our Bruce, the arrogance in Court of Owls was that he was becoming complacent. With the New 52, we didn't really at that time think of ourselves as rebooting him. It wasn't until about a year later when we were doing Zero Year that I realized this can't be the same Batman as he's been. Our first mission we were thinking, this is still Batman as he's been.

So that took me up to a place where he'd fought so many things that I thought maybe he thought he was familiar with Gotham in a way that was sort of overstepping. And it was a personal story. Growing up in New York, that's something that always interested me: you can know your neighborhood, but you don't know what it was like five years ago, and what it will be like five years from now, and you don't know the people.

No matter how well you know Gotham, there's always going to be things you didn't know, and so if you weaponize that, it's going to be a great threat for Batman.

Here, I think, with this idea that he always has to be there as himself, I think there's a humility in that and a mortality. I was talking to Azzarello the other day and he made a very striking comment to me when we were talking about the Dark Knight stuff he's working on and about Frank Miller. He was like, "Your Batmen are so different." I asked how so, and he said, "Well, they're both really mortal, but Frank's doesn't realize he is, or refuses to see how he is, and yours knows." But I kind of countered by saying, look at Year One. He's pretty fallible in some of Frank's stuff.

But this idea that he always needs to be the Batman as Bruce Wayne, it's not arrogance so much as it is a sense of self-sacrifice and duty for him. He has devoted himself to this mission. What we're deatling with in "Superheavy," is the idea that Gordon is trying to be a Batman for the real world. There's bureaucracy over him. There are checks and balances on his Batman. There are private interests and public interests on his Batman. It's what if Batman was sort of real. One of the questions this story asks is, why do we even care about Batman? Why does someone who's having trouble wear a Batman shirt when Batman is a ficticious character who does nothing for our lives? He doesn't stop crime, he doesn't solve problems...even in Gotham, he doesn't really do those things in big ways that are pervasive. So why do we care? Honestly, I think this story is largely about that. What Jim Gordon realizes at the end, and what the city sees and what Bruce realizes, is that Batman is a fictional character that exists because one man is so willing to become this fictional character. To become this ghost. To become hollow and empty except for this mission, and there's no side of him that isn't this mission, that he becomes something more than human and becomes almost ethereal -- becomes folklore.

Even though it's a strange, abstract concept, I think that's how Bruce sees himself in the story. He's given everything to be this thing that's unreal. It's almost a story people tell themselves that exists. That's why it has to be him.

One thing that ties into that from the issue is Gordon saying at some point in the issue that he always feels like he did more good with outreach than he did with arrests. I think that speaks in a really interesting way to what Bruce is doing right now.

It's a theme that's going to run through the story in a very big way. I think one of the things Jim Gordon is hoping is that he can be a symbol of the system in a way that makes people feel safe by becoming a bridge between the things that people put in place to protect themselves and the public. I think Batman has made them feel safe for so long, that he's appropriating that symbol and saying, "We can do this together without Batman. We can be Batman this way."

And my feeling is sort of, it's noble and it's heroic and it's not a bad idea -- but it's misguided in certain ways because what Batman in this form is, he needs to be an inspiration. He isn't something that strikes fear into the hearts of criminals. That's what #44 is about, and I hope it's a marker of our run. I've tried really hard to examine why I loved Batman as a kid in New York City. I always loved this idea that he scared the bad guys. But at a certain point, maybe after 9/11, it became not so much about protecting the city and scaring the bad guys, but it became about overcoming hardship and being a symbol of inspiration. Of being someone who turns himself into something impossible against these odds, to say to the city, "If I can overcome my greatest fears and use them as fuel to protect the city, you can do what you want to do with your life. You can be the hero here, no matter how antagonistic the city is to you. You can do it."

And that, I hope, is something that's different about our run. This idea is very much a part of this story, too.