DC Comics' Batman panel at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo let fans put questions to a panel of Bat-universe creators, with Dustin Nguyen, Tony Daniel, as well as Batman group editor Mike Marts, and, later, Gail Simone.
Marts kicked off the panel by talking about "The Return of Bruce Wayne," which will feature art by Frazer Irving, Chris Sprouse, Yanick Paquette, Cameron Stewart, Ryan Sook, and Lee Garbett. He also discussed "Batman" #700, which is written by Grant Morrison with art by Andy Kubert, Tony Daniel, Frank Quitely, and David Finch, who has just been added.
"Batman" #701-702 will be "Batman: RIP: The Lost Chapter, Marts said, another arc written by Grant Morrison.
The next five "Arkham Asylum" one-shots will feature Riddler, Clayface, Killer Croc, Harley Quinn, Mad Hatter.
Marts also went through "Batman Beyond" and the upcoming "Red Hood" miniseries. Jim Lee's black and white cover to "Dark Knight: Boy Wonder" drew applause, as did Neal Adams's "Batman: Odyssey." "We're really excited to have Neal back in the Batman family," Marts said.
Tony Daniel said he is about to begin his portion of "Batman" #700, which will also involve a jam piece with Quitely and Kubert. Daniel will also be drawing Morrison's story in #701-702.
Dustin Nguyen talked about his work on "Streets of Gotham," which currently focuses on Zsaz and the new character, abuse. He's also working on covers for the "Hush" sequel that will run throughout the book. He will also co-write an upcoming arc of "Streets of Gotham" in issues #12-13.
After mentioning "Red Robin," which will soon see Fabien Nicieza take over as writer; "Batgirl;" the relaunched "Birds of Prey;" "Azrael;" "Gotham City Sirens;" and the recently-announced "Batwoman," Marts welcomed Gail Simone to the stage.
"I'm really excited not only to be back writing 'Birds of Prey' again, because it's so much cooler than before," Simone said. "We're going to find out that Batman needs the Birds of Prey." SImone added that she would be adding a new arch-villain in the first issue.
Marts then opened the floor to questions.
The first question regarded Batwoman's role within the Bat-family. "You'll still see her a bit as a solo outfit, but you'll see her branching out with the other Bat-characters," Marts said.
As to whether Red Robin change identities, "no comment."
The new "Batman Beyond" miniseries will touch on issues brought up by the end of the cartoon, including whether Terry's little brother is Bruce Wayne's son, Marts confirmed, "but I don't want to say too much about where that story's going."
Next question: "When are we going to see more of Dustin's 'Little Gotham?'" Nguyen, turning to Marts: "I don't know, when are we?"
Addressing Dick Grayson's role in a (hypothetical?) post-Batman role, Daniel said he sees Grayson as "the only B-list character who has a legitimate chance to move up," and noted that he will have grown a lot through his time as Batman. He hinted Grayson might not return to his role as Nightwing but strike a new path.
Daniel said that his process of both writing and drawing involves "writing as if I were writing for another artist," but that the advantage is, when drawing that script, "sometimes I can have an epiphany" and change the story's direction.
Grant Morrison will remain on "Batman and Robin," despite earlier comments he only planned to write the book for a year, Marts said. He will write the series at least to #16 and will be involved in Bat-stories after. "There are some exciting announcements regarding Grant this summer."
"Does anybody have any ideas where Joker is?" Marts asked attendees. "Or when Joker is?" he added, to "oohs."
WIll Oracle speak with Stephanie Brown about her taking over as Batgirl? "I won't talk about odds, but it won't happen immediately," Simone said.
A fan asked whether Black Canary will return to prominence, after slipping from the spotlight after Judd Winick's departure from "Green Arrow/Black Canary." "Check out the very first scene of 'Birds of Prey' and you'll have your answer," Simone said. "I've always felt--this might not be the view of DC--but I've felt she's the #2 female hero after Wonder Woman."
Marts said that Tim Drake would be "instrumental in some of the puzzle pieces of the return of Bruce Wayne," in response to a question about how Red Robin's quest would play out.
The next question was about the divisions between a hero who doesn't kill and an anti-hero. "I think if you tell a story where a hero kills another character, it changes that character forever; you have to do it carefully." When the fan brought up the utility of killing Joker, who has murdered "like 20,000 people," Daniel said, "then we wouldn't have Joker. We need Joker!" Nguyen joked that, "If Bruce Wayne had kids, I think he wouldn't beat them, he'd just shake them really really hard."
Any chance readers will see Misfit in "Birds of Prey?" "Totally."
A fan asked Daniel whether he ever had trouble understanding what was going on in Grant Morrison's scripts. "When I was working on 'R.I.P.' with Grant, there was so much there that I didn't always know exactly where Grant was going, but I knew it was going somewhere—I just had to keep reading it, just like you guys," Nguyen said. "But I pretty much knew what to draw." He added that Morrison does have a lot of nuance to his scripts, so Daniel must be careful with the details in case it comes up later.
A young fan asked if the panelists would kill the Joker, if they were Batman. "If I were Batman, I'd have a gun," Daniel said. "And a jetpack, and a time machine--I'd go all out." He added that he can't speak to what his morals would be if he were Batman but, "If it were me, Tony Daniel, and I had the chance, yeah, I'd kill him."