SAN DIEGO, DAY FOUR: Chaykin, Willingham, Simone on JLA

by  in Comic News Comment
SAN DIEGO, DAY FOUR: Chaykin, Willingham, Simone on JLA

In a notable show of restraint, DC Comics managed to have a major panel Sunday at Comic-Con
in San Diego without mentioning yet another Marvel Comics creator
that they’d managed to lure over to DC exclusivity with a better offer
(presumably including a fat Warner Brothers check).

They didn’t need to, though: The World’s Greatest Super Teams panel had
enough big surprises on its own, including the prospect of a Howard Chaykin
Justice League story.

No, Joe Kelly isn’t leaving “JLA” — not exactly. Rather, he’s doing a
year-long sequel to “Action Comics” #775, “What’s So Funny About Truth,
Love and the American Way” (which editor Mike Carlin on Sunday called “the
best Superman comic in years”), which pit Superman against a DCU superteam
that bore a striking resemblance to the then-red-hot Authority. Next year,
instead of merely butting heads with the more violent, more pro-active
Elite, members of the Justice League will be working with them, in the
pages of “Justice League: Elite,” with art by Doug Mahnke, in a storyline
spinning out of “JLA” #100.

“It’s going to be a darker book, it’s going to be a very aggressive
story,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be a wild, wild ride. … It’s going to
be rough and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

And if it’s enough fun, there will be more of it: “It’s going to be like
Season One. Hopefully you guys like it, and then there will be Season Two.”

So while Kelly is busy with that, other writers will be taking their
turns telling a JLA story.

“I really do believe every great creator has in them one great JLA story
in them at least,” Carlin said. Announced creative teams for these arcs
include: Denny O’Neil (with art by Tan Eng Huat) in #91-93, Chris Claremont
and John Byrne in #94-99, and then, in no officially stated order following
#100, Howard Chaykin, Bill Willingham, Gail Simone, Dan Slott (“Arkham
Asylum”) and Killian Plunklett.

“We’re going to have a real good time exploring what the JLA means to a
lot of people,” Carlin said.

Before that point, though, Kelly will keep the JLA busy.

“The biggest thing we’ve got coming up is ‘Trial By Fire,'” Kelly said.
The storyline “wraps up some of the stuff from ‘The Obsidian Age.’ Some of
the characters who have been out of the book for a while come back, and you
find out what they’ve been doing. We have a new villain who really, really
kicks the crap out of the JLA, which I always like, because I like being
abusive to the JLA.”

Issues #83-90 will be what “seem like a series of one issue stories,”
Carlin said, with art by Chris Cross, including the resolution of the
Batman/Wonder Woman romance story thread.

In other JLA news, the sequel to “Formerly Known as the Justice League”
planned for next year has the working title of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not
the Justice League.”

And while “JLA/Avengers” #4 is still being penciled by George Pérez, the
first issue is already at the printers, and the other issues are at stages
in between, but “it’s really happening this time,” writer Kurt Busiek said.

Other superteams also got their moment in the spotlight at the panel.
And while writer Geoff Johns was tightlipped all weekend about plans for
the new “Teen Titans” series, he did give out a little information:

“I think almost every Titan is going to go through some major, major
changes in the first arc,” Johns said. “After that, we’ll be doing Brother
Blood. … That’ll be the return of Raven, pretty much the Raven you all
know and love, with a spin on her. … I don’t want to talk about who the
villain will be in the third arc, but he’s really, really cool.”

Johns was much more willing to talk in detail about what’s coming up in
“JSA” … and quite a ways into the future, at that.

“We have it plotted through issue #75,” he said, “And I don’t plan on
stopping after 75.”

After the current storyline wraps in issue 51, new series artist Don
Kramer arrives in issue 52 for a two part storyline featuring the Crimson
Avenger coming to dish out some vengeance on Wildcat. The story also
explores Wildcat’s nine lives, and how many he has left.

Two holiday issues follow, with #54 being a sequel to the “JLA/JSA:
Virtue and Vice” graphic novel, apparently including both teams getting
together around the dinner table together — something that Batman finds a
little uncomfortable.

Issue 55 is a Christmas issue, with a focus on the “old guard” characters.

“JSA” #56 is the beginning of “Black Reign,” a six-part crossover story
with “Hawkman.” In it, a group of superheroes decides to claim Black Adam’s
country for itself, and how to react tears the JSA down the middle.

“We sort of call it the civil war of the JSA,” Johns said. “When you
read ‘Black Reign,’ the first two parts, you’re just going to be like ‘hey,
they can’t do this,’ but we’ll do it anyway.”

Each of the two books will be twice-monthly for the duration of the
storyline, making it a six-issue weekly storyline.

“Right after ‘Black Reign,’ we’re going to do a story called ‘Power
Trip,'” Johns said. The storyline runs three or four issues and “We’re
going to do Power Girl’s origin. It’s going to happen in space, and that’s
all I can tell you.”

For those wanting to know if Sandy is (still) really dead, Johns told
attendees that Cave Carson will be coming by to address the issue.

And finally, look for the miniseries that relaunched the Justice Society
of America, “JSA Returns,” to be gathered into a trade paperback in the
coming year.

Judd Winick’s newly launched “Outsiders” series got its turn in the
spotlight at the panel, with Winick talking about what he wanted when asked
to do the book.

“Can I have a little more violence, can I have a little harsher
language?” he said. “And that’s where it started. And the scripts I handed
in were a little tougher. They’re going to be sort of like bounty hunters
… and try and find these guys. … They’re not going to wait for guys to
do something, they’re going to go out and find them.”

Winick said Gorilla Grodd is not the true villain in the first story
arc, and to look for Huntress to appear in the series at some point.

In other superteam news, look for the Legion of Super-Heroes to be more
closely tied into the rest of the DC Universe in 2004, although Carlin
wouldn’t give out details in the absence of that book’s creative team.

And in addition to her JLA story arc, Gail Simone will also be doing a
six issue “Rose and Thorn” miniseries in 2004, with covers by Adam Hughes.

“It’s going to be a clean start, but it’s the same character,” Carlin said.