It's already been a big New York Comic Con for Batman, with a major promotional presence for the forthcoming "The Dark Knight III: The Master Race," including a panel featuring Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson and Jim Lee on Friday.
The Bat-momentum continued Saturday afternoon with DC Comics' "Batman: The Bat-Universe" panel, with a high-profile lineup of current Bat-books creators: the "Batman" team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, "Detective Comics" writer Peter Tomasi, "Grayson" co-writers Tom King and Tim Seeley, lead "Batman and Robin Eternal" writer James Tynion IV, "We Are Robin" artist Khary Randolph and "Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death" writer Amy Chu.
The session started with talk of "Batman" #45, which is out Oct. 14. Snyder thanked the crowd for filling up the large "Empire Stage" room in NYCC, and then recapped the current arc, with Jim Gordon now serving as Batman. "The fact that you guys have been supportive, and sales are what they are on the book, means the world," Snyder said. The writer added that issue #45 is when several facets of the new storyline will start to come together.
Speaking of issue #46, Capullo asked the crowd if they wanted to see Bruce Wayne as Batman again, attracting enthusiasm. "That's not going to happen, but at least you're going to start to see how much he's been needed, and how much he's been missed," the artist said, adding that the issue will see Wayne -- even though he doesn't remember his past -- starting to realize what he meant, and wondering if he needs to "revitalize" that role.
Next topic: the weekly "Batman and Robin Eternal" series, which debuted this past week. "It's really, really exciting to be back in the mix with another weekly series," Tynion said. "We have reintroduced Cassandra Cain into DC continuity. [Artist] Tony [Daniel] absolutely destroyed on [issue #1]."
"You guys have no idea what's in store," Tynion said of the 26-issue series. "It's going to be a bit more focused and tighter. It's a paranoid mystery. We brought Cassandra Cain back in to the mix -- that might not be the only character we're bringing back in the story."
Tomasi talked taking on "Detective Comics" during the Gordon-as-Batman status quo. "It was really cool to get on 'Detective,' it was one of my favorite titles starting out as a kid," he said. Of the current direction, he said it was "really interesting" to get to write the unconventional take on Batman.
"We really see Gordon being a detective in ['Detective Comics' #46, out Nov. 4]." Tomasi added. "We've got a lot of cool plans coming up."
Chu talked "Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death," which will be illustrated by Clay Mann. "We all know her, but we don't actually know her," Chu said of Ivy. "This is like the dream gig for any writer." Chu said an overlooked aspect of Poison Ivy's character is that she's "Lex Luthor-smart -- and she'll kill you, too. She's not a psychopath. She has the capability of loving people. I'm going to talk about that in the series, too."
Randolph talked "We Are Robin," and being part of a creative team with multiple artists. "It feels like a group effort," he said. "I think we all bring our collective things to the table. It fits in the Bat-universe, but also has its own, separate look."
King talked the upcoming "Robin War," saying it's a "summer event in December." "This is a story about people who were inspired by the Robins and Batman, and saw these incredible figures in their lives and wanted to be them," King said. "You have kids running around trying to be like Batman. But not everybody can be Batman. So it caused some trouble. And then it causes some big trouble. Then it causes some major trouble, and Gotham is on fire. And then Dick Grayson comes in and saves the day."
Speaking of "Grayson," King said last month's issue #12 was the favorite comic he's written. "We want Grayson to be the fourth tier in the DCU along with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman," King said.
Moving to fan Q&A, Capullo answered a question about the enduring appeal of Batman. He said he liked how Batman was about being a "victor instead of a victim," when the circumstances of Bruce Wayne's life could have easily worked out in a different way.
Snyder told a fan that 2016 will be a big year for Robin in the main "Batman" series.
An audience member asked the panelists for their pick for favorite Robin. King: "I mean, Dick Grayson is the answer for everybody." Damian Wayne and Tim Drake also got votes.
Snyder spoke of his connection to Gotham City, saying he was influenced by his real-life growing up in New York. The writer said people come to cities like Gotham or New York to become the people they believe they can be, and "a lot of the time the city will become an antagonist to you, and throw everything it can at you, to make you feel like a failure." Gotham, he said, is the ultimate example of such a thing, calling it a "hero generator" -- because it tests people to overcome adversity.
Continuing, Snyder said that the current "Superheavy" arc, although it's the most "cartoony" story he and Capullo have told, it's also "deeply about what Batman means to the real world."
Snyder also said he "tried to avoid" Damian sometimes, because the character hits too close to home, as he can't imagine putting his own young son in danger.
A fan asked if there was a chance for Duck Grayson to return as Nightwing. "To me, he never stopped being Nightwing; he's Nightwing under cover as a spy, in different colors and with no mask -- but he has a beautiful face, so it's OK," King said.
"I get confused when fans say 'Bring back Nightwing!'" Seeley added. "He didn't go anywhere. We could do a superhero book, but we get so many miles out of the spy genre. He gets around the DC Universe more when he's Dick Grayson, Agent of Spyral."
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