Scott Snyder Explains New ‘Detective Comics’ and the Dark Mirror of Gotham [Video + Preview]
The first issue of Detective Comics written by Scott Snyder ("American Vampire") drops today with art by Jock and a backup feature on Commissioner Gordon with art by Francesco Francavilla. Naturally, we sent our very own Batmanologist Chris Sims to talk with the new Batman scribe about the deeper themes in his new Detective Comics run, and how he is recreating Gotham as a city as a dark mirror that is recreating itself in reaction to the strengths and weaknesses of two men who are currently battling the darkness on its streets: Dick Grayson and Commissioner Gordon. Check out our two interview videos and a 6-page preview of the comic after the jump.
"The story is built around the idea that Gotham is essentially a black mirror to whomever takes on the mantle of the bat. Gotham... comes from 'Gatham,' which is like a safe haven for your goats. And goats are a big prey of bats, vampire bats, and there was a big fear back in the day that goats would be infected by them. And essentially [there is] the idea that Gotham sustains the bat, but also is infected by it, and each bat creates its own strain of sickness in Gotham. Dick Grayson is a different Batman than Bruce... and now Gotham as a black mirror... is going throw back his worst nightmares at him in the form of new villains, new challenges, and a whole new environment. A new Gotham, really. It's Dick Grayson versus Gotham."
Asked about what essential qualities define Dick Grayson as Batman, Snyder said that in contrast to Bruce, who "is a solitary warrior who is obsessed and dark and has a hardened shell," Dick Grayson is "extroverted, and hopeful, and optimistic. He's a team player who relies on friends and believes in the positive outcome of things as much as he tries to be tough. Kind of the inversion of Bruce. So Gotham will go after those exact things about him and try to break his sense of faith and hope and optimistic about the human character and himself as someone capable of shouldering the responsibility of Batman."
Snyder also talked about the distinction between a Batman supervillain and organized crime or street criminals, a line which has grown increasingly blurry. "The [street criminals] are more bloodthirsty and vicious, trying to prove themselves in new, colorful, brash and bold way... They're flashier and crueler," said Snyder. "There won't be such a separation between crime families and supervillains. It wwill be Gotham throwing up all these nightmares at once at Dick Grayson that are new hybrids of all these things.
Scott Snyder talks about the Commissioner Gordon backup comic:
Snyder said that the Commissioner Gordon backup with work in concert with the main story, by developing a Gotham City that is recreating itself in opposition to Gordon as well as Grayson. "We wanted to do a story that challenges Commissioner Gordon the same way Dick is being challenged in the feature. What if Gotham bring back somebody who has an emotional conenction to Commissioner Gordon that gets past all that hardened armor he's developed over the years?" said Snyder. "We wanted it to be both him and Dick Grayson facing this new Gotham is creating itself around them to be a specific villain or antagonist to them."
The story will also deal with the fallout from Batman Inc., where Bruce Wayne has publicly announced not only his support for Batman, but his significant financial backing. "We felt the GCPD would probably be pretty angry that this wealthy guy is essentially funding a vigilante and not them. So we thought, what if Bruce and Tim and Dick basically set up a crime lab, state-of-the-art and pro bono in the Wayne Industries tower and offer it free of charge to GCPD to use whenever they want," said Snyder.
This well-meaning gesture is not immediately well-received, particularly by a police force that has often felt undercut by Batman. "When the series starts, nobody has brought any cases there out of pride or dignity; they refuse to do it. And it opens with Commissioner Gordon bringing a case himself to DIck. And Dick being the liaison between Wayne Enterprises and the GCPD because he's the one with police experience and can relate to them on a more personal level."
The dynamic between Dick Grayson and Commissioner Gordon -- in more than one capacity -- is the central focus of the comic, said Snyder. "The series really is about the way he functions as a friend to Commissioner Gordon as a partner fighting crime in the CSI lab, and their relationship which is actually more personal as Batman and Commissioner Gordon on the rooftop. And the series goes forward, the lines between those things becomes blurrier."
Check out a 6-page preview of the main story now, and click through for larger images: