SDCC 2014: DC DIGITAL - Download This! Panel - Harlan Ellison's Lost Episode of BATMAN 66, More
CREDIT: DC Comics
DC Digital hosted the next panel about digital comics at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2014 on Thursday (the third of the day).
The panelists were introduced, with Hank Kanalz, Jim Chadwick, rising star Margueritte Bennett, Ralph Garman, Kyle Higgins, Cat Staggs, and Freddie Williams II on the packed dais.
The 75th anniversary of Batman was promoted to start the panel, hailing his creation by Bill Finger and Bob Kane (with both creators notably being mentioned).
Moving into the Digital First current calendar, Chadwick said, "There's one new series episode online each day, with a different book each day." "With this, every day is new comic book day," Kanalz added. There is a large Batman sale going on in comiXology and DC's digital store.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is an "anything goes, amazing experience," said Kanalz of the first spotlit book. Year Two is the current storyline featuring the Guardians of the Universe sending most of the Green Lantern Corps to Earth to fight Superman and his allies (who include the Sinestro Corps). "If you've read Tom's stuff, you know there's going to be a big surprise," Chadwick teased. "It'll really blow people away."
From the digital series, you'll go into the print annual, which helps to fill-in the seven month time jump between Year 1 and Year 2. Bennett is co-writing the annual with Tom Taylor, the regular writer of the series. "Seeing Tom do these bone-breaking things to characters that we love is really devastating but really entertaining. With this, it's absolutely no-holds barred. You're used to a balance, where things get bloody but eventually there's a triumphant return. With Injustice you're playing for keeps. I hope you really love the crazy stories that are coming in the annual," she said.
The two stories feature Jim and Barbara Gordon, and Hal Jordan and Sinestro (working together, no less). "It's been pretty wild," the writer said.
After the "shocking and surprising" end of Year 2, "I thought Taylor couldn't top himself," Chadwick said. The main focus in Year 3 is "magic, Superman's other weakness. It's John Constantine getting pissed off and joining up with Batman to take down Superman. And they start aligning all the magic in the DCU." The thing that pisses off Constantine is "very personal," as well.
On alternating Mondays starting in September, The Flash: Season Zero and Arrow: Season 2.5 will hit digitally. Season Zero is written by Andrew Kreisberg and the Flash TV writers are writing, with art by Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur, and Kelsey Shannon. The series will take place between the pilot and the second episode of the show. Arrow 2.5 meanwhile is written by Marc Guggenheim and drawn by Joe Bennett, Jack Jadson, and Jim Charalampidis. "Unlike our first series, which were done-in-ones each week, this is one long story arc that plays out like its own season," Kanalz said.
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman kicks off digitally August 13 with a two-chapter story by Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver. Chapter 3 is by Amanda Deibert and Cat Staggs (that plays out all of August, for those keeping score). "This is in the vein of our previous anthology series with Legends of the Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman. We have come to find out that everyone has this one story they want to try with Wonder Woman, and this lets them do this." The Simone/Van Sciver story features Wonder Woman in Gotham City.
Phil Jimenez did an alternate cover that has "Almost every version of Wonder Woman ever in it. We challenge you to find one not featured here."
Cat Staggs said getting to draw Wonder Woman is a dream come true. She did get to draw Wonder Woman in Smallville on DC Digital as well, but is excited to do this solo story. "When I got the email, it was pretty incredible. An anthology series is perfect for this character. My story has a lot of fighting, but then there's a really wonderful heartfelt moment at the end about standing up for yourself, and believing in yourself." It's written by her wife, Amanda Deibert.
Batman Beyond 2.0 by Kyle Higgins was next, and the new storyarc will reveal "the mystery of the missing year" between 1.0 and 2.0. It's called "The return of the Phantasm," and has gone weekly, leading to a co-writer, Alec Siegel. "When you learn who someone used to be and the mistakes they've made, you have to see if they led to growth or were just part of a track record. This is my 'Return of the Joker'. This is the closest thing I can do to that movie. Chapter 28 is the one that everyone will be talking about. When I pitched this book, it was the first thing I ever pitched and thought no one would let it happen, and Hank approved it like an hour later. No one will see this coming."
The first chapter featured Jake Chill, the newer Vigilante, who may have been part of the hit squad that killed Terry's father. It's the beginning of the rift between Terry and Bruce that all leads up to Chapter 28.
Infinite Crisis: Fight for the Multiverse from Dan Abnett and a host of artists was next. The story features heroes from multiple Earths teaming up to save the multiverse. Freddie Williams is doing a Gotham by Gaslight chapter of the series, which has been "artistically really fulfilling - to try your hand at different moods that fit a specific universe." He likes that the nature of the story lends itself to different artistic styles.
Bryan Q. Miller joined the panel to talk about Smallville: Chaos, which is building up to its own "Crisis on Infinite Earths." "Our threat this year is the Monitors, as they're destroying Earths. Clark has just recently met the one true Darkseid, who he thought he defeated at the end of Season 10. While he's gone, we have our own little Reign of the Supermen story going on, with Supergirl, Superboy, and Cyborg Superman fighting off an Eclipso virus in Metropolis. And at the SAME time because it's called Chaos, Lex Luthor and his Yellow Ring soldiers are trying to steal Michael Holt's technology and to make contact with other Earths."
Teen Titans GO! was next, and a young fan dressed as Plastic Man sang the theme song for a free cape. Kanalz said it's a hilarious comic, and the digital version uses DC Squared with panel-by-panel and layered art, which "fits really well with the series."
Next was Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga, which is the digital translation of Kuwata's 1960s Batman comics produced in Japan. "Some of the manga was collected a few years ago in a book by Chip Kidd, and we're collecting the entire series in 52 digital installments," Chadwick said. "It's a really fun read, to see this interpretation of it. Especially Robin, who's a real wiseass in this series." It is read right-to-left as originally printed.
Speaking of the wave of 60s nostalgia, Batman '66 was featured, which has an ongoing series as well as a current crossover mini-series with Dynamite's Green Hornet. Garman said, "This is a labor of love for my buddy Kevin Smith, who couldn't be here, and I. Kevin brought me on board for my pychotic love of this version of these four characters. Bringing them together after they met on the TV series is a dream come true. We get to act out all the childhood fantasies we had when we were jumping off a table with a towel wrapped around our necks in the back yard."
Next is an announcement! Batman '66: The Lost Episode, Story by Harlan Ellison, Script by Len Wein, art by Jose Lui Garcia-Lopez and Joe Prado and Alex Sinclair, with a cover by Alex Ross, on sale November 2014. It's an actual episode Harlan wrote for the show that would have brought Two-Face into the show. "Imagined what it's like if Harlan Ellison had written for the show? Here it is, come to life."
From there, the panel went to a brief fan Q&A.
Q: What digital mashup would you like to see?
Higgins: "Batman '66 Beyond - where Adam West plays himself, now, with a new Terry."
Miller: "I'd love to do Supernatural and Smallville."
Bennett: "Injustice and Batman Beyond."
Staggs: "Injustice and Scribblenauts, with evil Superman taken down by the Scribblenauts."
Q: More Justice League Beyond?
Higgins: No plans for now, the Justice Lords crossover was the end of that series for now, but never say never.