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DC All Access: Batman Panel [NYCC 2011]

DC Comics kicked off its panel presence at New York Comic Con this year with an “all access” look at its stable of Batman titles. Panelists on hand included editors Mike Marts and Bobbie Chase, plus creators Scott Snyder (Batman), Greg Capullo (Batman), Tony Daniel (Detective Comics), David Finch (Batman: The Dark Knight), Peter J. Tomasi (Batman and Robin), Kyle Higgins (Nightwing), Chris Burnham (Batman: Leviathan) and Lee Bermejo (Batman: Noel).On Gotham’s History: Snyder stated that the idea behind his big 11-issue run, which he likened to Hush and Long Halloween, is that it’s the one Bruce Wayne story he always wanted to write. The storyline will apparently center around the weight of Gotham bearing down on Bruce. A new group of villains, the Council of Owls, will have been a big part of Gotham since colonial times, and will have ties to the Waynes, the Graysons and the history of the city. Bruce will be reluctant to believe they actually exist for reasons that will be explored, but his denial could be his downfall.

Snyder referred to an investigation scene where Batman will have installed a photometric scanner in the Gotham morgue so he can investigate bodies in the Batcave without having to break in. He also stated Nightwing will make jokes asking why Bruce didn’t install this before he died, indicating that Batman did still die a la Final Crisis in the New 52.

On Detective Comics: Writer/artist Tony Daniel stated that he’s going for big-concept arcs as opposed to his previous run on Batman. Daniel said he brought on colorist Tomeu Morey to make the book look grittier to match the subject material. He discussed the reaction to the ending page of Detective #1, where the Joker’s face was cut off, saying he expected people to be appalled and shocked, but hoped that readers would be intrigued enough by the development to want to keep reading.

On The Dark Knight: David Finch stated that he approached his Batman story hoping to do a title with a horror vibe, but he largely worked that out in the last pre-New 52 volume and is now seeking to simply draw everything he ever wanted to draw in a Batman story. He’s communicated to co-writer Paul Jenkins what he wants to draw and Jenkins has worked to incorporate it into the story. He promised Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the Flash coming up.

With regards to writing, Finch stated that while he enjoyed it, writing increased his workload immensely to the point where the book went completely off schedule. The current collaboration with Paul Jenkins is something he’s greatly enjoying, and it’s allowing him to work faster. Finch noted that he’s currently working on The Dark Knight #4.

On Batman and Robin: Writer Tomasi stated that he’s finished the script for the sixth issue and artist Patrick Gleason is currently drawing the fifth, so like many of the other DC books, they’re on time. The moderator commented on the fact that this is the first DC panel where every creative team was giving status updates on how far ahead they are, because creative momentum is so important to the New 52 status quo. Tomasi stated that the villain of this first arc, NoBody, is related to Batman’s past, but is a new character with ties to Bruce Wayne’s former mentor Henri Ducard. Tomasi stated the villain is actually the B-plot in the book to Bruce and Damian’s relationship. Tomasi also related praise for Gleason and his creative range as an artist.

On Nightwing: Writer Kyle Higgins started off his section by stating that Dick Grayson is his favorite character in comics, and that he wanted to approach the character from the perspective of his recent history in Scott Snyder’s Detective and the Gates of Gotham miniseries, with the idea that Dick Grayson had avoided Gotham for much of his superhero career, but will now be living there and attempting to look to the future while Gotham attempts to use his past against him.

On Leviathan: Artist Chris Burnham stated that working with Morrison is an absolute joy, and that his scripts are difficult but not “drug-induced dream journals” like he’d heard they might be. He stated the upcoming Leviathan Strikes comic requires a lot more Steranko-influenced panel design rather than the widescreen work he’d been doing on Incorporated.

On Batman: Noel: Writer/artist Lee Bermejo said that the idea for this actually started as a children’s book, due to a desire to get away from incredibly dark material after drawing Joker with Brian Azzarello, and that project eventually morphed into Batman: Noel. Discussing Batman’s costume and history, Bermejo stated that he enjoyed using Batman’s different costumes over time to show his personal evolution, from the “goofy” ’60s costume to the more armored modern incarnation.

The panel then opened up for Q&A.

On Bruce and Damian’s relationship: Bruce and his son Damian’s relationship will change over time with emotional payoffs. While in the first issues, they’ll be at loggerheads, the two will begin to have meetings of the mind as time goes on.

On Nightwing’s Age: When asked why they changed Dick Grayson’s history so that he was adopted by Bruce Wayne when he was sixteen, Higgins stated that this was a function of the New 52 and Batman’s history now going back only five years, necessitating this change if Dick Grayson was to be 21.

On Tim Drake: “It’s inevitable to have Tim come back into the Bat-family.” Kyle Higgins stated that he wants to bring him in to Nightwing, and Snyder stated that he’ll be in Batman.

On Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown: Snyder stated that Cassandra Cain will appear in Batman Incorporated in a very big way, and that there’s a lot of creative interest in former Spoiler/Robin/Batgirl Stephanie Brown as well.

On Bruce Wayne: Snyder stated that they really wanted to do away with the faux-drunken-playboy facade and portray Bruce as more “civic-minded,” due to his investment, both emotionally and financially, in Gotham City.

On Batman: Earth One: According to the panel, fans can expect Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s self-contained OGN in the summer of 2012.

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