Wondercon 2014: DC All Access - Jim Lee Updates on Miller's BATMAN, More

DC Comics' December 2013 solicitations
Credit: DC Comics

DC Comics exhibited a show of all of their platforms in their 2014 Wondercon All Access Panel, sharing what’s coming down the pipeline in the 52 line, Vertigo, Digital and multimedia. The panel was moderated by Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham, co-publisher Jim Lee, editor of DC Digital Jim Chadwick, executive editor at Vertigo Shelly Bond and editor Mike Cotton.

DC’s multimedia portion of the presentation appeared to generate the biggest response out of panel attendees and leading that discussion is their expanding digital platform. There was a big applause for Batman 66, and the entire panel agreed there’s a lot of fun making this digital series and then printing it in book form. Cunningham said that they found out yesterday that the first hardcover of Batman 66 will debut as #2 on New York Times Best Sellers List.

Credit: DC Comics/Dynamite Entertainment

A second Batman 66 story will be published this summer, a crossover with The Green Hornet and Kato called Batman 66 Meets the Green Hornet. It will be co-published by Dynamite, and written by Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman with interior art by Ty Templeton and covers by Alex Ross. It will alternate with the regular Batman 66 in digital release starting on May 21.

Cunningham and Lee expressed excitement about the 1960’s Batman TV series finally coming to DVD and Blu-ray and Lee was excited to know that the Green Hornet TV crossover will make it on the set too.

Video game trailers for Infinite Crisis and Arkham Knight thrilled the crowd. There will also be video game tie-in comics available in digital format. Infinite Crisis: Fight for the Multiverse #1 will be available July 16 and is written by Dan Abnett. “It starts out with Batman investigating these burglaries tied to Catwoman,” Chadwick explained. “Then it gets very weird and expands to this cosmic scale… eventually there are different iterations of characters trying to stop the destruction of the multiverse.” Lee urged fans to go online and see the gameplay of the MOBA, which is free-to-play and available now.

Injustice Year Two #4 by Jheremy Raapack
Injustice Year Two #4 by Jheremy Raapack
Credit: DC Comics

Chadwick talked next about their biggest hit video game tie-in Injustice: Gods of Among Us written by Tom Taylor, which recently kicked off its “Year Two” storyline, continuing the tale of how things went so very wrong with Superman in the world of the hit video game. The latest events cause great concern for the Green Lanterns and the Guardians who try to stop him. Sinesto gets involved as he offers his help to fight beside Superman. The comic is released digitally on the first and third Monday of each month, with print editions collecting the web series.

The big buzz this year is for Batman, celebrating his 75th Anniversary and DC is planning a big celebration in July. Also having a big year is Superman, as it’s already underway with Superman Unchained, written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Lee.

“This is the issue that Lois has emerged,” Lee teased. “Lois is a critical player and so is Jimmy.” Lee went on to praise Snyder for using all of the iconic mythologies of Superman and executing his plan for the series drawn up the year prior to make him an avenging hero. He gave no update on the release of the final two issues, however, which both had all orders cancelled recently.

Credit: DC Comics

In addition to Unchained, Superman Doomed is going to be the next story to cross over all of the Superman titles with the goal of further unifying them. Cotton explained that the hook of the story is not just Superman meeting and fighting Doomsday, but more importantly, it’s what happens after. It features the work of Greg Pak, Tony Daniel, Charles Soule and many others. And if that’s not enough, there’s also Superman #32, which will be the debut of new creative team, Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. making his DC debut.

Moving outside of World’s Finest, Cotton talked about the angle that they’re going for the re-launch of Teen Titans #1, written by Will Pfeifer and Kenneth Rocafort. The roster has been trimmed down to Red Robin, Raven, Wonder Girl, Bunker and Beast Boy.

“We’re going to focus on the celebrity these teens have and there’s going to be an anti-hero showing up that we haven’t seen yet.” Cotton also announced DC’s third weekly series, Earth 2 World’s End. “This is about the end of the world and fighting gods. It's going to be dark and mean and I don't like happy endings.”

When the spotlight shifted to Vertigo, Sandman Overture took the stage. Bond addressed the panel by thanking everyone for reading the new series, describing the new series as majestic. “We’re so psyched with the Sandman’s upcoming 25th Anniversary, it's just incredible. It's a prequel, so new readers (and old) can learn about Sandman and his family–it's the origin story.”

She went on to praise the creators, writer/creator Neil Gaiman and artist J.H. Williams on his mastering of color theory and re-inventing himself with each project and page of art. “We're creating a new masterpiece in sequential storytelling.”

art from Bodies #1
art from Bodies #1
Credit: DC Comics

Bond and Cunningham also explained how they are releasing the first trade paperbacks of their Vertigo Defy books, which were introduced last year at a low price point of $9.99 regardless of how many issues the first story runs. They hope this will attract new readers looking for value and will bring them out fast–just one month after the last issue of the first storyline hits stands.

The first release of this new rollout is F.B.P. (Federal Bureau of Physics), which Bond recommended to serious science-fiction fans, followed by Hinterkind, Coffin Hill, and the most recent Dead Boy Detectives story.

There was excitement and whispers in the room for Vertigo’s eight-issue series due out in July called Bodies (announced earlier on Newsarama), which follows a time traveling serial killer. The series takes place in London and is written by Si Spencer (Vinyl Underground, Hellblazer: City of Demons), who examines the city’s various political and social cultures during these four eras.

Bodies will feature the artwork of Dean Ormston for the 1890 portion of the story, Phil Winslade for 1940s, Meghan Hetrick for present day, and a futuristic look at 2050 by artist-on-the-rise Tula Lotay. It will also feature covers by Francesco Francavilla, Eduardo Risso, Paul Pope and many others.

Bond summed it up succinctly, “It’s eight issues with four different artists, four detectives, four eras, and one body.”

On the heels of the new DC Animated feature, “Son of Batman,” there was a question regarding the lack of an animated Vertigo feature or series. Bond perked up and certainly stoked the flames with her own desire of an animated Fables project. “There is currently nothing that prevents it from happening. I’m a big fan of animation and it’s a possibility for the future.”

Screenshot from Son of Batman
Screenshot from Son of Batman
Credit: WB Animation

Truthfully though, there has been no discussion thus far. Lee put on his Co-Publisher hat to chime in and say that “the economics of that business (animation) requires the biggest audience.” Since DC Animated’s bread and butter has been superheroes, that’s where their current focus lies. “That said I think it'd be awesome but they would probably require an R-rating and again, that limits the audience.”

Johns has been working at trying to get Vertigo in other forms of entertainment, especially TV. DMZ, Scalped, Coffin Hill, FPB, and iZombie are all Vertigo series in development.

Bond was asked about the end of Fables and what’s in store for that series’ conclusion in 2015 with issue #150. “We're sad it's going to be ending, but we’re going to bring it home in style. There’s lots of cool surprises and c’mon, it’s Bill Willingham, so not everyone is going to live.”

There are no plans for Legion or Mr. Myxzptlk in the works, and it appears that All Star Batman & Robin Volume 2 remains a long way from reality. Lee mentioned that he met with Frank Miller a month ago. “He’s a pretty busy guy; he's got Sin City 2 [the movie] and he'll be at Comic Con to promote that. He's fired up about comics. There are pages drawn and scripts written, but I’ve got to take a break after I finish Superman Unchained. I have interest and he has interest.”

Lee was asked by a 10-year-old if he had any advice for young artists. He told him for now to just draw for fun, draw in a sketchbook, and embrace the passion. On top of drawing favorite superhero characters, every once in awhile, “draw something that’s less appealing like a tree, a building, something from the Victorian age, or even fruit,” because at some point you’ll be asked to draw anything. He added that understanding perspective is important but there’s plenty of time to hone that skill. For now the best thing an artist at his age can do is just draw every day and take an occasional art class.

On the subject of drawing, Lee was asked about the Flash. When he had to draw him for The Justice League he didn’t realize how difficult it would be to draw the details of the Flash’s new costume. “Who designed this?” Lee joked. “Then I see how it looked in motion in the video game trailer for Infinite Crisis and it turned out pretty cool.”

One entertaining and extremely loaded question was asked about whether or not Grant Morrison’s Multiversity in August would somehow restore the original DC Universe. It was quickly dismissed.

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