Official panel description:
"DC Comics group editor Mike Marts, writer Scott Snyder (Batman), and artists Greg Capullo (Batman) and Dan Miki (Batman) journey back to the origins of the Dark Knight this summer with the storyline Batman: Zero Year! Join the all-star team for an exclusive look at the formative years of the Caped Crusader and what they have in store for him in the coming months! Saturday July 20, 2013 11:15am - 12:30pm"
And we're live! Snyder, Capullo, Miki and Marts are all in attendance. Snyder starts the panel by thanking the fans for being supportive of the story, and explaining the motivation behind revisiting Batman's origin.
"You have to do your own thing," Snyder says, in discussing the need he felt to depart from Batman: Year One, which he calls one of his two favorite stories "in literature," along with The Dark Knight Returns. "If I'm going to do it, I can't be doing a reclamation project."
"Frank Miller's Batman rocked my world," Snyder continues, talking about updating Batman's origin. "It's not 1986, we're going to do it our way. Let's do it in post-apocalyptic, crazy-ass Gotham. In a way you've never seen the city wrecked before. Let's have that be his first challenge."
Snyder says he wanted to explore why people love a "gloomy, rotten place" like Gotham City. "Why does [Batman] go to Gotham? His parents are dead. Why protect this city? But at the end of the day, the reason is, and I really believe this in my heart, is because he can go there and be anyone he wants to be."
"We are Gotham," Snyder says. "That's what this story is about. It's about Bruce realizing, 'I love Gotham,'" because of the test it represents to him to be what he wants to be. "'I'm going to stand up and fight back against the city that's trying to break me down. I'm going to become the person I came here to be.'"
When discussing the interior of Batman #21, the first part of "Zero Year," Snyder says he loves the Riddler, and that the character "believes he's the smartest man in the world. And he's pretty close. The idea was to have a character who believed he could see what was coming. I knew he was the villain to use from the beginning, and he's so much fun to write."
Snyder says he talked to Paul Dini about The Riddler, and asked him why The Riddler wasn't used very much — Dini told him it was because riddles are very hard to write, and Snyder says he's come to agree with that. Marguerite Bennett, who's co-writing Batman Annual #2 with Snyder, helped him with the riddles, he says — which Snyder says in some ways considers to be the highest form of warfare.
"We're taking over this thing, and everybody's anxious to compare it to Year One," Capullo says. "You can't throw it all away, because there are too many moments that are near and dear to people's hearts." Capullo says it's a more "rock and roll" interpretation of Batman's origin. "All the stuff that I'm reading that Scott's producing is all fantastic stuff," he continues. "I don't think any of us have seen the best of him yet. In 'Zero Year' we're going to see amazing growth of some monster that's already large."
"If somebody hates it, I [think] we've done a good job," Capullo says, because of the passion involves, but he makes it clear that he thinks most people will not.
Snyder tells the crowd how close he is with Capullo, calling him a brother. "You guys are in for a hell of a ride," Capullo says. "Lots of great violence." "It gets pretty violent," Snyder adds. Capullo says there's no sex, but they'll get there. Snyder says he has hard time "going there" with Batman — "People ask me, 'Why doesn't he have a love interest?' He's Gothamsexual. He loves Gotham."
The costume in #24 will be a "modernized version" of the Bob Kane original, Snyder says, but he doesn't want to disclose too many details yet. "He looks different. Bruce looks different under the cowl."
There will also be a new take on the first Batmobile. "We've got a Batmobile that is completely different than any other Batmobile," Capullo says, adding that the only other Batmobile he feels was similarly different was the Tumbler of the Christopher Nolan movies, but Snyder says this is take it in a separate direction.
"This is Batman like you've never seen him," Snyder says, making clear that they're interpreting what it would be like if Batman started today, not six years ago. "What if we rebooted the Batman movie series? This is how I'd do it. That's the idea."
Capullo and Snyder both praise the contributions of series colorist FCO Plascencia, with Capullo saying he trusts him as a fellow artist, and Snyder calling him a "seminal part of the team" that doesn't get enough credit.
Snyder narrates a page from issue #23, out Aug. 14, with Bruce Wayne confronted by The Red Hood Gang. There are a lot of secrets revealed in that scene, Snyder says.
"As a fan, [Capullo's] one of my favorite artists," Miki says. "I try to capture the energy of his pencils."
"It's a very fast story," Snyder says of "Zero Year," even though it's 11 issues. "Issue #24 if 50 pages long. Then the second part happens in a Gotham wrecked from what happened in the first part. The third section is the crazy-ass Gotham you saw in the first part, which is even crazier than the one you saw in the second. It's changing into Batman's Gotham, this beautiful, monstrous, Batman city."
Issue #23 will contain a scene between Bruce Wayne and Alfred that Snyder says is "very personal" to him.
"Our Alfred is saying, 'Bruce, you need to mean something. You need to matter," Snyder explains.
In regards to any possible Joker connection, Snyder says the villain is a key part of his overall vision for Batman. "He haunts Batman forever. He haunts this story, and every story."
Audience Q&A time: First question concerns guest appearance in Zero Year, with Snyder praising the November tie-ins in Action Comics and Green Arrow.
Popular question: Plans for Cassandra Cain or Stephanie Brown? "Nobody wants to use both of those characters more than we do," Snyder says. "There's nothing planned. But I'm sure when they come back it'll be a big debut."
Chance of a "really badass Two-Face story"? Snyder says he'd love to, but he didn't want to put him in "Zero Year," and that the character has a major arc coming in the title that used to be Batman and Robin. "I'd use him in a second. When we're done with 'Zero Year,' I'm going to get really back to intimate detective stuff for a bit."
Does the Red Hood Gang play into the origin of The Joker? Snyder: "You've got to read #24."
Chance of more Becky Cloonan on Batman? Snyder says they're trying to avoid fill-in artists on the series, but "I'd work with her anytime, anywhere," Snyder says. "She's a really good friend."
Tommy "Hush" Elliot is not in Zero Year, Snyder tells a fan.
That's it! Thanks for reading. More live coverage all day long.