Moderator: John Cunningham
In attendance: Geoff Johns, Kevin Conroy, Neal Adams, Greg Capullo, Scott Snyder, Jim Lee
This panel was really a celebration of all things Batman.
Cunningham started off by asking the panel who their favorite Batman villain was. Johns replied Joker. Conroy also replied Joker. His rationale was that everyone brings something different to the character. He really admired Mark Hamill’s take on the character and then was blown away by Heath Ledger’s performance.
This allowed Johns to tell the story of an unnamed DC writer who wanted to kill off The Joker “because every good Joker story had been told.”
Neal Adams selected Ra’s al Ghul as his favorite Bat-foe, though he was unsure how to pronounce the name. Capullo first selected Dr. Doom because “he’s got the cool metal mask.” But then he too picked The Joker because he’s a monster clad in human flesh. Snyder also selected Joker, because he’s adaptable and everything stil feels true to his core. He’s not crazy, he’s evil and he’s endlessly interesting. Jim Lee picked Catwoman as his fave, mainly because Julie Newmar had a big impact on him as a kid.
At which point Cunningham segued into the Batman ’66 tv series. Both Lee and Capullo took it seriously as kids. Lee mentioned that he had a fanboy moment having lunch with Adam West and Kevin Smith. Capullo was completely enthralled by the Batman episode featuring an alphabet soup decoder. Adams provided a dissenting view, stating the show lost him in the first episode with the “what a way to go-go” line.
In regards to his gritty reboot of Batman with Denny O’Neill, Adams gave a ton of credit O’Neill who drew from his background as a crime reporter on the night beat.
Adams also doesn’t view his Batman in Batman Odyseey as being any different from any other version of Batman. His take was to tell a novel lengthy Batman story and having Batman, like Sherlock Holmes, be one step ahead of the audience for the entire story.
Cunningham then turned the discussion to The Dark Knight Returns. Capullo gushed about DKR. He said that it’s the story that he gives to people who don’t read comics. He said that his 12 year-old son wasn’t into comics, but he forced him to read it and his son is a now a fan. It’s Snyder’s favorite book and he still has his original issues of the mini. To him DKR reflected the NYC around him at the time.
DKR inspired Jim Lee to get into comics. Lee’s favorite scene was when Bruce is taking a show and realizes that he’s shaved off his moustache and at the same time The Joker wakes up. Johns loved the “fixed the wrong face” moment with Harvey Dent.
Next on the Batman chronology was Batman: The Animated Series. Conroy genuinely didn’t realize what he was getting into when he got the part on the show. His familiarity with the character came from the Adam West show. He didn’t know how deep and dark the character was and had to learn that, with the help of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini.
Conroy then went on to say how he’s still shocked at how important the character has been to so many people, many of whom approach him and tell me. He gave an example of one young woman in Chicago, who grew up in the projects where death and gangs were a normal part of life. She had lost many friends. But she told Conroy that she would seek solace in BTAS and the she survived because the show kept her sane. Kevin told her that she’s the true hero. But the thing that Conroy learned was that true lesson of Batman is to never give up.
At this point Cunningham showed two animated shorts commissioned for Batman’s 75th Annivesary. The first was directed by Bruce Timm and the second, a Batman Beyond short, was directed by Darwyn Cooke.
Cunningham then turned his attention Hush. Despite being a superstar artist, Lee felt pressure working on Hush, because he hadn’t done a monthly book, wasn’t known for meeting deadlines, and that he also wanted Hush to be canon. So Mike Carlin, Mark Chiarelllo, Jeph Loeb and Lee made a pact to make the book, because no one thought they could. It started out in secret, but then became an actual project.
Lee also pointed out that in the beginning of the story he was very influenced by Frank Miller, so Batman is a bit blockier and bulkier. By the end of Hush, Batman is leaner and more akin to Adam’s athletic Batman.
In terms of working on All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, It was a dream come true for Lee because he was working on Batman with Frank Miller. Lee also said that there are scripts for future issues of that series and even pages drawn…
For Batman Earth One the mission statement was to be an introductory story. Johns pitched Gary Frank the idea of a novice Batman, a guy who really doesn’t have anything to offer other than a chip on his shoulder. The goal for the story was for him to realize by the end of the first book that Batman could be bigger than just a mission of personal vengeance. Johns also liked the portrayal of a more blue collar Alfred, who is not necessarily a good influence.
The second volume is being wrapped up now and will be out in the Spring of 2015. Johns describes it as being about identity. The Riddler is in the book. As is Croc, who is sort of returned to his roots. Harvey Dent and his twin sister Jessica Dent will be present. Also Jim Gordon teaches Batman how to be a detective. Johns also mentioned that there’s a plan for several more volumes.
The New 52 Batman was next up. Capullo and Snyder were truly flattered by DC’s enthusiasm for the project, as shown by their producing Court of Owls and Joker’s face masks. They love the response the book has gotten from everyone and they both want to stay in Gotham for a long time. Greg gushed about praise he got from Adams and how much it meant to him. Adams replied that his daughter forced him to read the book, so she really deserves the thanks.
Then Cunningham turned to the current arc, Endgame. Snyder said that Endgame is all about hate. The Joker is back and he’s got hate for Batman. If Death of a Family was about love, Endgame is definitely the other shoe dropping. It’s a story designed to be a celebration of Batman on his 75th Annivesary. It’s also a thank you to the fans and the culmination of what they’ve been doing since the New 52 began.
Kevin then pointed out that the writers inspire great characters and pointed out that great actors played Bat-foes both in Batman: The Animated Series and the Batman television series. The list of actors who worked on those shows are all-time greats.
Snyder spoke about his son is now all about Batman: The Animated Series having graduated from the Batman tv show. The point was made that the beauty of Batman is that there’s always a version of Batman to welcome you back to Gotham.
Speaking of Gotham, Johns noted that they’d been hard at work on Gotham for while and everyone was very happy with the reception the show has received thus far. His favorite character is Oswalt. Johns also teased that upcoming episodes would see the origins of Arkham Asylum, the introduction of Harvey Dent and the first meeting between Bruce and Selina.
Cunningham then played the trailer for Gotham, which closed out the panel.
Tags: Batman, Batman 75th Anniversary, Batman Beyond, Batman: The Animated Series, DC Comics: Earth One, Gotham, NYCC, NYCC 2014