Friday, October 14, 2011

NYCC Exclusive: DC Batman Panel

So DC's Batman panel, featuring writers and artists and editors from the entire Bat-family of comic books, mostly turned out to be a Scott Snyder panel.

Which is just fine by me.

Snyder hasn't been a name I've known for very long, but having read all of his recent Batman work (both pre- and post- the new DC Universe) I can say with confidence that he's the best writer of the group. His artist for the New 52 flagship title Batman, Greg Capullo, was also in attendance at the panel, and while he wasn't super interesting or dynamic he did make the bold claim that Snyder will be remember in history as one of the legendary writers of Batman. The Snyder Era, if you will. This is not hyperbole.

My apologies for the quality. I'm better at mental pictures.

Still, there were a lot of other writers and artists introduced on the panel, so Snyder didn't have all that much time to talk about his own work (though during the Q&A he certainly emerged as the main architect behind the next year or two of Batman stories) but what he did give us was certainly interesting.

It seems Snyder's "obsession" with Gotham City as a character in itself, a motif that ran throughout his time on Detective Comics when Dick Grayson was under the cowl, will continue in his newly begun story. This story, which started with the reboot's Batman #1, will supposedly last about 11 issues. And in Snyder's own words, it's the story he would write if he were only given one chance to tell a story about Bruce Wayne.

The main villain(s) will be something called the Court of Owls. This ties into Snyder's love of Gotham as a character by being some ancient Gotham legend that at first Batman doesn't believe in. As the story progresses he is forced to admit the truth of its existence, and even discovers some deep historical connections to the Grayson family somehow. As owls are the natural predator of bats, Snyder described the personal story arc for Batman as a slow, painful discovery that he doesn't really know Gotham City at all. What once was his home and his natural ally and environment becomes instead an enemy. It seems we have some pretty organic, exciting, emotional stuff on the way.

Fortunately it's not all heavy and dark. Snyder is kicking up Bruce's love of toys. They showed a couple pages from upcoming issues which featured Bruce examining a body from the comfort of his cave using a holographic scanner that he set-up in the Gotham City Morgue, thus bypassing the constant need to sneak in and out of said morgue unseen. In addition, the page showed Jim Gordon in the actual morgue, examining the body simultaneously. Snyder made the observation that Gordon and Batman are the two loneliest men in Gotham; despite their families and allies they are solo warriors who shoulder their burdens in private, so having them solve a murder together from different locations highlighted that. Meanwhile in a bottom panel Nightwing admires the new technology but asks "Why couldn't you have installed that before you died?"

After the focus on Snyder the panel got less interesting:

-Tony Daniel talked about drawing Batman in a monotone (and the lack of love for him in the crowd was palpable.)

-David Finch admitted the relief at mostly just being responsible for the art this time around, leaving the story to Paul Jenkins, though we can expect many guest stars (Flash, Green Lantern, Legion of Doom) in The Dark Knight.

-Peter Tomasi was jolly and revealed that his new villain, Nobody, will indeed have a past with Bruce Wayne in his connection to Henri Ducard. He also spoke of writing Damian and admitted to stealing dialogue from his 8 year old son. Most importantly, his was the only story that got a verbal seal of approval from Mr. Snyder himself.

-Kyle Higgins, writer of Nightwing, was charming (and attractive) and discussed his longtime love of Dick Grayson. He pointed out that the old Nightwing solo series began after the storyline Prodigal, in which, yes, Dick stepped into Batman's shoes for a period of time. That time around, however, he took off to Bludhaven to make his own home and identity. Now, after his much more serious tenure as Batman, he feels tied to Gotham in a new way; he believes he understands, possibly better than even Bruce, and that it needs him.

-The guy writing Batman: Noel (Lee Bermejo) also showed up and said some nice stuff about Batman being a figure of literature by now, rather than merely pop-culture, and his attempts to tell a more classic lit story. There were also two editors on stage who said about 3 words combined.

The Q&A didn't reveal all that much, however the two questions that were burning deep in my soul were mercifully asked by others, and the news is good, if somewhat vague. Tim Drake WILL be coming back to the bat books--perhaps not with his own title, but he won't be gone for very long. Higgins himself expressed a great desire to have Tim in Nightwing and extolled the wonderful fraternal dynamic between Dick and Tim.

The other lovely piece of news was that while Stephanie Brown is noticeably out of the limelight right now, and ostensibly not even backstage, her return is, and I quote, "inevitable."

There is a Bat God.

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