The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Scott Snyder and James Tynion, who’re emphasizing “Year of the Villain” as an event where the baddies are winners:
On Wednesday, DC will release DC’s Year of the Villain, a specially-priced — just 25 cents! — one-shot issue setting up the Year of the Villain storyline, which will unfold across the DC superhero universe from July through November, and see super villains get an offer they can’t refuse from Lex Luthor and his cosmic-powered patron, Perpetua.
The storyline spins out of Justice League, where Luthor’s mission has been slowly revealed across the last year, with writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV revealing the hidden history of DC’s very reality, and the possibility that — just maybe — the bad guys have been in the right all along. As Luthor prepares to turn evil into the dominant force of existence, Heat Vision caught up with Snyder and Tynion to get some background on what’s come before, and what’s about to happen.
Oh, for this they have to offer a rare discount. I remember stuff like low-priced issues and specials used to be tried out in the early 2000s, but eventually wore off as printing became more expensive. But given how offensive the premise is for the most part – certainly the promotion approach – that’s why anybody who falls for it is foolish. Lest we forget the previous Forever Evil crossover, where Geoff Johns was one of the main architects. So this current event is not novel.
Let’s start with the basic gist of where things are as the Year of the Villain issue comes out. Everything in Justice League has been building to this at this point, and it’s been a very ambitious book, doing something it’s very bold in terms of DC mythology and yet Year of the Villain still feels like an unexpected turn. How much of this has been built into the idea from the get go?
Scott Snyder: I mean, all of it is built in from the get go, honestly. When we did Dark Nights: Metal, we pitched sort of a larger plan to DC about how that story would engender a bunch of books and storylines that would kind of go their separate ways for a while and set up kind of new, interesting, hopefully exciting, areas for DC — Justice League, Justice League Dark, Justice League Odyssey, some of the stuff that’s about to be announced as well — and then we had a plan for how those things can come back together in an even bigger way and set up larger and larger. more concussive and communal, and collective giant story beats.
So, this is really where we get to say thank you to fans by having all of the different books and stories they’ve been following connect again, and come together only to sort of make something even bigger and more robust. All of this stuff about Luthor using what he’s learned over the course of Justice League to be able to suddenly approach, in a mysterious way, every villain in the DCU to sort of engage them in the Legion of Doom — to do something bigger than he’s ever tried before, and the heroes having to do sort of the opposite and say, “If we’re going to fight this guy, we have to go even bigger,” and the stuff that all of that begins — all of that really has been planned for quite a while and we’re just excited for people to finally get to see it come to fruition, to reward them for all of the incredible support that they’ve shown across the line up to this point.
Why does this sound strangely reminiscent of the time Norman Osborn was in charge of Dark Avengers during the Secret Invasion crossover? What’s truly grating is how Snyder and Tynion are sticking with the notion only villains and villainy are interesting, and that’s exactly what’s wrong with visions of the arts today. As is the way they bearhug every series into a crossover, taking away self-contained storytelling for the sake of a dismal farce.
One of the things that surprised me about this the run so far — and the story so far — is that Lex’s belief is infectious. There is an element, as a reader, where you almost start to think, ‘Maybe he’s not wrong,’ or ‘Maybe there’s something there.’ It’s strangely seductive, what you’re doing is you’re doing for Perpetua throughout this book.
Tynion: This is something that we talked about going all the way back to the beginning. You know, for this to work, you need to be making an argument that feels real, that is seductive. It’s not, “Let’s just be bad to be bad,” it’s “Let’s stop pretending to be good, and be what we should be. Because we kept trying to pretend we were better than who we are. Now, we’re just going to accept what we are, and be the best possible version of what we are, and be this predatory animal — not an ideal at all.” And there is an element of that that speaks to all of us.
Snyder: Especially in this moment! I mean, beyond the political dimension of it, it’s a theme across all the work that James and I are doing in multiple books too, in ways that I hope is clear to people has a deep emotional vein.
For me, having kids — you know, the problems that we face everyday seem more and more monumental, more entrenched, more systemic — from global warming to all kinds of geopolitical issues, they seem insurmountable and huge. Every year, it seems worse in that way and less likely that we’re all going to get along. And so, there is a deep selfish part, I think, in all of us that says ‘Why should I try and be like Superman or Batman when the legacy or the reward of that is going to come when I’m dead? I’m giving to something so big that I don’t even get the rewards of it. I don’t see it. It’s just a feeling that hopefully I’ve helped something larger than myself.’
Whereas Luthor is like, “Get yours now. Get your car, get your house and guess what else? I’ll help you live forever. If you can help me worship Perpetua, she is going to make us live 300 years. Why not live you live your best life?” He’s like, “Your best life is your villain life.” That’s what he’s saying. That’s his true belief, and it’s very tempting, you know? How many times do you want to just be, “Why am I waiting in this traffic? Why I’m being good and doing this, I’m not rewarded.”
And I think there’s a lot of undercurrents in today’s global political climate that speak to that too. You have a lot of people saying, “Don’t worry about the rest of the world, worry about us,” you know? Worry about yourself. I think that’s a deeply frightening sentiment for its appeal, regardless of what side you’re on politically. And that’s what these heroes are here to teach us: To believe in things bigger than ourselves. And what the villains appeal to, if they’re good villains, is our very very real and very vibrant selfish strength in us. They’re equally valid.
Ah, we should’ve known! A very likely political metaphor, with Luthor presumably their stand-in for Donald Trump. And Snyder thinks global warming is a big deal, not issues like Islamic terrorism or even the recent antisemitic shootings in Pittsburgh and San Diego. It’s almost funny he talks about whether to worry about the rest of the world, because most leftists like him don’t. The moral equivalence he’s emphasizing for the villains is additionally disturbing.
And this is what they believe the world needs at a time when evil’s consuming the world in the guise of Islamofascism, for example? It compounds how undevoted they really are to justice, and have no ability to make distinctions between good or bad. And again, they already covered ground like this with Forever Evil, so this is just the repeat of an unhealthy obsession by people who think villains are more charming and appealing than heroes. Even if the victory of the villains in this crossover is only temporary, it’s still extremely poor taste how they emphasize all the wrong elements. But then, the inmates have long been running the asylum, so this is the outcome of such negligence. With trash like this littering the stores, it’s only bound to be another bad year.