Toronto Fan Expo 2009 - DC NATION Panel

Canadians sure know how to throw a party. The first day of the 2009 Toronto Fan Expo was an ant hill of activity as people flooded the floors to check out comics and the exhibits, or jammed into an upstairs room for a sneak peek of 2010’s Tron Legacy feature film. An hour later, that same location witnessed a winding line up to hear what was in store for the DC Universe in the coming months. The panel eventually consisted of Dan DiDio, Len Wein, Joey Cavalieri, and Ethan Van Sciver. After marveling at the various potato chip flavors in Canada, DiDio jumped into things by asking who was reading Blackest Night and their thoughts on it.

While one reader enjoyed how the mini series tied in all the power rings and culminated three years of plot threads, another simply smiled with “I Smell a Mystery.”

DiDio responded by saying “It was funny. When that page came in, we were really excited. We thought they’d really love us or hate us for that one. The ‘I Smell a Mystery’ line was something Geoff [Johns] added at the very last minute and boy, it pushed the page right over the top.”

A fan was happy Blackest Night incorporated the death of Batman storyline and the mystery of why Bruce Wayne’s skull is now the focal point or source of all the black rings on Earth. DiDio hinted that would play out in Blackest Night and Batman and Robin.

While death has been visiting the heroes, one compliment was that Blackest Night is not DC Zombies, especially since the characters were so emotionally invested in the event.

“You sit and talk to Geoff about this, the whole concept of the rings, the multi color Corps, and even the concept behind Blackest Night is about emotional reactions,” explains DiDio.

“It’s people overreacting and ultimately what happens about that. There’s a scene coming up where a couple of characters are interacting and they are basically saying ‘You’ve got to calm yourself down. The more emotional you get, the more you react, the more they are going to come after you.’ Plus, as the story develops, you’ll see some twists and turns along the way and see that it’s not just about the Black Lanterns but about so much more of the DC U.”

A reader was a big fan of DC coming up with a creative way to pit superhero against superhero, to which DiDio teased “You’re going to see a Black Lantern Justice League versus the current Justice League pretty soon.”

The original Dove being at peace was brought up and DiDio commented “What is good about that is it’s not one size fits all, that there is a different emotional reaction because something else is going on.”

When the floor opened up to other topics, someone inquired whether there were plans to expand on the Legion of Superheroes?

“The problem with Legion of Superheroes is the big cast and my biggest personal problem was the lack of Superboy and the inspiration for the team,” offers DiDio. “That was so key to the origin and so key to so much going on there that without that, without Superboy to inspire the team, it lost its own purpose and just became a team. It was something set in the future, but it didn’t have a real tether to what was going on in the DC Universe currently. What we are trying to do is rebuild that time, rebuild that sensibility, and hopefully rebuild a Legion that is a strong powerful set of characters in the DC U again.”

The Internet rumor that Green Arrow/Black Canary was being cancelled was quickly squashed.

“Absolutely false,” DiDio immediately stated. “Let me explain something too. One of our agendas on Green Arrow/Black Canary, and one of the things I encourage the most, is they are going to great extents to introduce new characters. One of the interesting things about the DC Universe right now, and one of the things everyone is reacting to, and hopefully positively, is the introduction of a lot of new ideas and concepts to the DCU.

"The Color Corps is brand new, even though it feels like it is tied to the DC Universe. What Grant [Morrison] has going on in Batman and Robin feels like its part of Batman lore even though they are brand new. You see these things going on and new characters. You see new ideas in so many places right now and that’s essential to us. What you are starting to get is the sense people are reacting to something that feels fresh again. We’re going to constantly try to do that and not to disregard everything.”

The subject quickly turned to Flash Rebirth and the return of Max Mercury. Once the book was praised, DiDio asked Van Sciver how the project was going.

“Oh, I love it,” he beamed. “I’m having a great time. It’s the book I pestered you for over three years. I love Barry Allen. I love the Flash. The Flash is probably my favorite superhero. Barry has been gone 25 years and I though that was a pretty fair homage to pay for Crisis, but it was time to bring him back. When Geoff and I finally convinced Dan to let us do it, we built a huge gigantic story that really needed every single Flash, even some that had been missing, in order for it to work.

"Flash Rebirth is Part 1 of that. It’s assembling all the pieces, putting them back together where we needed them to be, and then explain one little segment of what the speed force is. Again, Geoff is only giving you a taste of what it is. It’s so much more broad. Professor Zoom ties into it big time and it’s going to lead to a long, fruitful, and very successful ongoing series after this.”

The one panel featuring Jesse Quick and Rick Tyler was pointed out.

“Wait until you see Jesse in issue #5,” teased Sciver. “You’ll stand up and cheer. She has a great scene.”

“We’re going to be exploring more about those two,” added DiDio. “They could be one of the more fun DC couples coming out right now.”

A major concern for one reader was over the way Barry was re-introduced and how it felt like Wally got kicked to the curb.

“A little bit,” agreed DiDio. “Just give them some room. Joey, you know how the book turns out. What is Wally’s role in the rest of the series?”

“See Blackest Night,” he cruelly joked as the room erupted with laughter and groans.

“It’s a great question what you are asking because you see Green Lantern Rebirth and Flash Rebirth and although their titles mean the same thing, they are opposite books with two completely different takes,” continued DiDio. “We always say with Hal Jordan, we were always fighting to hold Hal Jordan back. He should be Green Lantern and we were finding reasons not to put him there. I always laugh about The Spectre. When Hal Jordan was the Spectre, he had a Green Lantern symbol on his chest and he had a mask cause when you’re dead, you don’t want people to know you’re dead. Ultimately, we kept embracing Hal and I always said Hal Jordan as a character was never gone. The Corps fell apart so therefore when Hal cam back to fix things, he had to fix his reputation, rebuild the Corps, and rebuild what Green Lantern stood for as he remembered it to be.

"With Flash, it’s the complete opposite. Wally was the perfect replacement. Everybody had moved on so now it’s not a story about somebody who has to fix something broken in his absence, but somebody who is coming back to see if he was relevant still.”

“What I’m talking about actually plays into what the story is about. I understand what you are saying, but that’s absolutely story points for what’s going on there.”

“You have to remember, Barry and Wally are family and best friends,” chimed in Van Sciver. “Nobody is getting kicked to the curb. If anything, the two of them are thrilled to be back together again. This is business as usual and a return to the way things were.”

Besides some feedback on the new Batman and Robin, it was noted that with some of the changes in store for the Titans, that Dick Grayson might not fit on that team anymore.

In addition “What we’re going to see in 2010 is how the Titans and Justice League books crossover a little more than they have in the past and probably in a way they never have before” explained DiDio.

Speaking of Titans, with James Robinson bringing Donna Troy onto his upcoming Justice League, will she be getting a codename?

“She’s one of those people a nickname doesn’t stick to, like Jean Grey,” reasoned DiDio. “Troia was tough. She’s not going to be Wonder Girl anymore. Do you want to call her Darkstar? Not really. For us, Donna Troy stands for something, means something, and the name is recognizable so we’re just leaving it as is.”

The discussion then turned to Donna’s ever revolving costume.

“You’ve seen she’s gone through several costume incarnations and we’re trying to find one that sticks out a little bit more,” says DiDio. “There was talk about moving her back to the red costume for a little while, but that was too far back. We want to look at a way to present her in a way that feels contemporary and new for now, but still harkens back to the old costumes.”

In a flurry of quick fire questions relating to various characters, beginning with Doc Savage, DiDio revealed:

“The goal for us is to create a world where Doc Savage is the pinnacle of superpowers. Doc Savage in a world where Superman exists doesn’t make sense. He loses what makes him unique and special, but Doc Savage in a world where he is the top of human perfection, now I have an understanding of how this world operates. Joey is working on a story with Brian Azzarello and Rags Morales that brings Doc Savage next to an interpretation of Batman. We’ll see characters like Wildcat and Black Canary in there. You’ll see Justice Inc. appear. You’re going to see this scrambled world that is going to be created and hopefully is going to be able to spin out and sustain stories set within these parameters.”

Regarding Supergirl:

“There’s a lot of relationship going on between her and Lois, there is going to be relationship stuff with her and her mother back on New Krypton. She’s really a girl caught between two planets, even more than Superman is.”

Grant Morrison’s Multiverse is going to be a series of one shots and are connected.

The Brave and the Bold line-up includes Flash and Blackhawks, Batman and Dial H, and Batman and Brother Power of the Geek.

Oracle plays a massively key role in the Batgirl series and will be setting up shop in the Batcave. As for Cassandra Cain, she will have a prominent role in 2010.

And with one last inaudible question, DiDio called that panel adjourned!

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