The Dark Knight returns this September with the conclusion of writer Grant Morrison's time-travelling tale "The Return of Bruce Wayne." However, at Comic-Con International's Batman: The Return panel on Friday, the DC Comics Bat-family of writers and artists discussed what exactly that return means for the DC Universe. On stage was DC Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler, Batman Group Editor Mike Marts, writers Gail Simone, Bryan Q. Miller, Paul Cornell, Paul Dini, Scott Snyder, Judd Winick and Grant Morrison and artists Frazer Irving, David Finch and Dustin Nguyen.
As the panel gets underway, CBR News was there to bring readers all the news on the panel's events.
Marts started things off by discussing the recent announcements regarding the Bat-books, including Tony Daniel as writer and artist on Batman, Pete Tomasi and Patrick Gleason on Batman and Robin, Snyder taking over Detective Comics, Cornell as writer on Knight & Squire, Finch as the writer and artist and The Dark Knight. Marts then turned the mic over to Morrison, who announced what's next for him in the Batman Universe-"Batman: The Return" one-shot and a new series, "Batman, Inc."
"All I'm going to tell you up front is basically it's almost a team book," explained Morrison. "I was looking at the Brave and the Bold cartoon which I love and I wanted to do that kind of thing-Batman with other people. We're come up with a structure that let's us do kind of a team book."
"This is why the book was called 'The Return of Bruce Wayne,'" he added. "This is what happens when Bruce is more in the equation and what he does with the Batman idea and turns it into a franchise."
The writers then all talked about their various series. Cornell joked that he plans on introducing at least 100 new villains in the "Knight & Squire" series. "We managed 50 in the first issue alone. This is a plot to kill the editors of DC through sheer hard work," he laughed. He added that his first arc featured Richard III brought back to life as a clone with an army of monarchs who try to re-conquer the world through Facebook. "That's what I'm doing right now."
In regards to his upcoming run on "Detective," Snyder said that "It's going to be back to basics, but with a new twist." The book will includedbackups about Commissioner James Gordon. "I'm really thrilled and honored to be doing this."
Dini will be writing a sequel to his "Detective" arc, "Heart of Hush" called "House of Hush" in "Streets of Gotham." The arc discusses the Wayne and Elliot families backstory much more than has been seen before. It also involves a prisoner released, one who went to jail long before Bruce's birth, but whwants to kill Bruce Wayne. "It's a long story. It's going to stretch into December, January and is just getting started right now."
Simone thanked fans for the sales of the relaunched "Birds of Prey." "Yay, go girls!" she said. "We're going to learn who the White Canary really is" the writer revealed. She also said that the arc is with artist Alvin Lee and takes place in Bangkok. "it's going to be amazing."
"Stephanie is White Canary," joked Miller. "She's not." The writer said that while Year one of "Batgirl" established Stephanie Brown as Batgirl, "Year two is more, 'I'm Batgirl. Now what?" He also develops her first rogues gallery as well as "A love interest she does want, a love interest she doesn't want and a love she'll never return. And she gets a car and a dog-Ace the Bathound."
Finch is finishing up "The Return." "There's a new costume for Batman that Grant had a lot of input in a lot of specific things that he wanted from just the look of Batman," he said. "I'm starting drawing a lot of big bats, it's a lot of fun. It's a great re-imagining and re-establishing of Bruce as Batman."
Morrison talked up the upcoming issue of "Batman & Robin." "The next issue does have a really good scene with Professor Pig does botox," he said. "There's a reason for it. He's actually already appeared in the issue that's out." In returns to "The Return," the writer said, "Batman the Return opens with five pages of bats. It's like a natural history document. But again, I can't tell you anything because I'm at the end of my story."
Questions then opened to the audience. In regards to the rumor of Quitely returning for the final three issues of "Batman & Robin," Morrison confirmed that he will not. Instead Frazer Irving and Cameron Stewart wrap up the series.
Later a fan asked whether previous Batgirl Cassandra Cain is possible. "We may see Cassandra Cain appear in an upcoming issue of one of our titles," said Marts. "Perhaps in November."
In response to a question on his upcoming "Detective" run, Snyder said he draws a lot of influence from the old series and that the book deals with "How Gotham is changing now that Bruce is back." "A lot of CSI: and high-tech" is involved. "This is really focusing on Batman as the world's detective as he tries to solve a series of mysteries that all tie together," he said.
In regards to Batman Beyond's return to the DC Universe, a fan asked if there might be a series written by Paul Dini. "That would be great," teased Marts. "I would pick up that comic."
Later, a fan asked about Bane and Deadshot's response would be to the return of Bruce Wayne. "You have to read 'Birds of Prey' to find out," laughed Simone.
Another fan asked about the future of Jason Todd. "I think we can all say comfortably that Jason Todd will be staying around," Winick said. "He won't have his own book." The writer joked that villains shouldn't have their own book, but when a fan pointed out that Simone writes a book with six villains, Winick said they're looking for five other Jason Todds. "We called it 'Jason Todd and Friends' for a month. But it sounded weird."
A fan asked about the possibility of a Black Canary and Zatanna team up. "Paul and I are discussing something, but we can't talk about it," teased Simone.
A fan brought up the relationship between Tim Drake and Batgirl. He asked whether Miller consciously made the decision to separate the two characters in order to help Stephanie stand on her own. "Exactly what you just said," replied Miller. "In the interest of Stephanie becoming her own person and not chasing after Tim anymore. She may end up bumping into Tim sometime in the future, but not at the moment."
In regards to the amount of Bat-titles, Morrison said that "I think it's good to have a lot of different Batman books. I much prefer you can write all these different stories." The writer mentioned how his Batman R.I.P happened the same time as Dini's "Heart of Hush. "You just have to buy into that because it's comics. But that must have been a hell of a week in Batman's life."
Another fan asked Cornell what it's like building his own world in his upcoming "Knight & Squire" book. "It's excellent. It's a beautiful tabla rasa," he said. "I took that as my cue and thought, 'Well, six issues, we can introduce an awful, awful lot. It's a big bang. It's a wonder feeling that we get to add and add and add."
A fan brought up whether Morrison thinks the Joker knows who Batman who. Although Morrison said he think the Joker does, he added, "It's not important to the Joker to know that. But who's going to say, 'Hey, I know your identity' to Batman. I think everyone at the Daily Planet knows about Superman but they say, 'Listen, don't say anything. He thinks we don't know and it's really important to him.'"
Later, a fan asked the panel if they could steal anything from the Bat-cave, what they would take. Winick wants the giant penny. "How much do you think the giant penny is worth," laughed Morrison in response. Cornell said he'd go with the Dinosaur. Snyder wants the' 60s Batmobile. Dini on the other hands wants the Denny O' Neil Batmobile. Bat cycle went to Simone. Alfred's tray said Miller. Any batmobile, said Finch. Bat-roller skates, laughed Morrison.
"I'll take Alfred," said Marts. "Not the tray."
"I thought that'd sound creepy," said Miller in response.
"You were right," laughed Morrison.
When a fan asked Irving if he's working on an issue of Morrison's eventual "Multiversity" series, Morrison himself injected "Yes you are Frazer Irving!" before the artist could respond.
The last question of the panel went to Miller, who discussed Batgirl heading into the greater DCU rather than sticking to the Bat-family as far as encounters.