CREDIT: DC Comics
Back in November, DC released a "Happy Batsgiving" teaser image.
The drawing by Jason Fabok was released by DC to tease the upcoming Batman Eternal series, which starts this week.
Newsarama thought it was time to take another look at the picture — what have we learned since November about the various characters and teasers in the Batsgiving image?
Batwoman Marriage: In the teaser image, Batwoman is standing with her girlfriend Maggie, and it looks like she's wearing a ring — even we've been told previously that DC was avoiding the too-permanent change that would happen if Batwoman got married.
Then-Batman editor Mike Marts told Newsarama about the image, "The glint on Batwoman's hand isn't a mistake in the coloring… all I can really say at this point is that not everything that appears to be shiny is necessarily shiny. Expect some bumps on the road ahead."
Jim Gordon and Alfred: Two key Batman characters are in trouble in the Batsgiving image. Alfred is in a straight jacket, and Jim Gordon is in handcuffs.
We've been told a little about Gordon — in the first issue of Batman Eternal, according to solicitations, "Commissioner James Gordon is caught on the wrong side of the law." By issue #4, "Batman battles Batgirl as Jim Gordon’s troubles take a turn for the worse." And later covers and solicitation for Batman Eternal have revealed that Gordon will not only be arrested, but his trial will play a significant role in Eternal.
Batman #28 showed a very corrupt police force in Gotham, who utilize street cameras, blockades and dangerous armaments — which might all be linked to the arrest of Jim Gordon. The fact that Harvey Bullock is standing nearby in the image might be linked to the upcoming storyline in Detective Comics, since Bullock plays a role there.
But Alfred going crazy? We haven't learned what that's about...
"There are some shocking events having to do with people being locked away and freed and everything in between next year," Snyder told Newsarama recently.
When Snyder was asked to use one word to describe what will happen to Alfred and Jim Gordon in the next year, he said "jeopardy."
Bones: There are bones at the front of the Batsgiving image — at least four sets of remains, with possibly as many as six skulls.
Marts said, "the bones are significant."
One possibility — in Batman #28, the February teaser, people in Gotham were catching some type of infection. Batman talked at one point about how "bad it is out there." Harper said her brother (Cullen, whom we've met in past issues) is infected. Could this infection be the reason for the bones?
Or is there something more dire at hand?
New and returned characters
Stephanie Brown: Some readers were skeptical about the tease that Stephanie Brown would return in the New 52, but Batman #28 provided the proof fans needed. That's her on the Batsgiving teaser, and she's indeed coming back — calling herself Spoiler and wearing a costume that at least has her looking similar to her old self.
According to solicitations, Stephanie Brown first appears in issue #3. And Snyder and Tynion have indicated she'll also be playing an important part in Batman Eternal.
"We wanted to emphasize that she's not only back in Gotham, but she plays a really, really important role," Snyder told Newsarama. "The idea of Spoiler, and why she's called Spoiler and all those things, are re-imagined a bit, while still hopefully keeping very true to what the core of the character is."
"We love that Stephanie has such a huge fan base, but our goal in this story isn't just to tease that fan base, but also to, like, triple the size of it," Tynion said to Newsarama. "We want to introduce a whole new generation of readers who may have never read a Stephanie Brown story before, to see why she has such a huge fan base and what makes her a great character."
Damian Wayne: The Batsgiving teaser contained some of the earliest hints of that DC might resurrect deceased Robin Damian Wayne. The boy's dog, Titus, appears on the teaser with a robin on his back, and his cat is standing behind Catwoman.
While nobody knows yet whether this hint will result in a resurrection (although there's been a lot of speculation that it will, there is a storyline happening currently in Batman and… called, "The Hunt of Robin. In the story, Ra's Al Ghul wants to bring the dead boy back to life, and Batman is chasing him.
That said, Batman #28 had no indication that Damian Wayne was alive again, and Snyder was quoted as saying that one of the reasons the Harper Row and Stephanie Brown and other women are part of Batman's team is that "Damian is gone" — which seems to indicate the boy isn't going to be part of Batman Eternal.
Still, we get the idea that something big is coming after the conclusion of "Hunt for Robin" in June.
"Be warned that issues #29 through #32 are the prologue for one of Batman's big 75th Anniversary stories this year within the family of Batbooks," writer Peter Tomasi told Newsarama. "And it leads to our humongous and major story that starts in July, which I'm sure DC will be announcing in a month or so."
So at the very least, something big is coming right after Batman confronts Ra's Al Ghul and tries to get Damian back… whether he's dead or alive.
Harper Row: In the Batsgiving teaser, Harper Row is sitting next to Red Robin and right behind Batman, indicating an important role for the character. But readers wondered — where does Harper Row fit into the Bat-family?
Now we know that Harper isn't going to be the next Robin, but will instead be playing the role of the kick-ass, punk-looking hero called Bluebird.
"For me, creating a character like Bluebird, and the implications there — it has a lot to do with the mystery of who her mother is, and all of this stuff that we've been playing with — was to try to give Batman a sidekick that was very different from anything you've seen before," Snyder told Newsarama.
Mystery Women: At the head of the table in the teaser image is a woman that many readers were guessing was Tam Fox, but according to Tynion, we haven't yet met her yet.
"The woman at the head of the table will definitely play an important role in Batman Eternal," Marts said. "And James is right — she's not related to Lucius. Though she might be related to — ah, I better shut my mouth."
As far as we know, that character has still not been introduced (although, could it be the new Detective Comics character Annie Aguila?).
The redhead sitting near her at the table is also not confirmed, but most readers are assuming it's Vicki Vale or Carrie Kelley — the latter being absent lately from Batman books.
Back in November when DC first released the Batsgiving teaser, the only hints we had about why Nightwing might be missing from the image was the storyline in Forever Evil — where Dick Grayson had been captured by the Crime Syndicate, and they'd exposed his secret identity.
But now, we know that Dick Grayson has died — although there's indication that he's not dead for good. After Lex Luthor killed him in Forever Evil #6, he told Batman that there was still a chance for the hero, implying Nightwing could be brought back to life in Forever Evil #7.
We won't know the outcome of Nightwing's battle with death until the end of May, because Forever Evil #7 has been delayed, but we do know that the Nightwing title has been canceled (ending around the same time as Forever Evil in late May) and there's no indication that it's coming back anytime soon.
Nightwing also hasn't been part of any solicitations or covers for Batman Eternal. And he didn't show up in the tease issue, Batman #28.
So either Nightwing really is going to stay dead, or his return from death doesn't mean he's returning to fighting crime anytime soon. And according to the Batsgiving teaser, he'll either be replaced by someone with blond hair (Calvin Rose, perhaps?), or he'll be bleaching his hair to hide his outed identity.
Among the villains teased in the Batsgiving image are Joker's Daughter (who got her own one-shot a couple months ago), Penguin (whose Iceberg Lounge is also visible), Professor Pyg, Tiger Shark, Carmine Falcone, Road Runner, and Catwoman. There's also a lot of ivy growing on the house in the background, teasing Batman villain Poison Ivy, and one column on the house has a question mark on it, teasing the Riddler. Some fans think the bandages by Batman's leg might be hinting at Hush, and the owl in the tree has something to do with the Court of Owls (maybe a return of Lincoln March/Thomas Wayne Jr.?).
But the main thing that we've found out since the Batsgiving teaser is that Catwoman is going to become the Kingpin of crime, according to the teaser story in February's Batman #28.
"We're going to try to reconfigure her status in a way that I think people, hopefully, will really like," Snyder told Newsarama. "It's something that I think will give that character a new energy and a new sense of importance to Gotham.
"It's going to be part of Batman Eternal and it's going to be part of Batman, and it's also going to be part of Catwoman," Snyder said.