Welcome to B&B, CBR’s monthly column where DC Comics Editor-In-Chief Bob Harras and Editorial Director Bobbie Chase discuss what’s new in the New 52.
The DC E-I-C since 2010 and Senior Vice President since December, 2012, Harras has spent decades in the comic book trenches working as an editor for the Big Two. Promoted to Editorial Director last year, Chase also has a long history of working in comics, her tenure at DC marking her return to the medium after several years of working in children’s and other publishing.
This month, B&B speak about the big creative team shakeups on the Green Lantern line, how officially dead readers should consider Damian Wayne and new titles — Occupy-themed and otherwise — appearing in the New 52.
And keep your eyes on this space for our second installment of B&B where the two address your questions about DC!
Josie Campbell: We know readers should be excited for the new Greg Pak and Jae Lee “Batman/Superman,” and Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s newly titled “Superman Unchained.” While last month we talked about the cancellation of comics with some more obscure or fringe New 52 characters, with these two books is DC pivoting towards more marquee titles — more books with proven characters and sellers like Batman, Superman and the other Justice League folk?
Bob Harras: I think what you’re going to see moving forward, like we’ve done already with the New 52, is that there’s always going to be a mix. We’re not going to give up on the idea of trying new things, new types of genres that led to things like “Animal Man” and “Swamp Thing.” We’re going to continue that: a nice, healthy mix of the bigger heroes, and some new heroes as well.
Bobbie Chase: We just happen to be in that period right now of nice big stuff happening.
Harras: But also we’re doing the “Green Team” and “The Movement,” two kinds of books people wouldn’t expect for us to be doing.
Harras: It’s part of our ongoing plan with the New 52, the “Green Teen” — “Green Team” — [Laughs]
Chase: “Green Team: Teen Trillionaires!” It really trips off the tongue, doesn’t it? [Laughs]
Well with “The Movement” and “Green Team: Teen Trillionaires” —
Harras: Right! You’re doing better than I did! [Laughter]
With these two, I’m going to say that when most people looked at the Occupy movement, their first thought wasn’t, “Oh, superheroes!” What prompted doing Occupy-influenced comics with Gail Simone and Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani?
Harras: Like I say all the time, it came out of conversation, it came out of talking about characters and what certain people want to do. Gail pitched “The Movement” a while ago; it was a very intriguing pitch, it came from a very unique point of view, which is what we’re looking for in all our titles. That really sold us and Bobbie and I had a conversation with Gail when we read the pitch about it taking us to unexpected places, which excites us.
Chase: It really resonates with a lot of things that are happening and the political landscape right now, which also intrigues us. As the New 52 becomes more timely, we can do things like this.
Harras: And there’s “Green Team: Teen Trillionaires” on the flip side of the equation where you have the Haves and the Have Nots. They both are approaching problems, and how they approach problems with their own unique perspectives and how that will bring them into conflict or bring them together will be interesting.
When there’s a real world political movement like Occupy that represented in media, there’s a fine line between being topical and feeling like you’re cashing in on a trend, just using it for face value. How is editorial hitting that balance with “The Movement” and “Green Team?”
Harras: The main thing we look for with this is, “Tell us a good story with these characters, tell us about this situation.” Being topical and being connected to the world is very important to what we’re doing, but its also important we entertain. That’s the balance we’re striving for in all our books, but in these books in particular.
You guys are also announcing here that Scot Eaton will be drawing “Detective Comics” #21, Francesco Francavilla will be drawing “Batwoman” #21 and we now know there’s a new “Threshold” backup story replacing “Larfleeze.” What can you say about the new backup for “Threshold?” Are these artists going to be permanent changes for the books?
Harras: Keith Giffen is writing [the backup,] its featuring Star Hawkins with artist Timothy Green III; with Francesco that’s just one issue, which we’re very excited about! With Scot Eaton that’s also a one-issue event, but we’re very excited as we’ll be working more and more with Scot. This is his first assignment with us in a while.
You also just announced the “Trinity Of Sin: Pandora” book. Since there is “Trinity” in the title, will there be a third book joining this and “Phantom Stranger,” and will this tie into “Trinity” the event at all?
Harras: We can say we wouldn’t call it a “Trinity Of Sin” without a third title!
Chase: That is a yes! [Laughter]
Harras: That is coming along, you’ll see that shortly. Pandora’s been a character that’s been important to the New 52 since she appeared in all the first issues. You’ll learn a lot more about her in her own series as it ties into other big events.
Outside of new books, one of the huge things DC recently announced was that all the Green Lantern books are getting new creative teams. The Green Lantern corner of the DC Universe was left fairly intact during the New 52 relaunch. Why is now the time to bring in brand new creative teams on these books, rather than with the relaunch?
Harras: With Geoff [Johns] leaving “Green Lantern,” it is a major moment for all of us because Geoff’s run on the book is legendary. He reinvigorated that character, he made Hal the character he is today, he created a whole new mythos for Green Lantern. His decision to move on to other titles gave us an opportunity to look at the line as a whole and say, “Ok, what do we want to do here? Where do we want to go moving forward?” In a lot of ways I think Geoff’s staying on “Green Lantern” would be a great thing, but his decision to move on challenged us to go in different directions.
Chase: And we’re not looking to undo anything that Geoff has done. This is certainly a great time to consider, as we have considered, a great Big Bang approach to what comes next. It seemed like the time to look at the whole Green Lantern line.
Harras: With that said, what Geoff’s got planned up to when he’s going I want people to really pay attention to. It’s amazing what we’ve got coming up. Then what we’ve got following beyond that is something I want people to be equally intrigued by and equally curious.
Geoff Johns has pretty much been synonymous with Green Lantern for years. With such a history, clearly the challenge for is how can any new Green Lantern writers stack up to Geoff Johns? And what made you choose these specific creative teams as the ones that would be able to stack up against the guys who have been writing the books for years?
Harras: Like you say, following up in Geoff’s footsteps is a daunting task for anybody. But I think the great thing Geoff has done in creating these stories over the years is he’s created a rich environment for other writers. It’s key to this. Geoff has built something other writers can follow up on. I think by turning to writers like Robert Venditti, who we’re very excited about, what [Robert’s] done is he’s seen and read what Geoff has done and then is progressing the story with his own unique point of view. It’s building on what’s come before, it’s always fraught with what’s going to happen next. To me, that’s the exciting part of the equation.
Chase: For me, what Robert’s doing is very exciting. He’s very respectful of what Geoff’s set up in the books and he’s not at all daunted by making his own mark in the Green Lantern mythos.
Talking about recent news, another huge announcement was the death of Damian Wayne in “Batman Incorporated.” As comic book readers know, there’s dead and then there’s comic book dead. With Damian, who has been a very popular Robin, how dead is dead? Should readers expect to see Damian resurrected in a year?
Harras: I will say this: the thing about Damian from the get-go, and I was not involved at the time, this was Grant [Morrison’s] story from the beginning. When Damian was introduced, this endpoint was always in the game plan. We all knew with every story we told with Damian that at a certain point, we almost knew the month, this tragedy would happen. The tragedy of Damian is important because it echoes and reinforces the tragedy of Batman’s life. That loss is part of who Batman is, and I think that’s what Grant was doing, it’s what Damian was designed to do. This tragedy was part and parcel to who and what he is. I think it’s an amazing accomplishment that the issue hit people the way it did in so many ways. Again, as we said before, the repercussions will echo on. What will it do to Batman? What will it do to the other Bat characters? That’s also an intriguing aspect to this, the ripple affects of a tragedy across heroes’ lives. I think sacrifice and the price of being a superhero is always interesting to explore.
Chase: And Bob did just answer your question, if you’re wondering. This is a serious step for the family.
In the wake of the death, DC is publishing Bat books with the “Requiem” label. What books are impacted by “Requiem” and how does “Requiem” forward Damian’s story of his death?
Harras: The Bat related books are “Batgirl,” “Batman And Robin” is a big one obviously, that’s going to have a big ripple affect!
Chase: “Catwoman” will feel ripples —
Harras: — “Teen Titans” with Red Robin, really any book that was connected with Batman is impacted in some way by Damian. They will have individual reactions, and some will be more profound than others, as we move forward.
Chase: A lot of how they react has to do with the repercussions of “The Death Of The Family” as well, how they feel about Batman because of that story.
We’ve gotten teases that the next Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo Batman story will be even greater in scope than “Death of the Family.” What can you tell us about it? Like “Night Of The Owls” and “Death,” is there a very specific villain at the center of it?
Harras: There is a very specific plan. [Laughs] It’s a very detailed story, we know exactly where it’s going, it will be very big in scope, it’s going to take people by surprise as to what the story is and where it takes us.
Chase: And much like the death of Damian, we’re not going to tell you! [Laughter]
Speaking about “Batman” #17, days before the issue was supposed to officially come out it was leaked online. As you go forward and you have things like this next Snyder/Capullo storyline that seems like it’s going to be just as big, what are the steps you and DC are doing to address and deal with advanced piracy?
Harras: I would say we’re always very careful here when we want to keep things a surprise, when we want to keep things under wraps not to spoil it. This thing that happened was something that was surprising to all of us, but we handled and dealt with, and I think the game plan here is to keep the story surprises coming no matter what.
Chase: We do our upmost to make sure that doesn’t happen, but sometimes unfortunately it does. Certainly nothing’s coming from inside editorial — we’re very good at keeping our mouths closed about these things! Things happen; unfortunately, things happen.
Before you go, we talked a lot about new title launches and their impact on the editorial and business side of DC — but for you two, which of the new books we just announced are you personally most excited for?
Harras: I think there’s a lot of great stuff coming out! Again Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s “Superman Unchained,” the pages coming in look amazing and I think that’s really going to astound people because [Lee’s] just doing fantastic work. With all of these books, with “Batman/Superman,” with the new Green Lantern teams coming on it is using the New 52 as a mantra, an infusion of excitement and new directions for all these characters. That’s the most exciting aspect for my job and what we’re.
Chase: I’m very excited about the Superman line as a whole. I just think everything that’s going on right now interests me, in “Superboy” in “Superman” in “Supergirl” and “Superman Unchained” and “Batman/Superman.” I just think there is some fantastic stuff happening in the Super world, and I think people are really going to respond well to what’s coming up in the next few months!
Keep your eyes on this space for more B&B as Bob and Bobbie return later this month to answer fan questions! In fact, submit your question for them right here!