Long Beach Comic Con: DC NATION Panel

Saturday's DC Nation panel at the inaugural might have lacked the giggly energy of usual host Dan DiDio — replaced as panel moderator by senior story editor Ian Sattler, roving the audience with a microphone like a daytime talk show host — but the DC Universe Executive Editor wasn't far from anyone's minds, with the announcement of him taking over writing duties The Outsiders in January standing as the biggest DC Comics news of the day.

Packing a modest upstairs meeting room, Sattler was joined on the panel by DC associates including the busy-as-always Geoff Johns (architect of the current Blackest Night event), new Outsiders artist Philip Tan, Supergirl writer Sterling Gates and DC VP of sales Bob Wayne. Per DC Nation tradition, it was essentially a laid-back Q&A between fans and company brass. Full disclosure: thanks to some confusion with navigating around the convention center (the "Harvest Festival," among other events, is also taking place here this weekend), we joined the panel slightly in progress.

Other than the Outsiders news, the biggest news spilling out of the panel is that the new Johns The Flash title will be a 30-pager, with a Wally West "second feature" by Johns and Scott Kolins, who had a notable run with the character earlier in the decade. Wally West will be sporting a "new look."

That news led to this question: any plans to reprint more Flash material from the Johns/Kolins run? "No plans right now," Wayne answered, but like most things, it's a possibility down the line.

When asked what Wally West would now be called, post-Barry Allen's return — "there's Flash, and Kid Flash, is he going to be medium Flash?" — Johns pointed out that Jay Garrick has still been Flash all along. More Flash facts: the new speedster that Johns referred to in San Diego will be female.

Another popular topic was how the ongoing litigation between Time Warner and Jerry Siegel's heirs would affect Superman comic books, with Sattler, wearing a Guns 'n Roses t-shirt, quick to answer that it does not.

Some highlights of the Q&A:

A fan asked "What's going on with" Cassandra Cain, now that former Spoiler Stephanie Brown has been established as the new Batgirl. "Something," Sattler replied.

Any date for the Paul Dini-penned Zatanna comic? "First quarter 2010."

Plans for the Lady Blackhawk character? "We could kill her in The Outsiders," Tan joked.

The subject of the amount of Blackest Night tie-ins was broached. "We wanted to keep it as limited as we could," Johns said. "It would be really easy to put 'Blackest Night' on top of all our books for eight months," Sattler added.

"Any truth that Wonder Woman might get killed off?" a fan asked, puzzling the panel. "I didn't hear that rumor," Johns said. "Can we start that rumor?"

Besides Wally West, new second feature back-ups in the coming year? "Absolutely," Sattler said.

There are plans for Red Circle character the Web, with a new writer likely to be announced in Baltimore, according to Sattler, but no current plans for any Milestone characters other than Static.

Given the talk of a new costume for Wally West, a fan asked if there were any chances more of the DCU's heavy hitters (your Supermans, Batmans, etc.) tweaking their appearances. "There's something iconic about the way those characters look that we kind of like," Sattler said, "and don't intend on changing any time soon."

Any chance the original Question, Vic Sage will make a comeback? "He'll be a Black Lantern," Johns answered. Also tapped for Black Lantern status: the Rainbow Raider. "Yeah, he's called the Black and White Raider," Johns explained. "And I'm not joking. He's not happy about it."

Couple of Batman-related questions: will any other comics reference old-school comics, as seen heavily in Batman R.I.P.? "In general, I'm sure there will be," Wayne said. Any chance of a follow-up to the Brian Azzarelo/Lee Bermejo Joker original graphic novel? "I think I'm talking to Brian next week, so I'll bring it up to him," Wayne said, with the often-sarcastic VP adding a, "seriously."

Given that this is one of the first conventions since the major news of Disney purchasing Marvel was announced in late August, it's not entirely surprisingly that the last question was this: "did you guys laugh at all when Marvel was sold to Disney?" Following some chuckles over the question, Wayne said, "apparently many of you in the room did." "If I had Marvel stock I probably would have laughed," Johns answered, with Sattler providing the punchline. "All the way to the bank — booyah!"

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