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Well it’s over. Scott Snyder is done with Batman. The title, not the character. It’s been a weird five years. The run has had its ups and downs, but overall I’d rate it pretty highly. It never felt lazy, it never felt like Snyder didn’t care. It felt like he wanted his time in the sandbox to matter. He was never afraid to pull down old things and put up new ones.
In his final issue, Snyder has a surrogate writer pen his final send off. Basically, Batman is never about a single writer, but a collection of voices telling A Story. The Story of Batman. So what has Snyder given to The Story of Batman?
Listed here are my thoughts on what I think are his best contributions.
I start out with what is likely the most obvious contribution and, if I had to guess, the one that will live on the longest. In Snyder’s first arc on Batman he introduces a secret society as old as Gotham. A society tangled in every aspect of both the city’s history and, as we find out later, the Wayne family’s.
It’s a genius villain (or do they all count as villains?) to pit against Batman. We’ve seen rouges with superhuman strength, genius intellect, even a lizard person. However, the court is something… bigger. In essence, the Court turns the city itself against Batman. His greatest strength is turned against him.
Such a worthy adversary seems to have struck a cord with the comics world. They’re already appearing in other media, most notably nods in Gotham. The final issue of Snyder’s run also worked to set up a new aspect of the Court for the next writer’s run. The Court is here to stay.
The Red Hood has long been a part of the Batman mythos. However, during Snyder’s Zero Year arc, the character was expanded upon, becoming The Red Hood Gang. Hundreds of people from all walks of life are recruited into the criminal enterprise. A complex plot that gives a fledgling Batman a whole bunch of trouble.
The great part of this change is two-fold. First, it give a lot of weight to the Red Hood character. Before it was a random one-off disguise thrust on sometimes-Jack Napier. A quirk that was rarely touched on. Now it’s a major part of Batman’s beginning, something that exists beyond a trivia question about Joker’s origin.
Secondly, it adds more ambiguity to Joker’s aforementioned origin. In Snyder’s run, the leader of the Red Hood Gang was never a sure thing. Every time Batman got close, the mystery shifted a bit. In the end, during the fight, was the Joker the leader of the gang as implied? Was just another dupe in the wrong place at the wrong time? Is Joker merely an accident or, maybe, something more?
This moment takes so much set up, it’s basically the culmination of Snyder’s entire Batman run, that I don’t expect it to ever become adapted into other media. It’ll fade back into pathos like That Time Batman Let KGBeast die, or Jason’s Death, or Page Six of Batman #523. You know the one.
It takes place during issue 49, the third-to-last issue. At this point, Bruce has regenerated in a kind of proto-Lazarus Pit and his brain has been basically wiped. Batman’s skills and memories: gone. Batman no more. Bruce lives a happy, quiet life. When it starts to look like Gotham is about to be destroyed, Bruce must a machine to become Batman again, effectively “killing” this new, free Bruce.
It’s a powerful scene, one you’d think would be a triumphant moment, but it’s built as a grand tragedy. It’s a perfect metaphor for the essence of the character. Alfred, tears in his eyes, begs Bruce to stay free, to keep his miraculous second chance. Still he understand, just as Bruce does, that Gotham will always need Batman and there can only be room for Batman, the monster, never Bruce, the man.
Perhaps Snyder’s greatest contribution to Batman is also his most subtle. Maybe it was a side effect of The new 52, maybe it’s the exact reason Synder got the job. Whatever the reason, he was fearless in tearing down aspects of the Batman mythos and/or re-shaping them into something new. Even if it was a bit of a misfire — coughJoker cutting off his facecough — it was still something new.
What I hope, over everything else, is that the next writer takes his philosophy as well. You can’t build something new within the cage of 70-year continuity without first tearing something down. I don’t mean to change the essence of the character, there’s no need for a weird muderery, remorseless Batman, but you can reinvent how gets there and where he goes.
I can’t think of another major contribution to the Batman mythos like the Court of Owls or Zero Year or The Red Hood gang in the last ten years. It’s because Snyder wasn’t trying to just play within the Batman universe, he was making his own.
Those are, in my opinion, the high points of Snyder’s contributions. What did you like best? What exemplifies his run, what will people remember? Let me know in the comments below.