John Cunningham introduced the panelists to a full house, as the Chicago crowd cheered loudly for Gail Simone, Dan Jurgens, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Bobbie Chase.
Cunningham started by pointing out Batman's 75th Anniversary, then moved right into the Free Comic Book Day Futures End #0. Dan Jurgens, one of the writers of the series enthusiastically talked about the series, saying "we're building an amazing platform that takes us to the September event where the whole DC Universe goes to five years later. And beyond that, we're going to do something huge for the DC Universe."
Next up was Jurgens' other series, Aquaman and the Others. "The one thing you didn't see was how exactly the Others came together. We showed that there were ten bars of Atlantean gold used to fashion these weapons, but we haven't seen ten weapons yet. And we'll be touching on a little bit of Futures End there, as well."
Aaron Kuder was missing from the panel, but the book he's currently drawing, Action Comics was featured next. Editor Bobbie Chase talked up the "Doomed" storyline running across three Superman comics through August.
Kuder is also writing Superboy now, and a shot of about 20 Superboys was shown, as Jonathan Lane Kent is now back in the 21st Century - and that's bad news for everyone else.
Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner's Harley Quinn was next, and Palmiotti said that he "never expected" the success of the series.
"We love the character, but we love all the different versions, so we went with an amalgam to show what Harley is about." Issue 7 of the series will feature Poison Ivy, and have them cracking the case of who has been sending assassins after Harley.
"We've been working on the next six months of the series, and it's crazy." They also have a 38-page special with Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con, where each chapter is a different day of SDCC. "We call it the red flag book at our house, because we keep putting stuff in that sends up red flags at DC."
One part has Harley picked up by a limo full of Harley cosplayers. "We haven't written the last three pages on purpose, because that's the big red flag part. The plan is to make sure the DC editors have no time to say no to it, and it just goes to press," Palmiotti joked. That issue comes out July 16, 2014, right before the convention.
Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie #1 hits stores July 23, written by Palmiotti and frequent writing partner Justin Gray. "This zombie has been fighting in all of America's wars. He teams up with a soldier who has just returned from active duty, and they're infiltrating a crime organization. It's part horror, part war, and it's very darkly funny."
All-Star Western, also by Palmiotti and Gray, had a time-spanning story, but now has Jonah Hex back in the old West - and trying to hunt down an imposter. Issue #34 will be drawn completely by Darwyn Cooke, who said he "had to do it" when Jimmy told him the finale to that storyline.
Aaron Kuder raced up to the panel to applause, before they went back to Batwing, by the same writing team.
"We have the final showdown coming with Menace that leads into the September book," Palmiotti said.
Gail Simone said Alex Garner's Batgirl covers have been "so beautiful." Ragdoll has come to Gotham City in #31, and "Fernando's depiction of Ragdoll is so creepy." Barbara's roommate goes on a date in the issue, and winds up on the bad side of Ragdoll.
#32, #33, and #34 will be a "huge story with things I've been asking to do in the New 52 for three years." She'll find out she "does have some allies she didn't know she had." Simone said the art team for the book is one of her favorite she's ever worked with.
Going back to Action Comics now that artist Aaron Kuder arrived, the artist said that he loves drawing the series, and that his run writing Superboy will be limited because he wants to focus "wholeheartedly" on Action.
"With what's going on with Superboy, it had lots of plotlines, lots of things really interwound. So I wanted to focus on the simple things - Jon Lane Kent is dying. I don't care how much of a strong, evil villain you are, the idea of facing your mortality is a very hard thing to do." Kuder praised Jorge Jimenez and the action in his art. He said that he does roughs while he's writing, and sends them with the script, but he's glad that "Jorge puts his own amazing twists and energy into it."
With that, fan questions began.
The focus of the New 52 was not to "simplify," but more just to focus on the beginnings of these heroes careers, Jurgens and Simone explained to a fan. So things are getting slightly more complex simply because of the natural progression of the characters.
No plans for a Poison Ivy series right now, but she is "prominently in Batgirl Annual #2," Simone said, as well as appearing in upcoming Harley issues.
The final issue of Forever Evil was pushed back to add pages, Cunningham said.
A big Booster Gold fan asked about his future, and Jurgens said he needs to read Futures End and the "Five Years Later issue in September."
"Are we ever getting Ted Kord back?" Jurgens said, "I suspect we won't soon, but never say never."
No plans for Static Shock at the moment.
Unfortunately, still no word about Young Justice having an animation or comic book return, but Cunningham said he gets the question at every convention, and to continue social media campaigns because "I promise, the people that make these things are listening."
Kuder's run on Superboy will be somewhat brief just because he has a very specific story to tell with a specific ending.
Palmiotti, asked about how to make more "out of the box" ideas stick at DC Comics, said simply, "we need to sell more of them. Ultimately, we're an industry driven by sales. But the great thing about comics is that even when things die, they come back eventually!"
Kuder doesn't have a specific series or character that he'd like to both write and draw. "Ideally, it'd be something that has like a six-month deadline," he joked.
"Is a Shazam solo series in the cards?" Cunningham said, "What an interesting question. Next question."
Dan Jurgens said that Doomsday is "a very tough character to do, because he doesn't talk, he doesn't reason." In the new stories with the character, Jurgens said simply, "I wish these guys all the luck in the world! There's a way to make it work, and I hope they can." Kuder said, "We will."
Any plans for a digital subscription service for DC Comics, similar to Marvel Unlimited? "It's not a strategy we currently employ, but everything is on the table."
A big Deathstroke fan asked about plans for the character. He's in the new Suicide Squad series in July, and Cunningham also said that "He's at the height of his popularity being used in other mediums, so the question about a new solo series for him is a great one." Jurgens added that he "might be in Futures End. Maybe. Kind of."
No plans for Donna Troy at the moment, but Cunningham said, "Patience is rewarded in the New 52. These moments are going to come. Keep reading." He noted that Wally West and Stephanie Brown, two other much-requested characters, just made their debuts in the New 52.
Cunningham said that ultimately, books sell "because of word of mouth," and encouraged fans to simply tell their friends the books that they love. "We can start that conversation, but the marketplace has to speak after that."