DC Comics comes to Chicago at C2E2 2014, with a massive panel to kick off the convention weekend. Join us for live coverage of the “All Access” panel starting at 2:45pm CDT, with a list of creators so long all we could hope to do is cut and paste!
DC Entertainment - ALL ACCESS
Speakers: Bobbie Chase, Brian Azzarello, Charles Soule, Dan Jurgens, Greg Lockard, Greg Pak, Jim Chadwick, Kyle Higgins, Nicola Scott, Scott Snyder
At DC Entertainment, there’s never been a better time to be a Fan! Come by for unfiltered access to all things DC Entertainment! Find out what some of DC’s biggest names have to share from behind-the-scenes! Joining the All-Access party will be some of the industry’s top talents, so don’t miss out!
As the panelists took the stage, Kyle Higgins was last to the dais - so Azzarello moved him down the table, taking his seat in the second chair.
John Cunningham welcomed fans to the panel, then introduced the panelists before jumping into the "Batman 75" anniversary.
Scott Snyder said the goal on Batman: Eternal is to make "Gotham experiential. We want it to be a living, breathing place that you can experience." They also hope to "make this a bombastic story. Catwoman becomes the Kingpin of Gotham, Stephanie Brown is back, Bruce Wayne... I really can't say."
Higgins said the team has written 35 issues of the series already, so they're far, far ahead of the three that have come out.
The final third of Batman: Zero Year has "Batman, Lucius, and Jim Gordon trying to stop the end of Gotham." Snyder said it's the most personal part of the story, all about "a time when Bruce didn't know how to fix himself." It's a "zany crazy, lion-fighting chemical balloon" story arc. And he just finished it on the plane on the way here.
As for Superman Unchained, #7 is coming in May, and Jim Lee has "about five pages left" of the series, Snyder said. He said the next issue has his "favorite fight scene that I've ever done," and Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman fight Wraith in the Batcave - he did spoil that Wonder Woman smashes the giant penny over Wraith. The robot dinosaur is also used in the fight.
"Jim acts like a hungry young artist when he's excited, and it comes out on the page."
As for his Vertigo work, Snyder noted that American Vampire actually started it all for him at this convention a few years ago. "When we took our break, Rafael and I wound up talking about it again about a week later, wondering why we took a break." The new "Second Cycle" takes place during the 60s and 70s and it's "basically every monster and vampire versus the Devil."
The Wake with Sean Murphy was next up. "Issue 8 is where all the crazy reveals begin. All the nuttiness is explained in #9 and 10."
Snyder promised the fan-favorite dolphin in the book is "safe forever." The main character actually rides the dolphin down an avalanche on the side of a mountain in issue 9, the talkative writer spoiled.
Aquaman and the Others by Dan Jurgens features a bunch of relatively new characters who each fit an archetype. "There will be a couple of changes coming very soon in the group. There were ten bars of gold and we haven't seen that many weapons yet. It will also lead into and tie into Futures End in a unique way."
Speaking of Futures End, the second weekly of 2014 that Jurgens is co-writing with Azzarello and others, Jurgens said it's a "great book in many ways." He said that alongside Azz, Keith Giffen, and Jeff Lemire, "we all come from very different places. If you have four guys who think alike in terms of chracter and story, it'll homogenize too much." Jurgens said the special Free Comic Book Day zero issue starts thirty-five years from now, until Batman Beyond comes back to five years from now.
"It all keeps building and building to an epic conclusion at the end of our run."
Azzarello said, "This book is really dark. And for me to say that! (laughs). There've been a lot of fights. It really hasn't been fun. It's been a real journey, it's been arduous, but I think you're really gonna love this thing. It doesn't matter how difficult it is for us to do it... there are things in this book that I can't believe we've done it. It gives me pause. You guys are gonna freak. I envy you."
Jurgens jokingly thanked DC for a psychoanalyst for their story conferences.
"Who knew Keith was such an angry disturbed old man?" Azz joked.
Sticking with Azzarello, the panel turned to Wonder Woman, which Cunningham said is his "favorite New 52 book" because of the way it has reinvented the character, and that it's a long burn story.
Azzarello said he kind of doesn't want the story to end. "We did an outline, we're sticking to the outline, and we're done. We have 5 or 6 more issues, and that's the last storyline. We've had a great time working together, and now we're done and it's kinda hard." He sniffled, and said, "I'm really going to miss this book. I'm going to miss her. There's not a character that we've done that hasn't grown on me... and there's a few that no one else will ever get to use, I'll say," ominously teasing some deaths in their final arc.
He also cited Cliff Chiang as being the closest collaborator he's ever had.
Moving naturally then to Superman/Wonder Woman, Cunningham asked if they can ever be just happy together. Soule said, "if they were just happy for too long, the book's kind of over, isn't it?" But he said they'll have moments of happiness, though the new issue is a prelude to the "Doomed" crossover, where "there's not a lot of happiness."
Soule said that Wonder Woman fighting Doomsday is a fun, cool thing, but he also likes the "moments of them trying to be together," and that he loves working on the series.
Next, sticking to Soule, was Swamp Thing. In the series, Alec Holland has swapped himself out of the Swamp Thing body to try to live a regular life for a little while, only to have it stolen by people who are planning "nefarious things for it." He says "the characters are very 'anything can happen,'" and feature a lot of people with history with Swamp Thing. Vandal Savage is also in the series now, as someone who has met various incarnations of the avatar of the green. "It's really a fun book, and I am so happy that Scott left it, thank you Scott."
In issue 32, we'll see him become "Seaweed Thing" as he has an underwater adventure with Aquaman.
Red Lanterns currently features Supergirl as the newest member, and the Red Lanterns are now the sole protectors of Earth and its sector, 2814, kicking the Green Lanterns out. But Guy Gardner took the Red Lantern Corps from Atrocitus, and he's been gaining power trying to get the Corps back.
Another new Red Lantern called "The Judge" was just introduced, as well. "We're building up to the big conflict between Guy Gardner and Atrocitus. I just finished that issue, and I tried to give you as many 'oh my god' moments as I could in that. They go to Earth, and the Grand Canyon gets melted..."
"Oh, and Guy has a sweet mustache now."
Action Comics by Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder was next. Kuder is also writing an arc of Superboy, Pak noted. "What's great about Aaron is that when we work together, I write plot first - still page by page and panel by panel, but not dialogue. Aaron does layouts, then we get on the phone and talk it through for an hour and a half, he draws, then I fill in the dialogue." It's a variation of "Marvel Style" and he siad it just "clicks" with Kuder.
"Doomed is the big giant crossover between the Superman books. In May there's a one-shot co-written by Soule, myself, and Scott Lobdell, and Action #31 follows directly after the last page of the one-shot, then Superman/Wonder Woman #8, and Superman #31." Pak and Soule said it's a big challenge for them as writers, "and a giant test for Superman and everybody he cares about - which means everybody on Earth."
Pak did assure fans that they can follow just one book if that's all they've been reading, but "you will be richly rewarded" if you read the others in the crossover.
"I'm having a ton of fun writing characters I haven't gotten to yet. I'm loving writing Lois Lane. I'm writing Steel - and we'll see a new Steel, I can say. I love Krypto, there's a big action scene for Krypto."
Soule said that Wonder Woman and Lois Lane interacting has been "really interesting. There are people who want Superman to be dating Lois Lane, people who love him with Wonder Woman, but I'm writing them together and not making it about that thing. It's been really fun."
Pak said there are "very surprising things happening with our heroes and the world. That's all I'm going to say."
Batman/Superman just finished a crossover with Worlds' Finest, and Pak had fun writing the Earth 2 transplant characters of Huntress and Power Girl. He said that Jae Lee and June Chung's art is "so very pretty!" Issue #10 is written by Jeff Lemire, and is a one-shot with "I think the first appearance of The Atom in the New 52," while #11 and #12 will lead-up to Batman teaming with Lois Lane and Superman teaming with Catwoman in issue #13 (which Newsarama readers will remember was originally solicted as issue 11's story).
Earth 2 was next, and artist Nicola Scott represented the creative team. "Tom Taylor has been brilliant about adding more levity to a book that's really about the slow destruction of a planet. Having these light character moments with Jimmy for comedy or Val who's fresh and innocent." In the next issue, though, "Green Lantern has a speech for everybody else that sums up what state the Earth is really in, and it's really not good. There is stuff coming I don't even know how to talk about because it's just crazy."
Of a particular scene in Earth 2 #22, she said it was fun to "sneak in a butt shot" of Alan Scott with a laugh.
"It's been fun to introduce these characters, and we're working to the spin-off book, the Earth 2 weekly. It's so hard to be talking about this book. I'm drawing the penultimate issue of the arc we're in, and at the very end of issue 26, the August issue, stuff is going down, and hopefully it all plays out the way we've been planning since the beginning. Dr. Fate has been prophesizing, and he's been saying something over and over again, and that stuff should pay off."
Scott got tripped up trying to talk about the series, but promised, "every issue changes everything. Tom was originally brought on to write the spin-off book about Batman and some of the other new characters, but that got changed into the weekly, and it left some extra players on the board. But now he's found a purpose for everybody. He's also very subtly settling them into our core team, and then all the extras. Everyone will eventually, in #26 rally behind Val as he takes on the former Superman." She joked that Superman is "Tom's favorite character, and he just wishes he could write a happy good Superman, but he's writing this and Injustice where he's just an arsehole."
Scott, getting further spoilery said there's a scene in #25 where "you think maybe there's hope, and then it's dashed brutally. And he hits the point of being irredeemable."
Talking about Secret Origins, Kyle Higgins said it was fun to do another version of Dick Grayson's origin, joking that "we just did it in Nightwing but we're doing it again!"
Higgins is also writing Batman Beyond 2.0, which is currently crossing over with Justice League Beyond, and features Terry McGinnis as he exists in the DC Animated Universe. In the relaunch, Terry is now working with Dick Grayson instead of Bruce Wayne, after a missing year had a big falling-out. "The Justice Lords crossover is the precursor to the answers to what happened one year ago. I do think that the reveal of what happened will break the internet."
And with that, there is only time for one question, so Cunningham asked, "What is your favorite DC book you'd recommend that you don't work on?"
Soule: The Wake, it's one hell of a book.
Pak: I am gonna say Wonder Woman, it was one of the first books I read in the New 52 and it blew my mind.
Scott: I'm gonna say Wonder Woman as well. I don't give away the hardbacks of that.
Higgins: I would say Wonder Woman but I don't want to pump up Brian any more. But I'll say it for Cliff.
Jurgens: I just started reading the Batman Beyond stuff and I'm stunned by how really good it is.
Azzarello: "I don't read comic books" (laughs) But when I do, I read Trillium.
Snyder: I was gonna say Trillium. But Batman Beyond, too!
With that, the panel wrapped.