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Special Edition: NYC 2014: 75 Years of Batman

Michael Moccio ’16 / Executive Editor

Panelists for the 75 Years of Batman at Special Edition: NYC include Gail Simone, James Tynion IV, and Greg Pak. This is Pak’s first Batman’s panel.

July 23rd will be Batman Day and celebrated in book stores all across the country, including libraries, book stores, and comic shops. They’re being given stuff by DC Comics to give to fans. Detective Comics #27 will give a short look at re-imaginings of classic Batman panels—the full version of that story will appear in the Detective Comics hardcover story coming out same day. Fans will also get different masks and commemorative bags, along with other goodies. That’s the opening night of SDCC, and DC will be doing giveaways—DC will have a Batman-themed booth, pulling out from the Warner Brothers archives.

DC will be reprinting important issues across the DC Comics Essentials banner and will be sold for $1 each. The moderator showed covers from some of the best and most acclaimed Batman stories included The Killing Joke and Hush.

Q: What’s your favorite Batman story?

Pak: Batman: Year One.

Tynion: For me, it has to be Batman: The Animated Series. It’s a perfect distillation of what makes the character great. It’s perfectly crafted to get to the heart of each character and reinvented everything. It’s perfect and the best. I was just a kid when it was first coming out. That’s what got me hooked on Batman for life.

Simone: For me, there’s just so many to choose from. For me in my life, it starts with seeing the Batman syndicated television show growing up. I used to choreograph—my brother would be the damsel in distress and my friends had to be Robin and the villains and I was always Batman. As time has gone on, I really love the Burton films, Neal Adams, the Arkham stories, the Animated Series, etc. I would say that Batman has changed my life quite a bit.

The moderator then showed the three generations of live actions films—Batman, Batman and Robin, and Batman Begins.

Q: Out of all these iterations, which captured your Batman the most?

Pak: Visually, I think the Nolan films, for sure. The look and feel of those movies, and the soundtracks, are amazing. I often listen to them while writing. I haven’t seen it for a million years, but I do have a lot of affection for the ’89 Batman with Michael Keaton. I thought he was pretty cool and I’m always rooting for the underdog.

Tynion: For me, the Nolan films are the closest things to Batman in my heart. The one that is entrenched in my psyche is Batman Returns.

Simone: I like the Nolan Batman, too. I like the Burton ones too, but the Nolan films I’ve seen change people’s lives in terms of people’s lives in terms of writing or film.

The moderator praises the Nolan series, especially how it “stuck” the ending and praised how well-crafted it really was. He then showed the picture for Gotham. He talked about a review from MTV.com and did an article called “11 Non-Spoilers about Gotham”—the moderator praises it saying how gritty it is and how different of a take it is; “those character are so rich” and MTV’s article points out it could be retitled the Rise of Penguin. The Alfred you’ll see is different—very “thuggish” and “badass”.

The panel then turned to talk about Batman/Superman #11.

Pak: Throughout Batman/Superman, we’ve been playing out the relationship between Batman and Superman. At heart, these two characters are dedicated to the same mission, but they come about it from different angles. I think they’re incredible rivals and throughout this whole storyline, we’re starting to see how this rivalry turns into a friendship that’ll last forever.

Pak spent more time summarizing the issue and how Batman and Wonder Woman go off into the Phantom Zone to help save Superman. Batman will continue to play a major part of this storyline and will continue until August.

Pak: With issue #12, we’re returning to Earth 2 for one issue. Superman and Batman have unfinished business in Earth 2 and terrible things happened to Earth 2. Our heroes finally find out what happened and go back in time and space to try and save their doubles. If you want to see their relationship deepen, then this is an issue for you.

Pak talked about how Alfred crept up on him—talking about Father’s Day—and how Alfred has become his favorite character and talked about how Alfred will have a large part in the next arc. There’s some really nice stuff happening with Alfred in that as well.

Francis Manaupaul joined the panel at this point, coming in late. Greg Pak interjected that he’ll be stepping out before the end of the panel as well.

The next slide showed the cover for Batman Eternal #10.

Q: Did you know when you started Batman Eternal there would be so much wildness going on?

Tynion: It was the idea we have the best toy box in the industry and we have the opportunity to set up a whole new Gotham City. Just radically change pieces that open up stories that we’ve never seen before and create opportunities. That’s why we wanted to give that glimpse into Batman Eternal with Batman #28. My favorite element of that is that we spent months referring to it as the “Spoiler” issue and no one realized they would be seeing Stephanie Brown in that issue. We wanted to do something special with this book and build characters the way you might not expect. That’s why we had Carmine Falcone come back—we’ve never seen that crime come back viciously to step up and bring the city back to what it used to be.

Julia Pennyworth will apparently play a large role in the future. Tynion talked about how they’ve completely reinvented her and how she’s now a member of the SRR. She has resented her father for years, for leaving the city to become a Butler, and she doesn’t understand it or the mission he’s taken up. That’s going to be one of the heartstrings that’s taken up and coming up in ther series.

Tynion: If you’re going to pick up 52 issues of a story that’s every single week, we want you to get as much out of it as possible and show you things you’ve never seen in Gotham City.

The moderator then turned to Francis to talk about Detective Comics.

Q: Did you find taking on Detective Comics daunting?

Manaupaul: I found it easier. With the New 52, there’s a pressure to reintroduce these characters again. With Detective I felt I could just write—when starting out with the New 52, I felt the pressure to lay the landscape. Coming into Detective, other writers laid down the foundation for what Gotham is and I found that much, much easier.

Manaupaul: I think there’s always been a detective aspect to the story, but the superhero aspect sometimes takes over. I really wanted to focus on Harvey, and the funny thing is, Harvey had a small role in the book, but as we wrote it more, he naturally became an overpowering character that the title became more than Batman: Detective Comics. To me, it’s really Batman and Harvey. I don’t plan on letting Harvey go after this first arc, and—in my opinion—is he’s going to become just as important as Batman.

The moderator noted how this doesn’t look like any of the other Batbooks either. He then showed some unfinished pages from #33 on sale July 2nd. Manaupaul talked about the art process and how painstaking it is, but “it’s something worth killing yourself for”.

The moderator turned to Batgirl and Gail Simone.

Simone: Since the New 52 started, there have been things I’ve been working towards. Starting with this cover and bringing Ragdoll into the New 52. I think it’s extremely cool and weird to see him in there with her. It’s weird, scary, and beautiful at the same time.

Simone talked about plot details of #31 and praised the panel of Batgirl kicking Ragdoll in the face from above. She talked about Knightfall’s ideals and wanting to take down crime in Gotham and how brutal it is. Batgirl #32-34 is something any Batgirl fans will want to pick up.

The moderator now turned to fans for a Q&A.

Q: Are there any storylines you really wanted to do or have anything you wish you had a part in?

Manaupaul: For me, if there was a favorite scene of mine, I wouldn’t want to be a part of it.

Simone: Same! It’s such a treat, I don’t want to mess with it.

Manaupaul: If you read Batman & Robin, Alfred and Bruce were having a conversation about Damian and how one of his greatest fear was that we he would die before imparting all these great things. It’s revealed that Damian’s in the shadows and catches a bat flying by, killing the bat, and throwing it away. Those kinds of scenes, that make me want to tell stories, those are great. And I don’t want to be a part of that, I just want to be a part of the audience.

Q: When you’re at these shows and you see these folks cosplaying, what does that feel like?

Simone talked about a group of cosplayers playing the Birds of Prey and Power Girl and how amazing it was to see. She praised them so much, how they researched the source material and their mannerisms, and couldn’t “explain how cool it is” to see that.

Tynion: It’s absolutely staggering. The amount of love that pours out on these things. We usually toy on these things in private, and coming out to shows we see how invested you all are and it’s great. It’s one of the best parts of conventions.

Q: Why do you think Batman in the modern age (or post-modern age) do you feel Batman might be a more relevant character than Superman?

Manaupaul: I think what makes him relevant is that he’s a detective. Mysteries, suspense, noir, and detective stories last a really long times. Sherlock Holmes is just as relevant now as he was back then. I think Superman is still relevant today, too. Superman was made in a world of black and white and Batman was made in a world of greys, which I think is why Batman can transcend whatever popular genre there is today.

Simone: The villains are born from a psychological bent of some kind. Gotham and Batman and all the supporting cast and characters who live there—you can tell any kind of story with those characters. It’s very grounded in terms of that. I think it works in terms of the mysteries and the bad guys to pull you in and keep you there.

Tynion: I think for Superman, he’s an idea we all should aspire to be. For Batman, he’s all of us. I think that’s the heart of the character, the obsessive qualities, the ability to overcome tragedy. Superman’s one of the greatest characters ever created—it’s amazing and it’s important. Superman’s who we want to be, Batman’s who we are.

Q: Are we going to see more of the Joker in future issues?

Silence—the moderator turned to the next question.

Q: Are we going to see Carrie again as Robin?

Silence—more laughter and turned to the next question.

Q: What do you guys think of Ben Affleck?

Tynion: I think the best choices are often the least expected ones. I know a lot people have a weird thing against him because he was in a couple of bad movies like 10 years ago. So, I’m really excited to see what he does.

Q: What Batman artist in the last 75 years is the definitive Batman artist? Or Top 3?

Simone: Capullo, Neal Adams.

Tynion: Manachelli on Year One. And Bruce Timm, obviously.

Manaupaul: Yeah, I want to say it’s easy, but it’s not. Manachelli, Frank Miller, and Jim Lee. I think those three guys keep him relevant and bring in readers that are more art savvy. I think Jim Lee did a lot for Batman, especially now.

Q: Why do you think it’s so easy for Batman to have newly created villains as opposed to other characters?

Simone: I think it’s what I said earlier, how they’re born of a psychological origin, so you can come up with all sorts of things.

Manaupaul: I think a lot of villains are a reaction of Gotham City—they wouldn’t be made anywhere else.

Tynion: I think a lot of it is that people are so invested in Batman. Cultural fears change in time, so there are new ways to address those and those come about in new characters.

Q: What’s your favorite single comic you’ve ever worked on or written?

Tynion: The backup story in Batman #0. It’s the raising of the Batsignal for the first time, showing all the Robins before they ever interacted. That was my first opportunity to write the Batfamily and it was amazing. And the art by Andy Clark is absolutely incredible.

Simon: I think Batgirl Annual #2 with Poison Ivy. She’s never been one of my favorite characters, but when I started thinking about her, I’m really proud of how that came out of that.

Manaupaul: I’m going to be very self-serving and try to sell my next issue. My favorite scene is when Harvey and Batman meet face to face. In the upcoming issue, he spits his toothpick right at Batman’s face and Batman breaks his nose.

Q: Outside of Alfred, who are your favorite and the characters that you think touches him the most?

Manaupaul: I think Damian is an easy answer, just because in Damian it’s the personification of love. But, at the same time, it’s everything he’s scared of.

Tynion: I would say probably Jim Gordon. That relationship there—the interplay between those characters, whether Jim knows or not, or whether he wants to find out. That dynamic is so much of what Gotham City is and it’s my favorite. I think he’s one of the most important people in Bruce’s life.

Simone: I think historically, I would say Dick Grayson.

 

 

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