Interview: Scott Snyder on BATMAN: ZERO YEAR

BM_Cv21_1Today we spoke to writer Scott Snyder about “Zero Year” the next major arc in his ongoing Batman series. The 11-part story line takes us back about six years to the Bruce Wayne’s first tentative cocksure efforts as a masked vigilante. Readers should have some idea as to young Bruce’s characterization and the Gotham he inhabits from last year’s Batman #0, a standalone story orchestrated after Snyder and Capullo had already planned this longer arc.

We asked Snyder why this was the right time to revisit the Batman’s origins at this point in his run.

“I feel like there are aspects of the Bruce you’ve been watching in our run that are markedly different than the Bruce that you saw in Batman: Year One and some of the other stuff in pre-New 52 continuity,” Snyder explained. So along with artist Greg Capullo, he began plotting the early years of the modern Batman as they saw it, unsure how or when these elements would materialize in the ongoing story.

Increasingly, Snyder received questions from fans at conventions or on Twitter. Was Year One still in continuity. He would instinctively answer that of course it was. “But over time,” said Snyder, “we realized a lot of the aspects that I love most about Year One just aren’t compatible with the Batman in the 52, whether it was James Jr., who I obviously have a personal connection to; he’d be very young, only five or six years old. Barbara Gordon being the biological daughter of Jim Gordon. Selina Kyle having a different background.” Things weren’t tracking. Snyder and Capullo had to make a choice. Go back and tell the story they wanted to tell or simply move forward, telling safer stories about familiar rogues.

They opted to go bold.

“One thing I can promise everybody at iFanboy,” said Snyder, “is that hopefully you’ll open up the book, and from the early pages, see that while it’s nothing like Year One or Batman Begins, it’s also respectful of the things we love most about those stories.”

Snyder considers that #0 issues a window into the quietest stuff that happens during this story line. Just a moment in this turbulent year in Bruce Wayne’s life. And it really does represent close to a year, some 11 issues all told. We asked about the decision to devote so many issues to this formative tale.

“I hear that,” Snyder laughed. ” You know, ‘That asshole, Snyder, he’s so self-indulgent. He’s doing this giant story line just to tell us stuff we’ve seen before.’ I can promise you that it’s all plotted out. If I could tell you what’s involved, I hope that you would see why it takes as long as it does. But I really want to play this one close to the vest. I usually give out a lot of spoilers as to plot and structure and what the backups are going to be, but I’d like to back away from that in this instance. I don’t want to sell it to you. I want you to love it or not based on its own merit.”

As such, we’re not sure just how many familiar faces we’ll see in this arc, or how significant any new ones might be.

He was willing, however, to talk about his characterization of young Bruce.  “One of the things I’ve always been fascinated in that wasn’t so much in Year One, was this notion of what it means to be Bruce Wayne, and the crushing weight of being Bruce Wayne as well as Batman. After traveling the world, Bruce Wayne is legally dead. Why bring him back from that? Why choose to continue being that person? That’s one of the key things I’m interested in exploring in addition to the giant, giant, explosive plot. That’s relatable to a lot of people, that challenge of living up to a legacy and figuring out what it is you want to be. Not just a family like the Waynes, but anybody.”

As for the difference between “Zero Year’s” Bruce Wayne and the Batman we’re reading currently, it all comes down to impulse control. “He’s brasher. He’s going to make mistakes. He’s someone you’re going to relate to, whereas Batman now is so in control. It takes a massive, city-wide conspiracy like the rise of the Owls or these more recent tragedies to really rattle him. But he went through a period before becoming Batman and in the process of becoming Batman where he just messed shit up. It’s a character you can connect to and in a way it will show how he became the man he is today.”

In closing, Snyder was eager to address the concern of longtime Batman readers and not just Snyder devotees. He hears the concerns. He hears the anxiety. “This is us doing something that really matters to us, that’s different. We want to take a page from the guys we admire the most. For me, that’s Grant Morrison and Frank Miller. Guys who are constantly fearless. We might not be able to achieve what they’ve achieved, but at least we can go out knowing that we tried to be as brave as they are, issue to issue.”

“Zero Year” starts in June with Batman #21.


  1. Issue 0 is by far my least favorite comic that Scott Snyder has written. His Mr. Freeze re-imagining may be a close 2nd. Not looking forward to 11 issues of “Zero Year” (bad name). The New 52 got me to drop Detective (something I thought I’d never do) now maybe I’ll be taking a break on Batman (something I thought I’d never do).

    Aside from the negetivity I just posted. I’m a big Snyder fan and enjoy most of what he writes, and I also still love comics as much as ever!

    • You know i really wish more fans had the same reaction as you.People need to recognize that they don’t have to buy the book.Once Snyder finishes this, Batman will go back to being it’s usual amazing self.

    • This article is full of statements and ideas that make me want to pretend DC closed its doors as a publisher back in ’11. I’m now ready to drop 99% of what little DC I DO read. Fortunately, Batman, Inc. is in its own world and Batman & Robin hasn’t pissed me off yet, so DC will be making at LEAST $7-$8 a month from me, but who knows how long that will last.

  2. My dream project would be to write a long (maybe even ongoing) ‘Batman’ series like this, but it would take place during Bruce’s world travels and shed more light on guys like Chu Chin Li, Henri DuCard and Aurelius Boch. I’d write it more like a TV show than a comic book.

    This project sounds to me like it will be drawing from the same well, so I’m definitely interested in reading it.

    My first thoughts though, given that I am a bit of a continuity nut, is ‘how will this all fit together?’ I look at my own Batman collection as being canon to me, and it all fits together in my mind, everything from the Chuck Dixon 90’s stuff to the Steve Engelhart 70’s stuff. Denny O’Neil, Frank Miller, Grant Morrison and Scott Snyder too. As long as it fits, at least thematically, then I’m sure it’ll be great.

    Wasn’t there a big Riddler story in the pipeline first? I was looking forward to that.

    • I think maybe Riddler is part of this arc. I remember hearing it was going to be about this many issues so maybe he`s involved still somehow.

  3. Snyder has yet to let me down and really looking forward to this. The 0 issue was lots of fun and great to see another origin story. To all those people complaining about the arc having too many issues, atleast Snyder has a reason for them all. The article says he has it all plotted out and has been planning this for a long time.

  4. For now, I am going to stay positive about Zero Year. Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One is one of my favorite Batman stories of all time (as it is for many of us), but it was made for a different Batman. The Batman of the oDCU is no longer. Now we have nDCU Batman, and we need to get used to it. It is not going to change (at least not in the foreseeable future), so why not embrace these new stories? Sure, I love continuity probably more so than the average reader. I love to see how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together. This is one of the reasons I first fell in love with DC years ago: it was built on legacy, continuity. But that universe is gone (that debate can be saved for another time). The end-result of Flashpoint opened us readers to a world already five years from “the beginning” (not counting Justice League). Many readers (myself included) are ready to learn this new timeline, and writers such as Scott Snyder are set to deliver. We are over a year and a half into this new frontier, and it is time to start creating new pieces for a new puzzle.

  5. Super excited for this. I’ve had some definite issues (heh) with some of the “Tell, don’t Show” components of the current run, but there’s no denying that Snyder and Capullo are insanely talented. I’m really looking forward to a year long origin for the new Batman.

  6. I’m really excited for this. The reaction I had to the #0 issues were they were too short. Everything was compress into one issue. There were many of the stories in the #0 issues that I wish had expanded on into further issues. Like Red Hood and the Outlaws #0, Teen Titans #0 etc. Now with 11 issues Snyder can explore maybe one aspect at a time of the beginnings of Bruce Wayne. I like Miller’s Year One just as much as the next guy. But does that mean nobody else can write about Batman’s beginnings ever? Year One is the only origin story we can ever read? Year One was good but it was also short. I’m sure more happened to Bruce Wayne in his early years than just what happened in Frank Miller’s Year One. That’s what I consider Year Zero to be, an expansion on the foundation that was layed down with Year One. And I’m excited for it.

  7. I’m in. Snyder and Capullo are the team to beat on Batman and there’s no let up. I’ve been entertained by every issue they’ve put out so far. If the time comes when the story is not fun, then I’ll stop buying it, but that itself is a fleeting thought. The length of the story arc doesn’t matter. After all, Court of Owls wasn’t told in two issues and turned out to be stellar.

  8. I wish people didn’t care so much about how things fit in with the past.

    Year One is still a great comic, whether it still (or ever) counted.

    • “I wish people didn’t care so much about how things fit in with the past.”

      Kinda ironic statement in light of the upcoming origin story and the first two arcs of Snyder’s Batman . They were a history lesson of sorts about how the past played a direct role in Batman’s self-image in the present.

      I do agree with you about Year One.

  9. I’m all in. I love Year One, but if they just came out and said “all the stories pre-52? Never happened within this current DC universe, New continuity.” I would be fine with that. I feel like trying to fit in everything thats old and beloved will continue to bring most DC books down. Besides, I can pull the old favorites off my shelf and read them whenever.

  10. I really hate the idea of trying to fit the square peg into the round hole because of some arbitrary number of years that batman’s continuity is supposed to be fitting into.

    But on the other hand, maybe distancing this continuity from the previous one will make it easier to enjoy it for what it is.

  11. This sounds really good. I find the beginnings of Batman, before he was an expert at seemingly everything, to be a fascinating time in his history. Definitely looking forward to this in a big way!

  12. Good Idea, Bad Title. 11 issues may be a little too much for a story line I don’t want Batman to experience an arc that long a la Rotworld.

  13. I don’t put much stock into continuity, so this will be great for me. I’m just interested in good stories. i don’t really care what fits where and how. if i read something that conflicts with what i believe the character to be, i simply close my eyes and delete it from my memory. eazy peazy.
    Miller did an origin after the 80’s Crisis relaunch, why not let Snyder and the rest of us have some fun?

    • I totally agree with you. Caring to much about continuity in comics can lead to only one thing……mental breakdown. I just love good stories.

  14. I wasn’t thrilled to hear about another origin but Snyders a good interview and made it sound more interesting than it was in my head. I like the idea of seeing Bruce becoming who he is, making mistakes along the way before he became “the worlds greatest detective”. He made mistakes in Year One but this sounds like its gonna explore that part of his life much further whereas Year One is basically one or a cpl nights cracking a case and running from the cops. Don’t get me wrong, I love Year One but this has more to offer than most ppl are giving it pre credit for, or so it sounds.

  15. As a fan that started reading DC comics with the New 52 this was the story I has hoping all the new titles would tell. I wanted to read a new year one! Hopefully other titles will follow suit.

    • Same here! I wanted new origins, new back stories and new characterizations. Most of the New 52 delivered on that idea but Green Lantern and Batman ruined everything by, essentially, ignoring the reboot. Here’s hoping this story arc sloughs off the old DCU’s Batman continuity and places Bruce squarely in the New 52.

    • @Scarlet-Batman: You act as if these books had rebelious minds of their own. Batman and Green Lantern were unaffected by the reboot because they were the only two books that were selling. DC knew better than to mess with what worked. As a result, they turned out to be the only two books that suffered from the condensed timeline.

      The only books that delivered on “the idea” are Wonder Woman, Action and Earth 2. Everything else turned out to be the same but less. Sloughing off the old continuity would be an insult, and Snyder knows it. Here’s hoping what we get is a respectful attempt to help us forget how ridiculous this sudden five year timeline really is.

  16. I’m on board with this. Let’s see what the man can do to forge his own path. We can’t just want him to write solely based on stories of the past. Let Snyder take the reigns and do what he wants to do. I’m excited to say the least.

  17. In Snyder we trust. I must say that this mini-interview has relieved a bit of anxiety I had towards this, so thank you iFanboy and Mr. Snyder for doing this.

    On a second note, I hope some of you guys realize that Scott is also an iFanboy himself and reads comments and stuff on here and even replies to some most of the time… Some of the comments I read since the annoucement of Zero Year are quite rude, I hope you guys feel bad about it! 0_o

    • I don’t get why the iFanboy forums seem to have gone from the ‘Scott Snyder official fan page’ (in all but name) to the ‘we hate Snyder club’ lately.

      I, for one, certainly DON’T hate Snyder and I LOVED ‘Death of the Family’.

      You’re right, he has feelings too (presumably – although I think I read somewhere that comic book writers don’t have emotions and are in no way sensitive, caring Human beings who take pride in their jobs and lead full, creative lives when not writing stories about grown men who jump about in tights).

      Some people on here are just being bloody rude. Like they could do any better.

      >Tt.<. (What? Damian isn't using it anymore…)

  18. I won’t comment to the quality of a story that hasn’t come out yet, that’s ridiculous. But to say that going back and exploring Batman’s past is ‘bold’ seems silly too. It feels like we go back and add a piece of history, or somehow play relevance to a current thing by mixing it with Bruce’s childhood. Now just flashing back feels not bold, but boring. I’m sure Snyder has a plan and they’ll be decent comics, but I’m not very excited by the concept.

  19. i.e. they need a year to figure out what the heck they are going to do now with Batman continuity and that they have 6 Robins and how to bring Damian back.