Batman got the spotlight Friday evening at New York Comic Con, with DC Comics creators including "Batman" writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo; "Talon" and "Red Hood and the Outlaws" writer Marc Andreyko; "Nightwing" writer Kyle Higgins; "Catwoman" writer Ann Nocenti; "Detective Comics" writer John Layman and "Batman and..." writer Peter Tomasi talking what's new with the Caped Crusader, with DC marketing VP John Cunningham moderating.
First topic of discussion: The freshly released "Batman" #24, with Snyder thanking the fans for their support of the currently unfolding "Zero Year" story. "It's my favorite thing I've done in writing, ever," the writer said. "It means more to me than any story I've ever written."
Snyder recapped the origins of "Zero Year": DC asked him to write a new origin, since "Year One" no longer worked in continuity. Originally, he wanted to keep multiple elements of "Year One" -- which he called a "masterpieces" -- than realized that it wasn't working, and that he and Capullo had to do their own, contemporary story.
"Personally speaking, I don't want to give you even one panel that you'll be disappointed in," Capullo said of his work on "Batman." "DC cuts me the checks, but I really like I'm working for you," the artist tells the crowd. "Never think for a minute that I'm ever resting on my laurels or taking anything for granted. This is an important thing we're doing."
Capullo continued, saying he drives his wife crazy with how much he works. "A slow day is 12 hours."
Speaking of The Riddler's role in the current phase of "Zero Year," "Dark City," Snyder said, "He's challenging the city to be as smart as him. If they can't, the city will die." Snyder repeated his comments from the previous All Access panel, that the story includes a reinvention of an old villain that has not yet been revealed.
"Zero Year" also contains a new look at the James Gordon/Bruce Wayne relationship. "We would never change what you love about the characters [at their core]," Snyder said. "But their relationship has a new and different foundation that I think makes a stronger bond."
"The whole story is a love letter to all things Batman," Snyder said, including the use of blimps, a nod to "Batman: The Animated Series." "It's really the biggest possible thing we could do with an origin, and I could not be more excited about it," the writer shared.
Before the Q&A session officially started, Cunningham asked a fan waiting at the mic for a question, which was the frequent query, "When are Stephanie Brown or Cassandra Cain coming back?
"We know that they're characters that you guys have been really vocal about," Snyder replied. "Your guys' love of Stephanie Brown have been so inspiring to us. We're really proud to announce that she'll be coming back in [new weekly series 'Batman: Eternal'], in a big way. Dan DiDio is in the audience to yell at us for telling you that."
"No one was trying to shelve her," Snyder continued. "It was more about finding the right time to reintroduce her."
Snyder said that Tynion came up with the idea to reintroduce her, and suggested it'll be as Spoiler. Tynion said Stephanie Brown will be in issue #3.
Tomasi talked new character Erin McKillen and the "Batman and Two-Face" story, saying he's exploring questions like, "How does Harvey Dent sleep with one eye always open?" Tomasi said he's exploring the duality of all the Bat-characters, and praised the work of series artist Patrick Gleason, calling him underrated.
"I wanted this to be Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich, but not terrible," Layman said of the action-heavy "Detective Comics" #24. "Jay Fabok loves to draw gadgets. I kind of wanted to just let him have fun." November's "Detective Comics" #25 is a Gordon-centric tie-in to "Zero Year."
Andreyko said he just finished the "Zero Year" issue of "Batwoman," showing "the seeds of the woman who will eventually become Batwoman." In the arc starting with issue #26, Andreyko -- while praising the work of the book's previous creative team, J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman -- said he'll be "reintroducing a classic Bat-villain who hasn't been seen yet."
Higgins detailed the "Nightwing" "Zero Year" tie-in issue, saying, "It's pretty cool. It's kind of a modern urban fantasy fairy tale, where the dark alleys of Gotham are the equivalent of a haunted forest. Dick goes out on his own to see a movie against his parents' wishes, and all hell breaks loose."
Nocenti spoke briefly about shaping the new take on Joker's Daughter, praised the work of artist Rafa Sandoval and told the crowd about a recent "Catwoman" breakthrough: "I really wanted to give Catwoman a cat," she said. "That was really a thrilling thing for me to finally figure out what kind of cat she would have."
"'Batman: Eternal' is the place to go for all of the 'game-changing shit'" happening in the present day, Snyder said, while the main "Batman" series is still in the "Zero Year" past; he'll then pick up on the status quo established by the weekly series. Snyder said that when 2014 -- Batman's 75th anniversary -- ends, fans will see it as the most "game-changing, bizarre time in Gotham."
Tynion said he's at the "final stage" of the long story he's been building in "Red Hood and the Outlaws," with things coming to a head in issue #24, out Oct. 16. "When people see the whole picture laid out, I think they'll really enjoy it."
Turning to "Talon," Calvin Rose will encounter Batman, but it will "not be a friendly team-up," Tynion said.