Comic books live and die by their creators. If the art isn’t right, the book fails. Same with the writing, and the lettering, and the coloring. It all has to work together. Some times we get a creative team that works so well that the stories they create go on to define a character. Sometimes its a colorist and artist, like Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth, who spend their careers together. Other times it’s a writer and artist, like Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. We decided to focus on some of these teams, and celebrate their achievements.
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been writing and drawing (respectfully) the “Brooding Bat” for 9 years. With Dark Knights: Metal taking over the shelves in 2018, and the final issue of Batman: Last Knight on Earth all set to end their run with the character in 2019, the pair has definitely made some decisions that left their mark on the character. But is theirs the definitive Batman? We wanted to take a look at their history with the Dark Knight, and talk about the stories they’ve told.
In January of 2011, Scott Snyder took the reins of Detective Comics starting with issue 871. There wasn’t a lot of fanfare around his name at the time, having only recently come on to the scene with American Vampire, so it seemed like a standard changing of the guard. That story arc was The Black Mirror, and it quickly earned a great deal of critical praise. It featured a former Robin, Dick Grayson, under the most coveted cowl in comics. Dick showed his skills against Commissioner Gordon’s serial killer son. Shortly after this, the universe ending Flashpoint Paradox event was announced. Snyder had proved to fans that he had a deep understanding of what made the Batman tick. Readers were hungry for more.
Greg Capullo has been in the Comics industry for a long time. He started with some indie titles before getting into Marvel, drawing interiors for X-Men titles. That’s when Todd Mcfarlane came across his work, and picked him to do the interiors for the mega-hit, Spawn. Capullo worked on Spawn from 1993-97. He then moved over to another Image Comics title, Haunt, which he eventually left to draw Batman.
Capullo has said that when he first started receiving Snyder’s scripts for Batman, the two got into an argument, one that almost ended the run before it had started. Apparently Snyder’s scripts were so long, Capullo thought he needed to check his understanding of the medium. Now the two look back and laugh at the altercation. They now talk to each other everyday.
The New 52
When DC comics announced that they would be rebooting their universe in 2011, most people were skeptical. For many, getting rid of all of the canon and starting over was a betrayal to the fans. They needed to come out with a bang, and, in the opinions of some, they failed at that. One thing that is almost universally agreed on, however, is that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman title was a certified hit. With the introduction of the villainous “Court of Owls”, they started the series off on the right path. Giving us a Bruce Wayne who lost faith in himself, and feeling betrayed by his city was fresh ground, and showed that the team was prepared to take risks.
The New 52 was an interesting experiment by DC, but it was really Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman that kept it chugging along. While Superman was wearing jeans and punching people in the face with rags on his hands, and Aquaman was stopping bank robberies on land (but why?), Batman was showing us why you don’t mess with Gotham. Whether he faced the Joker in Death of the Family, or the Riddler in Zero Year, Batman was truly Batman in the New 52, well, that is until he wasn’t.
Endgame and Super Heavy
In the Endgame story arc, the Joker finally killed Batman (not Bruce Wayne, Batman, by wiping his memory with some chemicals? in an attempt at murder suicide? maybe?). The title took a significant dip in popularity soon after. Giving Commissioner Gordon a mech-suit with rabbit ears so that he could fight crime sounds awesome, but having that mecha-rabbit stand in as the main character in a Batman title? Less awesome.
Luckily, this was short lived. Bruce got his memory back, through some sort of machine that only Alfred knew about? Either way, they brought Batman back just in time to defeat the villainous, plant based villain, Bloom.
When DC rebooted their universe again with Rebirth, Snyder and Capullo passed the main Batman title off to focus on other projects. Capullo went off to draw Mark Millar’s Image Comics title Reborn. Snyder went on to do what he loves most. What is that you ask? Writing more Batman stories.
He gave us a new (and some say “better) version of Frank Miller’s former title in All Star Batman. This title had Batman facing off against some of his major villains that Snyder hadn’t had the chance to focus on in his New 52 run. John Romita Jr. and Jock were with him on this run, but his time with Capullo wasn’t finished.
Then came the announcement of a major event series starting with The Forge and The Casting. These led into the undeniably bananas Dark Knights: Metal crossover. Metal gave us a new creation from the darkest areas of Capullo and Snyder’s minds, The Batman Who Laughs. A version of the Caped Crusader who has become so twisted by his mission that he is essentially the ultimate Joker/Batman hybrid.
Batman: Last Knight on Earth
The duo has returned again, for what they say is their last collaboration on the Dark Knight. Batman: Last Knight on Earth is essentially Batman meets Mad Max and is every bit as exciting and mind-bending as that sounds. Between Snyder’s layered storytelling and Capullo’s incredible art, the team has not lost a single step when it comes to telling an interesting Batman tale. Time will tell if they really hang up the cowl for good.
Until Next Time…
Whether you love what they’ve been doing recently or not, one thing is certain, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo love this character and have definitely left their mark on his history.
The time that the two have given to one of comics’ favorite characters shows a deep love, and understanding for the World’s Greatest Detective. One could put “Court of Owls” up there with the great story arcs like “The Dark Knight Returns”, and “The Long Halloween”. Whether or not they come back to do another Batman story in the future, we can be sure that the two will work together again on something. Hopefully it’s sooner than later.