DC Comics' DC Nation panel at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo wrapped up the first day of programming, with Co-Publisher Dan DiDio hosting a discussion with some of DC's hottest artists and writers, as well as giving fans a chance to make their voices heard. Joining DiDio on stage were DC VP-Sales Bob Wayne, Gene Ha, "Action Comics" writer Paul Cornell, "Detective Comics" and "American Vampire" writer Scott Snyder, "Birds of Prey's" Gail Simone, "Fables" creator Bill Willingham, and a fan named George.
"You'll have to forgive me, I'm a little rusty—I haven't done one of these since October, " DiDio began. "If I say anything I'm not supposed to, please don't tell anybody."
"These panels were created for you," DiDio continued after introductions.
DiDio spoke about the "Holding the Line at $2.99" initiative, saying "we want to give you a reason to buy as much of our product as possible." He then talked about the return of the letters pages, asking fans who began reading during the time when these last existed how many of them saw their letters in print. A fan said he "has had letters published in almost every DC comic since the 1970s."
"I'll be honest with you guys, I was one in the beginning who was against it," DiDio said, citing today's faster-paced culture, but said the deluge of letters DC has received has got him excited about the program.
After asking for favorite characters from "Brightest Day," fans gave an answer ranging across the spectrum. DiDio joked that if he wanted to talk about books people didn't like, he should bring up his own "Outsiders." But a fan said he loved it, so DiDio gave him a hug.
DiDio had an action figure of himself on stage, which prompted Simone to reveal her custom nude Catman lego.
DiDio asked fans who they thought would be the breakout character in "Flashpoint." After several fans suggestions, Wayne said that "The official answer is Cyborg."
Taking text-based fan questions, there was a query about how many earths "Flashpoint" would take place upon. According to George, who appeared to be reading from a screen, "as many Earths as DC wants."
Asked why readers should give "Flashpoint" a look, Ha, who is an artist on the series, said, "I have just enough information to give too much away."
As to whether Rogues beyond Citizen Cold would appear in "Flashpoint," the answer (as delivered by George) was "no comment."
DiDio said that as part of "Flashpoint" DC had cancelled "a lot of titles that were on the cusp" to allow a greater focus on what will be coming out of the event. He added that the event both draws on fan love of Elseworlds while telling a big story that will resonate in the core DC Universe. "For people that like Elseworlds, it's about that; but for those who like that big world-building ... it's about that, too."
The floor was then opened to questions.
The first fan asked what non-Flash fans should read to get excited about "Flashpoint." "There's some of it happening within 'Booster Gold,'" DiDio said, adding that it would be the only monthly series that would be reflecting the events of "Flashpoint" during its run. Wayne mentioned the Free Comic Book Day issue, which will include the first pages of "Flashpoint."
Asked what plans DC had for Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning after "Flashpoint," DiDio said, "Some."
A fan asked if DiDio "would cosign my loan so I can afford 'Flashpoint.'" Wayne said he'd look at the fan's pull list "to cut some other comics." DiDio said the readers would not need to read all the tie ins, which led the fan to ask why, then, DC would print them. DiDio said he wanted to give readers choices "and make it a tough decision," that it shouldn't be a matter of having to buy everything.
He said, though, that the event would not spill into regular ongoings because there are many stories in progress and "Flashpoint" is an alternate universe—"then I feel like I'm making people buy something," DiDio said.
After being thanked for "Batman Beyond," DiDio said, "We're going to be building out that world." Simone also said that she's written a "Birds of Prey" episode of "Brave and the Bold."
"There's a good chance you'll see the Wizard Shazam," DiDio said in response to a fan question, specifically asking Simone whether that's something she'd be interested in writing it.
A fan asked whether Wonder Woman "would be keeping her pants on," referring to the alternate reality costume. A woman said, "I don't like the pants," which prompted DiDio to say, "where have you been my whole life?" He added about the character, "I think you'll be very excited about plans for Wonder Woman after the alternate reality arc," saying also that "what she wears doesn't define her."
One fan asked about the release schedule for trade paperbacks like "Blackest Night," calling the hardcover releases a niche. DiDio said, though, that he's focused on the periodicals, and the hardcovers and paperbacks follow a pattern similar to novels for the book trade.
Asked about "Wednesday Comics," Cornell said, "I would love to do 'Wednesday Comics.'" As to what each panelist would do for such a project:
- Simone: "Batman with Michael Golden"
- Cornell: "I'd do Captain Marvel."
- Willingham: "Detective Chimp with a mystery solved every single episode."
- Ha said Plastic Man would allow for a "Little Nemo" feel.
- Snyder: "Wonder Woman." Pants or no pants? "No pants."
Wayne entered the audience to ask "whether you've got any comics that are reaching issue #900 soon?"
DiDio talked a bit about renumbering comics before diving to the point. "In this case, we're in a position that we're putting out 'Action' #900—this is a book that's been on the stands consistently since 1938," Didio said.
"I am incredibly honored," Cornell said of his opportunity to write the issue. "It concludes Lex's story, it has Superman come to take the title back," he added, also talking about the many contributors and stories in the issue.
Continuing on the anniversary theme, DiDio invited fans to talk about "Fables" #100. Willingham joked that "'Fables' gets better, there's a robo-Snow White."
Then, talking about Snyder's "American Vampire," a fan said he likes that the vampires don't sparkle. "That was our original ad that Rafael [Albuquerque] drew: it showed Pearl standing on a pile of vampire corpses saying, 'We don't fucking sparkle.'"
Snyder said "one of Dick Grayson's strengths is bringing in team members" in response to a question about bringing in more Batmen, but added that this will also be a weakness.
Cornell was asked whether he preferred David Tennant or Matt Smith as the Doctor. "Sylvester McCoy," he replied. Cornell has written for "Doctor Who," but is not involved this season.
DiDio said "Adventure Comics" will likely become a "Showcase"-style book, responding to a question about the "Brightest Day" characters unlikely to support their own series at this point.
There was a question about how the Borders bankruptcy would mean for DC's market share. "Market share is based on what sells, so that doesn't change," Wayne said. "What you're talking about is a slice of the pie; the pie might get smaller." He explained that the bankruptcy "is not a happy moment for us, because we want you to be able to buy our books in as many places as possible" but he hopes readers will follow DC to other stores.
DiDio said there are plans for Captain Marvel, and "several issues of 'Batwoman' are in the can." He said the most recent delay was his call, to position "Batwoman's" release later in the year.
He also added that it was important to keep books on time. "It used to be a joke, 'As long as you keep buying late books, we'll keep making 'em.' It's not a joke anymore: you stopped buying 'em. We need to get our schedule under control."
"There are plans for Arsenal and that Titans team," DiDio said. "It's holding together, but not as well as we'd hoped."
After demuring to answer a question about Flash Wally West, a number of topics became "Wally West territory," including rumors of Geoff Johns on "Justice League" and Oracle's new code name.
By way of conclusion, DiDio said that "'Flashpoint' is integral to everything we're doing" and "it's gonna knock your socks off."