DC All Access host Jason Inman introduced an all star panel including Sean Murphy, Marguerite Bennett, Tony Patrick, James Tynion IV, Tom King, Scott Snyder, and Cully Hamner.
Inman opened by looking at Snyder, Patrick, and Hamner’s Batman and the Signal, asking Hamner how long it took to design the new Signal costume. Hamner felt that most of the heavy lifting came from Greg Capullo but he said that updating that costume was incredibly exciting. He specifically talked about the reflective bat symbol on Duke’s chest, citing it as a visual example of the twist that the Signal presents on the traditional Batman iconography.
Tony Patrick talked about cowriting the series with Snyder, saying that it feels very much like Duke working with Batman.
Snyder, after his traditional heartfelt thanks to the audience, discussed finding a place for Duke. Looking at Daytime Gotham, Snyder and Tynion thought that the idea fit the history of the character, notably his stint in We Are Robin.
Snyder also praised Patrick’s idea to introduce new metahuman teens, “juvie Arkham,” as he put it, and said that this helped allowed him to look at what Bruce would do during the day. In this case it’s Gotham Proper, a housing project that extends Gotham even higher into the skyline, offering affordable housing for those who serve the city.
Inman asked King if there was any debate of whether Catwoman would say yes to Bruce’s marriage proposal in the pages of Batman, but the answer was a resounding no. King said that from the beginning he had a vision to do one-hundred issues all about their relationship. We’re now about a third of the way through those hundred issues and we’ve just hit the engagement. King apologized for lying in the book’s solicitations, claiming there that the upcoming arc would be called “The Way We Were” (or possibly “A Dream Of Me”) instead of the actual title, “Rules of Engagement”. The arc has Batman investigating the murders that Catwoman is accused of and will see Selina face off with Talia al Ghul in a swordfight in the desert.
Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight came from wondering how Joker could continue to be a villain if he were cured of his insanity. The result is a modern, legalistic, marketing-centric threat that Murphy feels says a little more about the modern world. Nightwing and Batgirl also play slightly different roles, with Dick based on his New Batman Adventures incarnation, appearing as a leather-wearing angry young man. Murphy also says that he’s already looking at the possibility of a sequel series and possibly even a trilogy.
On Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, James Tynion and Freddie Williams are flipping the original’s script and bringing Gotham to the Turtles’ New York. The story sees Bane taking control of the Foot Clan and giving them access to venom. Tynion said that both worlds are ludicrous, leading to a scene where Bane puts his mask on the statue of liberty. The two also work well together because he feels that all Batman and all Turtle stories are essentially about family.
Turning to Detective Comics, Tynion said that Rebirth presented a particular challenge. With so many different Bat-books and some double shipping, Detective needed to do something different. So Tynion did his dream book, “X-Men with the Bat-family.”
“A Lonely Place of Living” is a celebration of Tim Drake and an explanation of why he’s Tynion’s favorite character in comics. Part of that meant returning to Tim’s classic origin from “A Lonely Place of Dying”. Urged to spoil something, Tynion mentioned that the whereabouts of Conner Kent will be addressed in Detective Comics #966.
Asked what makes Batwoman special, Marguerite Bennett honestly answered that it’s because she’s a screw-up. That freedom makes her special. Ever the poet, Bennett reminded us that the word psychedellic means soul revealing and told the crowd that facing the Scarecrow and his psychedellics means that Kate will have to face the secrets she’s been holding back from the world. Inman asked if there were any other major Bat villains that she wanted to pit against Batwoman, but Bennett had to keep quiet, as she’s currently making her arguments to the higher ups at DC.
Snyder then announced that he and Sean Murphy will be collaborating on Batman: Last Knight once White Knight is over. Scott also shocked the crowd by admitting that this project will be his last proper Batman story for a while.
The pitch is pretty intense: Batman wakes up 25 years in the future, in the prime of his youth, but Gotham scorched with Deathstroke birds and the Joker’s still talking head attached to his utility belt. He called it his “Lone Wolf and Cub Batman”.
The format isn’t finalized but Murphy says that it may well be a series of oversized or otherwise uniquely formatted issues, if not a traditional graphic novel.
Snyder says that DC’s direction right now is to reveal that there are eternities yet undiscovered and that that’s what motivates him.
As we turned to Q&A, a small but sizable portion of the audience left the room. An impishly vengeful Inman demanded that the panel reveal something that the early exiters would regret missing, leading Tom King to admit that he is reteaming with his Batman/Elmer Fudd partner Lee Weeks for Batman Annual #2, which will be “the story of Catwoman and Batman’s first kiss…and their last.” King is very happy with it, calling it every bit as good as Batman/Fudd.
Questioners asked why there isn’t a new Gotham City Sirens series already – Marguerite Bennett has pitches ready, does James Tynion have any characters that he’s eager to add to the Detective Comics roster – “Yes.”, what sets Duke Thomas apary from Batman’s other partners – not only is he a possible metahuman but he’s not a son or a sidekick he’s a mentee.
One particularly interesting question came from a man who inquired if there had been any talk of putting together a charity Batman anthology in the wake of the most recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, something in the vein of Love is Love. Scott Snyder tackled that question, speaking more cautiously than usual. To Snyder, Batman is unambiguously a character who genuinely hates guns, calling upon the famous panel from The Dark Knight Returns.
However, though Snyder stressed that all of the panelists were appalled by the violence and implied that they are taking various actions to help, he said that he was hesitant to use Batman’s cultural power to make a political point. He cited his experience writing the Joker during the time of the 2012 Aurora mass shooting, saying that, in addition to his frequently mentioned mantra of keeping characters true to core, “you become very aware very quickly of how careful you have to be with these characters […] not giving them such elasticity that they can be used or co-opted by things that are ugly.”
Inman also stated that if that were a book that the questioner felt passionately about or wanted to see, he should make sure that DC knows that such demand exists.
Tynion told the audience that, in January he and Eddy Barrows will be teaming for a Detective Comics Annual that will tell the new origin of Clayface. He also stated that he’s really looked at the many origins of the even more numerous Clayfaces and incorporated elements from many different stories.
The panel ended with a question of who Batman’s greatest ally and greatest villain are. General consensus settled on Alfred and the Joker, but there were some outliers. Sean Murphy wondered if his greatest ally wasn’t Superman. Marguerite Bennett claimed that Batman was both his own greatest ally and his own greatest villain, while Tom King and Cully Hamner settled on Joe Chill. Met with skepticism from Inman, King defended his answer, arguing that the pain Chill imbued in young Bruce Wayne is his greatest enemy but also the source of his strength.
The question also led Patrick to say that he’s looking forward to writing an eventual confrontation between Signal and the Joker, noting that Duke still has many strong feelings about the man who poisoned and drove his parents mad.