It's Saturday afternoon at Comic-Con International in San Diego, and DC Comics is holding its Blackest Night panel. On hand for discussion and fan Q&A are Ian Sattler, Geoff Johns, Eddie Berganza, and Pat Gleason.
Sattler began by talking about the planning that went into Blackest Night and the thrills that come along with seeing it come together. He then asked the audience about their favorite moments from the first issue, and what they're looking forward to in the rest of the series. "Young Justice!" was the loudest shout. "There's always one voice that rises above the crowd to shout 'Young Justice,'" Sattler said. "It's like 'Freebird.'"
JT Krul's "Blackest Night Titans" will feature "a hell of a lot of dead Titans, as Titans fans know," Johns said. Berganza said that Ed Benes "makes death look really sexy."
"We'll see Sinestro vs. Carol Ferris in what you'd think would be a one sided fight. But Carol is much stronger than Sinestro," Johns said.
"The Black Rings aren't about who's dead, they're about who's alive," Johns said, noting that this hasn't been seen in the series. "The rings are picking out the dead that matter. It's going to affect everybody" Booster Gold will face off against Ted Kord for two issues in the "Booster Gold" ongoing, Johns said.
Johns also said that the rings represent primal survival emotions, which are not necessarily negative when used property. "If it's fight or flight, rage is the fight," he explained of the Red Lantern rings. "Love can be as distorting as rage."
He also said he turns into a Red Lantern about every other day driving his car in LA.
"All of these emotions are about personal growth, and all of these can be used properly," Johns said.
"These rings are symbiotic--you can hope all day long, but if you don't have willpower you can hope all day and nothing will happen," he continued. The Black Lanterns, in representing facing death, contrast with the other colors, which are the spectrum of life.
"More importantly, it will kick ass all summer and you'll have a really good time," the writer concluded.
Explaining that the tie-ins stand alone, Johns said, "If you like the Titans and you just want to read a really good Titans story, 'Blackest Night Titans' is a really good Titans story."
He again sited the Booster Gold/Ted Kord confrontation as "heartbreaking," and said Aquaman's Mera will be a major character.
Berganza added, "Smallville is going to be beseiged by Black Lantern Superman of Earth-2, and what he does to that town is really really wicked."
The floor was then opened to questions.
What role will Wonder Woman have? She will appear in Blackest Night and in the tie-in miniseries by Greg Rucka, Johns said.
Is there going to be an ultimate entity behind the rings? "You'll have to read and see, I know there's a lot of speculation but I think it's not what people are expecting."
Will there be a winner in the War of Light? "I don't want to spoil that," Johns said. "It's a little more complex than 'I win!'"
Larfleeze was developed as "a Muppet that's been left out in the rain," and then combined the words "lard" and "sleaze," Johns said. He added that the Orange Lantern oath will be seen in Blackest Night.
Next fan. "My mom hates you for making Aquaman a zombie." He asked if 1940s characters like Starman and Sandman would come back. "Yes," Johns replied. "Even guys like Vibe will come back." Asked about G'Nort, Johns said "G'Nort is not dead. He's MIA."
Is a villain called Necron involved in Blackest Night? Berganza: "Who's that?" Johns: "I can't talk about that."
The series will reveal the origin of entities like Ion and Sinestro, Johns said. There is an entity called the Predator for Star Saphire.
Do Black Lanterns have free will? Johns said he did not want Black Lanterns to be mindless zombies, because this lessens the emotional impact. Giving them personality makes it more "terrifying." "What does a Black Lantern Ted Kord say to Booster Gold?" Johns said by way of example.
Johns described the black energy as "not necessarily having a good component, but it's not necessarily evil."
Asked if he would be staying on "Green Lantern" after Blackest Night, Johns said he would "for a very long time."
Since there was no CCI-exclusive figure of such at the con, would a purple ring turn Hal Jordan into a woman? "Um, no," Johns said.
"I don't know if I can have a Sue Dibny/Jean Loring fight--I'm crossing a lot of lines, but that's one I don't know if I can cross," Johns said when asked about the matchup.
Hal's dad as Black Lantern and what he said before the crash? "I'm glad you picked up on that," Johns said. "There is a possibility for that. But I kind of want Hal not to know what his last words were, or the reader to know what the last words were. But we might find out sometime, or the reader might even if Hal doesn't."
Religion/deity based characters play a role? "The characters discuss it in #2. There's a very specific thing about the Black RIngs that I don't want to reveal," Johns said. "You'll see something very interesting in issue 3."
Hal Jordan/Carol Ferris relationship developed even further? "Yes," Johns said.
Do all the corps have avatars? Yes. Will there be Monitors in Blackest Night? No.
Male Star Saphires? "Anyone can join," Johns said, "but most men are not worthy,"
In the midst of discussing the transformation of Black Hand into an interesting character, Johns said he will be writing "Flash" again after "Rebirth." His concept for Black Hand is, "this is a guy that's been off his gourd from the moment he popped out of the womb."
After a long, multi-point question about "Batman RIP's" connection to "Blackest Night," Johns replied that, "I love Grant and think that's a brilliant storyline, but it does not tie in to Blackest Night."
We will see more of Kyle Rayner, but he will not become a Blue Lantern, Johns said.
"You'll see a lot more Cyborg Superman and Manhunters in 2010," Johns said when asked about the character's whereabouts.
"People always talk about editorial interference, because apparently editors only interfere poorly," Johns said, noting that editorial input can often improve stories. "It doesn't matter where a good idea comes from, it's a good idea."
"You'll find out" what happens when a Blue Lantern comes near Alan Scott, whose powers are believed to come from a different than other Green Lanterns, Johns said.
To research the Air Force aspects of the title, Johns spent time on Edwards Air Force Base, and has members of the Air Force look over his scripts. "So it's accurate according to the US Air Force."
Are there any undead Guardians left? "Yes."
"Flash Rebirth" #4 will reveal something about who is manipulating Barry Allen, who right now believes he is the Speed Force avatar of death. Barry will be appearing in Blackest Night.
Black Adam and Iris are not counted as dead. "But Osiris is dead," Johns noted.
The panel ended with the audience reciting the Green Lantern oath.