In introducing himself at the Sunday Conversation panel at Baltimore Comic-Con, DC Comics Executive Story Editor Ian Sattler said, "I've never missed Baltimore. I was here for Hurricane Con and Sniper Con." He explained that the Sunday Conversation panel, typically hosted by DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, would be managed by himself and "Supergirl" writer Sterling Gates. Sattler then opened the floor to whatever and wherever the fans wanted to take the DC Comics conversation, but warned that it might be like a sausage factory in that attendees might not want to know what happens behind the scenes.
Sattler said the Baltimore convention always seems to hit around football season, and opened the floor to football questions. When asked about the Wildcat offense, Sattler said he'd "prefer the Wild Dog offense." For those not in the know, Ian Sattler is obsessed, and has made it his personal mission to see "Wild Dog" return to print.
"First of all, where is Geoff Johns?" asked a fan. Gates said Johns was in Los Angeles, and that he would personally pass along the fan's disappointment towards Johns' absence.
A fan dressed in a Red Lantern shirt, wearing a red ring, asked why Bruce Wayne needed to come back as "Pirate Batman" and "Puritan Batman." To him, it just didn't seem like Batman. Sattler set the stage for the rest of the room, describing the outfit the fan was wearing, and said that the fan was clearly in rage mode. "If he starts puking blood, we're going to have problems!"
"If that happens, I'm definitely out," said Gates.
Later, the duo confirmed that writer Bill Willingham is indeed off "Justice Society of America" since Willingham got his "Super Nazi" story out of his system. Gates and Sattler riffed on the concept of "Super Nazi Month," throwing out ideas for various Super Nazi concepts, as both believe that Super Nazis are the ultimate foes.
The question of whether it was tough to be professional while being surrounded by cool comics stuff all the time was posed to Gates and Sattler. Sattler said that on his first day with DC, he met Keith Giffen. "For my whole life, I've been a Keith Giffen fan. I hope Keith reads that quote." Knowing that Giffen has a biting personality, Sattler was prepared for the worst. In that first meeting, he and Giffen connected on a football level, Giffen being a Jets fan and Sattler being a Redskins fan. "Every Monday during football season, I talk football with Keith." This has even led to an unpublished "Ambush Bug" cover depicting the Bug as a benched Redskins quarterback.
Gates said his first meeting with "Superman: The Movie" director Richard Donner as his biggest professional fanboy moment.
Asked by a young fan what the Joker's definitive origin was, Gates said that it's all a lie. As seen in "The Dark Knight," the story changes each time the Joker tells it. Another fan suggested that perhaps even the Joker doesn't know what his own origin is.
One fan asked, "What's the sales plateau for a book to reach to determine if it will be produced as a hardcover?" Sattler wished DC's Sales guru Bob Wayne was around, as he didn't have a set number in his mind to provide as the answer. Sattler then went on to say that the staff at DC are fairly successful in projecting those numbers out for books that are more likely to be successful.
A fan commented that "DCU Legacies" has been "awesome." "I just saw George Perez's pages before I left," Sattler said, gushing over the work, specifically citing the scene where everyone in the streets runs away from the Anti-Matter wave.
Sattler and Gates noted how much they liked Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez's art. "I would beat someone up to work with him," Gates said.
The next question came from a Baltimore Comic-Con staffer, who bravely asked, "Since you mentioned that there are no cats you can let out of the bag, are there any catfish you can let out of the bag?" This, of course, was a thinly-veiled way of asking for a scoop on the future of Aquaman. Gates shut that down with a quickly delivered, "Next question."
Another fan asked whether either panelist had been drawn into a comic book. Gates revealed that he's been rendered by Jamal Igle as a Bizarro, coming up in "Supergirl" #56.
While reflecting on a question about which characters the duo would like to see come back, a fan shouted out "Monsieur Mallah and the Brain!"
Sattler replied, "Killing them was one of the happiest moments I've had at DC."
With respect to the Captain Marvel family, Sattler said that Freddie's powers will be dealt with in the next six months. Additionally, "Osiris is out there and Black Adam and Isis will be dealt with in 'Titans.'" Gates tried to stop Sattler from revealing too much, but Sattler said those cats were already out there. Cats that are missing, however, are Billy Batson and Mary Marvel. Sattler assured the crowd, "There is a very specific plan, but we can't do it until some other stories happen first."
A fan asked, "Will we see more of the Time Masters?"
"Are you reading the miniseries?" Sattler replied
"Unless they die in that series. Dun dun duhhhh. Cat bag!"
Damian Wayne was celebrated by attendees for being the devious, violent character that he is. Gates said the character was fun to write. "The dynamic changed so drastically, the dynamic between Batman and Robin is flipped on its head with Batman being the lighter-hearted member of the duo." Gates said this is a fun development that is enhanced by its positioning in the DC Universe.
"'Batman Inc.' in November is the beginning of two years of the craziest Batman story you have ever read," Sattler offered.
Gates said, "Crazier than Pirate Batman? Is he a zebra?" This naturally led Sattler and Gates to another shout-out to Super Nazis and the possibility of having them battle Batman and crew.
Will any new villains be introduced for established heroes? Gates said his own personal mission statement on "Supergirl" is to develop her Rogues Gallery as far as possible, with Superwoman, Silver Banshee, and Bizarrogirl as starters. Sattler said that there have been meetings of the editors, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Dan DiDio where they talked about just that question.
Any plans for characters from Vertigo? Sattler reiterated what he had said the day before in the DC Nation panel: "There is no grand plan to merge the two universes. If it makes sense for the story, we're going to do it."
Any plans for Blue Devil? "Nope."
What about Cassandra Cain? "You will see Cassandra Cain in the DCU, for sure, permanently in 2011. That cat was already half out of the bag," Sattler revealed.
Will either Superboy or Supergirl be recurring "Legion" characters? Lemire's "Superboy" is starting soon and you never have any idea who'll turn up there, the panel teased. As revealed yesterday, the Phantom Stranger will be there.
Is Dan Jurgens coming back to "Booster Gold?" "One thing at a time. Dan's still got five issues of 'Time Masters,'" Sattler said.
Will we see Batgirl interacting with the DCU as a whole? Supergirl is in the next issue of "Batgirl," and they're fighting Draculas. Note on the plural. Sattler and Gates both had high praise for Brian Miller's work on that title. Sattler said, "Brian Miller's Batgirl can do no wrong by me."
A fan asked if anything positive will ever come out of the "Titans" and "Teen Titans" franchises. Sattler announced, "J. T. Krul and Nicola Scott are on the 'Teen Titans' with a preview popping up on The Source soon." The work is "masterfully done," according to Sattler.
Where should fans of Wally West be directing their attention? "It's coming," Gates said. "Geoff Johns is world-building for Barry Allen right now."
Will there be anything with Connor Hawke? Sattler cringed and said, "Probably."
What can we expect of the Red Hood following Winick's "The Red Hood: Lost Days" miniseries? Sattler tackled this one, "That is a major villain in the DCU. That is Dick Grayson's nemesis."
What about the Milestone characters? Sattler tackled that with a half a cat, "Two new Milestone books sometime in 2011, we've already announced one of them as 'Static.' There will be another one."
As the panel wound down, Gates had a request of those assembled. "We live in a world where there is a Green Lantern movie, can we all step back and appreciate that fact?" This, naturally, was met with thunderous applause. With that, the Sunday Conversation in Baltimore drew to a close.