John Cunningham introduced the panelists, James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, Jason Fabok, Dustin Nguyen, Patrick Gleason, Peter Tomasi, and Jim Chadwick crowded the dais to lots of applause.
The panel was going to start with the new Batman 75th anniversary animated shorts, but technical difficulties prevented playbakc.
Grayson #1 by Tim Seeley and Mikel Janin was shown on the screen - but Cunningham didn't have anything else to say. Snyder said that the slogan Seeley pitched, which appeared in the solicitations, is "You think you know Nightwing, but you don't know Dick."
Moving on to Batman #30, the first part of the final chapter of Zero Year is out now. Snyder said he looks forward to this panel "all month" when he's coming to a convention. "I know how skeptical people were about us touching the origin, and really appreciate the support."
Snyder brought along a page from #31 that he "wasn't supposed to show here," of Batman fighting a lion. In his script notes for Greg Cappulo, he wrote "He should be fighting him like he's saying "tap out, lion! Tap out, bitch!" Batman actually burns the lion's face by blowing gasoline into his face out of his mouth.
"This story," Snyder said getting more serious, "is very personal to me. Batman turning tragedy into what he's done here is amazing and inspiring. This reveals how hard it was, the struggle for him dealing with his parents' death and what he was going to do. I'm very proud of what we've done."
Batman Eternal's pitch process started over a year ago, Tynion said. "Scott and I sat down and figured out "what would be the priorities here?" Snyder said, "They came to us and asked if we wanted to do a weekly, and we first said 'we don't want to do a weekly!'" to laughter. They only agreed to do this so that they could "reshape Gotham for the 75th anniversary." He loves that they're able to really look at individuals in Gotham City, including Bruce Wayne, Harvey Dent (isn't he dead?), and down to a guy who wrote a book about the Joker and is now paranoid that he's being stalked.
"We wanted to change the entire dynamic of Gotham City all at once," Tynion said. "We knew that meant taking Jim Gordon off the table immediately. We're also returning Carmine Falcone, who's taking back the criminal underworld. It's really bad for all these costumed characters who have been running the city for so long."
The writer promised, "This is already huge for everything with Batman, but it's barely the beginning."
Fabok said he started drawing the book back in October, and really went all-out on the first three issues. "I'd see these scenes and go, 'why are you making me draw this?'" he said with a laugh, "bt I've just been feeling so touched by all of the kind words people have sent my way by twitter and email. This book here has shown me I'm doing the right thing, I'm on the right path. It's just been great!"
The next few issues of the book, starting with #4 next Wednesday, will start to "see the seeds of the other stories in the book," Tynion said. We'll see Barbara Gordon's reaction to what happened to Jim and his predicament. "She believes in her father, and she will try - her journey will take her across the world." Issue #5 will focus on Tim Drake and Harper Row, and #6 with Jim Corrigan/The Spectre, #7 a gang war erupts with a "very familiar place coming crashing down in a big way."
Snyder said that the writing team is into the thirties of issues already.
Cunningham asked where Batman #28 takes place in the series, and Tynion said it's right around Batman Eternal #35, which will be the beginning of the end game. "It's a pivotal moment that unlocks the final chapter."
Snyder promised that Eternal will affect other series, and said Catwoman is his major character to watch in the weekly.
Moving over to Batman and... and Robin Rises #1: Omega, Tomasi said the one-shot is the start to the story that brings a Robin back to Batman's side, but we won't see Robin until December 2014, at the end of the story. December will see Robin Rises #2: Alpha, and will officially introduce Batman and Robin once more.
Gleason said the silent "Requiem" issue after Damian's death was very hard for him to draw, focusing on that sadness for a month.
Snyder called Batman and...'s upcoming story "mind-blowing" and said fans "have to pick it up."
Batman '66, the digital-first comic was up next, and Chadwick praised Jeff Parker's stories set in the world of the live-action TV show. The new storyline has the Joker and Catwoman teaming up and Batgirl entering the fray with Batman and Robin.
There's also a mini-series of 12 digital chapters coming called Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet by Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman. The series "absolutely feels like it could've been on the TV show," Chadwick said. "Ty Templeton's art is perfect."
Before fan Q&A, technical difficulties were overcome, and the anniversary animated shorts were screened for the crowd. Fabok said, "Can you talk to Bruce Timm about bringing back Batman: The Animated Series, just like that? Because that gave me chills!" to cheers and applause, after Timm's "Batman: Strange Days" short was screened.
The final fifteen minutes of the panel were reserved for the fans.
Will we see Renee Montoya, and in what capacity? Snyder said, "there are no bigger Renee Montoya fans than the people working on Eternal, but the key is to find the right way to bring her back and honor her, like we did for Stephanie Brown. Cass, too, I wrote her in Gates of Gotham and miss her. We're trying!"
Tynion said that Renee "was a part of what we were thinking of, but just as another police officer - we cut her out because we didn't want her to just be in the background of the GCPD. We want to bring her back for her own big story."
Cunninham confirmed that Montoya is a character on Gotham, the Fox TV show starting this fall.
Snyder promises that there is a follow-up story for Joker that he has in mind. "In it, Joker now just hates Batman, and wants to bury him. He's scarier than ever."
No direct plans for Hush in the New 52 yet.
Nguyen said that he just loves the character of Batman - his samples to get into comics were of Batman. Fabok said "same here," and Gleason said "it's hard to get bored drawing Batman."
A young fan asked if Joker will be in Eternal, and Snyder said, "the fun of the Joker is that he appears when you least expect him, so I don't want to spoil anything further."
Favorite version of Batman? Chadwick: Old-school. Tomasi: Aparo. Gleason, Nguyen: Batman The Animated Series. Fabok: Jim Lee's. Snyder: Batman: The Animated Series - I geeked out when I met Bruce Timm. Tynion: Yeah, same, it's The Animated Series. When I'm writing Batman, I hear Kevin Conroy's voice.
"Will we see Bluebird breakout in a mini-series or a one-shot?" Snyder said, "100%. Bigger than a one-shot or a mini."
"If Batman walked up to a vending machine, what would he buy?" Snyder said, "He only buys justice."
"Batman: Boxers or Briefs?" Snyder joked about a conversation he had about him wearing a "B String." The question came from a girl asking for a friend who couldn't be at the show, and Snyder thanked all the fans for always being vocal.
The Court of Owls is "definitely coming back in a big way," Snyder said.
And for the last question, a fan asked Snyder once more about Joker's return. Snyder revealed that Joker's look will be different again. "The fun is to make him a stranger. I loved you and you threw me away and now you don't know me anymore. He will be scarier than ever before."