SDCC: DC Comics Batman Panel

Edited to Add: tons of art at Comics Alliance – July 22, 7:42am CST

The lack of management presence on this panel was really evident in the numerous offhand comments that were made by a number of writers. Some of them said things they really…shouldn’t have. It sure is interesting the kind of things people say when they think they’re surrounded by like-minded peers.

Who was there: Batman Group Editor Mike Marts, Editor Rachel Gluckstern, writers Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder, Gail Simone, Judd Winick, Kyle Higgins, Scott Lobdell, Peter Tomasi and Gregg Hurwitz as well as artists Chris Burnham and David Finch. Panel was moderated by DC Marketing VP John Cunningham.

“Dick Grayson is at a point right now where he’s had more exposure than he’s ever had…and he’s basically taking back on his own purpose and identity,” the writer [Kyle Higgins] said. “The thing I always say about the book is that Dick’s an acrobat, so that kinetic energy is something we really want to embrace.”

But *how old is he*??

Simone spoke to her connection to Barbara Gordon, saying that the new “Batgirl” series will focus on Barbara Gordon as a young woman just out of college struggling to find her place in the world. Adrian Syaf will draw the book and, according to Simone, draws a lot of character depth from the heroine including her first moment in the Batgirl costume in years.

So we have a firm age. College graduate. The same age she was when she first became Batgirl (pre and post Crisis). She must have become Batgirl as a teenager in this timeline, like Stephanie. Can’t understand how she had time to be Oracle in university.

Winick also spoke on Catwoman saying that he was happy to work on a character who’s been a part of the franchise since the beginning. While his editor played up the sexiness, Winick said, “This is a dirty, dirty book, and you’re going to enjoy it.” He added that the focus of the series will be to get back to “a chick in a catsuit who steals things” and “If anything goes wrong, she’ll scratch someone’s eyes out.”

EWWW. I respected Judd Winick for his Power Girl run. I had no idea he was a total creep.

[Winick] added of “Batwing,” “I’ve been given a chance to create an all-new Batman, and it’s so exciting.” A piece of art from series penciler Ben Oliver revealed a new villain for Batwing wielding a Machete. Winick referred to the new bad guy Masacre as “a very subtly named villain” who will be the arch-nemesis of the new hero in what will be a morally dark book in places. Batman will appear in the book not as a mentor but as a general to which Batwing plays soldier.

There go any plans I might have had for trying Batwing. I haven’t read Batman Inc. so I don’t know Batwing’s story or his setting (i.e. how much it mirrors Gotham), but this description has me worried that the book will be reinforcing the reaallly problematic narrative of every story set in Africa being about atrocities and war. I’ve also yet to hear anyone refer to which *country* Batwing operates out of. That’s in Batman Inc., right? I am assuming he’s not *actually* going to be called the “Batman of Africa” like the solicit copy…riigght?

Morrison spoke to the future of “Batman Incorporated” as the new volume debuting in the months ahead will reveal the identity of the villain who’s been behind Leviathan. The series will also wrap the work he’s been doing “for the past six years or the past six hundred years…I can promise tears and tears and TEARS!” The writer promised Robin would be a big part of the book as well.

Um. That’s an odd way to promote your book’s finale.

A fan asked how they decided what to keep and what to set aside when doing the relaunch. Winick joked that it was “totally random” and that they just threw things up in the air and grabbed pieces to keep.

That would actually be a more believable explanation.

Lobdell said that the choice to put together Starfire and the Red Hood was confusing to him when Editorial presented it to him, but “When you see it on the screen, it looks like they’ve been together their whole lives

That creativity by editorial committee thing…

Snyder was asked where his ideas for creepy villains like Jim Gordon’s son, and he said, “I don’t know. I play with my kid, and then I go off and write James, Jr.” He joked that he grew up near a video store that stocked lots of horror movies, and while they wouldn’t rent them to kids at the store, they would deliver. “What ‘Detective’ is about is breaking Dick Grayson down and showing him how dark Gotham can really be.” Snyder promised the finale of the arc will be as dark as anything they’ve done on the book. “The final panel of [the last issue] is probably the most twisted image of the entire series.”

Stuff like this is why I avoid the Bat books.

Asked how decisions were made in the New 52 as far as which characters would be de-aged or have their timelines changed, Marts joked “We’ve got a mini series coming out called ‘The Physics of the DC Universe'” before saying that for now, their focus is on telling cool stories in the present.

Pay no attention to how any of this works, just look at the shiny! It’s been obvious for a while that the writers haven’t been read in on management’s choices.

Winick explained that Batwing earned his own title because of all the “Batman Incorporated” characters because “We liked him the best…we think he’s a great character, and I think a lot of the other ‘Batman Incorporated’ characters will be seen.”

I’m not reading Batman Inc., but I really loved Squire’s guest appearance in Batgirl. Is Batwing really more deserving of a solo title than Black Bat?

When a young boy asked how many Robins there have been, the response of “four” from the panel prompted a young woman dressed in Batgirl costume to ask whether with the return of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl there would be a “Batgirl Incorporated” book with Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown and other female characters. Simone said they were discussing things on that front this weekend, and that fans should not worry about Stephanie Brown being lost to the DCU. Simone said that supporting character Detective Gage could “maybe” appear in the new “Batgirl” series.

5 Robins! 5! Whoever that Batgirl cosplayer was, THANK YOU. Looking forward to hearing more about Cass and Steph this weekend.

Finally, a fan asked how much leeway Morrison had writing the franchise, and he said, “These guys come in with guns and say to me ‘This is what we’re doing!'” before honestly answering that he’s been writing for so long that he knows how to tell stories that are exciting that still fit within DC’s plans for Batman and can feed into what the other writers do.

Wow. I’m genuinely surprised that Morrison is as constrained as every other writer (or close). I really thought they’d given him free rein on both Batman and Superman. Sounds like that’s not the case – these decisions really are all top down.

Batman Inc #9 cover

Cover image for Batman Incorporated #9, August 2011

Burnham called “Batman Incorporated” a dream book before Morrison jumped in when the image of Batman punching a schoolgirl in the face appeared on screen to cry out “It’s two-fisted justice the way you expect it!”

What is WRONG with these people? I don’t care if she’s really a demon or some other nonsense, Batman SHOULD NOT BE PUNCHING GIRLS IN THE FACE. EVER.