Holy Bat-panel, Batman! On Friday afternoon at New York Comic Con, Tom King ("Batman"), David Finch ("Batman"), Scott Snyder ("All-Star Batman"), Julie and Shawna Benson ("Batgirl and the Birds of Prey"), Steve Orlando ("Batman: Night of the Monster Men"), Tim Seeley ("Nightwing") and James Tynion IV ("Detective Comics") joined forces to discuss what's in store for Gotham's resident crime fighters: the Batman family.
Asked how they conduct their work together, King said, "David Finch is one of the best artists in comics."
"I don't really get involved in the story. When I have a writer that's as great as Tom is, I just want to bring that across as best I can," Finch added.
"I really should say it was easy... and I was cool with it, but I was scared crapless," King said of following up Snyder and Greg Capullo's run on the title. "Scott and Greg [Capullo]'s run is bar none the best in 75 years of history. The best thing I could to do was to honor that run was to try to be as good as it... I aimed for the fences."
"It's all going to go back to 'Batman' #1," King shared, recounting how Batman faced his own death and was saved at the last minute by Gotham and Gotham Girl -- a moment that gave Batman some hope, though it was crushed soon after. "The driving moment of this arc is trying to hold onto that hope... he's going to have to learn that there is no other hero for Gotham but Batman."
"Our next arc is called 'I am Suicide.' It's pretty simple: Bane has something Batman wants... so Batman forms his own Suicide Squad out of his foes in Arkham," King said of the next "Batman" arc, comparing it to "Mission: Impossible" and "Dirty Dozen." "I guarantee you it's going to be one of your favorite Batman stories of all time. If it isn't, I'll quit the book."
Ventriloquist, Punch and Julie, Bronze Tiger and Catwoman will join Batman on his mission. However, Ventriloquist will be without his puppet.
"The issue I'm just wrapping up right now... the splash page is going to shock and upset some people. We're in negotiations with Mark [Doyle] right now about how far we can push that one," Finch said of the latest issue he's working on.
As to "All-Star Batman," Snyder shared, "I knew Greg [Capullo] wanted to take some time off, and I was very excited about that because he needed to own something outside of the grind, and I realized I had some stories I wanted to tell with these big villains... Why, essentially, these characters are so scary to me. Why these characters are so scary in this point of time... Every arc would be something that would be a new challenge... This book, for me, is taking the Batmobile, off-roading, and having a blast."
"I wanted to do a story that took Batman out of Gotham... a place where he can't hide," Snyder explained. "KGBeast is my favorite thing in this thing... It's the most fun I have had. Next issue is my favorite. We're bringing back some really deep-cut characters."
"I wanted to do a series that would let me go off way off the road... because Greg [Capullo] is coming back," he teased, referring to a big project "he can't really talk about" right now. "This series is for me to explore all my crazy ideas before Greg comes back."
The Bensons also discussed bringing humor to their "Batgirls and the Birds of Prey" series. "Captions were a thing we weren't aware of in terms of location," Benson explained. "That was all the editors, telling us to put anything that's funny in [the caption]."
"It's so different from television! The thing we learned is we can go bigger. It's the note the artists hate to hear... but that was something we learned along the way," Benson shared.
"We're used to minimizing... but here, it's like, 'We can explode a helicopter! In every issue!' That was fun," Benson added.
"We write all the characters. There isn't 'I write Batgirl, she writes Black Canary.' I would say you are much more aligned with Black Canary, and I'm much more aligned with Batgirl. We're an amalgamation of Huntress," Benson explained.
"You will find out who is Oracle. That is a thing that will happen. There's a really nice B story that's been forming. We are probably going to add a teammate," Benson teased.
"It will come in the next arc. In #8," Benson confirmed.
"One of things we're trying to highlight is their similarities and their differences. Why do these women gel as a team?" she continued.
"I just wish Dick would just pick something and stick with it," Seeley joked, then addressed how Nightwing has bounced from a spy book to a superhero book. "At this point, I've spent so much time with Dick Grayson... his words just flow out of my fingers, but having the world around him built up is a big challenge."
"The Parliament of the Owl thing... there's no way Dick was going to think they're cool," he continued. "The Parliment of the Owls is obviously the bad guys... but Raptor, on the other hand, is sympathetic." That way, Seeley argued, Raptor could have more of an influence on Nightwing.
"In issue #7 and #8... we come back to Raptor... it's a very personal storyline," Seeley revealed. He also mentioned an upcoming crossover with Superman in "Nightwing" #9 and a return to Bludhaven later on.
As to the "Night of the Monster Men" crossover between the Bat-titles, Orlando said, "The cool thing is, like you said, it's just one night. It made it a nice opportunity to take everything that's happened in 'Batman,' 'Detective Comics' and 'Nightwing'" and make it like a "disastrous family reunion."
"The real crisis in 'Night of the Monster Men' is that people can't hide what's going on with them anymore," he added. He described the event as "one bad night in Gotham" and described a moment where "Batman wears Clayface" in order to fight Gotham Girl, which will happen an upcoming issue.
"What 'Detective' couldn't be was ' just the other Bat-book.' The thing I wanted to do was write the Batman team book I've been waiting for my entire life," Tynion recalled. "I love team books, and this is my first chance to have a team I love and shake them... this is a consequential book. This is not just off the side. This is the most important book in these characters lives so far."
In Tynion's next arc, "The Victim Syndicate," Batman and his team will come up against a group whose members were caught in the crossfire between Batman fighting his villains. What's more, Batwing and Leslie Thompkins will be brought into the fold.
"As far as the Bat-family knows, Tim Drake has just died... to the family itself, Tim Drake died against the Colony's drone attack," Tynion explained. "Building that moment was one of the hardest things I've ever written because Tim Drake is my favorite... I knew what was coming, and I knew that there were these big plans for the character. I was sitting in a room with Geoff Johns and I said, 'I want these pieces... just as Tim starts to enter this bigger story'... I want Tim Drake to be one of your favorite characters."
Tynion also weighed in on the two-part Batwoman story in "Detective Comics" as well as the "Batwoman" solo book. "This is going to be a very global book," he shared. "When I first sat down with Marguerite [Bennett], we started talking about what things are the most interesting that haven't been explored with Kate... Bruce Wayne's parents were killed by the idea of faceless crime... The difference with Kate is her mother was killed by faceless terror, and she build herself into a solider... The way they approach that differently is at the heart of that. Kate is still trying to find herself... We've also seen her become lost in a way that Bruce never did."
"During Kate's lost years, she was all off the globe trying to find a path for herself," he continued. "We'll see moments of that past come back to haunt her present... She is going to stay a member of the 'Detective' team... These are her own little side adventures. We are so excited... We've plotted out a year full of stories."
A fan asked the panel how Batman will factor into "the big 'Watchmen' confrontation." "I think we can say, in 'Batman' #9, the first at what that huge story is starts there," King revealed.
"We just saw a little flash of that story at the end of 'Detective' #940," Tynion added, and joked that no one said anything "Watchmen."
Tynion added that Carrie Kelly will not factor into any of the Batman books outside of "Dark Knight III: The Master Knight" in response to another fan question.
Asked if Alfred's daughter Julia Pennyworth would be making any appearances, Tynion had a very direct response. "Check the pages of 'Batwoman.' Julia Pennyworth was one of my favorite characters that we introduced in the pages of 'Batman Eternal'... she's coming up."