A full Comic-Con crowd listened to various writers and artists from the Batman Line talk about upcoming stories and the big changes in the world of Batman, Friday, at Comic-Con International: San Diego. The panel featured Mike Marts, Batman Editor. Chris Yost, writer of "Red Robin." Fabian Nicieza, writer of "Azreal." Marc Andreyko, writer of the "Manhunter" co-feature. Greg Rucka, writer on "Detective Comics." Brian Q. Miller, new writer on "Batgirl." Dustin Ngyuen, and Paul Dini of "Gotham Sirens" and "Batman: Streets of Gotham." Also in attendance, Philip Tan, "Batman and Robin" artist for issues four through six.
Tan, representing "Batman and Robin" talked about his upcoming arc. "Probably not a good idea to spoil anything," he joked. The artist calls the script "crazy, crazy." Art on the title will be "something that's going to be a little bit different." He also says it's very consistent with Grant Morrison's vision with the series. Two new characters: a new Red Hood and Scarlet will be introduced in the story.
Paul Dini gabbed about "Streets of Gotham" and "Gotham City Sirens." "Hush is back and he's making trouble in both books." Dini calls him a "one man stimulus plan." Hush will continue to give away the Wayne fortune. At some point, the Joker comes to deal with Harley. In "Streets" Mr. Zsasz will feature. "He's going uptown," says Dini. He has a big dream Dini says is "disgusting." Ngyuen designed the new Zsasz.
Miller was allowed one to announce one thing about the "Batgirl" series: "There are waffles in the first issue." He also let slip one person definitely not under the mask. "It's not Bet Kane," he said. The book will tie very heavily into the Batman line.
When the audience was polled for their Batgirl guess, the crowd cheered loudest for Bruce Wayne. Nobody thinks Cassadra Caine is under the mask.
When recent JH Williams pages for "Detective" was brought up, Rucka looked to the audience and announced, "If you picked up 854 ... it's unbelievable, but it gets better looking [than that]. I think JH is changing the form. He's changing the language of comics with this." According to Rucka, In "Detective Comics" #858, the artist's style will change dramatically. "You won't believe it's still JH on the book," he says. "You're really going to like it." "The Question" goes to ten pages as of issue #858. Cully will still be on art with Dave McKay on color.
Asked about the co-features, the crowd responded with enthusiasm.
Andreyko talked about "Manhunter's" move to Gotham. "After it got cancelled for the third time ... DiDio called me about moving Kate to Gotham and making it a co-feature," he explained. The move, ultimately, was good for exposure. "More people saw Mahunter in Streets than in the first three issues of 'Manhunter.'" As for Kate's upcoming adventures, Andreyko revealed, "She will be visiting former DAs." Also, she'll be clashing with Jane Doe. "Jane Doe is a great character. A female character as imposing as the Joker or Zsasz," the writer explained. "She is a skinless supervillain who skins other people and becomes them." Jeremy Han will take over art. The co-feature will also go to ten pages for issues five and six. Andreyko thanks the support of fans of "Manhunter."
Andreyko is happy to be in a book with Dini. "I remember being in college and watching 'Batman: the Animated Series;' it's exciting to co-feature in a book with him."
Nicieza teased the new on-going "Azreal" title: "Starting in October, the new series comes out. It flows from the "Batman" and "Detective" Annuals." The story in the Annuals will be separate, but lead into the first issue. "Azreal #1 starts with Michael Lane as Azreal. The suit drives you crazy and he might already be a little crazy," the writer explained. The on-going series will deal with "how the other characters in Gotham deal with that. More a long the lines of a guy who needs redemption and how they help him as opposed to letting him go over the abyss."
"Red Robin's" Chris Yost talked about the character. "Tim Drake is having a rough couple of years. So with Red Robin it's taking a character who is in an incredible dark place. Anybody who isn't Tim would end up in an asylum." The book is examining where he is and how he deals with it. "Shockingly, it's not getting going to get better [for Tim.] ... So he's on this delusional quest to find Bruce. People are worried about him."
When the Q& A session began a man dressed as Northstar ran into the question line. "It' a Sinestro costume," he explained to the panel. "My seamstress is colorblind."
Question #1: Thank you for pioneering the best comic in print for the last fifty years. Is convergence being talked about around the line?
Marts: We occasionally do crossovers in the books. The great thing about the Bat Books is that they sit in the same sandbox. The creators can do their own thing, but we can come together and tell big stories. It's on a case by case basis.
Question #2: Greg, does Bet Kane have a costume identity?
Rucka: "We'll see. We're going to be focusing on her [in time]. First, we're focusing on Kate and her orbit. You won't see the Joker. You see Gordon, but his interaction with Kate is different. Betty doesn't care if there's someone from Krypton called Flamebird.
#3: Is it true that you're getting into motion comics?
Panel: Not at this moment. That's a question for DC on the whole. We're focusing on telling the best Bat stories.
Question #4: Thank you for the female characters in the Bat Books. Greg, since Detective Comics on the week and anniversary of Stonewall, what's it like writing such a new character?
Rucka: I'm in love with Kate. We've been carrying around these stories for two-plus years. We know the backstory. It's been an excruciating frustration to not share it with people [until now]. She's worthy of being in the flagship book of the company. We are seven issues in. You're getting seven issues of JH uninterrupted. We're doing three issues with Jock from 861. In 864, Cully will do twenty pages of Question and Jock or JH will do ten pages of Kate leading into the end of JH's final five issues. I'm loving it. It's great. This is the best job in the world.
Northstar finally got to ask his question, but first, in his best Sinestro voice shouted "Fear me!" He then asked, "Can you talk about the tone of Batgirl?" He also asked about the costume.
Yost: The costume will be familiar at first. By the end of the third issue, it will be a brand new costume. Everyone who's seen it says it's sexy. The tone of the book is hopefully the lightest tone while telling serious stories.
Question #6: How did Blackest Night affect the Bat Books?
Panel: We know the answer to the body. It's pretty amazing. "Batman: Blackest Night" deals with Damian, Deadman and the dead rising in Gotham.
Question #8: How long will the new dynamic last? Will some of the new books continue when Bruce comes back?
Panel: "We never know. We keep pressing as long as humanly possible."
Question #9: What of Tarantula? "She's dead."
Question #10: Is Ralph a better detective than Batman? "No!" Not even Rucka will agree.
Question #11: Isn't Red Robin going to be upset now that Spoiler's doing this Batgirl thing? After the panel laughed this off, blogger Adam Schlesinger dressed in a Tim Drake style Robin costume appeared. The panel began to asked him about Spoiler. He responded, "She's not returning my calls. My life is so terrible."
He then asked, "Any plans to bring back to revisit the story elements from RIP and the Black Glove or Bat-mite?" Marts answered: "Grant has a master plan. I wouldn't be surprised."
Question #13: Paul, how does it feel to writer Harley, Ivy, and Catwoman again?
Dini: "It's like home. They hang around the living room."
Question #14: New costume design for Batman? Something like "Batman Beyond?"
Panel: "You might see more Batman Beyond than you might expect."
Marts: "He's Batgirl."
Question #15: With Dick as Batman, when will he run into people who knew Bruce?
Rucka: "There will be a 'World's Finest' that has that interaction."
Question #16: How exciting is Tim to see Connor and Bart Back?
Yost: "It's some good news for Tim." A reunion of sorts is set to appear in "Adventure Comics."
Question #17: Where is Ivy Going?
Dini: She's a wild car. She's the most dangerous. She's going interesting places.
Question #18: Any thoughts about a weekly live action Batman: "Not at this time."
Question #19: Where is the Joker? When will see future stories of the adult Damian?
Marts: "Grant has plans for them ... as for Joker, last we saw him, he was in an ambulance flying off a bridge."
Panel: He's Batgirl!
Question #20: Is there any chance we'll see the Absolute Dark Victory?
Panel: Ask Bob Wayne. He'll say Maybe.
Question #21: Will Bronze Tiger play into the Betty Kane storyline?
Rucka: I wasn't planning on that.
Question #22: Any interaction between Kate and Rene? Rucka: You see them in the origin and why they're not together in the origin. They're crazy in love, but should never be together for more than 24 hours. Rene has the Oliver Queen problem. Eventually you will see them in the present. For now, we're building anticipation.
The following questions are presented in DC's "Lightning Round" format:
#1: Are characters from other books coming to help Tim? Yost: In issue three you will.
#2: Schlesinger reappears to ask if Azarello's Joker book is in cannon: no. He also asked if Morrison's multiple personality take on the Joker is cannon? Rucka: "That's how grant writes him. Grant has a take on everything."
#3: Paul, is Selina dealing with Black Mask? Dini: "Yup."
#4: Is Barbara Gordon coming in? Are she and Dick still engaged? Marts: "Maybe."
#5: Paul, new costume for Hush: "Maybe at some point down the road."
#6: Joker Black Lantern: "He's not dead."
#7: Where's Huntress? Everywhere. "When Question and Huntress hit the page together, it was Butch and Sundance." Rucka says.