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The Batman Panel:The Joker, Ed Benes and Frazer Irving Return to Gotham [SDCC]

The Batman: Beyond the Night of the Owls panel kicked off on Thursday afternoon at Comic-Con International in San Diego, featuring moderator Bob Wayne (DC’s VP – Sales), editor Mike Marts and writers Gail Simone, John Layman, Scott Lobdell, James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, J.H. Williams III, David Finch, Gregg Hurwitz and Kyle Higgins. While the creators described their titles, a few new pieces of information came out, including that Ed Benes will be joining Gail Simone as the regular artist on Batgirl (much to Simone’s delight), Frazer Irving will be drawing the Morrison/Burnham co-plotted Batman, Incorporated #0, and a very in-depth discussion of Scott Snyder’s upcoming “Death of the Family” Joker story in Batman.

The first book discussed was Talon, the new ongoing debuting with #0 in September by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV and Guillem March. Spinning out of the “Court of Owls” storyline in Batman, it will be the story of Calvin Rose, a Talon who escaped the Court due to his moral compass. Snyder placed a great amount of emphasis on the fact that the book is his co-writer (and former student) Tynion’s “baby,” and encouraged fans who want new blood at DC to give it a try. At this point, Marketing Director John Cunningham delivered plastic Court of Owls masks to every member of the audience.

On Snyder’s main Batman title, the #0 issue in September will be delving into Batman’s early years (an area Snyder was initially wary to address). Afterwards, the “Death of the Family” arc will kick off and explore the idea of the Joker as Batman’s Court Jester. Since the court jester’s role in a king’s court was to deliver the worst news to make the king stronger, this is how Joker sees himself, and feels that Batman’s forgotten the Joker’s necessity and wants to “punish” him for it. He will “rape, and kill, and mutilate” to bring terror to the doors of Batman’s friends. Snyder pointed out that Joker’s only ever attacked Barbara Gordon to hurt James Gordon, and only ever attacked Jason Todd to hurt Batman, but in this story he’ll aim directly for Batman’s allies personally. Additionally, he will have a “secret” that will be a major revelation, and Snyder stated that the Joker is his favorite villain in the entirety of fiction.

Kyle Higgins’s Nightwing will explore Dick Grayson’s tenure as Robin in the New 52 (with a new costume) in the #0 issue, and feature a new twist on his decision to become Robin in the first place. Higgins will then step away from issues #13 and #14 (which will be written by Tom DeFalco) before returning to tie into “Death of the Family” with #15 and #16, which he stated will change the book.

Gail Simone’s Batgirl will show why Barbara Gordon became Batgirl in the zero issue, and an upcoming annual will feature Catwoman and the female Talon from her “Night of the Owls” tie-in issue, which Simone referred to as “the dark side of the mirror of Birds of Prey.” Ed Benes is joining Batgirl as the regular artist. Simone stated that when she works with Ed Benes, there is “some sort of sparky magic action beauty.” Simone noted that Benes is fantastic at portraying varying different emotions, including in the context of an action scene.

Regarding Batman: The Dark Knight, artist David Finch stated that bringing on Gregg Hurwitz has taken the book in the direction he wanted it to go in the beginning since he was writing it himself. Hurwitz talked about the current arc, in which he is delving into the Scarecrow in a manner similar to his Penguin: Pain and Prejudice miniseries.

Co-writer/artist J.H. Williams III talked about the zero issue of Batwoman, which he stated was a challenge since her full origin story by Greg Rucka in the Elegy hardcover had come out very recently. Williams stated that it would have far more internal monologue than the initial Rucka origin did, and will also delve into her father’s reasons for facilitating her crimefighting. The series’ third arc kicks off with issue #12 (the month before the zero issue) and will co-star Wonder Woman, and be the culmination of what Williams and cowriter W. Haden Blackman have been building since the first issue.

Regarding Red Hood and the Outlaws, writer Scott Lobdell talked about the zero issue, and stated that it’s the saddest thing he’s ever written, exploring Jason Todd’s origin as Robin and not even going into his Red Hood days. Regarding Starfire and her sister Blackfire, he stated that his version of Blackfire comes from the same place as the original Blackfire, but will be completely re-imagined, citing how people read his version of Starfire in #. “Well, that’s different.”

For the zero issue of Batman, Incorporated, which is coplotted by Grant Morrison and artist Chris Burnham and drawn by Frazer Irving, the history of the various members of the Incorporated initiative will be detailed, as well as how Batman put the team together. Then, with #5, Morrison and Burnham are returning to the future world of Batman #666 where Damian Wayne is Batman.

Regarding Detective Comics, the #0 issue is written by Dark Knight writer Gregg Hurwitz, and will deal with why Batman has problems with emotional intimacy. As of issue #13, John Layman (Chew) will be taking over the book as his first DC work. He stated that he’s not going to be trying to compete to write the “darkest” story; he will be writing fast-paced, relatively self-contained stories that don’t resolve themselves as the readers expect. His first arc, “Emperor Penguin,” he said is only “half” a Penguin story.

Catwoman #0 will be written by new series writer Ann Nocenti, and editor Rachel Gluckstern will continue the book’s dark tone. With issue #13, an arc featuring the Joker will kick off, likely tying into “Death of the Family.”

A fan asked about the Riddler, and Scott Snyder stated that there were plans for the character further down the line in Batman.

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