Several writers of DC's New 52 initiative explored the dark and edgy side of the publisher's division at the New York Comic Con on Saturday, at The Dark & The Edge panel.
Writer Scott Snyder opened up the panel, discussing how he joined Swamp Thing. "I was very intimidated. But at the end of the day, the thing is, Swamp Thing is a character that made me want to write in the first place," he said. "My favorite thing about Swamp Thing is this idea of a man wrestling with this monster that's really internal -- this sense of someone who feels he can't give up his humanity to be this monster he's destined to become."
"I try to pretend I'm writing fan fiction all the time and no one is reading it -- you're all bursting my bubble being here right now," Snyder joked. He then thanked the audience for the support, leading to sell-outs on all of "They're not marquee characters, but the response from you guys has been so inspiring."
An upcoming cover for Swamp Thing showed the monster's human alter ego, Alec Hammond, wrestling with a pig-like monster. This ties into the Rot, the dead counterpart to the Green, which deals with vegetation, and the Red, which deals with animal life. Snyder said that he had created a new character for Swamp Thing to fight related to the Arcane family with the power to manipulate dead material in a body: "He can put a rotting tooth through your head, or if you smoke, he can pull your lungs out of your chest," Snyder said. "It's a wonderful neighborhood to be in, and they're the kind of books that make me want to write."
Animal Man writer Jeff Lemire agreed that it was intimidating to take on a hero with such cachet after Grant Morrison's epic run, but said that because there were other writers who took over the book after Morrison left, "thankfully I wasn't the first." He added, "at the end of the day, you have to put that out of your mind and have enough confidence in yourself and do your thing." Lemire said that the theme of Animal Man was about pushing Buddy Baker and his family as far as they can go: "Will they break, or will they evolve into something new?" Lemire also said that upcoming issues will introduce the Totems, the Red's version of the Parliament of the Trees.
He also discussed Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., which he described as the polar opposite of Animal Man, saying that Frankenstein's adventures were non-stop black humor and science fiction. Upcoming issues will have a crossover with OMAC, by Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen — Lemire said that readers will not have to pick up both series to understand the crossover, but that each series will look at the crossover from the other character's perspective.
OMAC's Keith Giffen took mock offense to this, saying that "yes, you only need to pick up one of these books." He discussed how he collaborated with Dan DiDio, saying that he worked off DiDio's plots. Giffen said he was "having a ball" drawing OMAC, and said that while any similarity to Kirby was not intended, he was happy to be compared with the legendary artist. "We really wanted OMAC to be a big, bold loud colorful dumb comic book. And by dumb I don't mean stupid, I mean people who throw buildings at one another," he said. "We wanted to do the kind of comic books that, when we were kids, we'd say to ourselves, wow, I want to do that!"
Joshua Hale Fialkov, writer of I, Vampire, showed off a cover for Issue #5, which happened to have a Batsignal shining in the sky. "I don't know who it might be," he said, "But I bet it'll be totally awesome." He also said that John Constantine would make his way into the book soon enough. Fialkov said that he loved both how "viciously, viciously brutal" the book was, along with its underlying love story. "This is what it's like to be bottom-feeders in a world with Superman."
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray also discussed All-Star Western, saying that the extra pages for the book allowed them to further flesh out their stories and really give the book its own identity outside of their previous collaboration, Jonah Hex. "We get a lot more story," Palmiotti said. "We're not putting in any filler." Gray agreed: "It felt important to make the book stand out more than Jonah Hex -- it would be the same character, but it would be All-Star Western. I think Arkham is great. Those two characters together are either hysterical or dangerous."
Andy Lanning, one of the original creators behind Resurrection Man, joked "Dan and I were great fans of the original series, and the original trade, and those geniuses didn't enough credit that they were due the first time." In seriousness, he said, "it came out at the same time as other books like Major Bummer and Chase. I think today's audience is a little bit more ready to appreciate this at this time than they were back then." Abnett and Lanning's goals this time are to make Mitch more proactive and more deliberate in finding himself in new situations.
Man of War cover artist Viktor Kalvachev said he couldn't discuss any story elements, only giving Sgt. Rock's name and serial number, but did discuss his cover process. "I try to make the cover reflect and complement what's going on inside the issue without it being an illustration of a single moment," he said. "I view my covers as a roadmap of everything that's going on."
Adam Glass of Suicide Squad said he was glad his controversial book had made it to the stands. "It's been great, all the Harley Quinn fans aren't out trying to kill me anymore… Now I just have to look out for all the Amanda Waller fans," he said. Showing off some pages of the Squad having a shootout in a diner -- all while protecting a baby -- Glass said that the Suicide Squad will have to take down a bounty hunter who has the child in his sights. "I think people say Suicide Squad, of course people are going to die," Glass said, "But as my editor Pat McCallum says, it's not that you die, it's how you die."
DC's other war book, Blackhawks, will have "a lot of hard science and a lot of hard action," according to series writer Mike Costa. "I write as spontaneously as possible, and its worked out really well to be able to problem-solve on the fly to put myself in the shoes of these characters and have as much fun as possible," Costa said. "There's a high turnover count. Fighting a new villain named Titus -- he's a cybernetic ninja. We have cybernetic ninjas in this book, because, why not?" Trevor McCarthy will also be handling art duties for the book's second issue, he said.
Kyle Higgins, writer of Deathstroke, said that what he liked about the character was that "it's really challenging to have a villain book maintain a level of intimidation and he feels scary every time he shows up." In the previous community, Deathstroke had been used many times, Higgins said, so he worked hard in the first issue to try to give the villain back his edge, having him eventually kill a group of teenage mercenaries. "He's been trying to kill teenagers for 30 years, so I figured we'd get that out of the way really quick and invert that."
Beginning in Issue #3, Higgins said, the book will begin to explore more thematic material, such as Deathstroke being a consummate warrior. "That's what he's always been, what he's always wanted to be, like the samurai or the knights of Charlemagne," Higgins said. But in today's world, he said, there are no kingdoms but the kingdom of money. "There's definitely a strong obsession with reputation," Higgins added. He added that Deathstroke will fight a new villain called Legacy in Issue #5, and said that the mercenary's family would be "coming soon."Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!