C2E2: DC Universe Panel

CBR's coverage of the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo continues with the DC Universe panel. On hand for the panel are Bill Willingham, Paul Levitz, Brian Azzarello, James Robinson, and editor Ian Sattler. Hot topics included Robinson's issue-specific plans for "Justice League," Azzarello's potential Second Wave, and the status of resurrected heroes.

Sattler noted that the DC Universe panel at Chicago Comic-Con had advised readers to watch Green Arrow, who, with developments in "Cry for Justice" has become a central (and controversial) character.

Robinson began by discussing "War of the Superman," which will replace the regular Superman books in May and feature a war that takes exactly 100 minutes to fight. Azzarello followed by talking about "First Wave," which throws together Batman, Doc Savage, the Spirit, and other pulp characters in a new universe. "I really tried to approach [the Spirit] not as a fan, but more as someone who really liked that character," he said. "When you come at these characters as a fan, you're a bit too referential." Instead, he wanted to write new stories that would say something original about the character.

"I filled my brain with too many Legionnaires and home planets," Levitz joked, about his return to "Legion of Super Heroes." He said he enjoyed the power of god that a writer enjoys over his characters. "When you go to a high school reunion, you don't really get to decide who had a failed marriage."

Sattler said Willingham's latest issue of "Justice Society" was the bleakest thing he'd ever read. "It does get a little bit worse before, hopefully, it gets better," Willingham said. He also joked that JSA has "been conveniently subtitled, 'How long is Obsidian going to remain that damn egg?'--the answer is twenty years, at least."

Sattler opened the floor to questions.

A fan asked, "After 'War of the Supermen,' will there still be 10 planets rotating our sun?" obliquely referring to the status of New Krypton. Robinson answered, "Not too long ago, Pluto was declared to be not a planet."

Will there be a Flash Secret Origin one-shot or miniseries? "Sooner than you think," Sattler said.

Who is going to kneel, General Lane or Zod? "They both kneel at the same time and bump heads," Sattler joked.

Will we see the traveling Legion or the Legion in the past in Levitz's "Legion?" Levitz said that his book will pick up a lot of the material established by Geoff Johns, but the specific points the fan mentioned were addressed by Robinson in "Adventure Comics."

The next fan asked about the structural aspect of DC, now a part of DC Entertainment. "I don't get to walk into my office anymore," former publisher Levitz joked, "unless I want to talk to Diane [Nelson]." Levitz said that DC had been stable for a long time and change can be scary, but ultimately "exciting things are ahead." "I have every hope that the new guys are cooking as hard as we were" in Levitz's early days of "Dark Knight," he said.

Next question: is the third-generation Justice League (Dick Grayson as Batman and so on) settle in, or will the return of Bruce Wayne upset the table? "The team you seen in 'Justice League' will be in place for quite some time. And the stories you see are going to be so big that you'll forget they're not the Big 7." Robinson added that the series would be more integrated into the DCU than it has been in years past, and that each story would build off the last rather than being "miniseries within the series."

Matt Sturges is interested in bringing back one of the Thunderbolt characters in "JSA All-Stars," Willingham said, though he doesn't know if it will be Jakeem Thunder or another version. Willingham said he'd like to use Amazing Man himself but "only Geoff Johns has the ability to write a 30-person superhero team and give them all reasonable time. Matt and I do not have that ability, so we're trying to pare it down a bit."

Wally West "definitely will make an appearance" in Robinson's "Justice League," and Dick Grayson, whether Batman or not, will be on the team. "To my knowledge, he's going to be Batman for some time."

Sattler said there are no plans for any "Year One" miniseries at this time.

Are there any plans for Ralph and Sue Dibny in their current (ghostly) state? "No...ish," Sattler said.

Will the stories teased out in "Justice League" #0 several years ago still play out? "That's a good question," Sattler said, in a way that suggested he wasn't sure.

"Supergirl joins the Justice League in #45, and her and Dick Grayson become their own World's Finest team," Robinson revealed.

A fan asked if there are any plans for Animal Man. "I can't confirm that," Sattler said. "'JLA' #49," Robinson offered.

Are there specific plans for the Anti-Monitor and Darkseid? "Yes," Sattler said.

Robinson said that his initial "Justice League" team was composed of "some characters that I had an affinity for, some of the cast of 'Cry for Justice,' and the graduates of the Titans. But for various reasons, some of those characters were taken away from me." He said that the team seen in #43 would be more or less final, with the addition of rotating heroes specific to a mission.

Azzarello said that, in addition to the Shadow, he would have liked to use the Spider in "First Wave" if DC could have acquired the rights.

A fan asked Levitz whether his business experience now makes him think about whether his writing will sell. "As a writer, you want to write something that's going to get that applause. The most lucrative assignment I ever got was the Superman newspaper strip... which was dropped by the syndicate the day I took over. That was the hardest thing to write, because I'd never met another human who read it." He said he did want his work to sell and succeed, though, as it was good to make a royalty. "But I'm glad I no longer have to worry about the bottom line."

Asked about which genre they'd like to work in, Willingham offered "the near future, like 'Space Cabbie.'" "Every issue would be labelled '0,' in anticipation of the number of readers," he said.

Wildcat will appear in "First Wave," Azzarello said, "but he might not be the Wildcat you recognize."

A fan asked about the status of "First Wave," which was originally described as an ongoing but is now six issues. "Stop catching us on stuff like that," Sattler joked. "I don't come to your job and say, 'well six months ago you said...!"

"I think the title 'First Wave' implies that there's going to be a Second Wave," Azzarello said.

"There's going to be some Multiverse-y stuff in 'Justice League,'" Robinson said, "but maybe not the way you think."

Asked about the differences between Wonder Woman's, Donna Troy's, and Wonder Girl's lassos, Robinson said simply, "'Justice League' #44."

"Wonder Woman" #600, the final issue of Gail Simone's run, sets up J. Michael Straczynski's run that begins in the next issue, Sattler said.

A fan asked if Wild Dog will be appearing in "First Wave." Sattler said that this is his favorite character-and showed Wild Cat as the background on his phone-and joked that he'd have to talk with Azzarello about this.

Could somebody say something nice about Aquaman? "His hair's fantastic!" Robinson said. Sattler added, "He's always been nice to me every time I've met him."

"Vixen will be coming back in a very specific arc" of "Justice League," Robinson said. Cyborg has a supporting role, but this will lead into a bigger arc. He will get a backup story in "Justice League" #48-50. A farewell scene with Plastic Man was cut from issue #41, but "I have a fondness for the character."

Will Robinson write Shazam, as was teased in "Cry for Justice?" "There are plans for him, but it's not me doing him," Robinson said.

Sattler asked fans to recommend books they felt weren't getting enough attention. Suggestions included "Power Girl," "Unwritten," She-Hulk," "Air," and others. When asked about books fans would like to see come back, "Superboy" garnered a response of "sooner than you think" while "Checkmate" prompted Sattler to advise, "Keep your eye on 'Generation Lost.'"

Asked about Justice Leaguers he's excited for readers to get to know, Robinson said, "I haven't really shown you yet what Mikaal Thomas Starman will be like," adding, "I'm very excited about bringing Jesse Quick to the team."

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