"Anyone whose been to one (a Crisis Counseling panel) you're healed."
With those words DC Senior VP-Executive Editor Dan DiDio ushered in a new chapter at DC Comics: The DC Nation. DiDio, joined by writers Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Marv Wolfman, Grant Morrison (tardy, but impeccably dressed), editor Matt Idelson and DC VP of Sales Bob Wayne, played question and answers with a packed room Friday.
"We think you got through it (Crisis) okay, there's still a bit of a rough road ahead, a couple of bumps in the road, a couple of meaningful deaths, as I like to call it, things that hopefully don't upset you to much, but get you excited about the story that's going on," DiDio said. "What we decided to do now, now that Crisis is starting to end, I wanted to really address what I think is occurring from all of the conventions I've been going to and something I've been feeling. A real sense of excitement with the fans, a real sense of camaraderie, a real sense that people are getting on board with what's happening with our characters and are anxious to talk about it and get on board."
Each audience member was given an orange button sporting the DC Nation logo, something DiDio said he wants to have a half-million people wearing. Which might not be that big of a challenge, the way "Infinite Crisis" has been bringing in the fans. The universe altering arc penned by Geoff Johns, who said the script for "Crisis" issue #7 is complete, has the blessing of the scribe who made it all possible with "Crisis on Infinite Earths," Marv Wolfman.
" I think its 20 years later … and with all the things that have gone on I think you need a new crisis," Wolfman said. "It's sort of nice that it was able to tie into the previous crisis, as regarding to the crisis Geoff had created. … If I wanted those characters dead in my crisis, the one that George and I did, they would have been dead, but I sent them off to some place. I think it's really cool that they are able to pick up and use what comes before. Look at what I did, I mean I got rid of everybody."
One of those characters Wolfman sent off was Superboy Prime, who Johns has taken on a bloody rampage in "Infinite Crisis."
"That took me a long time to break, because I thought Superboy Prime needed to view the world so narrow. You can see how his world view is so narrow and so black and white and realistically that is not going to work anymore," Johns said.
DiDio and Johns both said originally Superboy Prime started out coming into crisis as corrupted and evil, but the take on the character didn't work for Johns.
"I said to Dan I think Prime does it by accident and is horrified," Johns said. "That panel where's he's looking at his hands and goes 'I didn't mean to do it,' that for me is the entire story for Superboy Prime. He didn't mean to do this stuff. What's worse making a mistake and fessing up to it or doing something bad and saying 'You made me do it?' Superboy Prime is a very simplistic character who has become very complex. That will be played out more in the last two issues. You'll see kind of where he's going and what he's thinking."
The themes being explored in "Infinite Crisis" will continue to be focused on as events fold out in "52" and One Year Later titles, they are themes the panel has been discussing since DiDio came on board at DC.
"From the moment Dan came in he said he wanted to do a 20th anniversary of Crisis and make it about what being a hero was about in the modern day," Johns said. "He wanted to focus on Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman and really focus on the relationship of the characters and focus on the morality of the characters."
DiDio said by examining the big three of the DCU and showing what their differences are, each character would be able to stand more on their own.
"The problem I have ever had with the DC heroes is that they all have a very homogenous feel. You know they all were very proactive, they all got their powers by accidental circumstances, they all knew how to put on costumes, they all went on patrol, they all did what the inherit good and they all pretty much acted the same way inside the costume as they did outside of the costume. There was not much differentia between them. Part of what we needed to do was create the uniqueness of our characters. Make them more stand on their own right," he said.
"One of the things we could have done is we could have gone the Marvel route. Which is make them all grief stricken and have social problems and personal problems. That doesn't really work with the DC characters though," DiDio said. "The reason why is, look at Green Lantern. Hal Jordan's power is based on will power. He has the mightiest weapon and its driven by will power, yet they made him an alcoholic drunk. How does a guy with no will power over drinking control this weapon that is only controlled by will power? It doesn't make any sense."
DiDio said all of the DC heroes believe they are doing the right thing, they just all go about helping in different ways. The moral barometer of the DCU is something explored further with the start of 52 in May and later the new "Brave and Bold" series.
"There will be more debate. Certain heroes will believe in certain ideals and other heroes will believe in other ideals," Morrison said.
His sentiments were echoed by Waid, "'The Brave and Bold' is a good place to compare and contrast. When we talked about Brave and Bold team-up that is one thing we talked about. Rather than pick characters whose powers compliment each other or simply because their costumes look good together, my first instinct is to go for the characters who really don't belong together on a ideological level and really show what makes the characters similar and what makes them different to the DC Universe. To use that like you're using a lens to sort of find each other. Put Batman and Green Lantern in the same story now having gone through all of the stuff they have gone through in the crisis for instance and having had sort of redefined their world views that makes some real awesome friction. Geoff played with that in Green Lantern issue #9, where Batman guest stars in the issue. We'll get to play more with that kind of stuff, but all across the DC Universe."
For many of the questions the panel played it cryptic, simply stating "Read 52." Some might have interrupted certain answers as clues to what's to come, but the DC crew apparently wants to maintain the mystery of what happens between Infinite Crisis and One Year Later. DiDio said he is not even sure where the story is going.
"The interesting thing for me is that I'm starting to read the scripts now and I had a meeting with them and we broke out pretty much 52 issues, now by issue 5 I didn't know where the story was going. Honestly, they had everything laid out, everything figured out, and by the time I got issue 5 in front of me I had no idea what was happening. It was better and more exciting then I thought going in. It was interesting moment," he said.
One thing DiDio did promise is that 52 will make it on-time to stores every week. He said 17 scripts have already been turned in, while the art for 14 of them is complete.
"It is guaranteed," he said. "This is one thing we promised ourselves. These stories are built on time and we have to make sure that these comics are on time."
Some other bits gleaned during the question and answer session:
- "Brave New World" will be 80-pages for $1 and will serve as a bookend to "Infinite Crisis" leading into the other titles and introducing new characters.
- There are plans to incorporate "Smallville's" Chloe Sullivan into Superman's world, editor Matt Idelson said.
- Green Lantern Alan Scott will have a very prominent role in the future, Johns said.
- During "52." Teen Titans roster will go through several changes, including members of Titans East, Doom Patrol and some all new characters, Johns said.
- Shining Knight and the other Seven Soldiers will show up in "Infinite Crisis #7." "Shining Knight kicks the Riddler's ass pretty bad," Johns said.
- The DCU is not headed toward the "Kingdom Come" vision of the universe.
- Absolute Kingdom Come is due out in July and Absolute Dark Knight is due in August, Bob Wayne said.
- Power Girl will continue to play a pivotal role, Johns said.
- Wonder Girl's powers will change now that she is indebted to Ares, he said.
- DiDio asked one fan "If she would be upset if Dick Grayson died?" When she responded she would, he just said, "Okay moving along."
- Mark Waid wants to bring back Bouncing Boy to the Legion, but his artist and everyone else seems to be against him.
- No trades of "52" will be released until after issue "52" hits the stands, Wayne said.
The answers to most questions can be found in the pages of 52 all of the panel members said.
"Everything turns up in 52. There are just so many pages there," Morrison said.
CBR's coverage of Wizard World Los Angeles is Sponsored by Comics Unlimited.