DC Comics' senior editors claim to have only three major icons in their books -- Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman -- but putting on Saturday's "DC Icons" panel at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo required a substantially larger roster of creators. DC Executive Editor Eddie Berganza moderated the talk, during which Co-Publisher Dan DiDio balked at spoiling any "Flashpoint" storylines, though he readily admitted to owning Spider-Man sleepwear as a child.
Berganza oversaw a table that included DiDio, "Wonder Woman" writer Phil Hester and artist Don Kramer, "Action Comics" writer Paul Cornell, "Batman" writer/artist Tony Daniel, "Batman: Gates of Gotham" writers Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins and "Batman Beyond" artist Ryan Benjamin. They received water from DC's acting butler for the panel, "Fables" creator Bill Willingham.
The session in room 474 at Chicago's McCormick Place focused on why creators like their DC heroes and what's currently going on in their titles.
"I've loved Superman ever since I saw the Christopher Reeve movies as a little kid," Cornell answered when asked about his affection for the Kryptonian. The writer promised "50 pages of story" for his contribution to "Action Comics" #900, where the solicitation boasts a brutal confrontation in the currently unfolding "Reign of Doomsday" storyline.
Cornell called Superman unique and described him as "the most human human being," despite not actually coming from Earth.
Snyder focused his enthusiasm on Batman in current issues of "Detective Comics," hyping up the beginning of his "Hungry City" storyline at the end of March.
"We're really excited about issue #875 as a kind of jumping-on point," Snyder told the audience. He assured readers that the arc won't require a deep knowledge of Batman history to enjoy, but pointed to the return of Commissioner Jim Gordon's son, James Jr., as a highlight for the issue.
He then referred to Higgins, his "Gates of Gotham" collaborator, as "a rising star" and promised "a secret surprise" to come at the end of their miniseries, which focuses on a mystery in Gotham City's past that affects Batman in the present. Higgins said that he wanted to challenge Dick Grayson with the story and highlight his weaknesses.
Daniel didn't give much away about upcoming events in "Batman," the title he writes and illustrates, opting for cryptic answers like, "I know the answer to your question" when asked about the future of the book's cast members.
When asked what characters first got him into comics as a kid, Hester did not note his current title heroine. He instead cited Swamp Thing and Ragman for attracting him to DC early on.
DiDio also pointed out Swamp Thing as an early DC Comics favorite of his, though he shocked some of the room's dedicated Superman and Batman fans when Berganza asked him which hero was on his first pair of pajamas.
"I had Spider-Man pajamas," he confessed, quickly following up with the defense: "It's not like I'm wearing them now."
DiDio's pajamas mostly prompted laughter in the room, though one clothing-related Wonder Woman topic provoked a resounding "Boo!" from panel attendees. Kramer asked everyone how they felt about Adrianne Palicki's recently revealed costume for her NBC "Wonder Woman" pilot, and the response was not positive.
Nevertheless, fans had plenty of questions about Kramer and Hester's comics, which the writer referred to as a "completely all-out Wonder Woman story."
"We've got nothing to lose at this point with this character," he said, indicating that the lead-up to DC's "Flashpoint" crossover allows him a certain amount of freedom to kill people, bring them back to life and have Kramer use costumes, pants-less and otherwise.
"It's a way to do an Elseworlds tale that counts," Hester said.
When asked who will be working on "Wonder Woman" after issue #612, DiDio refused to spill any details, responding to the question by simply stating, "Yes, there is a creative team on Wonder Woman after 612."
As for the future of DC's characters in the short term, DiDio responded to a question about former Supergirl Linda Danvers with an over-arching mission statement.
"We tell too many stories explaining stories," he said. "Right now, it's about moving forward."