CBR is sitting in the front row of DC’s “JSA: The Great Society” panel. While things haven’t gotten started just yet, the room is filling up as Jimmy Palmiotti finishes one last Micalobe Ultra and chats up Freddie Williams! Keep refreshing the page to see the news of the day!
Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler pumped up the crowd with a little arena rock clap along by banging on the mic before introducing Group Editor Mike Carlin, writers Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges, artist Freddie Williams, writer Jimmy Palmiotti (who when prompted to introduce himself referred to himself as Stan Lee) and Eric Trautmann.
Willingham described himself and Sturges as unlikely picks to write “Justice Society of America” as their work on “Jack of Fables” involved writing a person who was “kind of very informal ” (translation, mean and foul-mouthed).
A new monthly has been announced “JSA All Stars” by Sturges and Freddie Williams! Sturges explained of the new book, “”The JSA still exists, but we’re going to have two teams working independently to solve different missions.” The series spins out of Willingham and Sturges’ first “Justice Society” arc involving the mystery surrounding a dark egg found in the JSA Brownstone.
“Someone calls out Wildcat, and a very large battle ensues,” the writer said, nothing that a shadowy organization has put a price on the head of every JSAer. Willingham expressed pride in the bickering between the team when they find that some members earned a higher price than others.
“While everyone has a price on their head, one person has no price on her head, and specifically has been marked not to be hurt, and that’s Stargirl,” added Struges.
The writing team remained cagey about spoiling more about their first story that will split the team, so talk shifted to Carlin who explained that part of the new series will be exploring the younger members of the JSA franchise (the cover to the first issue includes Stargirl, Damage, Judo Master, Thunder, Magog, Citizen Steel, Hourman and Power Girl).
When asked what he thought of the series, Palmiotti (as “Stan Lee”) told a story about creating the Fantastic Four while drunk with Jack Kirby. The schtick shifted into low girl when the writer started discussing “Power Girl” whose third issue just hit. The next arc involves delving into Karen’s personal life and issues from finding an apartment to taking care of her cat. Palmiotti noted that fans who have been asking after why Power Girl’s cat is the wrong color, the issue will be addressed in issue #5 – a development spearheaded by Amanda Connor.
“Justin and I are blessed to have her on the book because whatever [Justin Gray and I] do, she takes it further,” he said. in #5 and 6, the team has fun with the more cheesecake aspect of the series when two female villains crash into Power Girl’s world overloading her and the pages, which will be carrying six or more panels on each page.
Eric Trautmann spoke on his “JSA Versus Kobra” series with Don Kramer. Issue #2 just hit stands which is “deepening the plot the new Kobra is using against the JSA.” The panel celebrated the many wild explosions and comic book science machines Trautmann has created for the series. “I blow up a port city in India in issue #4. Basically, I guess people just wanted me to blow stuff up.” Sturges joked that Trautmann had no egg in his arc, and that in “Justice Society” the egg will in fact explode.
Carlin spoke on “Magog” saying the series will explore, “why Magog doesn’t get along with others, which is Keith Giffen writing what he knows.” He added that readers will learn about his powers, where he comes from and who his mother is (Carlin joked the character will be called “Ma Gog”). Artist Howard Porter also earned praise. “He has never drawn better comic books than this,” said Carlin, noting the reteaming of Porter and his “JLA” inker John Dell.
These books are not necessarily going to be crossing over all the time, but they’re definitely going to be acknowledging that each other exists,” said Carlin noting that “JSA All Stars” will tap into the “Magog” book while a future JSA Annual will explore the releationship between Magog and the new team.
A “JSA 80-Page Giant” is planned for November with seven stories by the likes of Jerry Ordway, James Robinson, Williams and more.
While the group spoke of Williams’ prolific pace as a digital penciler, the panel announced that the artist will write and draw the next installment of DC’s “How To” art series titled. “The DC Comics Guide To Digitally Drawing Comics.” “This is definitely next level comics,” Carlin said.
Fan questions started out with a query on what the panel said to complaints that there are too many characters in the franchise. Willingham explained that part of that issue is what he and Sturges will be dealing with in splitting the group into two teams. The writer added that Mr. America is a character on the team that is full of untapped potential, although the panel joked that his weapon of choice is a bit too ineffective. “I’ve got a whip. It’s made out of cow,” joked the writer in the heroes’ voice.
Willingham will also play with Obsidian after the character has spend a long time in the figurative shadows. Sturges said that he’s been enjoying writing the female characters, although the two writers had a small fight about who gets Judo Master. Willingham used his disappointment over not getting the generational heroine to convince DC to let him bring Dr. Fate back into the series.
A fan asked after a new character on the cover to “JSA All Stars” who Sturges explained was named King Chimera – an upstart hero who claims to be the son of an old Golden Age Flash supporting player.
Another fan expressed disappointment in not seeing the original JSAers who are older but still around, Willingham said, “I have a lot of respect for the older characters. I’m not going to try and young-ify them. I’m going to revel in their age…I’m going to try and do right by them.” Sattler noted that the theme of the series from its inception has been for the older characters to inspire the young generation.
“And not every old timer is respected all the time in the real world, and perhaps we can point out that injustice,” Carlin added.
There was a firm “no comment” on the status of Vandal Savage and no current plans for Roy Thomas to return to the franchise, although Carlin admitted that projects like the “80-Page Giant” could be a good fit for the legendary writer to return to the franchise if briefly.
Palmiotti teased that he may be playing with members of the Marvel Family of characters in “Power Girl” and when asked what the definitive origin of the heroine, he said that the one page origin of issue #1, that’s all the exploration that would come. Sattler noted that Geoff Johns and Amanda Connor’s “JSA Classified” arc wold remain the definitive statement on the series.
Asked about whether the Obsidian character would remain gay in the JSA series, Willingham said, “I’m almost 97% certain that there won’t be a scene in an upcoming issue of JSA where Obsidian goes, ‘I’m cured! I’m no longer gay! I like women!'” before joking that the other 3% had to remain iffy so he would not lose his membership as a Republican.
Willingham also confirmed that he and James Robinson would return to the annual tradition of a JSA/JLA crossover. “I have an idea,” he said of the story possibilities.
A fan asked Trautmann why the JSA is the best team to take down Kobra. The writer responded that the question wasn’t a matter of being the best team (though they were certainly capable) but it was more an issue of Kobra striking first. Willingham joked that G.I. Joe had not been able to “defeat Kobra” in 20 years, to which Trautmann responded “In issue #5 I’ll be introducing the JSA’s new accelerator suits.”
Sturges had an informal poll to see who the fans wanted Stargirl to date: Billy Batson or Damage. Batson seemed to win.
A fan noted that he felt Power Girl’s ascension to Chairwoman of the JSA was glossed over in the series. Sturges noted that “when you see her in ‘JSA All Stars’ there will be no question as to whether or not she’s the boss of that team.”
When asked whether or not an anthology book like “JSA Classified” would fly again, Sattler said that for now DC is viewing the franchise as the four ongoing books with occasional mini series like “JSA Versus Kobra.”
A newer fan, trying to not sound dirty in asking after the cleavage gap in Power Girl’s costume, asked if anyone had discussed “filling in Power Girl’s hole.” After the general humor pandemonium calmed down, Palmiotti said that Connor very much wanted to change the outfit from day to day because a woman would not wear the same outfit every day and because swinging her arms in that outfit would cause a boob to pop out. However, DC asked that their characters keep a consistent look so the plan has so far been nixed. “We try not to make that the focus of the book, and in the first issue we tried to get it out of the way quickly,” the writer said. “I understand why people would focus on that, but really she’s got pretty eyes.” Palmiotti went on to promise that they would play with the costume some within the next year.
“JSA Versus Kobra” #4 will take place in Fawcett City and heavily feature Jakeem Thunder, with Trautmann saying that the city where Captain Marvel comes from needs a guy powered by lightning.
When asked whether the Kingdom Come Superman would be seen again, Sattler said, “Again? Yeah. But soon? No.”
That wraps this panel, check back to CBR for more live coverage and images as Comic-Con continues!