Last year, DC Comics' massively successful DC Rebirth initiative breathed new life into the DC Universe. Now, at this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego, the publisher is looking back on how DC Universe: Rebirth fundamentally changed the way it approaches superhero comics and how the line continues to evolve. Marguerite Bennett, Julie Benson, Shawna Benson, Bernard Chang, Tim Seeley, James Tynion IV and Robert Venditti were on hand to offer special insight into their respective series.
DC All Access host Tiffany Smith opened the panel by welcoming fans and thanking them for their enthusiasm for the line.
"The last 'Source Code' in the [Batgirl and the Birds of Prey] arc is next month. We wrap it up; we have Catwoman and Poison Ivy joining the team for a while," Julie Benson shared. She revealed that the next issue will be a one-shot, followed by an arc titled "Manslaughter."
"We're pulling every female Gotham superhero and villain of Gotham together. Basically, all the men of Gotham are getting sick," she explained.
"We definitely don't want to step on any toes, so we sent a list of characters we wanted to use to our editor," she continued.
"We're borrowing your Detective girls," Shawna Benson added.
"The core of Detective Comics has been Batman's humanity," Tynion shared. He explained that, where Batman often tells young vigilantes to stop what they're doing, he wanted to take the series in a different direction. "I wanted to do the story where Batman says 'yes' and creates a system by which they can train to be better, safer heroes... It allows me to play Bruce off of different mirrors of him."
"[The series] is also building up to a moment I've been excited for since I first pitched this story," he said, referring to the Bat-Azrael armor. "We need to bring back to the power of [Azrael's] suit, and so that's what we get in this story. That is Jean-Paul Valley in that costume."
"The Batman/Zatanna part of this arc is sort of meant to show the danger of magic... that the rules of the world are a little less stable than everyone thinks they are," he continued. "You have to keep yourself constantly grounded. If Batman were to use magic to solve of his problems, it would be a very dangerous path."
"This fall is the return of Tim Drake in Detective Comics #25," he revealed. The storyline will reveal who has kept him captive and why. "It cuts straight to the heart of who Tim Drake is as a character."
"[Blockbuster] thinks Bludhaven is his city... and he hates that there's this young upstart," Seeley said of Nightwing.
"Tiger Shark has actual pet tiger sharks," he joked. "He had moved out of Gotham and taken over Bludhaven, which really ticked off Blockbuster. For some reason, I really like Tiger Shark... I used him in Grayson, I use him here. He has a hype man that follows him around. I'm like, 'This is hilarious.' That's the primary reason I put him in everything... He likes to keep things in a cage. He likes to have trophies. That's what he thinks of Bludhaven... that doesn't go well for him."
"We bring back the Spiral stuff, and we see Dick who's comfortable being Nightwing again and suddenly has to go back to spy stuff again," he revealed. The arc will being Huntress back again. "Part of their problem is always going to be that they keep changing positions in their life. They're like ships in the night... this will explore that relationship."
"Well it doesn't have any Tiger Sharks, which I regret now. We just finished up our first arc," Bennett said, referring to Batwoman. She brought up Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams' run on the character, saying, "We're revisiting this missing year where she disappeared."
She described her process with co-writer Tynion, who she referred to as her "brother," as going to a Mediterranean restaurant and thinking up the worst thing they could possibly do to the characters.
"Kate is a bigger figure than just the leader of this team. She's out off in the world," Tynion explained. "This is a character we've been talking about what we wanted to do with since we were doing back-ups... The series sort of came to life and we were able to build something together that I think is very additive to the larger mythology of Kate Kane and it is building toward something that will be life-changing for Kate." According to him, Batwoman #6 will revisit "the worst version of herself" from the future, where she runs a militaristic colony.
"The first four issues were dancing around the mystery of Kate's past and this lost year... so you're getting bits and pieces of the mystery to put together yourself," Bennett shared.
Issue #5 will provide more answers. "Everyone has a past. Everyone has a future, so issue #5 shows the consequences of her actions," she added. "The new arc that's going to be starting with issue #7... will be all this momentum about family and failure. We're going to be diving into Scarecrow and psychedelia. She is going to get frickle-frackled up."
"This is her embracing the same philosophy that Jacob Kane embraced in the first arc of Detective Comics," Tynion said.
"Comics is a team effort," Batman Beyond artist Chang shared. "We all need to work together to create a good book every month, so a lot of that is trust."
"When I was younger, we used to watch the cartoons on the TV. Sometimes you'd see the older versions of our favorite DC villains and heroes," he recalled. "The next storyline takes Terry Guinness to Ra's al Ghul," who will be Damian Wayne in the comic.
Chang will write and pencil Batman Beyond #13. "It is a pleasure and an honor to draw them, but every month when I get a new script or plot... it's as exciting as it was when I was a young kid reading comics."
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps writer Venditti said he enjoys the challenge of writing a team book and described the four main Green Lanterns as each others' supporting cast.
"Issue #25 is the culmination of the first full year of the series," he explained. "Now it's all going to fall apart because of forces that are beyond [John's] control... Starting with issue #26, we have a New Gods story with Rafa Sandoval."
"Detective Comics is definitely going to tap into that larger story, particularly in that storyline 'Lonely Place of Living,'" Tynion explained. "It starts answering some questions surrounding Mr. Oz... in terms of the larger DC mythos, as a co-writer on The Forge and The Casting... I've been very involved with all that... I can't wait for you guys to see what we've been cooking up because it's the craziest thing I've seen since I started working at DC Comics."
Seeley described the Metal issue of Nightwing as "face-meltingly weird."
"We are not crossing over or involved in the larger Doomsday story. They're just kicking it in Gotham," Shawna Benson said of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. According to Bennett, Batwoman as a title will also be separate, although the character will be involved through Detective Comics.
Asked if New Gods storyline in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps will tie into Tom King and Mitch Gerards' New Gods series, Venditti said, "No, it does not. It has sort of... connections, loosely, to Metal. It's happening in the same space."