At the DC Comics from the DC Comics - The New 52 panel, part of San Diego Comic-Con International, DC’s top creators gathered to answer fan questions and speak about what’s next for their heroes and books.
Moderated by DC Entertainment’s Head of Marketing John Cunningham, the panel kicked off as his panelists joined him onstage: Tony Daniel (“Action Comics)”, Kyle Higgins (“Nightwing”), Geoff Johns (“Aquaman”, “Justice League,” “Justice “League of America”), Dan Jurgens (“Firestorm”), Jeff Lemire (“Animal Man,” “Justice League Dark”), Jimmy Palmiotti (“All-Star Western,” “Batwing”), Gail Simone (“Batgirl,” “The Movement”), Charles Soule (“Red Lanterns”), James Tynion IV (“Red Hood and the Outlaws,” “Talon”), Robert Venditti (“Green Lantern,” “Green Lantern Corps”), Ray Fawkes (“Pandora”) and JH Williams (“Batwoman”).
Cunningham then played a video explaining “Trinity War,” DC’s current event in which the Justice League, the Justice League Of America and Justice League Dark face off, manipulated in the shadows by the super villains -- and, as the video promised, “The heroes lose and the villains win.”
“We did spoil the ending with that ending, didn’t we?” Johns said. He explained that he and Lemire put themselves in the villains shoes and realized that if they wanted to take down the Justice League they’d have to take down Superman, which played into issue #1. “Forever Evil” #1 in September continues the story.
“When you find out what villains are ruling the world, the Rogues don’t want to have anything to do with it,” Johns said, revealing that they will also play a huge role in the unfolding event.
“It’s up to a group of villains who gather together to lead the charge and Lex Luthor is the main character of this series,” Johns added.
Looking at the images for “Forever Evil: ARGUS,” Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion” and “Arkham Wars,” Johns then flipped over to “Aquaman” #24. “People said why are you going to waste your time with that character? So for everyone who reads the series, thank you,” Johns said, adding that in upcoming issues readers will find out more about Aquaman’s ancestry, “Which is more complicated than we think,” Johns said.
“We’ll see how the Trench ties into the origin of Atlantis...everything we set up from issue #1 will tie up into this storyline,” Johns added, Lemire labeling the comics after October, “The second era.”
The audience applauded as the slide for “Superman/Wonder Woman” appeared onscreen, artist Daniel calling it a “dream project.” The cover image for the first issue is actually part of a triptych, Daniel bringing the full image onscreen which showed Superman’s foes and allies on the left while Wonder Woman’s allies and rogues were on the right.
The room burst into applause again for “Green Arrow” #24, Lemire stating, “Green Arrow was never a character I thought I’d want to write or enjoy writing, but I’ve really loved it.”
Speaking about the Arrow Clan, Lemire said his actions put him into the cross-hair of the New 52 Outsiders, and that certain versions of the characters from the CW “Arrow” TV show will be appearing in the book. Readers will also see Green Arrow and Batman’s first meeting, Lemire adding, “It’s all building up to his return to the island.”
Staying on Lemire the panel showed the image for “Animal Man” #24, which is artist Rafael Albuquerque first issue as the new permanent artist on the book. Palmiotti spoke about his and Amanda Conner’s Harley Quinn monthly book, beginning in November.
“The whole series will be just madness, we’re going crazy...we both love all versions of the character,” Palmiotti said, promising to get to the core of the character and exploring what makes Harley tick.
Looking at “All-Star Western,” now that Booster Gold has transplanted Jonah into the present, “It’s pretty much how Jonah’s looking at our world now, the senseless violence, the current events through Jonah’s eyes,” Palmiotti said. The cowboy will also team up with Arkham’s descendant and head out west.
“Again, its some political statements being made while Jonah’s shooting everything in his path,” Palmiotti added.
This brought the panel to Palmiotti’s third book, “Batwing,” with a Darwyn Cooke cover for #24. “In the past couple of issues we’ve had Lucius Fox kidnapped...and he’s got girlfriend problems and crazy guys who look like ants breaking through windows,” Palmiotti laughed. Labeling his character “Bruce Wayne in a Batman suit,” Palmiotti said he felt was different than any other Bat-character.
“It’s a different kind of Batman book,” the writer concluded.
Williams took the microphone for “Batwoman,” explaining that he and his co-writer Haden Black are playing a “long-game” with the story in “Batwoman.” The next issues will bring in an established Bat-villian as well as examine the support system and family surrounding Batwoman.
“It’s all about figuring out how to rescue Kate’s twin sister, Beth, from the D.E.O. and...its all going to culminate in a confrontation with Batman,” Williams said. “It’s going to be pretty explosive, the fight scene between those two will be very emotional, powerful.”
The audience cheered as the image for “Batgirl” #24 appeared and Simone praised her new art team on the book, showing a page of Barbara learning how to shoot a gun from her father.
“We have a story coming up, ‘Batgirl Wanted:’ in Commissioner Gordon’s mind Batgirl killed his son, and he has to hunt her down,” Simone continued. “It’s breaking my heart too to see them go through this...plus Gordon gets to punch Batman in the face for encouraging or allowing Batgirl to exist!”
Speaking about “The Movement,” Simone called the book a “risky” one for DC as the protagonists are all new characters. “If something like the Teen Titans was created today they wouldn’t be in a Tower, they’d be on the ground, social networking,” Simone said of her series.
“We will be having a guest star from the New 52 coming,” she added, also showing an image of Rainmaker from Gen 13 facing off with the Movement teens.
Bringing up the cover for issue #24 of “Nightwing,” in which Nightwing crouches on a rooftop, Simone joked, “Look at that butt!”
“My only note was: make it shinier,” Higgins joked as the audience laughed.
The character has moved to Chicago following Zucco’s trail, Higgins excited about the new cast they built for him. Issue #23 and #24 will show the Prankster’s motivations and plans. The audience applauded as Higgins revealed after those issues that there will be a Batgirl and Nightwing story coming up.
Tynion touched on “Red Hood And The Outlaws,” saying there will be a lot more mythology tied into Essence and the League of Assassins. “Jason is basically a pawn on a very large chessboard he doesn’t understand yet,” Tynion said. While Jason will begin to act more and more like his old self, Roy and Starfire will also be intimately involved as the larger plot unfolds.
Looking at “Talon,” Tynion explained the story will go to the prison Bane was raised in and look at his and Calvin Rose’s past. “Especially since Bane killed him once, Calvin is gong to have some things to say,” Tynion said as the audience chuckled. The story will bring Batman and Calvin into conflict as well.
Venditti took over for “Green Lantern” next, telling the room this was his first convention since he took over the comic. Laughing, the writer told the audience that Hal makes a shark construct in the pages onscreen for issue #22 as “That’s when Shark Week happens!”
“Relic...is going to be a key component,” Venditti added, saying, “We hope that you guys like what you see.” The writer also promised a lot more of the book’s new Star Sapphire/ex-Green Lantern Prisoner, exploring the idea of love and the Sapphires from a different angle.
Soule took up the reins for “Red Lantern,” calling Relic a crossover and stating that in issue #22 readers will see a change in the status quo for the Red Corps.
“Guy Gardner gets his in a way...and the way it plays out is really interesting,” Soule said, telling the audience that the first move Gardner makes is to take the team off Ysmault and go “House hunting” for a new lair. There is also a line Soule told the room he wasn’t sure would get approved by editorial, but finally did and asked the laughing crowd to “look out for it!”
Moving onto “Swamp Thing,” Soule explained he had been setting up the villain Cedar who has literally been seeding troubles around the world. Now Swamp Thing now has to stop him. “I wanted to go as big as I could possibly go...in the Annual you get to see eleven different Swamp Things through history,” Soule added.
Going back to “Superman/Wonder Woman,” Soule said he was excited to work on the book as the two characters were the most powerful in the DCU and they just “happen to have a thing!” Daniel also praised Soule’s scripts and implored the audience to check it out as soon as the issues were on sale.
The last panelist, Fawkes touched quickly on “Trinity War” through “Constantine” and “Pandora,” explaining that Pandora was central to the event as she feels she got a raw deal being condemned to the Trinity of Sin, though her actions through time may reveal she deserves her place on it more than she realizes.
Cunningham ended the panel by asking who in the audience wanted to buy one of the titles they spoke about, laughing as the audience burst into thunderous applause and the panelists waved and exited stage.