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'Dark Nights: Death Metal' exit interview: Scott Snyder on what happened and what it means

Comic Books

‘Dark Nights: Death Metal’ exit interview: Scott Snyder on what happened and what it means

He also talks the fluidity of managing the event and what’s to come with ‘Future State.’

Back in October, Scott Snyder took the time to answer a few questions just as Dark Nights: Death Metal reached its midway point. At four issues, the event was rounding the curve for its heroes, and so we discussed the series themes and goal. With the final issue wrapping things up today, Snyder sat down once more to talk about the larger event in a kind of exit interview.

I spoke to Snyder about his thoughts on the event as a whole, the fluidity of managing a massive task such as this, and even what to expect from Future State. However, this is only a small part of the interview. If you’d like to hear the entire 50-minute interview, check out the AIPT Comics podcast this Sunday, which delves into Snyder’s yet-to-be announced indie projects as well as Best Jackett Press and much, much more. It’s a must-listen for DC and comics fans in general.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

It may be the end for the Death Metal event, but it’s also the beginning of everything to come for DC Comics in 2021.

AIPT: One thing that got us through 2020 was Dark Nights: Death Metal. Are you excited for fans to read it?

Scott Snyder: I am, and I’m sad, and excited all of it at once. It really marks the end of a real era for, for me, and for DC as well. But in an exciting way too. I mean, you know, it’s the last superhero book I’ll be doing for a while, for at least the better part, I think of the first half of 2021. So, it’s the longest break I’ve taken from superheroes in like 10 years.

It’s about honoring the past, making sure that all of it is part of what these characters remember, and what the line embraces, good and bad, all of it. And then using that kind of set history to blast forward in a way that opens up all-new frontiers and allows us to be more progressive in terms of our storytelling than I think we’ve been in a long time.

Dark Nights: Death Metal (2020-) #7

Courtesy of DC.

AIPT: How do you feel about the event and how it has panned out. Has it come out exactly as you envisioned?

SS: Oh, it’s been a wild ride man. We planned it back in 2017/2018 when we were doing the first Metal and I always saw the first Metal as a kind of a test of whether or not fans would get behind this kind of aesthetic. This being over the top bombastic, kind of let’s go back to the semantics of Infinity Gauntlet and, and Secret Invasion and that kind of over the top fun, lunacy Kirby-esque kind of balls to the wall nuttiness of comics, while still doing something personal within that. That story was very much about the darkest moments in your life when you feel you’re represented only by the worst versions of yourself.

So it was that, you know, as a testing ground for that, and because it did well, I wanted to do something that was more outward-looking at this point about comics. The idea was to do an event that would say it’s rough all over the place. I mean, it’s hard to juggle all the things that are in your head when you’re doing an event that’s all-encompassing like this, but some of it’s about the world, the divisiveness, the anger, the ugliness, the cruelty, all the things that are being embraced, I think are were being embraced really loudly. And it’s about comics in the way that I think there is this anger at the idea that whenever we try something new, or we try and push forward or try and do a story that ventures into new territory, there can be push back.

All of it sort of kind of becoming the main pillar or thrust of the event that would be about a world essentially where a Wonder Woman, who’s the harbinger of truth, saw the truth, which was that all of these knots in the timeline, all of these moments at which villains have tried to make this moment more important than any other and disregard the past, disregard the truth, say, all that matters is your perception of the world right now, history doesn’t matter, that all of these things were false, and that the only way to kind of move forward in a bright hopeful way is to untie those knots. And to allow the entire sort of DC history to exist, even if only in the minds of the characters. And then to use that as a kind of launchpad for the brightest, most expansive, infinite future that we could build at DC. And so that was always the plan. But there are so many changes, I mean, like, you know, and by no one’s fault, it just because giant machinations between AT&T and Warner Brothers and DC and all of it, I mean, Dan [Didio] was fired.

But the whole period, you know, what was at the end of Metal was constantly changing too, there was a whole initiative that was going to be about bringing this new generation of characters in, and there were things that were exciting about it, things that were difficult about it, then we weren’t going to do that, then we were going to do that. And then there was like, well, during the two months in November, December, “Can you guys take over the whole line while we build that.” So there was at one point, there were gonna be like, 50 crossovers, and I was excited, but I was also really wary of that. So the point I’m trying to make is just that the volatility of the last couple of years, while we were building it, both internally and externally was always kind of a challenge. But I think the thing that we always felt was that if we stayed true to what it was about, it’s what we believe about comics, genuinely, that ultimately, we’re all in it together. Ugly, cruelty has no place. Exclusion has no place. And there’s nothing threatening about both respecting the past and building on it to do something new that you haven’t seen.

AIPT: It’s interesting the whole event structure seems to shift and change. Seeing how this shook out with a lot of the tie-in stories as anthology comics. Did the idea of tie-ins get reduced to anthology storytelling instead of spinning out to two- or three-issue tie-in comics?

SS: There was a lot of it back and forth. There was a point at which we didn’t know how to sort of fully support from a story standpoint, what was coming at the end of Death Metal, and I didn’t know how to bend it to make it happen because it was at odds with the messaging in some way, and so we were at that point, they really were kind of, they were reductive about what they wanted Metal to do with Death Metal. So it was more about like, well look, just be more self-contained. And you’ll do the mechanism that starts everything at the end. But you don’t have to do a lot of tie-ins. And then we wound up kind of figuring out a solution to all of it. And then also the book was doing well. And they decided they wanted to expand it. And so then at one point they said, you can do almost like a whole month of takeover in the DCU. And then we planned for that and we had a meeting out here. It was in my house.

And then we all felt like when Dan left, and what Marie Javins [DC Comics Editor in Chief] had planned was really so much more in the spirit of Metal, it felt like what we could do is create a really good middle ground like something that would be enough supplementary material that wouldn’t feel overwhelming, and would really sort of also underscore some of the messages of Death Metal, and then at the same time, would give enough that if you really wanted a more robust read, you could have that experience. And like, if you look at them, we’ve tried to really curate it carefully like the book. I’ve never collaborated with Geoff Johns before, for example.

Dark Nights: Death Metal (2020-) #7

Courtesy of DC.

AIPT: Oh right — the Super-Boy Prime story?

SS: It was, yeah, it was really interesting. I approached him and said, listen, like, what if we just give it a shot. And what this book will be about is, it’s about showing how we can pass the torch to the next generation of creators and say, without trying to control or manipulate, show the greatness of the past and all of it and so much of what’s great about the past is the way that it gives to the future in that way. And he was on fire with it. I mean, all everyone liked about that issue, give credit to him, please. I mean, I was more following his lead with it. And, you know, it was a blast getting to work with him.

And at the same time, the anthology issues were very much about, like Last Stories was about bringing in a sort of a lot of giants and a lot, a few new people to shepherd these characters through their last night, you know, and it would be stories that were really about what they would do in their private moments if they only had a day to live. So we have people you might not have read extensively before from Regina Sawyer to Che Grayson to you know, Mags [Visaggio]. So just a lot of new voices. So the idea was to try and put our money where our mouth is with the event and say that we’re about the sort of celebrating and embracing what DC has been and then not being afraid to expand and to welcome in all kinds of emergent and exciting bold storytelling for 2021. And to get out of the way a little bit which is, you know, oxygen at DC.

AIPT: Was Yanick Paquette and Bryan Hitch always part of the plan to finish off Dark Nights: Death Metal #7?

SS: They both were people that we had spoken to about doing supplementary material and in Death Metal and key parts because Yanick did Batman Lost with us back in the first Metal. So it was exciting to bring him back in. And then Brian had done this Wonder Woman story with me back when we were doing sort of the generational history of the DCU. So they were both people that we had planned on bringing in at different capacities, but it was when we got approval from Marie to do the extended final issue.

AIPT: Was Dark Nights: Death Metal always going to be seven issues?

SS: Yeah, that changed too. So when I first asked me to do it, they asked me to do 12. And then they asked me to do six. And then they asked me to do eight, and then they asked me to do seven. But it never was written that way. By the time we drew it, we knew exactly how long it was going to be.

I think what Maria is going to do speaks to a lot of the priorities of what she helped us build with Metal. And I think there’ll be a real confluence, you know, between Future State as a glimpse of all the kind of possibilities that we get flashes of, and then a lot of that stuff in Future State is going to come to fruition, some of it won’t, but some of it, some of it will come to fruition in different ways. Like it’ll be a warning the heroes are working towards even if they’re not aware of it, it’s something you’ll see even if the heroes are not aware of it, it’ll be something that’s kind of haunting the story.

Other ones will literally happen like Yara Flor and you know, Tim Fox later in the later down the line in a different, not exactly the way you see in Dark Detective and the Next Batman, but there’s a plan to sort of roll in different ways parts of Future State, so there is a relevance to it in terms of some of the things coming true. Some of the things being big, big kind of conflicts to avoid, all that stuff. And then Infinite Frontier in March.

AIPT: People these days expect trilogies, is there a Death Metal 3, or at the very least do you know what you’d call the third in the trilogy?

SS: I’m not lying when I say it has not crossed my mind about doing a third one. Just because Greg [Capullo] and I have a creator-owned we’re working on and we’re really excited about. He has so much he wants to do. We have stuff at DC still too.

And that’s a wrap on Scott Snyder’s thoughts on Death Metal! Make sure to subscribe to the AIPT Comics podcast so you don’t miss the full interview on Sunday.

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