DC started their “Batman: Are You Ready For Dynamic Action?” panel at Special Edition:NYC with moderator Brenden Fletcher, co-writer of Gotham Academy and Batgirl, inviting the panelists to introduce themselves. They were James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, Genevieve Valentine and Karl Kerschl.
A DC All-Access video failed to start so they jumped right into slide starting with Gotham Academy #7. Mingjue Helen Chen, whose resume includes work on Walt Disney Animation’s Big Hero 6, handles the art for a Maps-centric issue that also features Damian Wayne.
The covers for issues eight and nine by Karl Kerschl were also shown and Fletcher asked the artist what he was trying to convey through them. Issue eight’s cover is very dark featuring main protagonist, Olive Silverlock, under a black umbrella.
“After Convergence, we wanted to make a statement,” said Kerschl. “This was the best way to show the mood of Gotham without Batman.”
Fletcher offered some insight about the story inside those pages.
“I know that Olive’s on the cover but [the story] features the other characters and highlights the Mizoguchi family,” said Fletcher. “It’s a good way to catch up with the school.”
Kerschkl and Fletcher also revealed the identity of a new science teacher, Kirk Langstrom, and teased a new guidance counselor who couldn’t be named.
Moving on, a slide of a close-up of Black Canary holding her microphone cable taut in front of her. Black Canary by Fletcher and Ming Doyle with art by Annie Wu spins out of Batgirl and features Dinah Lance as the singer of a rock band.
“The origin of this comes from the Batgirl book. Dinah was a supporting character in that book but we didn’t want her to be Black Canary the superhero,” said Fletcher, a former singer. “Putting her in a rock band worked so well for us that [DC Editor] Mark Doyle approached us about doing more with that.”
The next slide showed the covers for issues two and three. Issue three’s cover featured a character named Bo Maeve, who Fletcher promised “will cause a lot of trouble for the band.”
The next slide brought on the Batgirl portion of the panel with a look at the cover of #41 that shows Jim Gordon’s robot Batsuit and Batgirl in his sights. Karl Kirsch was curious as to whether Barbara knows that her father is in the suit. Fletcher said, “No but you’ll have to read the book to find out.”
James Tynion IV asked Fletcher what challenges the creative team faced when they heard that Jim Gordon was going to become the new Batman.
“[We] had to change plans in Batgirl because of Jim Gordon as Batman. so we’re taking some time to play with that,” said Fletcher. “That doesn’t mean that we’re letting Barbara’s story go but we’ll be playing with the ramifications of Jim Gordon as Batman.”
While the first arc was about Barbara forming a new life of her own in Burnside, Fletcher explained that this arc will “definitely reintegrate her into Gotham.” The covers for #42 and #43 were also shown. The former will feature Livewire, with a costume redesign by Babs Tarr, while the latter will mark the first New 52 appearance of Velvet Tiger.
Becky Cloonan arrived to the panel late so the panelists doubled back to Gotham Academy #7.
“How does Damian Wayne fit in? Basically, he doesn’t,” said Cloonan. “The story is about him finding out how he does or doesn’t fit in and Maps is part of that.”
Next up was a Catwoman #41 cover by acclaimed cover artist Kevin Wada.
Genevieve Valentine explained that post-Convergence, Selina is still a mob boss but she’s putting the suit back on at night to undermine the things she does during the day as a way to continue her manipulation of Gotham. And of course, Jim Gordon’s new status as Batman will affect her.
“She takes [Batman’s death] pretty hard but then she says, ‘there’s no way’ so she tries to figure out what happened,” said Valentine. “And in doing so she has to work with the police. And she comes face to face with the new Batman and there’s no love lost.”
Covers for Catwoman #42 and #43 appear in the next slide. The former features Spoiler in afighting pose and Valentine teased that Stephanie Brown “wants what she was promised in Batman Eternal."
Next up, Gotham By Midnight by Ray Fawkes will now feature Juan Ferreyra and covers by Bill Sienkiewicz. Fletcher asked Fawkes how they managed to get such a legendary artist on covers.
“We approached him and said ‘Gotham City. Horror. The Spectre. Do whatever you want,’” said Fawkes.
The Midnight Shift will definitely being feeling the echo of the new Batman in Fawkes’ book as Batman’s death “basically screws [them].” With the reveal of the daunting covers of #7 and #8, Fawkes said that he tends to try to get people to ask why anyone would ever live in Gotham.
“The first story was about divine judgment,” said Fawkes. This story is about the sins of Gotham City and the Midnight Shift trying to fix that before a ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’-style judgment.”
Constantine: the Hellblazer appeared in the next slide. Written by Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV with art by Riley Rossmo, Tynion said that theta wanted this book to be “sexy, dangerous and covered in blood,” a reference to the first page of the new series that sees John Constantine naked and covered in blood.
Fletcher asked how Tynion started working with Doyle and he explained that is came from a few discussions he had about her wanting to writing something for the first time on this level. The two writers hope that the new series is imbued with a “very different energy” than readers have seen that would “surprise [them] on every single page.”
Jokingly, Fletcher asked if fans would see John back in his band and Tynion was quick to confirm that Mucus Membrane plays a role in the first arc as does core supporting character Gary Lester. Tynion also waxed poetic about the work of Riley Rossmo, what he brings to the series in terms of tone and touched on John’s slightly new look.
“Riley has been absolutely incredible. His work has a visceral energy that is perfect for John. I love the classic John trench coat look but this is younger man. This is a man that will be the sharpest dressed man, the most dangerous man in the room,” said Tynion. “He’s the guy at the edge of the bar. And you have the sense that if you have the conversation that you’re being drawn into it will destroy your life. That’s what we’re going for.”
Another slide announced that the second collection of Batman Eternal will hit stores later this year before turning over to fan Q&A.
The first question was about Tim Drake’s new role as Batman Beyond, whether he’ll be getting a Robin and how that will affect the Batman line. Tynion said that he didn’t know if Batman Beyond would be getting a Robin.
A young fan asked about possible cameos in Black Canary such as Green Arrow or other characters. Fletcher said there wouldn’t be any off the top but somewhere down the line. Cloonan and Fletcher confirmed that a character would make the switch from Gotham Academy to Black Canary though.
The next query came from a fan who thanked the panel for the strides they had taken in representation in their books specifically regarding gender and sexual identity. They wondered what representation readers might expect moving forward. Fletcher announced that “there’s a really fun, exciting arc that’s all about Alysia Yeoh in October.” Tynion said that John Constantine would be “flirting with dudes in the first issue.”
Would there be more crossover between all of the creators on the panel’s titles? Fletcher said that readers can expect some crossover “just not a ton of it.” Fawkes urged fans to read carefully to catch background details that are shared across the titles.
With regard to Harvey Dent’s fate, Catwoman rogues Galiant and Hellhound and the tease of the Gotham Academy headmaster in that title’s “Endgame” tie-in, the panelists told the audience to stay tuned.
A fan asked about Anarky who recently appeared in Detective Comics and Tynion said that he doesn’t think there are currently any plans for that character.
Regarding Jim Gordon’s new role, a question was posed as to how that idea came to be. Tynion explained the moment that Batman writer Scott Snyder told him the idea and why it clicked.
“I remember the phone call. He called me on Thanksgiving at 12:30 at night with a crazy idea. There was a moment where we knew there could be a new Batman after "Endgame,"” said Tynion. “There’s one person that you could put in that role that would be so surprising but still core Batman. Jim Gordon is there from the formation of the mythos. [Having him as Batman] is a story that has never been told before.”
Tynion also said that Gordon is approximately 15 years older than Bruce so readers would be seeing an older Batman.
Piggybacking on that, the next question was about how the writer deal with big status quo changes and whether those are editorially mandated. Fletcher stressed that things are very different now than they were in the past and Cloonan credited editor Mark Doyle with the shift.
Ray Fawkes said that the creators make better books when “creative takes the lead and editorial just makes it work” and urged fans to keep buying the books if they want to continue to see a more creative-driven DC universe.
A questions was posed about characters that the creators would like to see in a solo series. The panel agreed that Batwoman deserved a new ongoing. Tynion mentioned Bluebird. Fletcher said Vixen and Fawkes said Poison Ivy. Fletcher followed up with the desire to see a book about Batman dating and Cloonan said she would like to do a teenage Alfred title.
Cassandra Cain is still in limbo and one fan wondered if she would ever see the light of day. Fawkes assured them that “it’ll happen when we have a good story.”
Fawkes also mentioned that there are tentative plans for a second season of Batman Eternal.
The last question of the panel had to do with Tim Drake getting his own book and Tynion explained why fans probably haven’t seen one yet.
“I would love that. There are no plans right now,” he said. “One of the biggest things we’re doing is trying to make sure there’s a Batman book for every kind of Batman fan. But it gets duplicative.