NYCC: The Batman: Year One panel


There’s been a lot of anticipation for the release of Batman: Year One tomorrow, and for good reason. It’s an animated adaptation of one of the best and most influential Batman stories out there (written by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli), and it’s helmed by the people at Warner Bros. Animation under the guidance of Bruce Timm.

Timm was in attendance at the NYCC panel with veteran voice director Andrea Romano, both of whom got a strong ovation from the massive room. As a treat for the panel, they showed the audience the 10-minute Catwoman animated short that’s included with Batman: Year One. To introduce the short, out came Eliza Dushku, and there was much rejoicing. The thing is, her appearance wasn’t the only welcome surprise at that panel.

The Catwoman short is, as Timm described it afterwards, 10 minutes of sex and violence from the mind of Paul Dini. (Dini and Timm go all the way back to Batman: The Animated Series.) There’s Catwoman cracking a whip, Catwoman doing a strip tease, Catwoman lithely jumping around, and Catwoman generally doing what you’d expect Catwoman to do in quick story. I don’t think it’s as good as the 70s-style Spectre short from last year, but it’s still a solid piece of work.

Dushku also plays Catwoman in Batman: Year One, with Benjamin McKenzie as Batman and Bryan Cranston as Lt. Jim Gordon. Romano commented on voice talent for Year One, saying that Dushku was a pro at syncing her fight sound effects, and was usually able to get the right grunts and reactions the first take. As for McKenzie’s take on Batman, Romano said that he’s able to tap into the right amount of darkness to make his take on Batman work.

Of course, Kevin Conroy is the Batman voice actor whom all other Batmen will be compared to, and he was the second welcome surprise of the panel. Conroy had been sitting in the crowd this entire time, and when called up to the stage to join the panel, he was appreciatively mobbed.

Then came the trailer premier for Justice League: Doom, which is loosely based on a Justice League of America story called Tower of Babel. The gist: Batman, the dark boy scout, has contingency plans to take out other members of the Justice League just in case they go rogue or get mind-controlled; the contingency plans get into the wrong hands; and you can see where this is going. Conroy will be voicing Batman, along with Tim Daly as Superman, Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern, and Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash.

There was a comment that Batman has all these great plans in case something goes wrong, but for some reason he didn’t keep them as well guarded as he should have. Timm said he probably left all the plans on his iPhone. Conroy, in the Bat-voice, replied, “Damn that iPhone.”

Justice League: Doom is the last work by the late Dwayne McDuffie, whose credits in comics, film, and television include Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans, Ben 10, and Static Shock. According to DC Comics co-publisher Dan Didio at a different NYCC panel on Sunday, there will be a tribute to McDuffie on the Justice League: Doom DVD when it’s released next year.

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.