It may have been running back-to-back with the publisher's Green Lantern panel for the weekend, but DC Comics New 52 panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego still had plenty of questions up for asking as the comics company draws closer to its September relaunch of the entire DC Universe line. DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio joined Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and Executive Editor Eddie Berganza as well as a wave of talent for the presentation Saturday afternoon.
Didio quickly took over the mic to introduce a lineup of talent including Judd Winick, Tony Daniel, Scott Lobdell, Sterling Gates, Rob Liefeld, Grant Morrison, CCO Geoff Johns and Scott Snyder. "The response we've got to all the 52 has been great," Didio said thanking the full room before turning the floor over to the creators to pitch their own of the 52 new DC titles. Lee quickly added that he also was pleased – and somewhat surprised – that the reaction had been so positive in his eyes, and he promised that DC was focusing on everything beyond September and getting books out on time.
"My movers are at the apartment right now. I should be there, but I'm here instead," Johns said with a laugh before speaking to "Aquaman" with artist Ivan Reis "Everyone thinks he is [goofy]" will be one of the core inspirations for the book as the writer felt even hardcore DC fans think little of the sea king. When a fan called out "Don't cut off his hand" Johns said, "Already did...I'm going to cut off a foot next."
The writer went on to discuss Sinestro getting a Green Lantern ring in that family of titles. "The Guardians don't want him to have it, and they say, 'Why did it choose you?' Someone says, 'Maybe it thinks he can seek redemption' and Sinestro says, 'But I don't NEED redemption,'" laughed Johns while adding that he wants to inject humor into a lot of his titles to keep them from being too much of a self-serious drag.
Morrison spoke about writing his new book "Supergods" and how it covers "the history of comics from 'Action Comics' #1 to 'Action Comics' #1...I felt like Alan Moore was writing my life for a while there" with the circular details. He added that reading the book would be like sitting on a train with him forever while he babbled about superheroes. As for his relaunch title, the Superman marquee title is one where "We're not telling an origin. You've seen all that stuff before," Morrison said of the first arc, promising that the hero would get his way into the Jim Lee-designed costume from "Justice League."
Gates and Liefeld spoke to "Hawk & Dove" saying the characters serve as "the avatars of war and peace." Liefeld wanted to return to the characters he broke into DC with years ago, saying that he's loved the pair since he saw them in an issue of "Teen Titans" as a kid. He said the creative team knew they weren't doing a big-selling book like "Green Lantern" or "Batman" but that they were bringing all the action and character they could to the two heroes who don't get along but need each other to survive.
Lobdell said that when he came on to write the X-Men for Marvel years ago, he was known as "the guy who's not Chris Claremont" and now with "Teen Titans" he may be known as "the guy who's not Marv Wolfman of Geoff Johns." The former steward of the teen team did speak up for the new take on Tim Drake's superteam. "Initially I was skeptical because I like the characters the way they were...but once I read the script, I was blown away," Johns said, relating that he'd told Lobdell the book was going to make his head explode. Lobdell said he knew fans hadn't been excited about the wings on Red Robin's new costume, but they'd grow to love them once they saw Brett Booth's work on the action of the book.
"Underneath, he's such a cool character, and people like him, but even his most diehard fan knows there's stuff in his history that's complicated...we're streamlining everything," Daniel said of "Hawkman" adding of Philip Tan "I've never seen anybody so excited to be working." Lee said Tan does most of his work in coffee shops on a caffeine rush with his markers and
"We're going to bring some new characters to Hawkman's world...I want to give him a new nemesis – an enemy equal. It's his Lex Luthor or his Joker, and he's never had that before in my opinion," Daniel said. The writer/artist added that he was honored to take on "Detective Comics" #1 and will focus on short, noir-like stories of Bruce Wayne as Batman. "I think it highlights my strengths as a writer...I get to play with some familiar characters while bringing in some new bad guys who will give the Joker a run for his money." Daniel called the new foe the Dollmaker "the most messed up character I've ever created."
Snyder spoke up to his love of the history of "Swamp Thing," saying that despite the relaunch "everything that happened in the past stands" as his story dives in to the real life of Alec Holland as he confronts the force known as the Green to find out why he lost his life so that Swamp Thing could be born.
"Batwing" was a book and hero Winick was excited to play with because it expanded the global scale of the DCU to Africa. "In Africa, you've got warlords...they're like supervillains." And while some real world politics will work in including some intense violence shown off from Ben Oliver's interior pages, the book will be a straight superhero book. "Batwing" takes place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, however there will be some slight tweaks in the DCU version as a group of superheroes known as The Brigade helped topple a 30-year dictatorship there to establish a new, fictional capital city there. The first arc of the book finds the Brigade showing up for the first time in three years – murdered.
Later, Snyder said his plans for "Batman" would constitute a game-changer for the Bat-World as threats from the history of Gotham arise to attack the Bat-family of characters including Dick Grayson and everyone connected to the Wayne family.
Fan questions started with the issue of women characters and whether they were well-represented at DC. "We've got a great cast of female characters out there...I'd love to put our female leads up again any publisher out there," Didio contended, rattling off the books with women in the main role or a central one.
Speaking of women, a fan asked who the mystery member of the new Justice League was, as Johns said the heroine is "A reinvention of an old character called Lady Luck...every time she buys a lottery ticket she wins. She's going to get involved with the JLA after she attempts to buy out WayneTech." He said the woman takes up crime fighting because she feels her life of luck has left her frustrated and directionless.
Morrison said the New Gods currently reside on Earth-51, and they will appear in "Multiversity."
Asked about the pressure of redesigning the JLA, Lee said "Working on Wonder Woman's costume last year kind of gave me the taste of what was to come." He said part of his guiding principal on the designs was to create for himself first and trust his own ideas that he felt added to the mythology. "If you go by that, you can't worry that people might hate it." But he added that the changes made to the icons of DC were very small, and Superman will be recognizable whether he's got red shorts or not. Overall, the New 52 books are focused on adding things to the heroes of the pantheon.
Morrison spoke to digital comics and how they will impact the form, comparing the storytelling techniques that will grow in comics to when filmmakers first started to realize the didn't have to just shoot the equivalent of a play on stage. A fan really wanted to see some 3-D digital comics, and while there are no plans for anything specially interactive outside day-and-date digital releases, the panel agreed that more experimenting is around the bend.
The question of the status of the original "New Teen Titans" stories came up with Lobdell promising that the legacy of all the Teen Titans teams over the years will be respected while Johns promised that even though Cyborg is being established as a Justice Leaguer five years in the past, the door is left open at the end of "Justice League's" first arc for him to go join the Titans as chronicled by Wolfman and Perez.
Morrison talked about "Batman, Incorporated" briefly, promising that when the villain Leviathan is revealed, fans will see how his masterplan fits all the pieces of his Batman saga together. Snyder noted that the storylines Morrison is working on will ripple through books like "Batman" as well.
A fan dressed as Batgirl who had been at every DC panel over the weekend asked whether the publisher was committed to hiring more women. Didio said that they were working to put the best talent possible on the books. Morrison asked, "Do more women want to write DC superheroes?" and when many female fans responded "Yes!" he simply added "Then send your stuff in."