In 1939, the world of comics was forever changed with the debut of Batman. Now, 80 years later, some of DC's top creators have gathered at Comic-Con International in San Diego to celebrate the Dark Knight's legacy.
First to the stage was DC Daily's Tiffany Smith, who was then joined by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Cecil Castellucci, Brad Walker, Peter J. Tomasi, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.
To kick things off, Tiffany asked the panelists about their introductions to Batman.
"My parents bought me Dark Knight Returns when I was so young," King said. "That comic changed me. DKR is still my favorite Batman comic."
"I had two older brothers so that was sort of my introduction to Batman," Gerads said. "But also, who remembers those superhero Burger King cups?"
"For me, it was Adam West," Castellucci added. "I loved him so much that I even invited him to my birthday party. So my mom sewed my dad a Batman costume and he gave me these omnibuses of the Golden Age and Silver Age Batman stories."
"I thought about this a lot having recently started on Detective," said Walker. "The books blew up around "Death in the Family," and then the '89 movie, the cartoon. I feel like you couldn't escape Batman and I was so immersed for years and years as a kid."
"I think it was the show with Adam West, as well, the reruns," Tomasi said. "In the comics, stuff, it was the Jim Aparo years. Just that energy he brought to the character."
"Dark Knight Returns and Year One made Batman immediate to me," said Snyder. "There was always this kind of drawback because at core, he's this guy who suffered this tragedy. His parents were killed over nothing. And yet, he turns his life into this engine of meaning."
"My older cousin had given me my first Batman comics," Capullo said. "The part that really gave me thrill, though, same as Scott, was Dark Knight Returns. I would force my friends to read the book. To me, that's a masterpiece. The older you get, the more relatable it becomes. It's a book that just keeps on giving and delivering."
Regarding the '66 Batman show, Capullo said that despite its campiness, it was serious to him. He then recalled an episode in which Batman and Robin notice letters missing from a bowl of alphabet soup.
"He was a very kind Batman too," Castellucci added. "And I wanna give a shoutout to the ladies. He had a very formidable opponent in Catwoman."
"I remember I was at my grandparents' house watching reruns," King said. "It was a King Tut episode and a tomb closed on him and I remember thinking, wow, I just watched the last Batman episode. There's no way he's getting out of this one."
Tiffany then asked the panelists what it's like rewatching Batman content from their youth different ages.
"I love doing that," Walker said. "They put the animated series on Blu-ray and I'd watch them as I'd go to bed. The animated series was huge to me, and I was so into the books at the time."
"I introduced my oldest stepson to the '66 series," Capullo said. "Once he got adapted to that, he was all over it. He loved it, corny as it was. And listen, I still love it,"
"There's a two-part episode about the origin of Robin," Gerads said about watching B:TAS as a child. "At one point, I leaned in and hit my head on the TV and had to go to the ER."
"As you get older, it becomes enhanced," said Castellucci.
Next, Tiffany asked about Robin's importance in Batman stories.
"The thing about Dick that makes him amazing to me is he has the exact same origin as Batman," King said. "He's the optimist of the DCU. It's a tale of what the attention of a good father or friend can do to you. Batman's greatest accomplishment was creating someone that's not Batman."
"I agree 100%," Snyder added. "Self-awareness, that's the gift."
"And the great thing about Batman and Batman and Robin is you can write stories for both," said Tomasi. "That's what's great about the character.
Regarding Damien being a big player in Detective Comics, Tomasi said, "I definitely wanted to bring him in. If you leave Batman alone, I get a little antsy. I love the banter between them. He is really the perfect Robin if you want one that has all those special skills and talents that can justify having a 10-year-old out at night."
"The great thing about the way you write that character was that it's about Batman's arc," Snyder said to Tomasi. "He's trying to train him to be better than him."
Tiffany than steered the conversation to Batgirl.
"I'm coming in [to Batgirl] on Year of the Villain," said Castellucci. "She's really gonna be challenged and shaken to her core. What I love about Batgirl is she very much functions in her own way but doesn't have that same connection with the Bat-family."
Artwork from Batgirl #37 was then previewed for the crowd.
Next, Tiffany asked Snyder and Capullo about "The Court of Owls."
"I think Scott was brilliant when he created the Court of Owls," Capullo said. "Batman thinks he knows Gotham better than anyone. He's arrogant. I think that was brilliant. I'm very proud to be involved with the Court of Owls and to be a collaborator."
"I think the thing that makes Batman most enduring is he's simple," Snyder added. "You take the things that give you fuel and use it. That core thing is so simple. With Last Knight on Earth, it comes full circle. You're dealing with a future where everyone decides the villains are the real shepherds. I love this book, I'm really proud of it. I really do believe it's the best thing we've done."
Tiffany then asked about The Joker's head in the lantern.
"I'll just say that was one part of the pitch where, right then, I'm sold," Capullo said.
"Joker has been a part of every story we've done," Snyder added. "For me, Batman is about taking something like a meaningless act, like the death of his parents, and instead find meaning. And Joker, in retaliation, says nothing you do has meaning. This one is about Joker finally being confused about if he was right or not. It makes a really good endcap. Right now, I'm so proud to have it coming out when Batman is so variable."
Next up, Tiffany asked about "City of Bane."
"Since Issue #50, I've been tearing down Batman for 25 issues," King said. "It's been tough to see Batman down and now we're finally at the point, in Batman #75, this is his John Wick, the puppy died. I'm just excited to write some kick-ass comics. It's the culmination of four or five years of work."
King went on to note the similarities between Batman and Bane in that they both possess immense willpower.
This prompted Tiffany to ask the panel who their favorite Bat-villains are.
King, of course, said he really loves Kite-Man; Gerads said Professor Pyg; Castellucci said the new villain from her upcoming Batgirl run; Walker said he likes the creature-like villains, a la Man-Bat and Clayface; Tomasi said his changes depending on which villain he's writing and immersing himself in; Snyder said he loves writing new villains but also The Joker; and lastly, Capullo praised a number of Batman villains, noting that he's excited about drawing Bane in Last Knight on Earth.