It can’t be easy to live in the same city as the Dark Knight. With little notice, you could suddenly find yourself in danger of attack from killer clowns, psychotic quizmasters, or plant women with green skin. It’s easier (and safer) to just visit on a regular basis – a proposition made more attractive by this Friday afternoon San Diego Comic-Con panel.
With a line-up of creators scheduled to appear including Jock, Tini Howard, Sean Gordon Murphy, and incoming Detective Comics writer Ram V, the panel intends to take a look at the current state of the Batman universe both in mainstream canon and elsewhere. (Both Jock’s Batman: One Dark Knight and Murphy’s Batman: Beyond the White Knight hail from DC’s out of continuity Black Label imprint, after all.) Which is scarier: the criminal underworld threatening the citizens of Gotham, or the heroes sworn to keep everyone safe? Expect to find an answer here.
Popverse will be liveblogging the panel from start to finish, so bookmark this page for updates as they happen. Alternatively, come back when the panel is finished to read the whole thing at once.
We're ten minutes away from DC's Gotham panel, and I'm already prepared to liveblog like a gargoyle on a rooftop. Batman would be proud.
Editor Ben Abernathy comes onstage to thank fans for showing up, and calling out a Miracle Molly cosplayer. We're running a little behind as everyone gets lined up backstage.
And, after a slight delay, we appear to be getting started, as the animation for DC Universe Infinite that launches every DC panel just started.
Ben Abernathy's back onstage, thanking everyone for their patience. "You picked the best 45 minutes for the best panel," he says.
Evan Narcisse, Tini Howard, Ram V, Jock, and Sean Murphy all come onstage to much applause.
The panel opens with the new trailer for the Gotham Knights game. "I want to see the new trailer!" says Howard.
The trailer gets a lot of applause, and Abernathy introduces the Batman: Gotham Knights - Gilded City comic book series, launching October 25, written by Evan Narcisse.
Narcisse says that he worked on the game itself, and now he's writing the prequel to the game. "It's kind of Batman's last big case before he kicks the big one in the game," he said. The series is about celebrating the Bat-Family.
Batman might be unhealthy, but he accrues a family around him, Narcisse says. "I don't know if anyone else does this, but I call the characters by their first names," he says. "Yeah, they're my friends," says Howard.
The series also introduces a new character called the Runaway, who's the first masked vigilante in Gotham City. His adventures take place in the 1800s, and connect to what's happening in the present day. There's a Court of Owls connection, as well, Narcisse says.
"We're going to see a different take on Gotham, and a different take on protecting Gotham, in this series," Narcisse promises. Each issue of the series will have a code for a redeemable item inside the Gotham Knights game.
Tini Howard talks about Catwoman, which has been selling out in recent issues. "She is still good, but her methods are very different from Batman," she says.
Selina was re-established as a protector of people whose lives have been touched by crime. "I love a Martin Scorcese movie like anyone else, but nobody listens to the women. Selina listens to them. That's the pitch."
Selina is dealing with organized crime, and now she's dealing with Black Mask from a position where she's become very powerful. "It's been a lot of fun. Her and Batman are on a break... and I think that's really important. I love Bruce and Selina, but I love a soap opera. You have to pull the magnets apart before they come back together." Mentions what Chip Zdarsky is doing in his Batman run, says that the two are collaborating on big plans.
Howard will also be working on Punchline: The Gotham Game #1, which she's co-writing with husband Blake. Art from Gleb Melnikov. Punchline is the new face of organized crime in Gotham City, she says.
Punchline: The Gotham Game #1 launches October 25th as well, which Howard shares is also the day after her birthday. "We've been giving Gleb the most hardcore stuff to draw," she teases. The Royal Flush Gang will show up, but it's a new version of the team. "We're keeping them fun and stupid," she promises. And as Punchline rises in status, "Catwoman will have to deal with her."
Before Ram talks about his Detective Comics run, we're seeing a trailer for it. It's very loud, very abstract, very atmospheric.
"There is a Batman story I've wanted to do for a number of years," Ram says, referencing the 1990s animated series that he watched when he was a kid. He wanted to bring the "gothic, melodramatic" feeling of the series to the comic, but he's also wanting to show an influence of the Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale Batman comics, as well.
"There are literal demons on the streets of Gotham," Ram teases, but as Batman gets involved, he'll uncover someone who's doing what he's been doing all these years, but doing it better - leading him to question his place in Gotham. The run will ask if Gotham can ever change, and if Batman can, as well.
Barbatos, from the Grant Morrison run, will be part of the Ram V storyline as well. Calls out Rafael Albuquerque's art for praise, saying that he's the ideal artist for the story. "I have about 20, or 30 issues planned." Two-Face, Solomon Grundy, and more will appear, he says.
Jock talks about his Batman: One Dark Knight series. "This is a hell of an opportunity, but how do I do this in an interesting and sharp kind of way?" he says of his immediate response to being offered the project.
"The key in all this is a new character called EMP, who feeds on energy. Not just electrical energy, it can be emotional energy, it can be solar energy," says Jock. He can't control his power anymore, creating the deadline that fuels the whole story. "He kind of serviced my need for the story, but he's been one of my favorite things to write in the story."
"EMP was only ever a holding name, but then Chris Conroy, my editor, put it in the soliciation text so I guess that's his name after all," says Jock. Sean Murphy is talking about his love of Jock's work, and how jealous he was of the concept behind the series.
Ram V says that one of the keys to a good Batman artist is how they draw the cape, and Jock is one of the greatest people to draw Batman's cape. "Gotham is a character, Batman's cape is a character," says Jock.
Sean Murphy says that he thought the first White Knight book was going to be a flash in the pan. He planned to kill the character in the second series, but DC asked him not to. "We kind of turned this into an Ultimates line for DC," Murphy says of the ways in which the White Knight franchise has expanded.
"I accidentally made Jason Todd the first Robin," Murphy says, noting that even though it was caught, he didn't think it mattered. "In hindsight, I wish I could go back in a DeLorean and undo what I did," he says, in terms of what it's meant for the White Knight franchise going forward.
"Towards the end of Beyond the White Knight, we're going to start dropping some easter eggs for some Justice League stuff. You're hearing that first," Murphy says.
Murphy thanks the audience for continuing to buy the White Knight books. "I can't thank you enough for supporting it," he says. "A book where Batman is the bad guy, and the Joker is a good guy? That's a tough sell."
Abernathy asks panelists what their favorite Batman story is. Narcisse says "Batman: Venom," and says that writer Denny O'Neil is a big hero for him. "It's really about Bruce coming up against his own limitations, and making the very bad decision to take an experimental drug to help him exceed those limitations."
Narcisse also calls out "The Player on the Other Side," by Mike Barr and Mike Golden from Batman Special #1, because he has good taste.
Tini Howard says that Morrison's Batman and Robin series is her ride and die. She also cites Devin Grayson's Gotham Knights run, and the first arc from that series, as Batman can't work out a case that involves the death of a kid's parents but the rest of the Batfamily has worked it out. "It's SO good," she says.
Ram V calls Batman Year One "a near perfect comic book. It's close to perfection in terms of comic book writing and art," but he also thinks that The Long Halloween and Dark Victory are very important to him, specifically because of Tim Sale's artwork.
Sean Murphy says that the Grey Ghost episode, or "Heart of Ice" from the Batman animated series, and quickly passes to Jock, who says that it's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns for him.
Abernathy boasts that he owns a cell of artwork from the "Heart of Ice" episode, much to Murphy's frustration.
Abernathy is announcing new titles, starting with The Joker - The Man Who Stopped Laughing, spinning out of the recent James Tynion run, by Matthew Rosenberg and Carmine Di Giandomenico, launching October 4.
Next new book: Batman Incorporated has Ed Brisson and John Timms putting Ghostmaker in charge of the revitalized organization. #1 out October 11, it spins out of the recent Joshua Williamson Batman run.
John Ridley is writing GCPD: The Blue Wall, a new 6-issue miniseries about Renee Montoya rebuilding the Gotham Police Department after Fear State. Art by Stefano Raffaele and Reiko Murakami. First issue out October 18.
And that is a wrap! Thanks for reading along, everyone.