Arno Bogaerts writes for Bleeding Cool
While most of DC's Batman centered presence at New York Comic Con revolves around the Caped Crusader's 75th anniversary, the Batman: Gotham Rising panel on Friday looked to the future of the Batman line. An amazing line-up of talent was gathered here under moderator John Cunningham and group editor Mark Doyle to talk all things Batman (and family): including Batman's Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, Detective Comics' Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, Marc Andreyko (Batwoman), James Tynion IV (Batman Eternal), Peter Tomasi (Batman & Robin) and the new Batgirl team of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr. Some new artwork was shown, but overall no great new revelations or announcements were made and no one brought up Scott Snyder's recent successful attempt to undo the higher Batman issue price…
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo discussed the new "Endgame" story arc in which, yes, The Joker returns. The duo planned this story for two years, and it is definitely a continuation of the "Death in the Family" arc. This time though, it'll be big, loud and muscular as hell. While the story celebrates Batman's 75th, The Joker wants in on the festivities too (even though he originally appeared a year later). The Joker we saw in "Death of the Family" was described as a "nice guy Joker", the one in "Endgame" is the exact opposite.
During the story, Batman's nemesis will get the spotlight in several back-up stories written by James Tynion IV. Here he is viewed through the eyes of several psychopaths, each presenting a different take on his origin. Kelley Jones will draw the first one, next up are Graham Nolan, John McCrea, Sam Kieth and Dustin Nguyen.
Scott Snyder was very tired since his three year old son kept him up. Apparently he had nightmares about creamed corn. A interesting concept for a new Batman villain, to be sure.
Weekly series Batman Eternal was described as "one big toy box", where the creators can play in the greatest toy box of all (Gotham City) and smash them up a little. Everything will escalate in the third act, where there's an ever bigger villain than Hush now, and the mystery keeps deepening. The return of Stephanie Brown as the Spoiler was met with widespread approval from the audience. She will become one of Batman's greatest assets, but the knowledge she holds puts her on the radar of several assassins, starting with the Flamingo.
With Batgirl, the new creative team felt it was important to do something different with Barbara Gordon. They agreed she works best as a more positive contrast to Batman, with a "different kind of smarts". In a two-page spread from Batgirl #35, her photographic memory was transitioned to the page and Babs Tarr was praised for her art. Fletcher compared her work to Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira, while to Stewart she was the invisible third writer of the book.
In Batman & Robin, Bruce Wayne has had enough time to mourn the loss of his son Damian, said writer Peter Tomasi, and now it's "kick-ass" time. Pages were shown were Batman travels to Apokolips in a new Hell armor and beats up Para-Demons while we saw Darkseid's son Kalibak anticipate the return of his father. Batman versus Darkseid is coming up in issue #37 and the story leads into "Robin Rises".
Arkham Manor – where Bruce Wayne opens his house to host the criminally insane – was discussed as a fun book with a simple premise that leads to interesting stories, while Gotham by Midnight will become a "spooky cop book" where a unit is tasked by Batman and commissioner Gordon dealing with the more supernatural side of Gotham. Gotham PD meets The X-Files. Gotham Academy was discussed in more detail. There's a mystery to the old buildings that is deeply tied to the history of Gotham and Batman himself. Main character Olive Silverlock doesn't like Batman, and there's clearly some history there, while the new student Maps Mizoguchi serves as an enthusiastic counterpart. The relation to the Batman/Robin dynamic was made very obvious.
Batwoman will soar higher than ever before when she goes up into space with her sister. Appearances by Clayface, the Demon and Ragman are planned and Georges Jeanty (Serenity, Buffy) will be the new artist with Rafael Albuquerque doing covers.
The new Detective Comics will feature Anarky, while there's also some Mad Hatter in there. Upon asked for some spoilers, Manapul and Buccellato simply stated that "someone dies, and Batman goes to investigate". Anarky, on the other hand, will be bringing the people of Gotham "the gift of choice".
A small Q&A followed, where the panel was asked about the use of references to Batman lore (like the many Batman '66 and Batman: The Animated Series easter eggs in Gotham Academy) and the prospect of a Stephanie Brown ongoing series. Batman group editor Marc Doyle said that he "has a lot of pitches on his desk", but left it at that.
Arno Bogaerts writes about comics, superheroes and philosophy. He is an editor for Belgian pop culture blog Brainfreeze and Glitch Magazine and contributed to several "Superheroes and Philosophy" publications.