DC Comics once again did not have a traditional booth presence at a NYC convention. Like last year's Superman celebration, DC went all in with Batman branding for their role and single panel at Special Edition: NYC. When you walked into the con, you were greeted by eight cutouts of various iterations of Batman (gallery at the bottom of this post). They flanked the entrance way. This is the year of Batman and DC will not let you forget it.
The 75th Anniversary panel consisted of current Batman and Batman-adjacent writers/artists working on New 52 titles. They were Gail Simone (writer of Batgirl, James Tynion IV (writer of Batman Eternal), Greg Pak (writer of Batman/Superman and Action Comics), and Francis Manapul (writer/artist of Detective Comics). Senior Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham acted as moderator.
DC is on the ball with their branding right now. The panel opened up with all the news about the official Batman 75th Anniversary celebrations. July 23 is Batman Day, where you can show up to your local comic book store and pick up a ton of exclusive new content. The original Detective Comics #27 is going to be available in a new special edition, including a reimagined version of the story and a new "Post Modern" recreation of the original script. There will also be paper masks of various Batman versions, exclusive bags, and a whole lot more to keep you occupied on Batman Day.
Batman Day is, quite intentionally, also the start of San Diego Comic Con. Cunningham told us all about the plans for that, too. It sounds like DC will have a traditional booth presence at SDCC this year, as well as a more expansive version of the Superman 75 experience from last year. He said they have a lot more Batman stuff to work with than Superman stuff, which makes sense considering the sheer amount of films and TV series the Dark Knight has starred in. He couldn't officially discuss NYCC, but it sounds like we're going to get another (albeit larger) costume gallery instead of a traditional booth again.
For those of you that don't have a friendly local comic book shop, never fear. Batman Day will also be observed at participating public libraries on July 26. That's the weekend rather than the middle of the week, which can make all the difference in attendance for some people.
He also announced the launch of DC Comic Essentials, which will be reprints of some of the most significant issues in the DC universe. They'll obviously be starting with Batman during the 75th Anniversary. The exciting part? They're $1 each at retail.
Cunningham warmed up the panel (Francis Manapul joined later, and Greg Pak left about halfway through) with a couple fan questions for the panel. First up was favorite Batman iterations. Greg Pak went with Batman: Year One written by Frank Miller. James Tynion received raucous applause from the crowd for choosing Batman: The Animated Series. And Gail Simone got a lot of laughs discussing her childhood on the farm choreographing elaborate fight sequences inspired by the original Adam West Batman TV series. You know she insisted on playing Batman.
Next up was everyone's favorite and most accurate live adaptations of Batman. He jokingly mentioned the Joel Schumacher films, which Gail, professional Internet troll that she is, immediately defended. Greg said his favorites are the Christopher Nolan films, specifically citing the soundtrack as inspiration for his DC writing work. However, he believes the Tim Burton 1989 Batman film is the most accurate because of the tone. James Tynion went a similar direction. He thinks the Nolan trilogy best represent Batman, but prefers Batman Returns for the strange vision of Gotham.
Gail Simone spoke at length about the impact of the Christopher Nolan film. She mentioned how the series has changed lives, inspiring people to want to enter the comics industry as a career to explore that kind of world. Even more important, however, is the horror element. She thinks Batman works best when the villains kind of teeter into that horror territory and Nolan didn't shy away from it; she even calls them horror films. Her favorite films are also the Tim Burton films, specifically because they acted as a good bridge from the goofiness of the original TV series to the darker tone of the more modern adaptations.
Then Cunningham led right into some unexpected news. The original live action Batman series is finally coming out on DVD and Blu-ray this year. Whatever hurdles were stopping a home release have been cleared. By the end of the year, we can all bask in the glory of Eartha Kitt's Catwoman and whatever else made you want to watch that show.
Each writer/artist on the panel then got to speak a little bit about the upcoming direction of their series. Greg Pak kicked it off with a discussion of Batman/Superman. The upcoming Issue #12 is going to be a return to Earth 2. There are no plans to return after this point, so get your fill in now. Greg also said that Alfred has become his favorite character to write in the series and he will continue to play a large part. The next arc of Batman/Superman will be straight up crossover, with Batman pairing up with Lois Lane and Superman working with Catwoman.
James Tynion went next with some Batman Eternal news. Julia Pennyworth will be joining the series soon and she will be essential to the story. The character is going darker, played as Alfred's resentful daughter from his time as a soldier. She is a member of the SPR and cannot understand why her father abandoned the forces to be a butler for a rich white man.
Francis Manapul arrived just in time to briefly discuss the direction of Detective Comics. It seems he has no interest in abandoning the dual focus on Batman and Harvey Dent. He goes so far as to say Harvey Dent is just as important as Batman to the series.
Gail Simone wrapped up the news with some very tight-lipped commentary on Batgirl. She's very happy that she got to introduce Ragdoll to the New 52. She also spent a good bit of time on the twisted version of Nightfall in her books. Batgirl is going to remain a dark story. Nightfall will continue to eliminate criminals however she can and limbs will be severed. Everything will come to a head in issues #32-34.
From there, the panel switched to Q&A and I slipped out to get some lunch before the next panel started. I was very impressed with DC's presentation. They kept it quick and lively and clearly gave the fans what they wanted and more.