The natives, or at least the fans, were getting restless.
Nearly a thousand of them had waited in line early Saturday morning to get wristbands to get into the DCU panel, and waited in another line to get into the room, all for a chance to get to see a special IMAX screening of “Batman Begins,” nearly two weeks before. One in three of them would make it to the show, they wanted to know who the lucky one third were, and DC VP of sales Bob Wayne was up at the dais without reinforcements.
Wayne joked around with the crowd and gave them instructions on what to do if they were part of the lucky few before getting a few snapshots to send to the filmmakers. The cavalry finally arrived in the form of Bob’s fellow panel members: Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Connor, Ethan Van Sciver, Dan DiDio, Scott Beatty, Rags Morales, Sean Murphy and new DC omni-writer Bruce Jones, who has at least four projects with DC coming out in the near future.
After a little shuffling of chairs, Wayne told the crowd that they going to get a few big surprises beyond even the “Batman Begins” screening, but first, a slideshow presentation touching on the future for most of the DCU titles.
The first issues of “Day of Vengeance,” “OMAC Project,” and “Villains United” would all get a third printing, and the premiere issue of “The Rann/Thanagar War” would get its second.
“We’ll keep printing them if you keep buying them.” said Wayne.
The fall will see a new “Absolute Edition” of “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” including a brand new cover by a up-and-coming new talent by the name of George Perez.
Perez will also be doing one of the dual covers that will appear on October’s “Infinite Crisis.” The other artist will be superstar Jim Lee.
Green Lantern fans will be happy, as the new monthly featuring grave-fresh Hal Jordan is launching, with Green Lantern: Rebirth artist Ethan Van Sciver providing the art for issues 4-6. The Green Lantern Corps will return in a new title called, appropriately enough, “Green Lantern Corps,” and the “Rebirth” mini-series will be collected in hardcover format, due out on October.
August will see the release of “Justice,” a new mini-series written by Alex Ross and Jim Krueger, with Alex Ross painting over pencils by Doug Braithewaite.
Rob Liefeld returns to DC and the characters that brought him into comics when he a pencils a “Teen Titans” arc featuring the return of Hawk and Dove. The arc will be written by “Bird”-friendly Gail Simone.
Superman will have a full year, handling the rise of magic in his world, the fallout from the OMAC project and the return of Bizarro. The DCU’s other resident Kryptonian, Kal’s cutie cousin Kara, will have her fair share of problems when she tries to adapt to life on Earth in the new ongoing “Supergirl” title, written by Jeph Loeb.
The “Showcase Presents” line will debut in the fall, providing 500 pages of black and white for several of DC’s charactesr, including Batman, Superman, and the Wild West’s ugliest lawman, Jonah Hex.
Hex will also star in his own new ongoing series by the writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. Each issue will feature a self contained story, a different cover artist, including a beautiful shot of Hex’s ugly mug by Frank Quietly, and, as Palmiotti put it,”A whole lotta people dying of lead poisoning.”
Two of Bruce Jones’ many, many projects will be a new Vigilante series and a new Warlord series. “Vigilante,” with art by Ben Oliver, is a very, very dark take on the subject, the new “Warlord” series will be more an adult take on Travis Morgan’s adventures in a mythical realm than a sword and sorcery romp.
War comic lovers will get a double shot of Sergeant Rock and Easy company with a third archive collection and a new mini-series written and drawn by Joe Kubert, entitled “Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy.”
July will be an all-star month when Jim Lee and Frank Miller’s highly anticipated new take on Batman bows in “All-Star Batman and Robin.” The All-Star line will continue in November with Frank Quietly and Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman, which promises to be a nice meaty comic in a decompression era.
“There’s more info and just stuff in each issue than there is in a whole year of most other comics.” said Bob Wayne.
The All-Star line, which will not, unfortunately, include “All-Star Ambush Bug,” will be an iconic, stand alone take on the characters. They’re not designed to fit in between issues of existing series, and should be enjoyed as stories unto themselves.
The slide presentation out of the way, Wayne revealed the first of the new surprises to the crowd: four minutes of footage and cast and crew interviews from “Batman Begins,” which would have been great, had the sound worked. Left with no sound, Wayne and Palmiotti offered up their own alternate dialogue for the silent scenes.
“Will the screening be like this?” deadpanned some one in the crowd.
“Only one of us is picking the color of the bracelets that get to go, if you know what I mean,” Wayne fired back. The wristbands to get into the event came in three colors, one of which would be chosen to select who go see the screening.
With timely intervention from DC President and apparent AV nerd Dan Didio, the footage ran again, this time with actual dialogue which did not, strangely, include mention of Katie’s love for Jimmy Palmiotti but still got a rousing ovation from the excited crowd.
After the mini screening, it was time for DiDio to announce the big surprise of the panel; the signing of Marvel superstars Adam and Andy Kubert to three year exclusive contracts at DC.
“We’re doing this because we want the best talent in order to make the best DCU possible” said DiDio.
The announcement also means that there will three Kuberts on the DC payroll next year. What the Kubert brothers will be working on is still a mystery and the panel members remained mum.
As excited as the crowd was about the Kubert announcement, the question on everybody’s mind was which color wristband was going to get them into the movie: red, orange or blue. Before making the big announcement, Bob Wayne revealed that nobody was leaving the panel empty handed. The two thirds that didn’t get to go the special screening would receive Batman Begins poster and a valuable variant edition of Superman 204.
The winning color was blue, which is why you’re reading this report now instead of Batman Begins review. This reporter’s red wristband didn’t get him into the screening, but it did get him a nice chunk of change for the Superman variant and time to meet his deadlines.
The cheer from the lucky blue few was loud enough to ring the ears was accompanied by the full array of hugs, high fives and dances of victory. The announcement was the last thing in the panel. That honor was reserved for a little clarification on DiDio’s possibly joking comments at yesterday’s panel that he wouldn’t need a Flash writer after “Infinite Crisis.”
“What can I say? Crisis and Flash, they go together” said DiDio.
Somewhere, Wally West is suddenly very, very nervous.