Fans packed in for the WonderCon panel on “DC Nation,” the block of animated series featuring DC Comics characters that airs Saturdays at 10 a.m. on Cartoon Network. Peter Girardi of Warner Bros. Animation led a panel featuring Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman of “Young Justice,” Jim Krieg and Giancarlo Volpe of “Green Lantern: The Animated Series,” and Ben Jones and Lauren Faust of the “DC Nation” shorts, brief 75-second snippets that air during breaks in the full-length shows.
First up was a reel of highlights from the shorts, including pieces featuring a comedic take on Animal Man; a more serious Doom Patrol; a team-up between teenage versions of Wonder Girl, Supergirl and Batgirl; and a Batman short created by Aardman Animations, the company behind the “Wallace & Gromit” movies.
“The biggest challenge has been fitting everything into 75 seconds,” Jones said of the shorts, but he also noted that the short format allows for the freedom to explore different characters. “I’ve been bugging Warner Bros. for eight years now to make ‘Doom Patrol,'” he said. He teased upcoming shorts featuring Amethyst, Thunder and Lightning (the daughters of Black Lightning), the Atom and Vibe. For the second season, he said he was hoping to feature Starro the Conqueror as well as a version of the Justice League as animals, with designs by Stephen DeStefano.
Faust, the creator of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic,” discussed her motivation for creating the team of Wonder Girl, Supergirl and Batgirl. “I really wanted to put a super-spin on being a teenage girl,” she said. She talked about tweaking the personalities of the three characters, focusing on Supergirl as someone who “has all the same powers as Superman, and Superman gets all the credit,” Batgirl as a superhero fan who has action figures of supervillains in her bedroom, and Wonder Girl as an isolated Amazon who doesn’t understand the world of men. “It’s a honor to take these beloved characters and have fun with them,” Faust said.
Next came a preview reel for the “Green Lantern” series, with appearances by the Red Lanterns, Carol Ferris as Star Sapphire, Hawkman, and Saint Walker, who drew the biggest cheers from the crowd.
“It’s challenging because of the CG limitations,” Volpe said about the biggest difficulty of working on the series. “There’s this myth that because it’s CG you can do anything.” But he hoped that the audience doesn’t notice any constraints on the final product.
Krieg said that the first 13 episodes of the series will be about the Green Lantern Corps facing off against the Red Lanterns and their invasion led by Atrocitus. “There’s a lot of fighting and comedy and some romance,” he said. Both Volpe and Krieg praised the show’s voice actors, especially lead Josh Keaton, who plays Hal Jordan. They asked the audience for suggestions of characters they’d like to see in upcoming episodes, with Sinestro’s name rising above the din. “We’ll listen to all of those suggestions,” Krieg said.
The “Young Justice” preview reel came next, and it was clearly the show most attendees were excited about. Glimpses of Zatanna, Vandal Savage, Arsenal and Blue Beetle (the Jaime Reyes version) drew the biggest applause in the preview, which ended with the ominous title “Young Justice: Invasion.”
Vietti explained that “Invasion” is the subtitle for the series’ second season (which will premiere as soon as the first season wraps), a long arc that he described as “sort of a 20-chapter novel.” The writers discussed what kind of big story to tackle for the second season, and “we decided alien invasions would be pretty cool. We’re doing a big long story about aliens invading the Earth.” The saga will include at least nine different alien races from the DCU, as well as a role for Lobo. While the first season was more grounded and real, in the second season, “the dam has burst wide open,” and the team will deal with all sorts of out-there adventures, including taking a tip to Rann, the adopted homeworld of Adam Strange.
Vietti teased upcoming characters (the show’s first season featured 179 different DCU characters, and the second will bring that number up to 241), with Blue Beetle drawing the biggest applause. “He does have a pretty big role,” Vietti said. Far fewer people cheered for Lagoon Boy, who will also become part of the team.
The Justice League is “definitely back” in the second season, Weisman said. “They’re going to be unable to help our team out as much as in Season 1. It really forces the team into the frontline position of defending the Earth from the invasion,” Weisman said. “One of the fun things about making a point that we’re on a parallel universe is torturing you all,” Weisman said about teasing the presence of familiar characters. He also plugged the “Young Justice” tie-in comic book, saying, “We’re introducing characters in the comic that haven’t been in the show.”
Fan questions speculated about the possible presence of various characters in the “DC Nation” shows. “We’ll be seeing some characters like them,” Krieg said when asked about Kyle Rayner or Guy Gardner showing up on “Green Lantern.” “I have ideas on how to do it,” Volpe said about a possible “Blackest Night” storyline.
Weisman told a young Pied Piper fan that “it’s all possible” when it comes to including characters in “Young Justice,” and assured a Justice Society fan that “Jay Garrick’s got a much bigger role in Season 2.”
Girardi declined to say anything about the upcoming new DC Nation Batman series, but he did say that any of the shorts had the potential to be expanded into their own full-length show, “if we have something that breaks out and you guys love it.”