SDCC 2018: Batman, Batgirl, And Catwoman At DC’s Batman Family Panel

by Noah Sharma

“Thank you for coming to the DC: Batman panel, even though, as you know, ‘fuck Batman.’”

With that Batman editor Jaime S. Rich introduced Joelle Jones (Catwoman), Bryan Hill (Detective Comics), Enrico Marini (Batman: The Dark Prince Charming), Clay Mann (Batman), Tom King (Batman, Mister Miracle, Omega Men), Mitch Gerads (Mister MIracle), Mairghread Scott (Batgirl), and Peter Tomasi (???).

The panel started with Mairghread Scott, the latest addition to the Batman stable, coming from animation and IDW comics. Scott says that she wants to take “Babs Tarr’s Batgirl and put her in Gail Simone’s Gotham.” Barbara is going to remain fun and young and hopeful but she’s going to be put in darker, grittier situation. The series will see the return of a villain from Simone’s run. There’s also an annual coming up in August that sees Barbara suspect that her brother, James Jr., is murdering people, despite her knowing that he is still in prison.

Batgirl #27 will also see the return of the Sean Gordon Murphy Batgirl costume, repurposed as a prototype that Barbara abandoned when she was still living at home. The costume is well loved and represents Barbara going back to basics, even as she continues to press forward.

Asked if writing Black Lightning/Hong Kong Phooey set the stage for writing Black Lightning in Detective Comics, Hill joked that writing a Black Lightning and Hong Kong Phooey story colors everything you write after that. Hill was working on the Titans TV show when he was approached by DC to write an arc on Detective. He agreed, but only on the condition that he be able to write a story that matters. Not wanting to just fill time, Hill designed a story that has consequence and consequences, particularly to the innocent of Gotham. He also is thrilled to have Cassandra Cain in his book, having a longtime love affair with the character as a martial artist himself.

Speaking about the Joker, Marini said that he was a particularly hard character to put a new spin on. Rich asked if Pete Tomasi, a long time Batman editor and writer, had ever had trouble finding a voice or a direction for the Joker. For his part, Tomasi said no, if you can channel that character for a moment you can just “smile and write”. He’s found similar experiences with the rest of the rogue’s gallery, but noted that he hadn’t written the Penguin yet. Tom King bemoaned the uncertain appeal of Oswald Cobblepot, feeling that attempts to make him into DC’s Kingpin hadn’t worked, leaving Ozzie the “worst best-known Batman villain.”

Asked about Batman #50, Tom King started with a digression, thanking the fans for sticking by him. “This was a painful issue for me,” he said, “and it got leaked and you guys got me through that.” He thanked the fans who have enjoyed the issue and the ones who left the series afterwards, appreciating those of them that cared enough to read that far and feel passionate about it to jump off.

Joelle Jones says that she’s an incredible Batman Returns fan, combining the Michelle Pfeiffer version of the character and combining it with the incarnation from Batman: The Animated series. The villain, Raina Creel, came from a realization that female villains at DC always ended up actually being good or being pretty, Creel was an attempt to make a fully vile character. Tom King was horrified to hear that Joelle was leaving to write and draw her own book, complaining loudly to Rich, but he eventually accepted it noting that Jones is “a modern day Frank Miller [and] you can’t get in the way of that.”

Hurting after the events of the wedding, Batman #51 will see “Bruce Wayne vs. Batman”, in a story that sees Bruce selected the jury of a man who was gave an enforced confession to Batman. The jury is ready to convict, but Bruce wants to interrogate whether Batman has gone too far.

The internet lost their minds when Lee Weeks, revealed ‘the perfect Batman page’. King found it amusing, because that’s not even Bruce in the cowl. Dick Grayson has returned to the cave and the cape and cowl. King compared it to a best friend moving onto your couch to make sure you’re ok after a breakup and said that its a kind of reversal of Dick’s origin story, with Robin picking Batman up and helping him let go of his anger.

The comparison continued, as Bruce finds himself unable to wear his favorite shirt anymore. Unable to continue in the same costume, Bruce returns to the classic “Hush” suit this fall.

Rich then announced that Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke will be taking over Detective Comics with issue #994. Tomasi says that they’re really putting the detective in Detective Comics. The new run starts in December and will carry the book through the legendary issue #1000.

Asked if Barbara Gordon could be returned to her role as Oracle, Jaime Rich says there have been “conversations.” He offered that Babs would be serving a similar role in Benjamin Percy’s Nightwing, prompting Hill to also helpfully inform that Barbara will be sitting in front of a computer in an upcoming issue. You’re welcome Oracle fans. He kids obviously.

Scott offered that she would love to see Oracle return, but wouldn’t want to do it unless she could be sure that it would persist and be treated with the respect that is deserves. Unable to promise that, she says that she writes Batgirl with those elements as part of her. She went on to talk about Batgirl’s strengths and how she brings a unique experience, even as Batgirl, as a survivor of assault and someone who lived as a disabled person. The first arc explores who Barbara is and what happens when she can’t depend on her will and her incredible intellect. Scott says that she doesn’t deal with uncertainty well and thinks that that’s something she very much has in common with Barbara.

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