DC Comics held its “Justice League” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego Friday evening, turning the spotlight on several superhero teams that inhabit the New DCU. Executive Editor Eddie Berganza moderated a panel with Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, SVP – Sales Bob Wayne, Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato, Dan Jurgens, JT Krul, Eric Wallace., and Philip Tan.
Jurgens described “Justice League International” as a direct reaction to the Justice League, but “some of these guys-Guys?-think they belong in a better team.”
“When we were rebooting everything, I didn’t want to do the same old, same old with a number #1,” Johns said of “Green Lantern,” which now stars Sinestro. “He’s got this ring, he can’t get it off, everybody’s pissed off.”
Johns said “People who think Aquaman sucks should read ‘Aquaman.'” Then, perhaps joking, “people in the book tell him he sucks.”
After Johns admitted that giving up “Flash” was difficult, Manapul said that he’s looking forward to write the character he’s enjoyed drawing. Buccellato, co-writing with Manapul, admitted taking over from Johns was intimidating.
Johns described Manapul’s art as “JH Williams meets Francis Manapul,” and said there would be inset or call-out panels on many pages illustrating how fast the Flash thinks. “Every panel can be something he’s looking at or thinking about, they’re all options,” Johns said. Buccellato added that “there are downsides to thinking so fast, too.”
Manapul said that the Flash will now put on his suit by having his ring shoot out pieces of the costume, which he runs toward and which bind to each other in the heat. “It was a new DC, so I wasn’t sure if I could do this. So I just did it anyway,” Manapul said.
Krul described “Captain Atom” as “a story about his isolation” and “big science fiction,” while his relaunched “Green Arrow” is “kind of a flawed character who keeps going, he keeps trying.” Trick arrows “will play a big role in who he is and the threats he goes up against.” “It has kind of a James Bond feel because he’s going all over the world.”
Jurgens, who is illustrating “Green Arrow,” noted that Oliver Queen “is very different this time around,” and much younger than the character fans have been reading about.
Wallace then spoke about the difficulty of writing “Mr. Terrific.” “I’m not the second or third smartest person in the world,” he said. Wallace again cited James Bond, but also said there’s a huge science fiction aspect to it. “‘Anything can happen’ has sort of been our motto from the start,” he said, adding that the character goes into space “rather quickly.”
Tan said that “Savage Hawkman” will see the character “fight in a very different way” from what’s been done in the past.
Johns said that Hawkman is also a member of the JLA, and “they’ll be having a meeting, he’ll show up and a big bloody mace hits the desk. They look up and Hawkman’s all covered in blood. He says, ‘don’t worry, it’s not my blood.'”
The floor was then opened to questions.
Jurgens said Batman’s role on the JLI is as “an ambassador that the UN knows nothing about,” but suggested there may be more to the story. He is on the team without the UN’s permission.
A fan said he has “at least ten friends who will start reading comics in September because they can read them on the iPad,” and thanked DC for the effort.
The JLA and JLI “will not work together.” “Dan and I have a lot of problems [with each other],” Johns joked.
Johns said he enjoys writing Cyborg. “He’s online and offline all the time. You can ask him how he knows something, he’ll say, oh, I read it off your computer. You say, you can’t do that, he’ll say, yeah, I also updated your security.”
“You will see where Martian Manhunter’s at” in the first arc of “Justice League,” Johns said. “There’s also a reason there’s only one alien on the Justice League at first, and that’s Superman.”
A fan asked if all the JLA costumes were “Paul Gambi originals,” which Johns acknowledged was an obscure reference. “Paul Gambi was a tailor who made suits for all the Rogues.” Lee, reiterating a point he made at the New 52 panel earlier in the day, said that there was an effort to make the heroes look more like a team and that he felt the collars were “more regal, majestic.”
A fan asked why Nightwing wasn’t on a Justice League team while Batman is on two. “I just don’t want Batman and Nightwing in JLA,” Johns said. “Plus, it’s not really fun to have a team player.”
Asked about increasing diversity-particularly, “where are the Asians?”-Wallace said that diversity did not have to only mean heroes, but “diverse people.” “When you look at the world around them, it’s populated by” people of every color and orientation. He added that there would be an Asian hero debuting in “Mr. Terrific.”
Lee added that “there’s a character in Justice League-a very small character-rhymes with ‘Batom.'”
A female reader followed up on this by asking “where are the women,” noting that few are visible in the covers shown. Johns said that “DC has more iconic women than anybody else.” The fan cited heroines with “girl” in their name, where the male characters tend to have “man.” She added that the covers did not show female heroes front and center on the covers.
Berganza said that “diversity does include gender diversity,” but the fan persisted by asking how many of the 52 feature a woman “in the center of the cover.” Lee joked that that would depend what she meant by center. “If she’s right in the center, that’s bad composition.”
A fan asked the creators who they would add to the “Justice League” if they could add anyone. Johns: “Hulk, I’d put Hulk on the Justice League.” Jurgens suggested Ace the Bat Hound.
The next question was about a statement earlier in the day that Karen Starr would appear in “Mr. Terrific.” Confirming the fan’s suspicions, Wallace said, “Power Girl may or may not exist in this universe, but Karen Starr does.”
When a fan said he didn’t want Batman to be the one to always save the day, Johns said, “When Hal first meets Batman, he’s certainly not impressed.” But, he joked, “then he saves the day.”
Johns said “Sinestro is pretty rusty” when he first gets the ring. There’s also conflict in that “the Guardians see this as, maybe the ring sees redemption! But Sinestro’s like, I don’t need redemption!” Sinestro also does not know if he’ll ever get the ring off, and does not always know how to react because of this.
A fan asked about the “season” format, where there might be regular new #1s for each series. “I don’t know how many ‘Green Lantern’ #1s I can write,” Johns said. Lee noted that someone at the New 52 panel asked the same question, and so was wondering if that was something fans wanted. There are no plans to take this format at present.
“Justice League” will feature new villains, Johns said, and Jurgens said introducing new characters and concepts was a way to keep iconic characters fresh.
Asked about a Legion of Doom, Johns said, “It won’t be called Legion of Doom, but yes.” This group will show up next year.