SDCC: Batman: Zero Year Panel

It wasn’t until Saturday that DC Comics rolled out one of their most highly anticipated panels, looking at Zero Year, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo‘s new take on Bruce Wayne’s first time going under the cowl.

Snyder and Capullo were on hand, along with Batman group editor Mike Marts and inker Danny Miki.

Snyder opened the panel by explaining the origin of Zero Year. DC editorial had a problem with Batman’s origin having gone unexplained in the New 52. The histories of Jim Gordon, Catwoman, and others did not jive with Batman’s previous origin established by Frank Miller. Scott initially intended to use as many elements of Batman: Year One possible, but it no longer worked with the New 52. Snyder reiterated multiple times that he loves Year One, but he finally decided to put his own stamp on the origin.

He says he grew up in New York in the 1980s and the city at that point was very similar to the Gotham of Year One. However, Post-9/11, New York is safer domestically, but has larger fears about things like terrorism. The Gotham of “Zero Year” has similar, more modern, concerns.

Snyder asked why Bruce would love Gotham. He says it’s because Gotham tests people, and it makes them come out stronger than they would have been. He loves Gotham because it is the greatest villain he will ever have. Snyder compared his readers to citizens of Gotham, facing similar challenges.

You guys are Gotham City.

Snyder emphasized that Zero Year is meant to be bombastic, with villains overrunning the streets, bombs going off, motorcycles and trucks racing through the streets.

He also said the Riddler is a great villain. Nigma thinks he is the smartest man in the world. He gets new degrees for fun, and he believes he sees the connections between things. Riddles, historically, are incredibly important, bordering on one of the highest forms of warfare. The Riddler embodies that challenge for Batman. Snyder also said he talked to Batman: The Animated Series writer Paul Dini, asking why the Riddle was so underused. Dini said it was because the riddles are too hard to write.

Greg Capullo said that the story of Zero Year continues to grow, in both length and depth. He said Snyder is a great writer, but is still fairly new to the field, and that his best work is yet to come. He and Snyder are putting their best work, their blood and guts into the material, and he’s not afraid anyone will hate it, although he thinks that if no one hates it, then they’re not thinking big enough.

Dani Miki is also new to the series, although he worked with Capullo before, having previously inked him on Spawn.

Snyder said he and Capullo are brothers and they and their families have grown incredibly attached, and he hopes this shows through in the work.

Both Snyder and Capullo made multiple references to rock and roll, hoping that the story will be wild, with a punk rock feel.

When Bruce finally appears in the Batman suit in Batman #24 (which will be an over-sized issue) it will be a modernized version of the Bob Kane original. It’s a very different look for Batman. The new Batmobile also went through multiple iterations. They think it’s the greatest ever change in the style of the iconic car, with the possible exception of the the Tumbler from Batman Begins. They asked, “What would Batman want as a car if he were twenty-five getting started today and wanted to intimidate people?” The new suit and new Batmobile do not necessarily match with the versions we’ve previously seen in the New 52, but that, in this case, the goal was to do the coolest stuff, not the most in-continuity. Capullo lamented that FCO Plastencia was not on the panel as well, calling him the unsung hero of the book.

They went on to show the opening pages of Issue #23. It starts with Bruce’s father trying to find him in the cave, before catching up to where the previous issue left off, with Bruce being caught in an explosion caused by the Red Hood.

Danny Miki said his inking on Batman is very different from Spawn. That book, like Batman: Year One, was very gritty, but Zero Year is intended to be slick, clean, and modern.

Zero Year is a three act story, with Gotham changing with each act, transforming into the dark Gotham of the present. The first issue of each section will repeat the initial Zero Year logo, previously seen on issue #21, but with different coloring. #25 is mostly black, while #28 is mostly green, to symbolize the wildness of the overgrown city (Pamela Isley aka Poison Ivy might appear.)

Symbolism is very important in the story, particularly red threads as a symbol of destiny and connection, and circles and broken chains as symbols of cycles being broken.

The Red Hood gang is inviting chaos. Scott compared them to Little Red Riding Hood, inviting the wolf. The Red Hood leader wants Bruce to accept chaos, and allow Gotham to be engulfed. The Red Hood gang is another form of the red thread.

There will also be tie-ins with Jeff Lemire‘s Green Arrow and Greg Pak‘s Batman/Superman.

From there they opened the panel to questions:

First was a Joker cosplayer, who asked when we might learn what happened to the Clown Prince of Crime after “Death of the Family”. Snyder said that everything established in that story will come back into play, but that he wants to focus on the big, thematic picture, not just what happened to the face, but the entire Batman/Joker relationship.

Will Harper Row be the next Robin? Snyder did not create her with that intention. She’s meant to provide a different view of Gotham. A lot is coming for the character in a different Bat-book (my speculation: it’s probably Detective Comics). Decisions about who will be the new Robin are big group decisions.

Snyder says that he personally has no plans for Two-Face. Post-Zero Year, he wants to focus more on Batman’s detective work.

Becky Cloonan (who won an Eisner Award last night for her self-published book The Mire) will work with Snyder on Batman again, possibly on an annual.

Snyder has no plans for the character Hush, but there are plans for him in the Batman mythology.


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Zac Boone is a lifelong Batman fan and wannebe writer. Follow him on twitter.