DC Comics continued their programming slate Saturday afternoon at Emerald City Comicon 2014 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, with the “DC Comics: The New 52” panel hosting a variety of talent talking the latest in the mainline DC Universe.
On the panel: creators Brian Buccellato, Gail Simone, Jeff Lemire, Ann Nocenti, Scott Snyder, Charles Soule and Alessandro Vitti, plus editor Matt Idelson.
The panel opened with DC talent relations director Larry Ganem informing the crowd this weekend marks the 75th anniversary of the original “Detective Comics” #27, featuring Batman’s first appearance.
Moving to the current slate, Lemire discussed weekly series “The New 52: Futures End,” which starts on Free Comic Book Day, May 3. “Ryan Sook is doing all the covers for the whole series,” Lemire said. “He’s terrific. He sat in all the writer meetings, actually. That’s been a pretty cool collaborative thing, between the writers and him.”
DC’s other weekly, “Batman Eternal,” starts April 9. Snyder said he and James Tynion IV wanted it to be a story bigger than what’s possible in a monthly series. “You get everybody from the Ten-Eyed Man, to new characters like the person who wrote the crime book on the Joker,” Snyder said. “You’ll see what happens in ‘Eternal’ become the continuity that I’m using in ‘Batman.'”
“There are a lot of quick scenes from all over the city,” Snyder said of “Eternal.” “Something really big — a crime of the century sort of happen — is going to happen in the first issue, and change the entire structure of Gotham’s police force. It’s going to be a very changed city.”
Buccellato said he and Francis Manapul’s “Detective Comics” will be “less bombastic” than what’s happening in “Batman Eternal.” In the opening story, Batman and Harvey Bullock are in a race to solve a crime that’s personal to both of them. They’re using old characters and introducing new ones, including a “biker gang that we’re bringing to Gotham.”
Sticking with Batman — and specifically, the “Batman” series — Snyder talked the climax of “Zero Year.” “This part of it is really the reward,” Snyder said. “The city is just overgrown and flooded. The Riddler’s philosophy is supposed to be indicative of things we’re frightened of today.”
“This is the huge, fun, over-the-top, wild part of the story,” Snyder said. “I’m really excited about it. Who doesn’t love post-apocalyptic Batman?”
Nocenti on “Catwoman”: “She’s been expanding her turf. She’s developing her crime skills, and we’re heading into a race of thieves.” An old character named Roulette will challenge thieves in Gotham and around the world — including superpowered characters like the Mirror Master — to prove that they’re the best. Catwoman will realize she’s outmatched, but “she starts finding out that knowledge is power, and how she’s going to play everybody off of each other. Whether it works or not, we’ll find out.”
Gail Simone joins the panel to talk “Batgirl.” “Strix is one of my favorite new characters,” Simone said. “Silver is bringing trouble to Gotham. He suffers from some delusions, where he thinks everyone in Gotham is a vampire, and he’s a vampire killer. So they are in trouble.”
Soule talked the nuclear explosion from “Superman/Wonder Woman” #6. “I like them, but I also want them to struggle a bit,” Soule said. “It doesn’t get bigger than a nuclear bomb.”
“The next chapter of ‘Superman/Wonder Woman’ is about change,” Soule said, as they’re in the “second phase” of a relationship, beyond the “I love everything about this person” part.
Moving to the upcoming “Superman: Doomed” crossover between “Superman,” “Action Comics” and “Superman/Wonder Woman,” Soule said it’s revisiting Doomsday in “big, dramatic fashion,” with “lots of cool twists and reversal.”
“We’ve all read enough [events] at this point that we kind of know where they’re going to go,” Soule said. “What we really wanted to do with this event was be aware that we’ve all read a lot of these events,” and craft a story where readers won’t know where things are going.
Talking “Superman Unchained,” Snyder said, “It’s a blast to work with Jim. I still geek out every time he calls.” Snyder said in “Superman Unchained” #7, there will be a scene where Superman confronts Wraith with something like a Kryptonite ring, based on Wraith’s power signature. Wraith asks, “How did you get that?” and Superman responds, “It’s good to have paranoid friends” — cutting to a panel of Batman whistling in the Batcave.
On “Justice League United,” Lemire said, “I’m going to juxtapose these quiet, rural Canadian moments, with big, cosmic aliens. The thing I think I’m most proud of with this book is that we’ve created a new character” — that being Equinox, a First Nations teenage from Moose Factory, Ontario.
Soule caught the crowd up on “Red Lanterns,” saying that Guy Gardner has been running the group “like a really cool space biker gang,” rather than a “cult.” At the same time, Atrocitus has been putting plans into motion to turn the Red Lanterns back into what he thinks it should be.
Superman will show up in the series, since Supergirl is now a part of the Red Lanterns — which results in Supergirl hitting Superman in the face with an oil tanker. Vitti said he especially enjoyed the chance to draw Superman (even if he does get hit in the face with an oil tanker).
Discussing “Green Arrow,” Lemire said he wasn’t a huge fan of the character growing up, but “He’s quickly become my favorite character to write.”
The series incorporated Diggle from the “Arrow” TV show into the DC Universe last fall. “We’ve brought him into DC continuity as Ollie’s partner,” Lemire said. “The next arc after ‘The Outsiders War,’ there will be a lot more Diggle.” Green Arrow will also be facing a “brand-new rogues gallery.”
Soule talked “Swamp Thing,” which was his first major work at DC or Marvel. “I was thrilled to have the privilege of writing it even for an issue,” Soule said — and if indeed only had an issue, he wanted to swing for the fences and do something that lived up to the creative pedigree of the series. “Writing it is a dream come true for me,” Soule said. “It’s a title I always really loved.”
“It’s partly a horror title, and partly a philosophical title,” Soule said of the book. Addressing the current storyline, Soule explained how the Sureen offered the title character “a break from being inside a plant body,” given they have a ritual where a Swamp Thing can return to a human body — which sounds like a good deal, but things turned bad quickly.
With time for only one audience question, a fan asked how the creators keep a character “fresh and new,” while sticking to the “universal truth.” Lemire said there are things at the core of the character you always have to be true to, “no matter what they face.” Snyder said you have to make things personal, and see what the character is going through that you’re afraid of, or excited about. “It’s about the character, but also something about you as a writer,” he said, which helps keep things original.
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