SDCC 2014: DC Comics: BATMAN: THE ETERNAL DARK KNIGHT Panel

Batman Eternal #15 cover by Dustin Nguyen
Credit: DC Comics

John Cunningham once again took the stage to host a DC Comics panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego. This Batman panel is "all about the new stuff," he said.

A crowded dais featured Peter Tomasi, Pat Gleason, Scott Snyder, Brian Buccelatto, Greg Pak, Marc Andreyko, and editor Mark Doyle.

Starting with Batman #33, the end of "Zero Year," Scott Snyder said, "It's been so nice to hit the ending. I try to put blinders on and not let a lot of it in so soon after it's published.

Credit: DC Comics

"The whole story was coming to this from the beginning though, and all about Alfred trying to get Bruce to this ideal life he has for him, but ultimately it's Bruce teaching Alfred that this is forever.

"It was a very personal story, and also a chance for us to put a new spin on the origin. I mean, I'm still reeling from being on a panel with Denny O'Neil and Frank Miller and Grant Morrison yesterday - I was just freaking out. But I told Frank Miller how I loved that he took the fears of the day and made them real for Batman in Year One, and that's what I really wanted to do with The Riddler, taking terrorism and climate change and random gun violence and rolling them all into one thing.

"And I promise that Endgame, coming up, is going to be our big 'Thank you' to all of you for sticking with us for a year on this."

Batman Eternal "just keeps building and building, and getting crazier and crazier every week," Cunningham said. "Yeah, it's been a crazy response," Snyder said, and gave credit to James Tynion, Tim Seeley, Kyle Higgins, John Layman, and Ray Fawkes for their work on the book.

Credit: DC Comics

Robin Rises: Omega #1 was next, and Tomasi said, "It's been awesome" working on it. "If you look back at our first issue, it's going to be a 40 some-odd part story. It has a big War and Peace type feel to it. We wanted to take him out of Gotham, the whole Batline, we wanted to make them each feel distinct and not just do the same thing all the time, but then tie-in organically, too. There will be a Robin back in the DCU."

Tomasi was glad that the New 52 was a merger of the old and new, especially where this book was concerned. "We wanted to do that again with Robin Rises, giving that easy access point of that 7 page recap of Damian." Kubert is also working on the final issue of the story, issue 2 of Robin Rises, right now, while Gleason is working on the interim issues.

"One of the things I wanted to do with Pat on this book, following what Scott did in Death of the Family, was rebuilding the family, building it up after it got torn apart. We wanted to really make sure the grief wasn't just quick and sudden, or brushed aside too quickly. It's been really cool to just play with Batman on a really emotional level, and have him do things that you wouldn't expect him to do!"

The "Hellbat" suit was shown and Gleason said, "There's more to it than meets the eye, if I may borrow a phrase. It looks cool, but it's very functional for what he's going to need it to do." It's for use on Apokolips, for those not caught up.

Detective Comics by Francis Manapul and Brian "wanted to do a detective story that was something smaller. We wanted to focus on a murder, a mystery, and just go from there."

"When I saw the first issue, I knew you were doing something special," Doyle said. He also helped them get a new logo and had Francis redo teh covers to be more iconic, something Buccellato was hapy about.

The next arc will feature Anarky. "We're going to reimagine him in a way. Francis doesn't want me to give away spoilers so this is all I can say (reads from phone) 'It's about identity and being who you are, even if that's something scary.'"

Batman/Superman was next, and Pak talked about the prime earth heroes remembering the events of the first arc, and having a time-traveling/cross-world adventure. The next storyline, starting with issue 13 is "Batman and Superman back in our world with a fresh start. They are basically starting over. The big question is what would happen if, when beginning their careers, Batman met Lois Lane and Superman met Catwoman. What would happen?"

Andreyko said the "Futures End issue of Batwoman is crazy." Then after, "It's Batwoman and the Unknowns: it's The Demon, Ragman, Clayface, and Red Alice, this team of crazy and supernatural characters. And the issue takes place in space.

"There's still a lot of the romance stuff too, and Kate's ex-girlfriend from when she was at West Point just moved into town. Everything I've pitched to Mark that I thought was too crazy he has said, go for it! It's still Kate's story at the core of it. There's a lot of unresolved emotional stuff."

"That should be the title of every Batman panel from now on," Cunningham said.

Fan Q&A began next.

Q: (Young fan) Is there any plans to bring back Nightwing because I don't really like the Grayon idea very much, no offense...

Doyle: "Send me a pitch... But seriously, stay tuned? Give Grayson a chance!"

Fan: "Okay. Maybe."

Credit: DC Comics

Q: Seeing Ragman teamed up with Batwoman - Ragman's classic stories deal with his being Jewish; since she is also Jewish, will you be doing anything about the fact that two of the Jewish heroes are teamed up together?

Andreyko: "We're doing a passover special (laughs). His Judaism is really important to the character, so there will be an arc with him that I think you'll really like, with the origins of his costume."

Q: Scott, any plans for new Prose work in the future?

Snyder: "I just fell so in love with doing comics. The isolation of doing prose just doesn't suit me and my mental health right now."

Q: More Beth and Jake in Batwoman?

Andreyko: "Well there is the silhouette of a female character in the Unknowns going by the name Red Alice... so maybe? Kate's family is a huge part of the book, as well."

Q: How do you come up with the Riddles for the Riddler?

Snyder: "They're super hard to write. I remember Paul Dini telling me, you don't want to write the Riddler, it's really hard! So credit to Ray Fawkes, Margueritte Bennett, and Mark Doyle helping me make those riddles better and better."

Q: Is there a Bat-bible kind of thing that organizes the rules and things you work from?

Doyle: "Not right now, but we are actually working on something like that. We need one!"

Snyder: "We're actually really good friends in the Bat-office too. When Arkham Manor and Batgirl and Catwoman being the crime boss of Gotham, when we saw how that all looked - that's the reason we wanted to do Endgame next, to step up to all those books. October is going to be out of control, and it's a credit to Mark for putting together those comics. So the "bible" for us is talking to each other a lot and that Mark makes us unafraid to do something different. I'm really proud to be among these books in October and in the fall."

Q: Any Easter Eggs besides the Dark Knight Returns shot I should look for in Batman: Zero Year?

Snyder: "Yeah, there's a lot of them, we wanted it to be a big tribute to the people that came before us on this book and really made it legend."

Q: Will we see the return of the Joker in present times?

Snyder: "Yes, you will 100% see it, and I have the story totally planned out. If the first story was comedy, this one will be tragedy. 'Now I just hate you - I'm going to burn everything down,' Joker says. Love is the first part, hatred is the second. It will be scary, I promise. It'll be the scariest Joker we've ever done."

Q: Will Spoiler/Stephanie Brown get a mentor to teach her how to be a superhero?

Snyder: "Yeah, there are huge plans for her, honestly."

Doyle: "Yeah, she's a huge character in Eternal. Yes, yes, yes."

Snyder: "And beyond that, too."

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