At the DC panel at SDCC the writers of “Batman Eternal”, “Futures End”, and “Earth 2: Worlds End” were all on stage for an epic discussion of their weekly series. Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins, Dan Jurgens, Jeff Lemire, Marguerite Bennett, and Daniel H. Wilson all spoke about their books and took questions at the panel, with Bob Wayne moderating.
Bob Wayne started the panel by asking Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes and Kyle Higgins about “Batman Eternal”. Scott Snyder, who wrote the first issues of the book and came up with the concept of the book said this:
“I just want to say thanks to you guys for picking up the book. We came up with an idea that we felt would be so big and infect that neighborhood in Gotham. I helped write the first few and I’ll come back and do the last, but it’s these guys that are just killing it on the series. The great thing about it is that it’s not happening in a small corner. We wanted it to be like the Gazette. When ‘Batman’ comes back at #34, it’ll deal with the aftermath of ‘Eternal’. Our goal going forward from ‘Eternal,’ ‘Batman’ — is to give you a Gotham you’ve never seen before. The consequences will reverberate through many, many, many books.”
James Tynion who co-wrote many issues with Snyder chimed in by saying the creative team wanted to “take the toys and push them to their limits.” He expanded on this by saying; “We want to throw in brand new elements and put them in places they’ve never been before while exploring each and every facet of Batman stories. That was the goal.”
Ray Fawkes, who writes the issues in “Batman Eternal” that focus around the Batwing/Jim Corrigan subplot, added that each writer “championed a different part of the story,” referring to his work with the characters of Jim Corrigan and Batwing as an example.
Kyle Higgins, who started on the series after “Nightwing” finished, responded to Ray Fawkes’ statement by saying he didn’t focus on a particular character. He then went on to describe the structure of “Batman Eternal” and what their plan for the series entails:
“The way that we’re structuring this is three acts. The end of the first big act of the series will be right around issue 20. Section two tees up something new and different with different characters. That’s the stuff I’m doing. I’m working with Jay Fabok to tell the end of section two. … I kind of feel like George Pelecanos on ‘The Wire’. He wrote the episodes where everybody dies.”
Higgins went on to reveal that he was bringing the Architect into later issues of “Batman Eternal”. The Architect was a character who appeared in the “Gates of Gotham” book.
Adding to the discussion of the structure of “Batman Eternal”, Snyder commented that each act described by Higgins is meant to raise the stakes until “the city is on the edge of destruction with all these big bads” which will serve as the foundation for the climax of the series.
Wayne moved the focus of the panel to “New 52: Futures End”
Dan Jurgens stated that the creative team behind “Futures End” is an “unlikely group of writers,” but their differences make the team into a stronger unit and make for a stronger book.
Jeff Lemire added to that, saying that eclectic mix is representative of the cast of the book itself and the book was composed of “characters you wouldn’t normally see together”. Jurgens commented that; “Whenever you put four writers who tend to think the same way about character into a room, you end up with a more homogenous product,” noting that “Futures End” has managed to have an incredibly diverse cast and eclectic mix of plot that draws from the entire DC Universe. “We’re telling to story of what the DC Universe is like 5 years from now given the big event that we’ll be talking about later on.”
Lemire gave credit to Ryan Sook, who illustrated many of the covers for “Futures End” and is largely responsible for many of the new character designs in the series. “He sat in our writing meetings and did sketches based on what we were talking about. It’s almost five creative voices, with Ryan,” said Lemire.
On the subject of Terry McGinnis being a part of the book Lemire noted that Brian Azzarello did the most writing for the character and that “The thought of bringing Beyond back to the future back was a good hook.”
Jurgens finished out the discussion of “Futures End” by stating that in September every book in the New 52 will jump ahead to the “Futures End” timeline, saying it will be “a lot of fun. You’ll see your favorites and what they’re like five years from now.”
The discussion then shifted to “Earth 2: World’s End” with Marguerite Bennett and Daniel H. Wilson.
Wilson started by saying:
“This is my first panel at Comic-Con with comic book people, it’s great to be a part of that, now! … For me, this was like getting thrown into the deep end of the pool. We’re in a situation where we’re continuing what’s going on in ‘Earth 2’ and there are some catastrophic events on the way and we’re bridging into the future. On the ground level, we have characters like Dick Grayson who are surviving on the ground, then you bump up a bit and you have the World Army — then, to the top level. Having all of this play out at the same time is really interesting; figuring out who deals with what and what’s happening to the world.
Bennett described the series as a story about a world getting destroyed, and she said she drew inspiration from what the “Batman Eternal” team was doing. “It’s not just a story of attrition or the death of the world, it’s a story about the people in that world, it’s a story of triumph, of love and hope that’s coming out of the ruins.” said Bennett
Wilson, having had experience destroying worlds in his novels, stated that what emerges out of destroying a world are the relationships between the survivors. “They’re not fighting to preserve even their cities or the planet itself. It all boils down to these relationships, it has to ultimately be about the emotions or you don’t have anything to move the characters across the board and get good stories out of.”
The first issue of “World’s End” is set to include an introduction to the previous events of “Earth 2”. Wilson said that it was challenging to write this introduction. “It involved going in clinically — because we’re doing world-building here — and required a lot of research to get it all out there on the page.” said Wilson.
Bennett added that; “It was important to us to make it immediate and accessible as possible. Tom Taylor laid such a great groundwork with the ‘Earth 2’ monthly, and we wanted moments of levity and moments of joy to be very present.”
Wilson said that one of the things he personally wanted to know in “Earth 2” was “What happened to Sam?” and teased that readers might get a chance to learn more about what happened and get a little bit of closure in that area.
Wayne then opened the floor to questions.
In response to a question Jurgens described how characters were split up among the writers for “Futures End”. Tim Drake and Superman are written by Jurgens, Frankenstein and the rest of the characters in space are done by Jeff Lemire, everything at Cadmus with Grifter is written by Giffen, and Terry McGinnis is written by Azzarello. This line-up was said to have changed from time to time and most likely will do so again.
When asked about what boundaries the “Batman Eternal” writers had to stay within, they responded by stating they had very few limitations. Snyder went on to comment about the freedom they’ve had with what has already been written and how what they’ve already done will evolve as the series goes on:
“A lot of the things are just starting to play out. Getting to do Selina as the kingpin of crime was really cool to do. Julia Pennyworth has a really big role to play as well. You don’t often get a chance to change the mythology that way and [play with new things]. Once you get to issue #20, you’ll see it changes the status a lot. It’s bringing characters into the bat-world outside of ‘Eternal’ and change major facets of Batman’s support systems.”
The writers then expanded on the character of Julia Pennyworth. Tynion stated that Julia has some “key, key moments” in the second act of “Batman Eternal”. The introduction of the character was originally Fawkes’ idea. Tynion then closed out his response by teasing how future issues will become more climactic:
“You guys have seen some flash-forwards. We’re marching closer and closer to the end with every single issue, and issues #21-23 is the real turning point to set up that next section and things are going to start changing rapidly. Gotham is going to become very dangerous very quickly.”
Fawkes teased the impact of the finale, saying that characters like Jim Gordon, Batwing, and Killer Croc “will almost come out of ‘Eternal’ with new lives.”
When asked what the creators of “Batman Eternal” would remember from the series, Snyder and Fawkes had their own answers.
Snyder’s response was: “When we started it, the title came alongside the story. What I would say is that the answer really is in the title.”
Fawkes responded saying “We really want readers to feel that they were reading the story that was sure would destroy Batman and now they know why he can’t be destroyed.”
The writers were then asked about how writers coordinate different events in the DC Universe. Snyder responded by saying that a lot of what the team did in “Batman Eternal” will affect the events of “Endgame”, an upcoming “Batman” arc.
Snyder described the first issue of “Endgame” as “The biggest bombshell we’ve ever dropped.” Snyder went on to say:
“It’s the coordination across the line that’s the most fun. Working in Gotham — it’s fun — we’re in a building together, we’re all neighbors. When I see how much they’re doing, it was like, ‘Let’s make Batman do that too.’ ‘Endgame’ is about taking Batman and giving readers a Gotham they’ve never seen before.”
Bennett responded to the same question for the case of “World’s End”, stating that “it helps you to be more fearless” when working with Earth 2 since that universe is more open. “The iconic status of the characters also comes with the risk of stasis, but within ‘Earth 2,’ there’s more of a fearlessness.”
Wilson closed out the discussion by expressing the amount of detail they wanted to achieve and the freedom they had to do it:
“We’re going as deeply within it as we can. Think of a Boom Tube. How are they made? Expanding the mythology on everything we pick up and find — that’s been one of my favorite parts of it.”
Over the course of the panel several new “Earth 2” and “Futures End” images were released: