NYCC 2011: DC All Access: JUSTICE LEAGUE Panel


The DC Justice League panel at New York Comic Con focused on the success of the line's new #1 issues in September while teasing some of the upcoming storylines in titles featuring DC's top characters.

Bob Wayne hosted the panel. Creators and editors included on the panel were:

Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman)

Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul (The Flash)

Yildiray Cinar (The Fury of Firestorm)

Tony Daniel (Detective Comics, The Savage Hawkman)

Geoff Johns (Justice League, Aquaman, Green Lantern)

Dan Jurgens (Justice League International)

J.T. Krul (Captain Atom, Green Arrow)

Jim Lee (Justice League)

Joe Prado and Rod Reis (Aquaman)

Eric Wallace (Mr. Terrific)

Ann Nocenti (Green Arrow)

It's noticeable that this panel is much more full than the Avengers panel that just ended next door. While that room was about three-quarters full, this larger room is at capacity, with people standing in the back. Perhaps this "52" thing has caught on with con fans, or maybe just the anticipation of Azzarello's witty banter is packing them in.

But the change in the approach to DC panels (since Comic Con International in San Diego) is drastic. While the company used to immediately open the panel to fan questions, the format is much more controlled now. Each creator is introduced, then talks about their book.

By about 35 minutes into the presentation, a lot of people in the crowd started leaving, perhaps to go to other panels, or maybe because the panel had moved to lesser known creators and comics.

But the beginning of the panel started with the loudest cheers, as pages from Justice League #2 were shown, and Johns and Lee took the stage.

Johns said Green Lantern is fighting Superman in Justice League #2, and Hal calls Barry Allen to say, "Dude, get me out of this!" The crowd cheered when Jim Lee's drawing of The Flash was shown.

"I just like the fact that Green Lantern calls The Flash on his cell phone," Lee said.

Some pencils were shown from Justice League #3 that features Aquaman. Johns joked that nobody takes Aquaman seriously, but he said that's what makes him so cool.

A fan asked, "Does Aquaman have any land powers?" Johns: "Yeah, he can kick your ass!"

A penciled image of Darkseid was shown, and Johns confirmed that he's the villain in the story. "Jim and I talked about the first story.... that they should fight DC's greatest villain, and that's Darkseid."

Johns said their take on Darkseid is a little different than the way he was before.

Jurgens said issue #4's cover features a new villain who was introduced at the end of #2. He said the team will be dividing up to take down the giant robot creatures that have appeared around the world. Booster and Batman will team up. Rocket Red and Ice will team to fight one in Russia.

A cover of Aquaman #5 was shown. Johns said in issue #5, Aquaman will fight in an airplane and the thing explodes, then he lands in the middle of a desert. "And he looks up and says, 'Uh oh,'" he laughed. "And hilarity ensues."

Johns said the first storyline will focus on The Trench, a new underwater threat. Issue #6 will be a Mera-focused issue by Joe Prado. And the next arc will feature Mera and Aquaman searching for who sunk Atlantis.

Azzarello said he didn't "change" the origin of Wonder Woman, but instead "enhanced" it (referring to her having Zeus as a father). "I was kind of sick of the conversation being around her pants," Azzarello said. "I wanted to make it about her genes."

Pages from upcoming issues were shown, revealing Amazons and a new take on the god Stryfe. Wonder Woman was shown using her lasso on Stryfe.

Manapul said he and Buccellato were trying to create a more dynamic visual presentation of the Flash. "I think one of the reasons our pages have so much energy about them is that there are only two of us working on them, from idea to final product," Buccellato said. "It's all part of a single unit that helps bring about the book. Being able to see it through from beginning to end has allowed us to do a lot of innovative things."

In the pages shown, it was revealed that nobody could touch Barry Allen, and fans cheered for some of the full-page images of the Flash. Manapul said he's been trying to incorporate the title logo into every issue. "I'm a big Will Eisner fan," Manapul said.

Manapul said it will be revealed that the villain, Manuel, is a government agent. Buccellato said that in the images shown, Flash is running around the world looking for answers about the villain, from Afghanistan to China to Somalia.

A fan behind me said, "Where's Wally West?" But so far, no fan questions have been allowed -- much different from DC's former approach to panels, which used to heavily rely on interaction with fans.

Daniel pointed out the "incredible job" Philip Tan is doing on the artwork. He said the core essence of the title is "action," "excitement," and "character development of Carter Hall." The art shown was from issue #3, and Daniel pointed out a new villain, and said he wanted to give him some formidable rogues.

Wallace pointed out the cover to Mr. Terrific #4, and he said the character's will take place in outer space with that issue. Pages from issue #3 were shown, with the final battle with Brainstorm. He said Brainstorm knows a secret about Mr. Terrific that will change his world and send him "to a dark place."

Some pages from Firestorm #2 were shown. Cinar said it picks up on the end of issue #1, and shows that when Jason and Ronnie get together, they become something called "Fury."

Pages from Captain Atom #2 were shown, and a scene was shown were Captain Atom takes a portion of himself and goes into a boy's brain in the hospital. "It plays on the fact that when you're Captain Atom, you can do anything," Krul said.

Issue #3 of Captain Atom has an appearance by the Flash, and Krul said he worked with Manapul and Buccellato to make sure this version of Barry Allen fits with his title series.

Krul said there's a little bit of Dr. Manhattan in Captain Atom, but he also draws a lot from stories by Cary Bates.

Nocenti came to the table right after Krul, just as she's coming onto the Green Arrow title right after the other writer.

She immediately spoke about what most people in the room were probably thinking: "Obviously, when you look around the room, I'm the token female," Nocenti said, laughing. "I think there was some kind of pressure on DC to get more women in, so I'm the token."

Nocenti said she's creating a villain for Green Arrow who is a Typhoid Mary-class girlfriend/villain (referring to the character she created for Daredevil). She said the character will be the first of a series of new villains for Green Arrow, to beef up his rogues’ gallery. "J.T. and Dan gave me a lot of juicy stuff to work with, so I'll definitely be continuing some of what they did," she said.

Jurgens said Booster's experiences from Flashpoint seem to be relatively intact, but he said the fact that he has those memories in his head somewhere doesn't necessarily mean he can remember them consciously.

Johns said, "If Booster remembers anything, he's not going to tell anyone."

Johns: "Does Skeets remember?" Jurgens: ""No, Skeets does not."

Johns: "Does Rip Hunter remember?" Jurgens: "That's a story still waiting to be told."

Fan questions started:

- Will Justice League and Action Comics still have a higher price point going forward? Johns: Yes. "Starting issue #5, Gary Frank and I will do a second story in every issue called The Curse of Shazam." It will relaunch Shazam. Action Comics also has bonus material.

- Why did Wonder Woman's history change? Azzarello: Read the book.

- Who's the hooded woman? Several people yelled out: "Wally West!" Wayne: "Next!"

- A child asked: Why do the New 52? The panel laughed that they thought a kid would have an easier question. Johns: Are you reading the New 52? Kid: Yeah but..... ehhh....

Lee answered that the idea was to re-energize the line. He said it's been successful. "Whether you love or hate it, you are thinking about it, you are talking about it, and that's why we did it," Lee said. He also pointed out that renumbering allowed people to pick up comics who might have been intimidated by higher numbers.

- Batman is back, Wonder Woman is back, and Ryan Choi is back? I want the real Atom. Johns: Ryan Choi is the new Atom. You'll see Ray Palmer in Frankenstein.

- Are the higher sales just folks who are lapsed fans? Or are they new? Wayne: We think we're reaching both. The Nielsen research will hopefully reveal more. We think, "from anecdotal" and also from the sales boost, the numbers include new and lapsed readers.

- Do you have any thoughts or responses to the fans who were offended by Catwoman and Starfire's appearance in Red Hood? Another fan yelled, "Why is Starfire a slut?" Lee: We're doing 52 books, so not every book it to everyone's taste. In regards to Starfire particularly, it's just the first issue. It's premature to judge on only one issue, because Scott Lobdell has a full story arc for that character. "She's very self-assured, she's an alien from another planet, she has very different sensibilities than we do," Lee said. "I think Scott deserves the respect to be able to tell his story."

But Lee said he likes hearing from the fans about what they like and don't like. He said DC is hosting a party, and fans are the invitees, and they need to say if they don't like something. "That will impact stories as we're going forth," he said.

- What inspired Cyborg's promotion? Johns: When I was on the Flash, he was this gold, plastic man. They had taken him away from being Cyborg. I traded the Titans writer Jesse Quick for Cyborg, and I turned him back into Cyborg.

"He's definitely one of DC's most recognizable characters, he's one of DC's best African-American characters," Johns said. "I didn't just want to do a Justice League that was the same seven members from before."

Johns said the next Justice League animated series "Doom" has Cyborg on the team as well. "He's more relevant now than he's ever been," Johns said, pointing out that everyone is "plugged in" right now.

- How soon will we see Artemis? Azzarello: "You're not going to see her."

Lee added that Ann Nocenti's name "was a name that was always" being considered for the New 52. He said he wanted to address the idea that anyone was hired just because of complaints. "In fact, we hired Bobbi Chase [one of the new Batman editors] and Ann Nocenti because they are terrific talents," Lee said.

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