Last year marked the 75th anniversary of Batman. What does this year have in store for the Dark Knight after such a momentous milestone? That was the question going into Friday's Batman panel at WonderCon.
On hand were Brenden Fletcher (Batgirl, Black Canary), Tom King (Grayson), Greg Pak (Batman/Superman), and Babs Tarr (Batgirl), with the panel moderated by DC All Access' Tiffany Smith.
Batman/Superman #20 was the first comic talked about, with Pak talking about Superman's "Joker," an enemy equally powerful as Superman. He hinted there's a big link to Superman's past, including Kandor. Then an image of Batman attacking Superman's grandma was shown. Smith then talked about the Batman/Superman Annual with Superman's newest power, the Solar Burst power. Smith was infatuated with the 'epic' ending to the annual.
Moving on to Batgirl, Fletcher and Tarr talked a bit about their end on their first arc. Issue #41 is "going to be a lot of fun for us," said Fletcher. They didn't want to make the arc feel like Birds of Prey, so they were leading it gently to a new take on Dinah Lance.They're setting up the supporting cast to be a bigger part of both Barbara's life as well as Batgirl's.
Black Canary's rock star vibe was then discussed. No songs coming out from the comic yet, but Cameron Stewart and Fletcher wanted to focus on a new role for Dinah, with music playing an important role in the backdrop, citing Cliff Chiang's Runaways and the Bomber Black Canary pin-up. The next arc of Batgirl (issue 41) is built around a list that Tarr gave Stewart and Fletcher, "a list of fun things."
Fletcher enjoys writing Gotham Academy with Becky Cloonan because of the freedom editor Mark Doyle lets them get away with. They plotted out the first 6 issues at the very beginning, and discovered they stuck with the outline pretty well. While the title is about Batman, Fletcher was a little hesitant at first focusing on the students. For influences, Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, Harry Potter, and House of Anubis came to mind for Fletcher.
King enjoys sneaking in old movie references to his comics. With Grayson #8, King explained it was the climax to the first "season" of Grayson. He revealed there's a puzzle in there, with little hints to every other issue throughout. "Dick Grayson is a sexy man," King blurted out at one point, explaining some of the over-the-top situations (i.e. the schoolgirls) in the series. Grayson's upbringing was then discussed, and how he and Bruce differed in upbringing; Batman was raised traveling around the world, and Grayson was simply raised by Batman. In June when the series returns, there will be a new status quo, and Grayson will be returning to the DC Universe. King then debunked rumors that DC being notorious for having scripts constantly rewritten by DC Editors, claiming he's constantly being pushed to do more exciting things.
When asked what character they would love to get their hands in the future:
Tarr: "Any of the bad girls."
King: "Grayson." [Fletcher gives King the death glare]
Pak: "Catwoman, because she's endlessly fun."
When asked what character they were surprised got a big reaction from fans:
Pak: "…Toy Man as Toy Master…"
Fletcher then revealed he, Tarr, and Stewart had been hanging out recently, having fun planning out future upcoming Batgirl issues.
Fan questions from the audience [unless quoted, responses are paraphrased]:
Fan #1: For Grayson, are we going to see more of the body-part things? (not gratuitous butt shots)
King: "No storyline ever dies because I'm not that creative." He added "Maybe."
Fan #2: Gotham Academy: Is Damien there to stay?
Fletcher: "Damien is there," adding Damien factors into the mythos.
Fan #3: Wanted to ask about controversy in regards to Batgirl variant:
Fletcher: "The commentary is actually a part of the story…it's her ultimate triumph over the Joker."
Fan #4: Man-Bat coming to Gotham Academy?
Fletcher: "The science Teacher is Professor Milo, and Batman found out he;s not a great guy." New Science teacher at Gotham Academy. Not Grayson: "The Science of Looking Good!"
Fan #5: Damien ever going off on his own?
Fletcher: Son of Batman coming out later this year.
Fan #6: Why is Batgirl is written in the disabled sense, seeming very negative?
Fletcher: Part of canon, they inherited that when they came on the book. Cited Gail Simone's run. Started their run to seeing Barbara accepting what her life was and moving forward.
Fan #7: Can you bring Baby Doll, or Creeper, or Etrigan to Gotham Academy?
Pak: No promises to those characters, but challenge of writing Etrigan would be fun.
King: Grayson #9, six different DC characters are making an appearance.
Fan #8: Carrie Kelly as Robin or Batgirl?
Pak and Fletcher both have lots of love for the character, but no plans. She's in the New 52, however.
Fan #9: Felt very betrayed about the New 52 relaunch, why should I invest in this new universe? Why is it better?
Fletcher: We're just writers, we're just doing what we can. New fresh stuff, trying to give back super fun stories. Continuity is what it is.
King: Right there with you when it first happened. The essence of those characters is still there, and the love of those characters is what we're trying to give back to the fans. We read those comics, loved them, want to bring it back to the readers.
Fan #10: With the new Convergence story, after all the New 52 stuff, what's going to happen with that?
Pak: You gotta buy and read them all!
Fan #11: Would you be interested in your work eventually being made into an animated movie?
Pak: Planet Hulk, was happy with it, except they didn't ask him to voice The Hulk.Fletcher: Gotham Academy
King: Grayson TV show
Fletcher: Gotham Academy / Grayson crossover?
Panel ended with Fletcher and Pak asking the audience if they were interested in the two of them reading their comic scripts live with funny voices.