Batman fans crowded into NYCC’s main stage Friday morning as creators from DC’s Bat Family books gathered to tease what’s next for Bruce Wayne and company. Led by DC All Access host Tiffany Smith, the panel included current Batman creative team Tom King and David Finch (writer and artist, respectively), All-Star Batman scribe Scott Snyder, co-writers Julie and Shawna Benson of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Nightwing writer Tim Seeley, Steve Orlando who masterminded the Night of the Monstermen crossover event, and Detective Comics writer James Tynion IV.
As the team behind the main book, King and Finch kicked things off by talking about what it was like to follow up Snyder’s beloved run on the book pre-Rebirth. “He did such a terrible job and we had to fix it,” King joked. He quickly relented, saying he was, “scared crap-less,” about he prospect and wanted to really make the character his own. “When Babe Ruth goes up ahead of you and hits a home run, you can’t just stand there and watch the strikes go by,” he added. Going forward, he said that the questions raised in Batman #1–which found the titular hero resolved to die in order to save people only to be saved himself by two new superheroes–will resonate for his entire run on the book. “He’s going to have to learn that there is no other hero for Gotham City,” he explained. He also teased that the next arc, “I Am Suicide,” finds Batman putting his very own Suicide Squad together, including: Ventriloquist, Bronze Tiger, Punch and Judy, and Catwoman, who he explained would basically be the book’s second lead going forward. “It’s going to be one of your favorite Batman stories of all time. If it’s not, I’ll quit the book,” he joked.
Luckily, it looks like King’s job is secure considering Snyder agrees that it’s one of the best Batman stories he’s ever read. In fact, he had nothing but praise for King, admitting that bouncing ideas off of him has even helped Snyder with All-Star Batman. “I’ve never had so much fun,” he said of the project. Though he also had fun with artist Greg Capullo (with whom he’s working on an as-yet unannounced project in the next few months) on the main title, the pressure of it weighs on you. For now, though, he teased that the upcoming third issue of All-Star is his favorite and that the idea driving the book for him was to, “do a series about why these characters I love are so scary to me.”
The Bensons were up next and as the resident rookies on the panel, they explained that there was a bit of a learning when it came to writing comic book scripts instead of TV—particularly in terms of what’s possible. “I could explode a helicopter in every issue if I want to,” Shawna said excitedly, explaining that the budget for their CW show, The 100 would never be able to afford such an extravagant habit. On a more realistic note, Julie noted that the book’s funny asides weren’t originally included in the issues. “That was the editors telling us to put the funny things in the thing,” she joked. She also teased that a new teammate would be joining the Birds during the next arc as well as a possible appearance of Nightwing himself, Dick Grayson.
Speaking of the original Robin, Seeley (who’s taken the character from Nightwing, to spy and back again) said that the character’s mutability is exactly why he’s been writing him for so long. “Who he is is so stable, that you can sort of switch him around,” he explained. He went on to say that his approach to writing this latest chapter in Dick’s life is through examining his early years in the circus and how the poverty and alienation of that lifestyle, “reinforced what he’d be like.”
While Orlando spoke briefly about the Night of the Monstermen event, saying he thinks of it as the worst possible version of a Bat Family reunion, it was Tynion IV who finished off the panel and talked about the Bat Family at large. Tynion, who professed to loving team-up books said that he didn’t want Detective to be, “just another Bat book.” “This is the most important book in the characters’ lives right now,” he added. That’s particularly true for Tim Drake, who seemed to die in a recent issue but was actually just kidnapped unbeknownst to his teammates. Despite that, Tynion confessed that Drake is his favorite character in all of comics and said he wanted to make readers feel the same way. Though he didn’t hint as to how long the team would keep thinking Tim was dead, he did say that we’ll learn more about Clayface in upcoming issues and the book’s co-lead, Batwoman, would stay integral to the story despite getting her own spinoff series in February. “She’s a character who’s still finding herself,” he said and added,”we’ve seen her become lost in a way Bruce never did.”
In a break with comic con tradition, Smith took questions from Twitter instead of the audience and one fan inevitably asked how the Bat books would tie into the big Watchmen confrontation. The assembled panelists sat in awkward silence for a moment before King teased that readers would get their first hints of that larger confrontation in Batman #9. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.