At the New York Comic Con DC Comics: Batman -- Death Comes To Gotham panel the writers and artists behind the Batman family of titles at DC Comics gathered to speak to fans about the books and the Joker "Death Of The Family" storyline begun with "Batman" issue #13.
As scores of fans bearing Batman and Court Of The Owls masks poured into the crowded convention hall, Moderator and DC Entertainment SVP of Marketing John Cunningham began the panel by introducing the panelists: artist David Finch ("Batman: The Dark Knight"), writer Kyle Higgins ("Nightwing"), writer Gregg Hurwitz ("Batman: The Dark Knight"), writer Grant Morrison ("Batman, Incorporated"), writer Scott Snyder ("Batman"), artist Greg Capullo ("Batman"), colorist FCO Plascencia ("Batman"), inker Jon Glapion ("Batman"), writer Peter Tomasi ("Batman & Robin") and writer James Tynion IV ("Talon").
"Don't kill Nightwing!" fans from the audience yelled at Higgins as the panelists sat down.
"Why does Nightwing have to be Dick?" Higgins countered as the audience laughed and gasped.
Snyder then showed the image for "Batman" issue #16 where Joker grinned at the audience, festooned with costume parts from Robin, Batgirl and all the other Bat allies. Snyder said Joker believes that he truly is Batman's jester and it's his job to challenge Batman because "He believes if Batman survives them he comes out stronger, he's a better king," Snyder said.
"A year ago he allowed his face to be cut off...and he also has a secret on Batman that's going to come out later on," Snyder said adding, "Joker [says to the Bat allies], 'You don't deserve him....I'm going to show you how he loves us more than you and he wishes you dead, and then we're going to make you dead.'"
Capullo then admitted he read the internet buzz over the comic and asked the audience if they thought "Batman" lived up to the hype, smiling as the audience screamed back in unison, "Hell yes!"
"He's so nice...but behind that mask, he's got this deep, dark black well that's a very frightening place -- I'm afraid of the guy!" Capullo joked about Snyder as the audience laughed.
"I'll call him about what the Joker should do...and he's like, 'Hold on, I'm at a soccer practice. I'll be right there, kids! So he'll cut off his own face,'" Higgins said as the crowd laughed again.
Cunningham then brought up "Batman Incorporated" writer Grant Morrison and artist Chris Burnham as the audience cheered.
Talking about "Talon" Tynion told the audience he didn't want to spoil too much about the storyline but promised, "new characters, brand new corners of Gotha's history to explore," Tynion said.
The audience gasped as Higgins brought up an image of "Nightwing" wearing the Joker's makeup and grinning like the Joker under his mask. "I was walking on the show floor and people are building the sticks from the Gotham City game...the fact there are things people are making from a character I'm working on is awesome," Higgins said.
"I don't want to get into what the Joker perceives about Nightwing's [fears]...but it ties into and dovetails into everything we've been doing for the first year and a half now, with Dick's nest in Gotham," Higgins added.
Batman group editor Mike Marts took to the podium and asked the audience if there was any better group of creators at the con, to which the audience screamed in unison, "Hell no!" He then showed cover images for "Batgirl," "Red Hood" and "Teen Titans," all also looking like Joker.
Tomasi showed the image for "Batman and Robin" #16 where Joker-faced Damian and Batman fight each other. "It's been great to explore this cool character Grant created and take him to some hard places emotionally," Tomasi said of his book.Tomasi also told the audience there was a "kick-ass" cover by Andy Kubert coming out soon for the "Batman and Robin" annual.
Marts labeled the "Catwoman" Joker tie-in as, "Lots of fun," adding that seeing Ann Nocenti's Catwoman take on the Joker.
An image for "Batman Incorporated" issue #7 came up on the screen and Morrison told the audience, "We're not part of 'Death Of The Family' but we do have family and there will be death!"
Labeling the issue as the wrap-up of everything he'd been working on and that issue #5 would revisit the future Damian world. "There's things I've never done with Batman before that I'm doing in this storyline," Morrison added.
"Batman: The Dark Knight" issue #15 was the next image teased showing Scarecrow and Batman. "This story just gets bigger and darker and enormously grand in this huge scope," Hurwitz said. Marts showed an image of new "Dark Knight" artist Ethan Van Scriver's beginning of Batman showing Batman climbing out of the Mad Hatter's hat.
"The one guy I wanted more than anybody else was Ethan," Hurwitz said, adding, "I called and...the first thing he said was, 'Hey I've been looking into you all morning because I heard Finch is leaving the title!'"
Fans then rushed to the floor microphone as Cunningham opened the floor to audience questions and Marts told the first fan questioner that there were no plans to involve Huntress in the "Death" storyline.
"Harley has a really big story in Suicide Squad with Joker," Snyder told the next Harley Quinn fan, adding that readers will see more of the Red Hood gang after the Joker story, before launching into the next arc that may involve the Riddler.
A Scottish fan asked what Morrison thought of Snyder's work and vice versa.
"Grant's probably the greatest influence on me as a writer...his fearlessness, issue to issue and to take these visionary ideas...seeing that play out is something that, even though our writing is different, challenges me," Snyder said.
"Scott Snyder who?" Morrison joked as the audience laughed. He then told the audience more seriously, "Having to keep up with him is great, it's inspiring me to do better work...this is the best time to be a Batman comic fan, and a Batman movie fan."
A fan who Morrison advised to try magic out four years ago told him, "It worked!" He then asked if what the Bat group was working on would actually change things forever.
"Yes, it will," Snyder assured the fan, explaining that the Joker idea organically arose from the writers. "It's not like there's one big death and that's it...each book is changed because the Joker challenges the characters in each one of those books...and that will have massive ramifications," Snyder added.
Higgins told a "Nightwing" fans that there was no Titans cameos coming up but Dick had adventures with some of the old Teen Titans. The audience then cheered and whistled as the fan pleaded for a Tim Drake solo book.
The next audience member to the microphone wanted to know if there were plans for Bat Cow. "We're taking Bat Cow on the darkest journey he's ever been on," Morrison joked.
"I just called Bat Cow him, but he's a lady!" he added as the audience laughed.
Snyder stated that in his mind the Batman continuity stood, but he didn't want to trip up fans with trying to talk about every single detail of the past decades. "We're moving forward with him as a character who has a rich history," Snyder added.
To a fan who labeled himself a Damian fan Morrison asked the audience, "Do you remember when people hated Damian?"
"It's a likeable hate!" Tomasi said as the audience laughed.
The panelists stated what they loved about Batman, all of them citing the fact that he has no superpowers -- he's a man yet has to tackle "his inner demons" to fight for good.The next audience member told the panelists he loved how each one had such a distinct tone.
"No one's ever mistaken me for Grant Morrison," Higgens joked.
"Who wants to watch me shave Kyle Higgins?" Morrison asked as the audience laughed.
A man dressed as Starro ended the panel by asking what Joker though what Batman's mission was and why he wanted to make them stronger. "Joker sees himself and the villans as Batman's real family and having the family is forsaking his family...he doesn't see it as Batman as serving his mission, he sees it as being abandoned," Synder said, closing the afternoon's panel.