The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Comic-Con 2015: Cowl play afoot? Snyder and Capullo relish playing the ‘Superheavy.’

The dynamic duo of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo anticipated a bit of blowback for their Batman story “Superheavy.” (Courtesy of DC Comics)

The usual warning: Thar be spoilers ahead.

WHEN IT WAS was revealed after the Batman story-line “Endgame” that a giant, armored “robot bunny” figure (as some described it) would be the Batman patrolling the streets of Gotham, DC Comics’ all-star creative team of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo didn’t get too worried about some negative reactions from fans.

That’s because the dynamic creative duo had been here before.

A couple of years ago, when it was announced that Snyder would modernize Batman’s origin for the New 52 (Zero Year), and that the story would take the better part of a year, some fans thought Snyder was killing the momentum gained from the acclaimed story-lines “Night of the Owls” (which introduced the Court of Owls and the Talons) and “Death of the Family” (the return of the Joker).

Zero Year has come and gone, and Snyder and Capullo still enjoy almost universal support within the bat-fan community. Still, the bat-bunny suit had some worried. Fans would discover that Jim Gordon would be the man in the armored bat-suit, and that Bruce Wayne would still be “missing” in action as a result of “Endgame’s” dramatic conclusion — which showed a Batman/Joker battle ending the only way it really could: with no clear-cut winner, and no telling whether either survived.

Snyder, however, says that the fan blowback this time is nowhere near Zero Year levels.

“I think you see with [issue No. 42, on sale today in digital and print formats], you get the hints that this might also be a very big Bruce Wayne story,” Snyder told The Post’s Comic Riffs about Batman’s current “Superheavy” story-line. “As much as it feels left of center in a lot of ways with Jim Gordon taking center stage, it is deeply a story about Bruce Wayne, as well.”

“Superheavy” deals with how the now-bearded Bruce Wayne helps Gotham City without a mask, and his apparent disinterest in returning to the cape and cowl after his battle with the Joker. Meanwhile, Jim Gordon tries to take on the mantle of the bat while working with the Gotham feds in unison. Gordon is in shape, not smoking and has buzzed off his red locks and mustache.

“It’s very bizarre to draw Gordon without his signature mustache,” Capullo said of having to draw Gordon with his new “under the cowl” look. “When I draw Gordon’s face, I’m just used to how much the mustache occupies, so I actually oftentimes draw him with the mustache right now, and then just remove it.

“Who knows? Maybe he’ll grow it back while he’s wearing the Batman cowl.”

Snyder suggests mustache batarangs, which get a laugh from both creators.

Snyder used the dramatic but not completely revealing conclusion of “Endgame” as a lead in to the “Superheavy” story-line. A mysterious ending about the mortal fates of Batman and the Joker was the perfect opportunity to take a different look at the life of Bruce Wayne.

“For me, having [the Joker] be a gateway to [“Superheavy"] worked really well, because in a lot of ways, it’s a story about what happens when Batman dies and Bruce Wayne gets a chance to live,” Snyder told The Post. “In that way, I think it really is something that allows for a very different angle on a lot of the characters that Greg and I have spent almost five years examining. It gives us a fresh look at these characters that we love, and allows us to do stories that explore them from different places.”

Part of the “fresh look” was inventing the new Batman’s appearance (an armored battlesuit with a cape-less Bat-suit underneath), which Capullo says was fun for him artistically.

“The process of drawing the comic is a lot more focused and a lot more thought and a lot more stressful, but when you go, ‘Greg you’ve got to design some armor,’ that’s when I’ll get my pencil and get my pad and I lay on the floor and I’m 8 years old again,” Capullo told Comic Riffs. “That’s always great fun.”

Gordon has always been the Everyman in the bat books — he’s on the rooftops talking to vigilantes, but never the guy that jumps off the roof. But with Gordon now under the cowl, Snyder said “Superheavy” is, in a way, a unique opportunity to see what it would be like if someone came to a bat-fan and asked: Are you ready to be Batman?

“Gordon is a stand-in for us in the comic book in a big way,” Snyder said. “He’s the guy that stands next to Batman who is just a regular guy and is a big fan and is a friend and is his ally, but looks up to him in that way. And all of a sudden the city comes to him and says you need to be Batman. It’s like if someone said: ‘Look, you know Batman pretty well — it’s time for you to be Batman’ — and suddenly, you realize that they were right.”

“It gives us a chance to look at everything through fresh eyes, and it’s been a joy writing it.”


Comic-Con 2015 and gender parity: Here’s why the geek stereotype will soon be dead