Day Two at New York Comic Con began with a frantic rush to pre-register for the DC Comics Batman Family panel. To be honest, I don’t know why I was so worried, Marvel was holding a panel at the same time and, in the worst case scenario, if I somehow missed out on both there was a fascinating panel on Indian comics I had wished I could go to. Nonetheless, I felt that the guarantee of getting into the Batman panel if I could pre-register and the tested quality of talent on the panel was the way to go. I ran all around, discovering that a second, smaller show floor had been opened on the lower levels and that the lines were not, in fact, at the Main Stage this year. So, I finally found my way to Hall C, only to discover that there was no line for the Batman panel and it was still very much open.
Put in my place a little bit, I moved on to Artist Alley to catch some of the creators I hadn’t had a chance to see the day before. I finally got to congratulate Marguerite Bennett on the announcement of Batwoman and tell her how awesome Animosity is. I talked with Corin Howell and was reminded just how versatile her work can be. I even managed to see Greg Rucka! Of course, having seen his line the day before, the ‘slow’ day of the con, I had already decided not to bring much of my Wonder Woman to save weight. As always, Rucka personalized the issues really nicely and spoke honestly about the industry. I congratulated him on renewed printings of his DC work and I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who enjoys super politics or spy game comics to pick up Checkmate when it’s finally reprinted this December.
Before long it was time to line up for the Batman panel. The main stage was packed and people cheered like there were rock stars on the stage. These people are at the top of their profession. Whether you’re not that impressed by Batman or respect indie creations more than Big Two marketing, there’s no denying that the men and women behind Gotham City are living the dream as truly as any in comics. At once held aloft and crushed under the force of Batman’s legacy, the panelists make their best arguments that they were doing the Caped Crusaders justice.
Tom King hyped ‘We Are Suicide’, the next arc of Batman, which will see Bruce recruiting his own Suicide Squad out of his rogues gallery in order to besiege Bane’s fortress on Santa Prisca. Though the story seems tailor-made to ready “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad”, King sold it on its own merits, hinting that Catwoman fans would find much to enjoy and showing a preference for the Ventriloquist. King showed interest in contrasting the power of Bane and Batman against the Ventriloquist, strongly hinted to be Arnold Wesker, who he called “the weakest character in Gotham”.
Scott Snyder made one of his trademark speeches thanking the fans, spoke about “My Own Worst Enemy” as a response to the frightening state of global affairs, and revealed that he had hosted almost all of the panelists overnight at his home, leading Shawna and Julie Benson to complain that they hadn’t been invited to any of the sleepovers.
The Bensons, cowriters on Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, talked about adapting to comics’ levity after working in television and plans to define the Birds’ characters and differences from one another. Asked about writing the team, Julie admitted that she relates to Black Canary while Shawna says she’s more of the Batgirl and the two agreed that Huntress is a little too intense to represent either of them directly. They also revealed that a new Bird would be joining the team in the next arc and that they had gotten Tim Seeley to concede that Black Canary could kick Nightwing’s ass.
For his part, Seeley confirmed that assertion and admitted that the move from Grayson to Nightwing was difficult, partially because Dick, despite his sneaky maneuverings, always had someone to talk to honestly in Grayson, as opposed to Nightwing, where he needs to keep his own company. Seeley also spoke about updating Nightwing, promising Bludhaven would be a modern take on the concept of a corrupt city and explaining that Raptor came from a desire to actually challenge Dick. For Seeley, the Parliament of Owls’ brand of elitism was never something that could realistically tempt Grayson, a happy product of a poor circus family. Growing up in a circus in an age when “we have Netflix”, Seeley posited that Dick must have grown up around really poor people and felt that the challenge to Nightwing wasn’t to resist becoming an oligarch but to wrestle with the possibility that he’s already sold out, trading the freedom of the circus for Bruce Wayne’s gilded cage.
James Tynion told the room that his philosophy on Detective Comics was that it could not be viewed as “the other Bat book”. Detective Comics is the most important book in its characters lives, Tynion said, stating that this is why Damian Wayne isn’t in the book.
Given this explanation, it seems likely that Batwoman will be departing the book once her new ongoing launches early next year, however, not before one more arc focusing on Kate entitled “Batwoman Begins”. But lest you worry that Batman’s team will be understaffed, Tynion assured fans that more heroes will join, including Batwing, Harper Row, Jean Paul Valley, and ‘all the characters that [he] loves’.
Speaking about the difference between Batman and Batwoman, Tynion called Batman a fighter and said that his family was taken by faceless crime “albeit in a strage form”. Batwoman, on the other hand, is a soldier and her family was taken by faceless terrorism and the series will examine that. He also seemingly tipped his hand on what elements of the DC Comics Bombshells Batwoman Marguerite Bennett will be bringing with her by mentioning that he and Bennett want to fill in the missing years in Kate’s story between her expulsion from West Point and her debut as Batwoman and that, in that time, the hard-partying Kane “wasn’t just going to dive bars in Gotham, she was going to dive bars in Cairo.” Tynion also fielded one question from the audience, telling fans eager to see Julia Pennyworth again to pick up Batwoman.
At the risk of highlighting a certain inbreeding within the Batman offices, I love hearing these guys talk and adding King and the Bensons to the mix made for some great fun. Unfortunately I was so interested to hear James Tynion talk about his struggle to bring HARDAC to comics that I forgot to slip out and found that, to no great surprise, Gerard Way’s Young Animal panel was filled. Apparently I missed the chance to get a sweet Cave Carson tape…
I spent that time with friends, checking out the Gundam model painting finalists and investigating E Hall. It’s an obvious reminder, but don’t forget to try different things at a big con like this, to let other people and other interests show you other sides of the convention.
I found this year’s Vertigo Panel more than a little disappointing. Vertigo is effectively seeing something of a revival in the form of Young Animal and, having missed that panel, I was excited to hear what was next for the original imprint. Sadly there was little in the way of news and the only writers to really make a strong case for their series were Josh Williamson on Frostbite and Tim Seeley on The Lost Boys.
Luckily DC recovered nicely with a strong showing in their Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Panel. DC has traditionally done better for Wonder Woman than most characters and far worse than the rest of the Justice League, but it seems that they’re trying to turn that around this year.
The passion for Diana was not lacking from the panelists, as Marc Andreyko opened the panel with fond memories of the Wonder Woman television shows and absolute adoration of Lynda Carter. It’s clear why DC tapped him to write Wonder Woman ’77 and he was thrilled to talk about Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77. The six part miniseries will be divided into three parts, one set in 1944 starring Diana and a twelve year-old Bruce Wayne, one set in 1966, and one set in 1977. The series will also feature a villain who never appeared in either show but is a big part of the comics.
Asked about returning to the character of Wonder Woman, Greg Rucka was almost offended. “I never left the character. I stopped working for the company, I never left the character.” Rucka saw this as Wonder Woman’s moment, speaking of the upcoming movie and the position he has inherited her in. “Everyone knows her, but not who she is,” said Rucka, adding “maybe [now] the rest of them are gonna get it.”
Rucka also stated his goal to make Steve Trevor the coolest character in comics and explained his admiration for Wonder Woman’s heroic sacrifice and his sense that it’s an overlooked element of her character. Batman didn’t ask for his parents to die, but Wonder Woman actively chose to leave everything she’d ever known with the belief that she could never return in order to do right and protect her sisters. The same sentiment would later be echoed by Dan Didio, showing that, one way or the other, this idea has begun to take root at DC.
Jill Thompson spoke about her difficult journey to Wonder Woman: The True Amazon. Thompson long ago got tired of people telling her how excited she must be to work on Wonder Woman, you know, because she’s a woman. The perfect woman never quite appealed to Thompson the way that Catwoman did and The True Amazon was an opportunity to take away some of that perfection and tell a story in her “fairytale” style about how Diana became Wonder Woman.
Yannick Paquette confirmed more Wonder Woman: Earth One, with two more volumes set to complete a trilogy, and admitted that he had not known Wonder Woman growing up. He set about correcting that, however, reading every issue of Wonder Woman from the start of George Perez’s reboot onward before taking on the character.
I spent a little more time in Artist Alley before heading out. I saw the Game Grumps at the Hammerstein Ballroom before heading over to the Image Comics party. The party was fun, but by the time the creators started to appear in significant numbers it was after midnight. I don’t know how they do it, but eventually I needed to head home and recharge. The busiest day of the convention was still ahead of me.