DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio welcomed the audience to Saturday’s DC Nation panel at Charlotte’s Heroes Convention. Present with DiDio at the front table were Senior Coordinating Editor Jann Jones, Jonah Hex and Power Girl writer (and inker of…everything) Jimmy Palmiotti; Salvation Run, House of Mystery and Jack of Fables writer Matt Sturges; and artist Ethan VanSciver – “working on projects we are not allowed to mention,” DiDio added.
DiDio opened the panel by introducing the panelists, and then opened to polling the audience as to what they were reading and what they were excited about:
“Batman RIP”: asking as a hypothetical, who would fans want to see as Batman if Bruce Wayne were to “go away,” DiDio entertained two responses from the audience: Dick Grayson (“because it’s the evolution of the character,” a fan said) and Tim Drake (“Because he’s said he wants to be Batman,” from another fan). DiDio’s suggestion of Jason Todd was booed down, with a fan who was in favor of it said that a Jason Todd Batman would be a different kind of Batman.
“But it’s all hypothetical,” DiDio said at the end of the conversation, “None of this is going to happen…just keep telling yourselves that.”
Moving on to Superman, DiDio announced that there will be a new creative team moving on to the Supergirl title shortly, and that the series will tie in more directly with Action Comics and Superman in the future. A major storyline that will encompass the three titles will begin, according to DiDio, in October.
As the Green Lantern point man for the panel, VanSciver declined to say anything about the upcoming “Blackest Night” storyline, prompting DiDio to move on to Wonder Woman by Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti. In plugging the book, DiDio explained that in Simone’s original pitch for the upcoming storyline featuring male inhabitants of Paradise Island, the characters were named as “Manazons” as shorthand. The name stuck with DiDio long after Simone told him that it was just a throwaway name for them. Regardless, DiDio kept using the name, which then infected the entire panel, coming up many times as the answer for many un-answerable questions.
Coming up in Justice League of America, DiDio said that writer Dwayne McDuffie’s upcoming storyline will play upon the origins of the heroes and will introduce a new villain.
Teen Titans: “An old member will be making contact with the team soon,” DiDio said.
Referring to the “The Real Power of the DC Universe” poster by Adam Hughes that is being given away at conventions this season and features female characters, DiDio said that it contains more teases than people may think, and that characters featured in it will be showcased in the coming months, up to and including some, such as Power Girl, seeing new series.
Speaking of the Power Girl series, Palmiotti said that it will be launching (co-written by Justin Gray, with art by Amanda Conner) towards the end of the year, and will continue off of what Geoff Johns did in the opening arc of JSA Classified, but that new readers will be able to jump in to issue #1 without any problem. “We’re making it reader friendly, while blowing up the universe and having her change clothes a lot,” Palmiotti joked.
Asked about Final Crisis #1’s momentum, DiDio said that Grant Morrison has so many high concepts lined up for the series that it had to start at a slow burn, rather than quick out of the gate. DiDio reiterated that Final Crisis won’t be tying into all the ongoing DCU series during its run, but rather will see specific tie-in issues and projects during its run, such as Final Crisis: Requiem which will be the last will and testament of the Martian Manhunter. “His final scene in issue #1 happened really fast,” DiDio said. “This book allows that story to be built out a little more.”
Other Final Crisis tie ins mentioned by DiDio coming in August: Final Crisis: Legion of Three World by Geoff Johns and George Perez, Final Crisis: Revelations by Greg Rucka and Philip Tan, and Superman Beyond a (now) two-part 3D miniseries.
October will see FC: Resist and FC: Submit, both of which will deal with the missing month between issues #3 and #4, and will deal with what happened in the DC Universe during that time.
Coming up in Blue Beetle according to Sturges: a nasty villain, and a ageing super-hero themed minigolf park, which will feature a Superman with long hair hole and a hole where players must hit the ball by Aquaman’s swinging hook. And the other panelists good-naturedly ragged on Sturges for the remainder of the panel about the story element, until the writer finally relented and said that the minigolf course was only seen on two pages of the coming issue.
The line run-through over, DiDio opened the floor to questions (unless noted, answers are paraphrased):
Q: Is Final Crisis truly the “final” Crisis?
Dan DiDio: We call it Final Crisis for a reason. We won’t be going back this way at least as long as I’m standing over it.
Q: What’s coming after Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz leave Booster Gold? Will there be a new creative team named?
DD: After Johns and Katz, there will be a two-issue arc by Chuck Dixon, but DC is holding off on announcing the title’s new team so as not to take anything away from the upcoming issue #1,000,000, in which a “major character” returns for good.
Q: Will the Legion seen in Action be seen after Final Crisis?
DD: All questions will be answered in Legion of Three Worlds.
Q: When will readers see more about the relationship between Batwoman and Batman?
DD: There is a reason why she’s wearing a Bat-suit, and it will be addressed in stories later this year.
Q: What’s coming up in The Flash?
Ethan VanSciver: “No comment” on what’s coming up, but the artist added, “I love the Flash, Absolutely love the Flash.”
DD - How much?
EVS - Enough to spend some time with the Flash.
Q: Should readers take Rip Hunter’s board in Booster Gold #10 at face value?
DD: If you decipher them properly – I come up with different answers every time...
Q: Is Rip Hunter and older Booster Gold?
DD: Oooo….Matt – how’s House of Mystery?
Matt Sturges: Going really well, Dan.
Q: Will we see the Spoiler miniseries?
DD: No miniseries right now, but Spoiler will be featured in Robin.
Q: What do you think about Beau Smith’s challenge of going for an extended period of time only publishing stand-alone stories?
DD: I think it’s a great idea – but people wouldn’t buy them. Didio noted that there’s a good idea there, but the trick is to tell stories that flow from issue to issue, story to story. To illustrate his point, DiDio singled out Brave and the Bold as a high quality book that’s telling good stories, that, as writer Mark Waid has said on many occasions, seems not to be what the market wants now.
Jimmy Palmiotti added that, when he was at Marvel, they would occasionally have to put fill-in issues into runs when delays made it necessary, prompting fans to feel that the standalone stories “didn’t count.”
“It would be cool to tighten up our stories, though,” Palmiotti noted.
VanSciver added that his recent Justice League issue, while well-received, elicited comments from readers who wanted the series to get back to the main, larger storyline.
Palmiotti: “Buy more Jonah Hex. If people see the sales on Hex rising up, and we only tell standalone stories, other titles will start doing it too.”
A parent thanked DC for the reinvigorated kids line, to which Jones replaied that the entire new line of titles was doing really well, and they’ve received a lot of positive feedback from parents and kids alike.
DiDio added that Tiny Titans is doing better than expected, and is selling more copies per issue of Teen Titans Go!.
Q: What’s coming in Birds of Prey?
DD: Oracle vs. Joker: Showdown, round 2.
Q: Are there plans to continue Teen Titans: Year One?
DD: Not really – that was a particular flavor done for that sensibility that played against the animation style, which is something that DC is trying to play down for now.
Q: Will there be more projects like Joe Kubert’s Tor, The War that Time Forgot and House of Mystery?
DD: Yes – we have to keep on trying those different styles of things. We can’t put a lot of it out, but we need to feed that audience.
Q: Could DC get Mike W. Barr back to Outsiders?
DD: Right now, Frank Tieri’s pitching in on the title, but a lot of changes coming to the title.
Q: Why did the New Gods appear in Final Crisis after we saw them die in Death of the New Gods?
DD: We knew that a new interpretation of the New Gods was coming, in fact, a large portion of Final Crisis is about the birth of the 5th world and the gods of that world. The purpose of Death of the New Gods was to celebrate the Jack Kirby versions and to bring closure of those versions. But you’ll see how the rest are reborn in Final Crisis - that story is coming.
DD: Still dead.
Q: Is the Wonder Woman story with male Amazons – associated with Wonder Woman novel from a couple of years ago?
DD: No – this story is all by Gail
Q: Do you ever get tired of being whipping boy when something goes wrong? It seems that with anything, it’s always Dan DiDio’s fault…
DD: Not really – it comes with the job.
Q: Do you ever want to point a finger and say, it’s not me, it’s Morrison?
JJ: I do get very defensive at times, but it’s part of what we have deal with. But that said, nobody would want to do Dan’s job, or deal with what he has to deal with each day.
At that point, DiDio polled the panelists, asking them if they would want his job.
Matt Sturges: “No, god, no.”
Ethan VanSciver: “Nope”
Jimmy Palmiotti: “No comment.”
Jann Jones: “If it came with a closet of designer shoes.”
DD: The thing about comics is that every month we get a chance to try again, and to try to be better. That is what fuels us to be the best we can be, and keep trying to be better. Simple as that.
Q: When and where will we see Freddy Freeman again?
DD: He’ll be joining James Robinson’s Justice League book.
Q: Where’s Firestorm?
DD: He’s a member of the JLA. The series has been tricky lately, and Dwayne’s been great about it, in tying up lose threads from Brad Meltzer’s run to tying things in to Salvation Run and Final Crisis, but he does have a big story coming up and Firestorm will play a major role.
Q: I see Shonen Jump and Spider-Man and other Marvel magazines at Target, Wal-Mart and other outlets – when will I see DC magazines there as well?
DD: We want it to. It’s not really our area of work for those of us on the panel, but we’re trying to crack that nut in the way those outlets do business and get our books in there.
Q: Where will we see Catwoman, now that her series has been cancelled?
DD: She’s front and center in Detective Comics by Paul Dini - it’s Batman and Catowman versus Hush. We’re not missing a Catwoman beat.
Q: Where Black Adam coming back?
EVS: I‘d like to see him all over the place – he’s one of DC’s strongest villains.
DD: Starting in New Year, we’re going to see lot of Black Adam.
Q: Where and when will we see more of the WWII characters like Sgt. Rock?
DD: Sgt Rock: The Lost Battalion is coming from Billy Tucci starting in November, and there are some of the WWII characters (and dinosaurs) in The War that Time Forgot.
Q: Will we see more of the Elseworlds Vampire Batman?
DD: The multiverses will be explored in Superman Beyond, but I’m not sure if Grant has Superman visiting that one…although you may see Batman fighting vampires very soon.
Q: Will we see more Marvel crossovers?
DD: Not at this time. My goal right now is to make the DC characters as strong as they can be in their own world.
JP: Although Jonah Hex /Aunt May would be awesome…
DD: At least she would be a young girl in that one.
Q: Will we see Sinestro in the Green Lantern Corps?
EVS: No comment.
Q: Will we see Aquaman soon?
DD: Oh yeah. Final Crisis – Aquaman vs. Deep Six.
Q: Which Aquaman will we see?
DD: Good question. We’ve been having internal discussions about that, and there was a meal with creators where literally everyone pitched Aquaman. Short answer – the Aquaman in Final Crisis will be the younger version, but there will be more Aquaman coming – we want to make sure it’s something that Aquaman fans can get behind.
Q: With the return of James Robinson to DC, will we see more Starman?
DD: Robinson will use Mikaal Tomas in Justice League, but we will see more characters from Opal City coming up.
Q: Is Shadowpact coming back in any way?
Q: With JMS coming on to Brave and Bold, he mentioned characters like Swamp Thing and Constantine. Will he be using them?
DD: That was Joe’s wish list. He’s actually going to be working on Brave and Bold and will be seeing some known characters who are new to the DCU in his book
Q: How many Legions after Legion of 3 Worlds?
Q: Will Bart Allen return?
DD: Next question.
Q: Will Animal Man join Justice League?
DD: No – he’s still in space.
Q: Is the Flash that Ethan wants to spend time on Barry?
DD: Enough said.
Q: Can you take Chuck Dixon in a fight?
DD: Next one.
Q: Will there be a new writer on Green Arrow/Black Canary?
Q: Will we see more from Darwyn Cooke and the New Frontier?
DD: We hope so – we’re talking.
Q: What are the chances of an all Kubert Hawkman project?
Q: Is Abin Sur as leader of Black Lanterns?
EVS: No comment.
Q: Will the Legion series based on the animated series end since the series has been canceled?
DD: We’ll have it for a little while longer.
Q: When will we see Mary Marvel again?
DD: Final Crisis – Mary Marvel vs. Supergirl
Q: Will we see Bane in Secret Six?
Q: Is Pete Tomasi the writer on Nightwing for the long term?
DD: Is Nightwing long term?
Q: Will Azrael come back?
DD: Next question.
Q: What will we see from Jim Starlin?
DD: Currently he’s on Rann/Thanagar: Holy War, and then something after that – we want to keep him very busy.
Q: will we ever see the Neal Adams Batman book?
Q: Will Terry McGuiness appear in the DCU?
DD: No plans at this time.
Q: Will a Flash die in Final Crisis?
DD: Quite the opposite.
Q: If Dick Grayson took over as Batman, who would take over as Nightwing?
DD: Next question.
Q: When will we see the Linda Danvers Supergirl again?
DD: This month.
Q: Could we see a Jose Garcia Lopez Omnibus?
DD: Great idea.