NYCC 2014: DC COMICS - Bearded SUPERMAN and the CHAMPIONS OF JUSTICE Panel

Action Comics #36
a page from Action Comics #36
Credit: DC Comics

[Check out a gallery of new first look art from DC, including more images of bearded Superman .]

Creators from DC Comics assembled on Saturday afternoon to talk with fans about the New 52 at New York Comic Con.

DC’s Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham was joined by Chief Creative Officer and Superman writer Geoff Johns, Grayson writers Tim Seeley and Tom King, Wonder Woman artist David Finch, Wonder Woman writer Meredith Finch, Harley Quinn writer Jimmy Palmiotti, Action Comics writer Greg Pak, Deathstroke writer/artist Tony Daniel, Worlds’ Finest writer Paul Levitz, Constantine writer Ray Fawkes and Action Comics artist Aaron Kuder.

The cover of Justice League #35, on sale Oct. 15, features Lex Luthor joining the Justice League. “The idea we wanted to do on Justice League was to have someone shake things up in a fun way, and Lex certainly does that,” Johns said. 

Joining the team will change Lex’s views on strength in unity and how to help people. This leads to Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor joining forces on a business level, as well, which allows Bruce to check out LexCorp and open every door. “As soon as they find something to charge him with, they’re going to come in.”

What the Justice League will deal with next is a failed experiment of Lex’s: The Amazo Virus, which affects metahumans in various ways. While Lex is trying to turn over a new leaf, Johns said, “he can’t just erase his past” - especially when someone puts a price on Lex’s head.

Superman #35, on sale Oct. 22, will “focus more on the man than on the super,” Johns said. Johns praised his artistic partner, John Romita, Jr., on his first DC work. “He can do power, but he can also do emotion,” he said. Their fourth issue on the book will be a Lois Lane issue, celebrating her birthday. Batman and Wonder Woman will also be making appearances soon, which will be a first for Romita.

In Action Comics #35, due Oct. 22, will start a new story from Pak and Kuder called “Horrorville.” “Creepy things are afoot in Smallville, and it might be something that might be even hard for Superman to fight,” Pak said. “It will hit him at many angles in true horror fashion.” 

“There’s something going on with the people of Smallville themselves,” Pak said. Pak added that Lana Lang and Steel will remain in the book, and there will be some romantic beats between the two of them.

Pak then commented on the new beard he’s given Superman since his “Doomed” arc. “Time for more beards in comics!” Cunningham said.

In the current story of Batman/Superman, Pak said that thanks to Satanus and Kaiyo, Superman and Batman are stripped of their memories, and they are starting from scratch. Superman discovers he has powers, Batman discovers he has a secret identity, but without their memories, they react very differently. Batman revels in his riches and gadgets, while Superman is conned by Catwoman to do her bidding.

“Lois Lane plays a big role in this - she teams up with Bruce Wayne. And sparks may fly!” Pak said.

For Worlds’ Finest, we will see the secret history of Earth-2. Levitz said that in the first issue of Earth-2, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are all killed - so the latest issue goes back in time, all the way back to the destruction of Krypton. 

“Over the course of the six-issue arc, we get some cool moments, like an exciting moment when Batman first meets Wonder Woman,” Levitz said. “There’s a bit of an age gap, though - he’s eight, and she’s three or four hundred.” This story will also explain how Lois Lane survived being transformed into the android Red Tornado.

With Earth’s End approaching, however, Levitz said, “you know this is not going to end too well.”

David Finch then discussed Wonder Woman, due out Nov. 19. He’s three issues in. “I should be further along, given how much time we’ve had, but I’ve put so much work into it, and love into it.” Swamp Thing will play “a pretty important role” in the story. 

Meredith Finch said that she’s about “five pages shy” of the third script being finished due to their children being home from school for the summer, but that she will be well ahead by the time the first issue comes out.

Deathstroke, meanwhile, is due out Oct. 22. Cunningham said that editor Eddie Berganza said his editorial team was completely blown away by Daniel’s work. “With the new series here, I basically am putting my own stamp on the character,” Daniel said. “Semi-reboot, I guess.” 

The first few pages show Deathstroke brutally dispatching people on his hit list, before having the building underneath him shot out by an unknown military force. “This book is way over the top,” Cunningham said. 

“I get to do as violent of a book as I would ever want to do,” Daniel said. “The way I see this book is ultra-violent, sexy, and more violence.”

Next up is Harley Quinn, which features a three-part team-up between Harley and Power Girl. “Power Girl got knocked from another galaxy, got a good punch, and lost her memory,” Palmiotti said. “Harley convinces her that they were a superhero fighting team.” The first half of the first issue, Palmiotti said, involves the misadventures of Harley trying to get Power Girl out of her suit and into a more Harley-style outfit. The story will go from shopping to Guardians of the Galaxy-style cosmic. 

“This is the most insane comic I’ve worked on in my life,” Palmiotti said.

For the Harley Quinn Annual, it will be a “rub ’n smell” edition, complete with a warning label with a marijuana leaf. “This is all about Poison Ivy getting thrown into Arkham Asylum, and it’s up to Harley to get her out.” Some of the other scents include suntan lotion. “I guarantee this will be the strangest book you will ever purchase… but it’s perfect for Harley.”

Palmiotti also discussed “Harley Cat,” who has a sidekick named “Hairball” which she has to cough up.

With G.I. Zombie, Palmiotti said that readers cannot rub and smell the comic. “If you haven’t picked it up, it’s about a zombie who’s a soldier, and he’s working in the United States to take out some militia groups,” he said. “Every once in a while he has an appetite that he has to fulfill, and he has to eat a person.” He thanked readers for supporting the book.

Seeley and King then discussed Grayson. Cunningham said that while he’s a fickle reader, Grayson is his current favorite. 

“Before Grayson, we had never met,” Seeley said. “DC said would you like to work together on this book, because we like both your ideas on the book. So we tried that.”

Seeley described the book’s premise, where Dick Grayson infiltrates the espionage group Spyral after having his secret identity outed in Forever Evil

King recalled a scene he wrote where Dick was seduced by Agent 8 - in particular, Dick’s inability to shoot a gun. “She gives him a lesson, and then they give each other another lesson,” he said. He added that this series will address the problems of being a superhero and a gun.

King also mentioned his new character, the Tiger King of Kandahar, the new top spy in the DCU, King said, and he will play a big role in Grayson.

Fawkes then discussed Constantine, a character that will get an influx of spotlight with his new NBC television series. “John Constantine has crossed the gulf between universes as a result of a magical attack, and now finds himself in a new kind of Hell - an Earth under attack by Apokolips,” he said. “The moment he crosses the gulf… every magician in the DC Universe realizes they can get out through him.” Constantine will have to fight a cadre of sorcerers such as Wotan, all trying to use him as their escape hatch.

This story will also explain the Futures End tie-in, particularly why Constantine wants to kill Doctor Fate.

Moving to Gotham by Midnight, Fawkes said “I want to welcome you to the weirdest and darkest book ever set in Gotham City.” These cases are so weird, Batman has to pass them off to the Spectre. “This book is going to weird out the normals,” he said.

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