DC kicked off its "All Access" panels at New York Comic Con with a focus on Batman, with Batman office editors Bobbie Chase and Mike Marts, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (Batman), Tony Daniel (Detective Comics), David Finch (Batman: The Dark Knight), Kyle Higgins (Nightwing), Peter Tomasi (Batman and Robin), Chris Burnham (Batman Inc.), and Lee Bermejo (Batman: Noel).
It was pointed out that this was the very first DC panel we have done since the launch of the New 52.
The panel started with Snyder talking about what it's been like to work on the New 52. "It's been incredible to see so many people coming to Batman," Snyder said.
Capullo called the experience a "dream come true." He talked about a drawing his mother has that he did when he was four years old. "So to be autographing a Batman book now is a very cool feeling," he said.
I love the idea of the history of Gotham," Snyder said of the 11-issue story, "and the secrets of the past influencing the present."
Snyder said Batman will eventually be convinced that the Court of Owls actually exists. He's reluctant to believe it, because he as a history with them. As it becomes more apparent that this really exists, he begins to discover that there's a connection with many of the families in Gotham.
"What he begins to realize is that he doesn't know Gotham," he said. "Maybe the city really belong to the Owl and not the Bat."
He said the story has been layered into previous Batman stories, even through architecture.
Capullo called himself a "straight-shooter" who doesn't do the marketing or hype thing. But he said of Snyder: "I've been in the business a long time and worked with several different writers, and this is the first time I remember being hungry for the next script.
"I feel that Scott Snyder is going to be one of the legendary writers in our business," he said to cheers from the audience. "I'm having the time of my life, and he's the best writer I've ever worked with."
Pages from Batman #2 were placed onto the screen for fans, and Snyder pointed out the new technology he incorporated by having Jim Gordon send a hologram of a dead body in the morgue to Batman, so the two could work together on their detective work.
Next, Daniel talked about Detective Comics. He said he's focusing on shorter stories and a smaller cast. "The point is to have a different style, have it be more brutal, gritty, have a little bit of a noir style to it," Daniel said.
Daniel addressed the last page of Detecive Comics #1. "I knew people would be shocked," he said. "But I was pretty happy with the response."
"It was fun to draw," he said. "I drew that piece in maybe two hours. I knew it was a very striking image. I knew people would be angry or shocked or very intrigued."
Next came pages from Detective #3. It showed what appears to be Jim Gordon, along with the Dollmaker, a mechanical monkey, and a nurse character named Matilda. Gordon had scars around his face, but Batman realizes it isn't actually him -- just someone with his face. Jack in the Box is another character who is introduced in issue #3, and Daniel said he can stretch his arms and legs.
"In issue #1, I wanted to introduce new readers to the familiar as well as the new, so that's why we had the Joker make that splash," he said. "But I also wanted to introduce some new villains and challenges for the Dark Knight. And I think we get to do that in issues #2-#4."
Finch said Batman: The Dark Knight was originally going for a horror angle, but he's just doing stories he wants to do. He said coming up in the book, he has Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and the Legion of Doom headquarters. "Paul Jenkins is a great writer and has some great thematic stuff," he said. "But he's also letting me do all these great things I wanted to draw."
"I think issue #2 is going to upset people even more than issue #1," he said. Pages from issue #2 were shown, with Two-Face's face bleeding out of his eyes and other villains going crazy as they break out of Arkham Asylum. "We've got the Ventriloquist robbing a bank, and he's actually beating people with his doll," he said. He eventually gets upset when his doll is broken, then he picks up a dead policeman and uses it as a doll instead. "That was actually Paul Jenkins' idea, and I love him for that," he said.
Finch addressed the fact that he's not writing the comic anymore, saying that he just couldn't keep up with the writing schedule. "Things were just starting to snowball," he said, indicating that it's much easier now that Jenkins is on board. "I'm already on issue #4 now of the new series. I'm working fast." He said he put a lot of input in the book at first, but he's pulling back and letting Jenkins do things the way he wants, because he trusts him as a writer.
"I'm excited for these books to come out on schedule," Finch said. "It's one thing for me to sit here and say the book's going to be on schedule, but I'm looking forward to proving that."
Tomasi said the fourth issue of Batman and Robin is being drawn, and issue #5 is being written. He said he loves writing Damien. "When you have an eight-year-old at home, you can just record the conversations between us," he said.
He said the comic is taking on more of a father-son aspect now that Bruce Wayne stars in the comic. And he said he likes Pat Gleason drawing Damien looking like an eight-year-old kid.
Pages from Batman and Robin #3 showed the new character Nobody who just snuck up on Robin. Tomasi said Robin has had to hold back the violence that he's had inside himself, and he will struggle with that going forward. In issue #3, he'll be paralyzed and will have to watch his father fight alone.
Tomasi said Nobody is a new villain, and he has some ties to Enre Ducard, which will be revealed in upcoming issues. Nobody will also use a sound weapon against Batman. "This will lead to a big, epic battle with Nobody in issue #7," he said, joking that they'll "kick the crap out of each other for 10 pages."
The Nobody plot is what Tomasi calls the subplot of Batman and Robin, because he wants to concentrate on the human dynamic between Alfred, Damien and Bruce.
Next, Kyle Higgins talked about Nightwing, reiterating that Dick Grayson has always been his favorite character. He said it was important for him to honor what Dick just went through as Batman. "I wanted to use all that to push the character further," he said.
Pages from Nightwing #2 were shown, with a new villain who is a killer for hire, who was introduced at the end of issue #1. "The suit taser is back," Higgins said as a page was shown with Nightwing apparently electrocuting the villain in the rain.
Burnham took the stage and said working with Grant Morrison wasn't as weird as he expected. "The scripts are more challenging than most scripts I've worked with," he said. "It's basically like working on other scripts -- but better."
He said Batman Inc.'s return wraps up the plotlines from the first run. He said none of the things were abandoned. He said he's doing "crazy, Steranko stuff" and is some of the hardest things he's ever drawn. It's what he called that "Grant Morrison controlled chaos stuff."
Bermejo talked about his original graphic novel, Batman: Noel. He said he was a little nervous about the challenge of bringing something new to Batman, but he's excited for fans to see it.
He said it's a "mash of literature and pop culture."
The story in Batman: Noel spun out of Bermejo's wish to do a children's book, and he leaned it toward reading like literature. A few pages were shown, and Bermejo explained that he used a few references to the '60s television show, and he put Batman in a lot of different locations. He said he put the character in a different costume during flashbacks to indicate this story takes place when he's older. "Visually, it's fun to represent that with the way he's dressed, and then play with that comparison when I put him in a goofy, kind of 1960's costume," he said.
Next, panelists took questions from the audience:
- Will Damien grow up and lose what's special about him? Tomasi said it's more like a "journey." "We're really looking at a growth chart," he said. "There is definitely going to be a meeting of the minds as we move forward, and there are going to be some big emotional payoffs."
- Was Dick Grayson adopted at age 16 instead of the former continuity when he was 12? And why make him older? Higgins: It had to do with the DC Universe existing only five years. "I don't know what math you could use where he ends up as 12" when he's adopted," Higgins said.
- Is there any event coming up like "Nightfall?" Marts: I'm sure we'll get around to that sort of event eventually. But we want these titles to stand on their own right now.
- Will Tim be tied into the Bat-universe more? Chase: "It's inevitable to have Tim come back into the Bat-universe." Higgins: "I'm going to have him in at some point." Snyder: "He's going to be in Batman too."
- Does the Owl story tie into why Batman's parents were murdered? Snyder: No. "None of us are looking for our story to be the new origin story for Batman, because we love it the way it was." But he said there will be one slight change that will be revealed.
- What's going on with Cassie and Steph? Snyder: Cass will appear in Batman Inc. And there are plans for Steph also. "They're not in the limelight now, but they're characters that we love." Marts: Stay tuned.
- What happened to Batman Earth One? Summer 2012. (As Newsarama has reported, Gary Frank is currently drawing the book.)Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!