NYCC '09 - DC Comics' 'DC Nation' Panel

It’s the first DC Nation panel (the publisher’s Q&A-heavy convention staple) of the year at 2009’s first major show, and it’s also the first DC-wide panel since a certain mini-series titled Final Crisis wrapped. There should be some stuff to talk about, no?

Held at 7:15 p.m., a quarter-hour after the New York Comic Con exhibit hall closed, a packed crowd — standing attendees dotted the meeting room’s walls — awaited some shreds of info on the latest happenings of the DC Universe (or some attention paid to their various gripes.

Led, as usual, by DC Universe Senior VP/Executive Editor Dan DiDio, the panel also included legendary penciler George Perez (who received claps from the crowd when he arrived first; ”For once, I’m early,” the artist said), VP of Sales Bob Wayne, Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler (“He’s going to explain to you all the minute details not in Final Crisis,” DiDio joked), Final Crisis/Blackest Night editor Eddie Berganza and writers Greg Rucka, James Robinson, Sterling Gates, and Geoff Johns. 

Writer Peter Tomasi was also brought in, from the audience.

DiDio began the panel by showing off a Build-A-Bear monkey dressed (kind of) like Darkseid. "This is what you get from fans that hate you," he quipped.

Let's get it out of the way," DiDio said. "Final Crisis?" A decidedly mixed reaction from the audience.

"How many of you understood Final Crsis?" Some raised their hand. "Stand up," he said. "You guys are my idols."

DiDio brought up the somewhat ambiguous status of Batman post-Final Crisis. "'Why didn't you publicize that Batman was going to die in #6,'" DiDio said, voicing complaints. "Because we all knew he'd be back alive one or two weeks later," he answered.

DiDio addressed confusion behind how Final Crisis and Batman R.I.P., both written by Grant Morrison, flow.

"We're going to make sense of this," said DiDio. "Just for you."

DiDio pointed to the projector, saying that story started with the first issues of "R.I.P.," going to Final Crisis #1, and then the last issue of "R.I.P.," Batman #681, then moving to Final Crisis #3.

After that falls the "Last Rites" story (Batman #682-683), and then Final Crisis #6.

The next part after that, somewhat logically, was Final Crisis #7.

"When you put it like that, it still doesn't make sense," joked Rucka.

After that, DiDio said he was looking for feedback from the fans—what DC Nation panels purport to be all about.

First comment from the fans: "Can we get the Orange Lantern oath?" Johns: "It's my favorite oath, and I can't, I'm sorry."

A fan pleaded, "Can you please stop going back in time and going into space and going into alternate Earths and going into the future?" One fellow fan loudly yelled "boo" in response. "Where do you want them to go?" added another heckler.

"Green Lantern's in space, I apologize," said Johns.

"Trinity is all in alternate universes," said the same fan that raised the complaints. "Yeah, but it's pretty self-contained and it's an exploration of the characters," said DiDio.

DiDio said Blackest Night is the next big focus, and is contained on "our" Earth, though much of it is in space.

What's up with Connor Hawke? "I will show Connor the love," said DiDio, who was wearing several shirts — all of which depicted different color Lantern logo — and taking them off periodically. Hopefully he'll leave at least one on.

Status of Animal Man and Starfire? A new Animal Man ongoing is coming, and Starfire will continue to be in Titans.

DiDio asked the fans what they thought of Final Crisis: Revelations. The response was positive from the handful of fans he polled, with one noting that he liked the use of religion.

DiDio also asked about more FInal Crisis tie-ins: Resist, Submit and Rogue's Revenge.

When asking about Requiem, a fan said he liked that it said goodbye to a "beloved character" that was "shortchanged" in Final Crisis itself (according to this guy, at least).

DiDio is now on his Orange Lantern t-shirt.

DiDio then said that the tie-ins were meant to be independent of each other, to counter common complaints about crossovers where fans are "forced" to buy dozens of comics. One audience member dissented, saying it made the event seem less important. Another, especially squeaky-voiced, fan said that "Crisis" was overused. "We're going to give the Crisis name a rest for a while," responded DiDio.

DiDio is down to the Yellow Lantern shirt—uh oh!

"Um...bring Batman back?" asked a fan. "He's barely gone," said DiDio. "Give him a rest! And oh yeah, Batman's not gone. We have a new Batman coming. Never mind. Next question!"

First post-resurrections reunion of Barry Allen and Hal Jordan? Blackest Night #0 and Flash: Rebirth #1, said Johns, who added that Blackest Night #0 will be free—as part of Free Comic Book Day.

A fan asked if "death meant anything any more" in the DC Universe. "Some people aren't coming back," said Rucka. "There is a logic to it."

"Can someone talk me out of dropping Brave and the Bold?" said a fan looking for some shopping advice. DiDio said there are three types of stories coming up in the book: a Booster Gold/Magog one-shot by Dan Jurgens, "some crossovers" with the Milestone and Red Circle characters being further integrated into the DCU,  and then JMS working with the DC characters.

"MIlestone characters. Why?" "They are untapped sources of great stories," said DiDio. "They are unique and have a voice."

The same fan asked when Justice League was "going to be Justice League again," and Berganza and DiDio defended the title, saying the book would deal with some "hard issues." The fan asked if it would be without Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, and DiDio answered, "without Batman."

DiDio then asked Robinson and Rucka to talk about Superman; Robinson discussed the "World of New Krypton" story, where Supes is forced to leave Earth and live on New Krypton. "On this book that's set on an alien world, events will be constantly unfolding that will affect things on Earth," said Robinson. 

Starman or Golden Age sequel? "I think the best sequel to the Golden Age was done by Mr. Darwyn Cooke," said Robinson, referring to New Frontier. "As far as Starman, probably not, but I am doing a Shade origin miniseries."

DiDio then brought a fan in a Kid Flash outfit up to the dais to pose for a picture with George Perez. The fan asked about the future of Bart Allen: "He'll be in the 31st century in Legion of Three Worlds," said Johns, adding that he'll be back in the Flash universe as of Flash: Rebirth.

"If Wally West is just going to be in Titans and guest starring in Flash, aren't you basically making him Kid Flash again?" "Who said those would be the only books he'd be in," asked Sattler.

"Thanks for Vixen," said a fan, referring to the Vixen: Return of the Lion mini-series. DiDio shared that Vixen was slated to have her own series before the "DC Implosion" of 1978, but that this was the first time she had her own book since those plans.

DiDio said you're seeing "a lot of change, a lot of chaos" in the DC Universe right now, and that that all feeds into Blackest Night.

When speaking of the "absence" of the "trinity" at times in the DCU, Rucka opined that their presence is still felt even if that they're not around; for example, that Superman's greatest power is to inspire others.

 "What happened to 'done-in-one' stories?" DiDio pointed to Paul Dini's work on Detective Comics, and the John Rogers run on Blue Beetle

"Our goal is to keep you coming back every month," said DiDio. "That's it. Simple as that. We're in the business of creating periodical stories, so we got to create things that make you want to come back every week."

Are there any original graphic novels like the Azzarello/Bermejo Joker hardcover in the works.? "Absolutely", DiDio answered

Any new All-Star comics? "We're only going to do it if we feel it matters, and right now what matters is what these guys are doing in the DCU," DiDio said. "That's were my attention is."

A fan asked Perez what he thought of the subsequent Crisis stories, being that he was the artist of Crisis on Infinite Earths. "I may not agree, or understand, all of what's going on," he joked. "But that's the starting point. It's not like they ignored it. I've been flattered beyond my worth. Every time there's been a Crisis book, they've approached to me to work on it in some capacity. I'm very grateful. It it's a 'Crisis,' whether they like it or hate it, my name will be near it somewhere."

A female fan (the only one asking a question thus far, so it's worth pointing out), thanked the panel for Tiny Titans. DiDio said that people always claim they want to see comics for kids, and that book was truly a comic designed for younger audiences.

Another question about Tiny Titans: "How come we can't get it into the newsstand market?"

"The entire print magazine category, from Time magazine and Newsweek all the way down to comics, is incredibly difficult right now," said Bob Wayne. "It is going to be a very tough period for almost anything to survive in that environment. It is very difficult to get any number of new comics in that environment."

"The reality still is that there isn't that much distribution out there, because there aren't that many places where they're on sale anymore," he added. "Comics, in your lifetime, has gone from something you can find anywhere to something you have to seek out on your own. And that is unlikely to change at any point soon due to how the market is now."

"Where can we look for Aquaman in the future?" "Underwater," snapped Sattler. "He's in Blackest Night," said Johns.

Is Superman/Batman still continuing on with Batman "dead"? Absolutely.

DiDio excitedly talked about the next weekly project, saying it's "short-term," starts in the summer and is "a format you will be familiar with."

With 10 minutes left, DiDio started "the lightning round"—and stripped down to his Black Lantern shirt.

Max Mercury? "Uh...maybe," said Johns.

"Future plans for Libra?" "No."

A  poster on the Bendis board asked about an in-joke from that site involving a Lantern walrus named Babboo. "Don't go to those sites," DiDio said. "They'll rot your brain."

"How many Flashes will you kill in Blackest Night?" "Not enough," said DiDio.

"Do you have any idea with what you're doing with the New Gods after Final Crisis?" "Yes," said DiDio.

"Any word on maybe seeing the Golden Age or Earth-2 Superman anytime soon?" A knowing laugh erupted, given the reports of that character being a Black Lantern in Blackest Night

"Any chance of a Young Justice trade paperback?" "Not at this time," said Wayne. The crowd didn't like that much (or at least the vocal portion).

"When are the Indigo Lanterns going to appear?" "Blackest Night," said Johns.

"Can I have the shirts you took off?" "They're sweaty!" DiDio said.

Will we see the Blue Beetle supporting cast again? DiDio indicated that we would.

"Ted Kord, Black Lantern?" "Done," said Johns.

"More 3D or no more 3D?" "Oh please, no more 3D," said DiDio.

Perez on an All-Star book? No, but Perez on something big soon.

"President Obama in the DC Universe, when?" "He's got his hands full with the real job," said DiDio. "The answer is no."

"Are you going to be doing anything with the Secret Six?" "You mean beside the book that's been coming out for about eight months? I love that book," said DiDio.

Anything more with Spectre? DiDio said no at first, but then the panel rumbled that something may be coming up.

Sinestro's daughter? Johns said you'll know more soon.

Doom Patrol? "Yes," said several panel members.

How long will Rucka be on Detective for? "I'm going to be on Detective for 12 to 14 issues, guaranteed."

Anything coming up for the Rogues? "Yeah, it's called Flash: Rebirth"

Who will be the artist when Morrison comes back on Batman?" "Yes," said DiDio. "There will be an artist."," said Johns.

[editor's note - our reporter at the panel lost his connection at exactly 8:15pm, the scheduled end of the panel. We will update this report if there is any additional information to be included.]

More New York Comic Con 2009 Coverage:

NYCC '09 Video Page

NYCC '09 Mini-Site

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