I’LL NEVER GO THAT BIG AGAIN: SCOTT SNYDER ON ‘ZERO YEAR: SAVAGE CITY,’ PART ONE [INTERVIEW]
By Chris Sims
For the past year, I’ve spoken to Scott Snyder for a series of in-depth interviews about Batman: Zero Year, the new origin story that he, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia have produced for DC Comics. In the final act, “Savage City,” Batman was confronted with a Gotham City that had been destroyed by a super-storm, was overrun by plants that had grown out of control, and was being held in the iron grip of the Riddler, all while confronting the trauma that inspired him to become a hero.
With the full story completed, I spoke to Snyder for the first part of a two-part interview about how he felt he’d achieved his goals with the bestselling story, the inspiration for the dynamic visuals, and his meeting with Frank Miller, possibly the most definitive Batman author, who had one very specific note about the story.
THE ARKHAM SESSIONS: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE JOKER & HARLEY, ELECTROSHOCK, AND SUICIDE SQUADDING
The Arkham Sessions is dedicated to the psychology of Batman, so it seems almost like an ethical duty to cover a movie about Arkham Asylum, Gotham City’s mental health facility for the “criminally insane.” In the newly released direct-to-video animated film Batman: Assault on Arkham, a highly-skilled group of assassins and outlaws are called together by Amanda Waller to take part in a risky — possibly life-threatening — mission to infiltrate Arkham Asylum.
Does it help or hurt that members have a history of incarceration, criminal activity, and psychiatric treatment related to lack of moral sense? Perhaps Waller is brilliant to devise a plan that can only succeed via the knowledge and insight of persons who have been through the system.
In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we gently put aside the VHS and screen a contemporary work from DC Universe Animated. Use the player above to listen to our spoiler-free analysis of Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, King Shark, Black Spider, Killer Frost, KB Beast, and, of course the Joker.
NEW ‘BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT’ SCREENS CONFIRM PUNCHING, BATMOBILE GUNS, RAIN
There’s a brand new demo of Batman: Arkham Knight on display at Gamescom in Germany, and from the sound of it, the game–Rocksteady Games’ return to the franchise after a one-game break–will be a pretty fun time.
After a fight sequence at Ace Chemical and the introduction of some new gadgets, there’s a fairly sequence involving the Batman popping out of the moving Batmobile (!) and onto rooftops. Unfortunately, you have to be at Gamescom to play that demo at the moment, but GamesRadar has nabbed a few screenshots to whet your whistle.
AFFLECK ON FAN REACTION TO HIS BATMAN CASTING: ‘IT’S GREAT THAT PEOPLE DO CARE THAT MUCH’
As much as a good many vocal fans absolutely hate that he’ll be playing Batman in the upcoming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ben Affleck seems like a pretty OK guy. He’s even, according to a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, taking the hatred more or less in stride.
THE ARKHAM SESSIONS: THE PSYCHOLOGY & SCIENCE OF DREAMING IN ‘BATMAN: PERCHANCE TO DREAM’
What if you woke up one day and your life was completely different? What if all the things you wished for were suddenly a reality — you have the job you always wanted, the person you want to be with loves you back, and the people you thought were lost forever are alive again?
One of the most remembered episodes of Batman: The Animated Series is “Perchance to Dream,” a powerfully dark story in which Bruce Wayne essentially wakes up to a “perfect” life. His parents, Martha and Thomas Wayne, are alive and well; he is engaged to Selina Kyle; and he is no longer burdened with the job of being the Batman. In fact, Bruce learns that someone else, some other disguised vigilante, is effectively ridding the streets of criminals. No need for him to be Batman anymore. Bruce is initially ecstatic, grateful, almost relieved to learn he can live a normal life. “The nightmare is over,” he tells himself.
Only it’s not. When Bruce attempts to read the newspaper, he notices all the words are random strings of letters and symbols. He rips through the books in his library — everything is unintelligible. It’s a shocking realization: This is all a dream. His quest to find out who is responsible, why they would trap him in this seemingly ideal world, and what this means about his identity makes for a heavy but exhilarating episode of BTAS.
In our analysis, we discuss the fascinating neuroscience of dreams and the growing research supporting our ability to control our actions in dreams. Furthermore, by raising the scenario of being “plugged into a dream machine,” this episode dares us to contemplate the importance of an existence in which we have free will, motivation, and actual contact with an unfiltered reality. Before The Matrix, The Nexus, and Inception, there was Batman: The Animated Series.
BANDAI’S SPRUKITS LET YOU BUILD BATMAN IN YOUR OWN HOME, JUST AS YOU’VE ALWAYS DREAMED
By Chris Sims
When I was a kid, there was about a year where I got really into building models, mainly because I didn’t have many friends and that was the easiest way that you could get a giant Darth Vader with a glow-in-the-dark lightsaber. It didn’t last too long since the enjoyment that I got from putting things together moved back into LEGO sets, but it was enough that I get a little twinge of nostalgia from it — especially when I see something like Bandai’s new line of Sprükits Action Figure Model Kits.
The deal with them is that they’re not just models, they’re kits for building fully poseable action figures with accessories that require no scissors, glue or paint. You just snap it all together, and judging by the Arkham City Batman figure that I just put together, they’re actually pretty cool.
PUSHING THE FUTURE FORWARD: KYLE HIGGINS & ALEC SIEGEL TALK BATMAN BEYOND 2.0 [INTERVIEW]
Of all the titles in DC Comics’ “Digital-First” initiative, Batman Beyond 2.0 has been possibly the biggest surprise. Kyle Higgins and artist Thony Silas launched a series that expands the beloved Batman Beyond animated series storyline from the 1990s in exciting and unexpected ways, without losing the elements that made the Warner Bros. Animation original so popular, and fans have noticed and responded. The story of young Batman Terry McGuinness and his mentor Bruce Wayne and their adventures in Neo-Gotham, DC recently upgraded the Batman Beyond 2.0 from bi-weekly to weekly, and as of Chapter #25, Higgins brought his C.O.W.L. collaborator Alec Siegel and venerable comics veterans Phil Hester and Craig Rousseau onboard the series for what the team has promised to be a particularly dramatic new movement in the young series, one that includes a return of the Phantasm, one of Batman: The Animated Series‘ most rarely scene yet fan-favorite foes.
During a few spare minutes as San Diego Comic-Con, we stopped by the DC booth to chat with the Higgins and Siegel about their love for the Batman Beyond characters, their collaborative process, “Mark of the Phantasm”, and their further plans for the book’s future.
CHIP KIDD: REMIXING BATMAN AND DESIGNING SUPER-SOLUTIONS [INTERVIEW]
Chip Kidd is a one of American publishing’s foremost graphic designers, a respected novelist and author in his own right, and a life-long comic book fan. He’s worked with DC Comics on a number of different projects over the years, writing histories, creating logos, designing books, and even authoring stories like 2012′s Batman: Death By Design graphic novel with Dave Taylor. Recently, he produced a “remix” of the first-ever Batman story (which was originally slated to be published in DC’s “Detective Comics #27 Special Edition” giveaway, but ended up as a feature in the deluxe hardcover Batman: A Celebration Of 75 Years instead).
While at San Diego Comic-Con last month, we got a few minutes to drop by DC’s booth and talk with Kidd about Batman, his design work, and his current (and upcoming) projects.