An enthusiastic group of fans gathered to hear about DC Comics' plans for their two flagship super-teams at a Justice League/Justice Society panel on Friday afternoon at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Moderator Dan DiDio introduced panel participants Eddie Berganza, Brad Meltzer, Steve Wacker (and later, Geoff Johns, when he arrived from another panel) to the audience with a brief statement before immediately going to questions from the audience. DiDio stated that DC's desire, following "Infinite Crisis," is to reinvigorate some of their franchises, and a key series for them has always been "Justice League of America." He said that the most important element is to have "the right creator on board," and DiDio believes that Meltzer is that creator.
Meltzer declared that "The Justice League is written, but not yet edited." He has written the first 13 issues of the new series, which is being drawn by Ed Benes. Meltzer promised that the reader will be "blown away" by the first issue.
There is a zero issue currently on sale, which reviews some of the history of the League, touching on key stories from the past (and future) in order to establish the new post-crisis continuity. Issue one will begin with "The Big Three" (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) coming together to choose the new Justice League.
Meltzer explained the process by which he crafted the zero issue story, reflecting that the classic JLA-JSA-Seven Soldiers of Victory team-up story is still one of his all-time favorites, and that he wanted to create a story like that. In plotting the tale, he said that there were certain key scenes from DC history that had never before been seen. "I personally thought that in 'The Death of Superman,' the one thing I wanted to see was Batman and Wonder Woman's reactions. That story has been in my head since the day I read 'The Death of Superman.'" Looking forward from there, Meltzer identified some moments from the future that he wanted to portray: the death of Batman, Pa Kent's death, Wonder Woman's wedding, Hal Jordan's wedding, and some others. At least one such event was already being written into another book, and Meltzer was able to tie into that.
One change that was immediately accepted by the editors and creators was reverting to the original continuity in which Wonder Woman was one of the founders; "Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are our three premiere characters, they should be the founders, the retrofit never felt right, we were able to just reset the dial so we could correct that," DiDio explained.
Geoff Johns then joined the panel, casually mentioning that it had just been announced in another panel that he would be co-writing "Action Comics" in collaboration with Richard Donner, director of "Superman" and "Superman II."
Johns is also returning to the Justice Society, but rather than pick up right after Paul Levitz's arc, it was decided to relaunch the series under the title "Justice Society of America." Covers will be provided by Alex Ross, with interior art by Dale Eaglesham.
One of the changes being implemented on the two series is a differentiation of the missions of the two teams; in general terms, the Justice League is the team that fights the big threats, and the Justice Society's primary concern is the mentoring of legacy heroes, though that is really an oversimplification.
Dan DiDio then moved to the question-and-answer portion, with an instruction that everyone who asked a question had to state which characters they wanted to see on each of the two teams. As names were put forth, panelists offered commentary on the likelihood of those characters appearing in either book.
For the Justice League, the names suggested included Red Tornado ("he's in"); Martian Manhunter (he will appear, but will not be a member); Wonder Woman, specifically Diana, not Donna Troy ("odds are good"); Green Lantern (Hal Jordan; "he's in"); Green Arrow ("absolutely"); Phantom Stranger ("maybe he'll appear"); Flash (DiDio: "Wally's story has not been written yet;" Meltzer: "it would be good to have a speedster on the team"); Huntress ("maybe"); Plastic Man (Meltzer: "I like the character, but not for JLA; it's sort of like that Sesame Street Song, 'One of these things is not like the others…'").
"There is one character that I was like, you know, she could be good, I don't know if it's a full-time thing, and then Ed Benes did this drawing, and I was like, 'she's on the team.' She's hot."
Later, when someone suggested Vixen, Meltzer replied "she's hot."
Meltzer specifically stated that one Teen Titan will definitely move up to the JLA ("somebody's going to graduate," he said), but nobody is saying which one.
Someone asked why DC hates the Justice League International characters, referring to the mid-1980s version of the Justice League written by Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis, which took a more comedic approach. "You're killing them all off," he stated.
DiDio refuted the suggestion, replying "That's an interpretation. We're telling stories with those characters. If we do something to Ralph Dibny, does that mean we hate him? If we do something to Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, and the Question, does that mean we hate Charlton characters? We happen to love those characters. We love them so much that we're able to use them in stories today. If we hated them. We wouldn't go anywhere near them."
In response to a question about Infinity Inc., Johns stated that all the members of that team have been accounted for, and that this is important to the story. He said that the first JLA-JSA crossover would involve a third team, but would not disclose which team that would be.
Some suggestions for the Justice Society roster were Hourman (Rex Tyler); Ma Hunkel ("yes"); Wonder Woman (DiDio: "You're trying to start a turf war"); Green Lantern (Alan Scott; "he's in"); Huntress (maybe); Obsidian (in and "out"; he's in the JSA, and "he is who he is, and we won't shy away from that"); Hawkman; Flash (Jay Garrick; "he's in, but he dies in the first issue," Johns replied with a laugh); Nightwing, Sand, Captain Marvel, the Earth-2 Robin, Mr. Terrific, and Dr Midnight.
When asked about Dr Fate, Johns answered, "Nobody here likes Dr .Fate, nobody cares about Dr. Fate.…" to which DiDio interjected, "Yeah, we have not looked at that character, we haven't considered any plans with him, we haven't tried other people in the helmet, and we're not going to do anything at the beginning of next year." Johns: "And don't read '52' to find out more about Dr. Fate, and don't look at J.G.'s awesome Dr. Fate cover."