CCI, DAY 1: DC's "Batman: War Games" Panel

[Batman #633]DC's Dark Knight was once again the center of attention at this year's "Batman: War Games" panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego. There has been much speculation about "War Games," the latest massive crossover event to come to the Batman universe. CBR News was on hand as the tight-lipped DC Comics creators gave up a few of their secrets.

Editor Bob Schreck: "There's stuff that's going to go on [in "War Games"] that's going to aggravate people, hopefully in good way." It seemed to be a consensus among the members of this panel, consisting of Mike Huddleston ("Batgirl"), Matt Idelson (Batman editor), Jock ("The Losers"), Matt Wagner ("Trinity"), Judd Winick ("Batman"), Bill Willingham ("Robin"), and Pete Woods ("Detective Comics"), that "War Games" would forever change the Batman universe. Beginning with a twelve cent introductory issue arriving the first week of August, "War Games" finds Gotham City in its most dire straights since, well, the last major Batman crossover. Gang violence and criminal activity has gripped Batman's protectorate, costing the lives of civilians and criminals alike, and Batman is caught in middle with no idea what happened. Spanning all the Batman comics (except "Birds of Prey" and "Gotham Central"), "War Games" will be 25 issues over five months that will close out 2004.

What everyone really wants to know is who will be involved in this grandiose story. Bob Schreck: "You are going to see a lot of the rouge's gallery and not all of them will look so good by the end of it. There's going to be blood." While they did not reveal which villains were going to make an appearance, it is clear that many of Batman's allies will figure prominently into "War Games." Nightwing is described by Schreck as a major player, while Robin and even ex-commissioner Jim Gordon will have important roles. When asked if any new characters would be introduced over the course of the event, the resounding response from everyone on the panel was "Yeah, kind of." Even the name, "War Games," leaves much to the imagination. Bob Schreck: "When you read it, you won't realize why it's called that for a while."

Details are obviously sketchy as DC hopes that this will be another success like "Fugitive/Murderer" and "No Man's Land" before it. Idelson and Schreck did, however, reveal some interesting tidbits concerning creative team changes. After "War Games," current Batman scribe Judd Winick will become the new ongoing writer for "Batman," and will remain as writer on both "Outsiders" and "Green Arrow." He is joined by Doug Mahnke in a storyline called "Under the Hood" featuring the return of the Red Hood. Anderson Gabrych ("Detective Comics") is taking over writing duties on "Batgirl" leaving DC's flagship "Detective Comics" for David Lapham ("Stray Bullets") and Ramone Bach in the form of a 12-issue run called "City of Crime".

In a surprise announcement, Matt Wagner has signed on to do a 12-issue Batman maxi-series called "Dark Moon Rising." (For more on this, read the Newsarama interview with Wagner.) This title is meant to support the upcoming "Batman Begins" movie and will chronicle events from Batman's early years. Being the caped crusader for a year now, Batman has become too reliant on his ability to scare common criminals. As Wagner explains, his cockiness will have a price: "What happens when you jump out and say 'boo!' and they say 'rrarrrr!' as a response?"

As usual, Bob Schreck had nothing but praise and thanks for both the creators and fans that have made Batman a success for yet another year. He is especially proud of the efforts that have gone into the last two years of planning and execution of "War Games": "Everyone jumped on this and really made every moment ping, so thank you."

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