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Monday, December 23, 2013 

NYT fawns over Scott Snyder

The New York Times ran a biased article about current Batman writer Scott Snyder, claiming that he:
...has reinvented Batman in the past two years, deepening and humanizing the Dark Knight’s myth — in the making since 1939 — like no one since Frank Miller in the 1980s.
Not even Denny O'Neil? Gee, they sure don't seem to care much for the writers who really did accomplish far more with the Masked Manhunter than Snyder ever will, though it's amazing they're willing to give Miller credit. After he published Holy Terror and slammed the Occupy movement, you'd think they might turn their backs on him. As for reinvention by Snyder, unfortunately, they got that right, as the following will explain:
Such reinvention is crucial in all popular culture. The land of lame nostalgia is littered with once-vital characters: Tarzan, Dick Tracy, Doc Savage, to name a few.

“This is a time when comics companies are looking to bring excitement and fire to their books,” Mr. Snyder said in a telephone interview, referring to the importance of keeping characters fresh, and his colleagues agree.

“It’s essential, the lifeblood of our company, to reinvent cultural icons,” said Dan DiDio, a publisher of DC Entertainment, referring to Batman. “And Scott’s tone is unique. It has more of a horror feel. His Joker plays more like a slasher movie.”
That's just the problem. Batman may be a thriller/suspense tale, but I've never thought of it as pure horror genre material. Not even the Joker back in the days when there was better writing. And I'm sure many others haven't thought of or read it for that reason either, no matter how violent the stories could be in the past. But the best thing about a lot of those past stories was that they could make you think. Modern writers like Snyder have none of that.

And the NYT's citation of characters like Dick Tracy, Tarzan and Doc Savage as "lame" is insulting too, as is their claim reinvention is "crucial". It depends, yet they offer no ideas of their own for what makes the best reinvention of a famous creation. DiDio makes it worse with his input. What's essential is good writing, which their stable of writers lacks.
“There hasn’t been a better time in comics,” Mr. Snyder said. “There’s a more literate readership now.”
There's not much of a readership left at all. Not for DC anyway. Thanks to people like him, much of the onetime readership for mainstream comics dwindled away, leaving only a crowd with the mindset of the speculator market who buy more out of obsessive addiction. Some "literate" readership he must have there. How can it be a "better time" when few care about their output anymore?
Jim Lee, DC’s other publisher, admires Mr. Snyder’s meshing of old and new: “It feels so elegant and organic the way Scott has added new concepts to a decades-old mythology.”
About as organic as Green Lantern when Kyle Rayner was the lead. Lee sure isn't helping with his gushiness either. What's so elegant about horror? And despite what Lee's saying, it's not all that new to Batman either. The subject turned up on the Dixonverse, and one of the posters said:
I stopped reading after Death of the Family. What has he reinvented? DOTF didn't reveal anything that Batman fans didn't already know for decades, and Court of Owls didn't even try to be more than a poor man's Black Glove. His writing has no depth. Everything is spelled out, and Batman is if anything less humanized than before. Snyder writes Batman as not caring about his partners and breaking the nose of teenage girl who is helping him. It's not as bad as the post-Chuck Dixon Batman was on the jerk/unlike-ability scale, but it is a regression back to those days. What has Snyder brought to the table that we haven't see done better over and over again since the 80s?
Statistically zero. It sounds like Snyder had Batman doing something worse than how he was depicted in his dealings with Spoiler after Chuck Dixon left. If this was a civilian girl he assaulted, he'd have an APB on his head in real life, the press would cut him down like a hot knife through butter, and the Gotham public would be revolted. And the NYT lets all that go by unquestioned. It doesn't take a genius to figure out they're not interested in good, humanized writing.

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Snyder is a hack, pure and simple. I paged through a collected edition of one of his story arcs of Batman at Barnes and Noble the other day and thought it was pretty stupid and disgusting.

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