Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler moderated the Saturday afternoon panel of DC Comics creators at Comic-Con International in San Diego featuring Judd Winnick, Aaron Lopresti, Nick Spencer, Gail Simone, James Robinson, J.T. Krul and J. Michael Straczynski.
The crowd was expecting big things regarding the futuree of the DC Universe, evidenced by a nearby fans comment that the panel would be “be better than ‘Cup ‘O Joe,’ they didn’t tell us anything,” commenting on Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesda's panel. Sattler and company did not disappoint with announcements and information dealt at a furious clip. The first of these announcements was "The Return of the Black Lanterns,” which will be the next story arc in DC's runaway hit, "Brightest Day.”
Next, Gail Simone touched on her plans for “Birds of Prey.” “We find out who White Canary is. She’s one of my favorite villains… We have two upcoming issues drawn by Ivan Leigh… Huntress and Catman will revisit their relationship… which is going to get very, very ugly,” said Simone.
“Justice League: Generation Lost” writer Judd Winnick talked about Max Lord and how things are going to get a lot worse as he becomes more evil. “The next act, we get into more of the characters, get to know them better… We get to see Ice in a whole new way… There is the return of the Metal Men. The Justice League fighting the Metal Men… We are building with each issues to something huge happening,” said Winnick.
“We’re trying to focus on [Ollie] being the archer in Star City," said "Green Arrow" writer J.T. Krul before moving on to touch on upcoming guest stars. "Hal Jordan in issue two, then in issue four we have the Martian Manhunter showing up… Ollie’s got a tortured past if you will… and we’re exploring new territory with him.”
Next the conversation moved to discussion of "Superman: The Walk," J. Michael Straczynski’s much anticipated story arc in which Superman attempts to reconnect with humanity by walking across the country. "I really wanted to ground him, bring him down to earth, have him deal with problems that you can’t deal with by punching things… I wanted to put him in situations where he would have to either grow or evolve, or find other solution… We see Batman show up and asks him if he’s having a breakdown," said Straczynski.
Sattler welcomed Nick Spencer, who made his name at Image Comics, to the DC universe asked him to talk about the new “Jimmy Olsen” co-feature in "Action Comics." “Jimmy Olsen’s always been one of my favorite characters… It’s about what it’s like to be a normal guy in the DC universe. He really is a normal man… he’s determined to live his life to the fullest, and that puts him in crazy places,” said Spencer. The writer added, to the delight of "Smalville" fans, that Chloe Sullivan will make her debut in this book as an ongoing character.
"Wonder Woman" writer Straczynski touched on the character's controversial costume redesign and revealed that Diana will be experiencing a powerful vision that sets future events in motion. As it stands now some unknown force has changed the timeline so that Diana was raised in an urban environment, and as the writer put it, “When that jacket comes off, you know you’re in for an ass kicking.” Wonder Woman's vision involves her seeing her original, Amazonian self. "There’s something going on, and it involves Schoedinger’s cat…” hinted Straczynski, who intimated that the vision was an attempt to communicate with herself.
“Thunder Agents” will return care of Nick Spencer and features covers by Frank Quietely and Darwyn Cooke. “One of the biggest thrills of my week has been hearing from the legions of die hard Thunder Agents fans," said Specer. "I believe very much in the Geoff Johns school of reintroducing characters.” He went on to say the book will be about super powers, seeking redemption, and also the cons of being dead within a year. “It’s got a lot of black ops, espionage stuff, twists and turns, fast paced, it’s moving at a mile a second," he said.
2011 will see the introduction of a brand new book called “Weird Worlds” featuring a main character called Garbage Man. “Dan Didio suggested a monster book, ‘since Vertigo won’t give us Swamp Thing back,'" said Aaron Lopresti. "Monster books have really become horror books and we wanted to bring back the lost genre of the monster as superhero… I’m really excited to get it out there.”
Sattler teased a huge forthcoming announcet about “Legion of Super-Heroes,” but then revealed that it would break on DC's The Source blog. He told fans to keep tabs on the site for "Legion" and other DCU news.
The discussion then turned to the Teen Titans, who will be losing Static as Felicia Henderson takes the character to his own book. "Teen Titans" will be going back to an "A-list" lineup. "What’s the Teen Titans without a Robin… and Damian is back," said writer J.T. Krul. "We’re actually going to introduce a brand new Titan character that’s going to join the team… There are so many great Titans characters, so you’re going to see some people from the past show up soon… We’re ramping our way up to issue #100 which will launch a crazy, crazy, crazy story.”
James Robinson talked about the future for the “Justice League.” “This is going to be the team for quite some time... To show that they can handle themselves, issue fifty is an arc when they take on the crime syndicate of America… They’re in a situation where they’re the only people who can do it. Superman and Hal Jordan won’t be able to help them," said Robinson. "They are the Justice League of America and they are going to solve this problem… You’re going to see these characters caught up in big situations which will affect the whole of the DC universe… I’ve got this thing worked out for three or four years. I hope you enjoy me working on the book because I’m not going anytime soon.”
Following the deluge of DCU information, Sattler opened up the floor to questions from the packed audience. Instead of a question, the first audience member at the microphone shared how he had been diagnosed with HIV around the time he began reading “Blackest Night,” and how the book's evolution to “Brightest Day” deeply inspired him to fight death. It was a simple, touching statement, which Sattler noted “certainly put things into perspective.”
Asked about Catwoman or Captain Marvel news, Sattler enigmatically replied, “No news… and that’s good news. Trust me.” Gail Simone later expressed interest in writing Captain Marvel if given the chance.
"Is anyone going to realize how awesome Booster Gold is?” a fan asked, to which Judd Winnick replied without hesitation, "Booster is coming back.”
James Robinson dodged a Batman question, but did confirm that Dick Grayson would be on his Justice League team.
Asked about the news that various Vertigo characters would appear in the DCU, Sattler confirmed that Death from "Sandman" would show up in “Action Comics.” He wouldn't say anything beyond that as they’re trying to bring back that element of surprise.
Spencer was asked about his approach to comics and explained that he enjoys writing about the “normal” characters and how they respond to living in a world with super powers. He noted that what interested him are the people working in and around Metropolis and the people behind-the-scenes who are forgotten whenever Superman is in the picture.
Plans for “Black Adam” were confirmed, but not specific ones. Sattler told fans to stay tuned and kept repeating the words, "Trust me."
Lastly, an audience member mentioned he was a huge fan of the big events, and asked about whether it was all planned from the beginning or if there was more randomness to it. Sattler answered that all of their events are meticulously planned in every aspect and through every moment.