CCI, Day 1: Getting Intimate With The DC Nation

The crowd gathered quickly in Room 5AB to hear DC Comics' second panel at the Comic-Con International in San Diego, and while there wasn't much new information, you'd be hard pressed to find disappointed fans. Led by Dan Didio, the creators attending included Mark Waid ("He is legion, but he is ours" said Didio), Greg Rucka, Steve Wacker and Jnn Jones, with the panel focusing on the weekly series "52."

Didio began by mentioning the DC Nation card and pins being given out were very important and also playfully joked "Nightwing survived!" when a fan with the Nightwing logo shirt walked in.

"What's the matter, you didn't want to buy anything? laughed Didio about the early time of the panel (11:30 a.m.). He spoke of how he wanted to create a strong community with comic book fans and he wants to hear what the audience thought about DC Comics.

"'Scooby Doo' could be your next book," joked Didio to Rucka, when he said fan response determines who stays on which book. Rucks and Didio did some hilarious Scooby impressions, with the former jokingly promising revelations about Velma.

The audience was polled for how they felt about the stories in "52" and applauded heavily for the Montoya story, and Didio jokingly revealed that Rucka wrote many of her scenes. The Ralph Dibny story elicited the strongest response and one fan yelled, "Bring back Sue," in reference to his dead wife.

One fan mentioned he wanted Steel back, and Wacker said "we have big plans" for Steel. "If he survives the series," added Didio. The fan mentioned he had every issue of the "Steel" series and Waid laughed, "You still have all the issues. We made collecting easy." The panelists noted Steel is the heart of "52."

Another fan mentioned he reads "52" every day, reading only "one day's" worth of story per day. It was decided that each week of the comic takes place between a Wednesday and another Wednesday. Asked if anyone on "52" has veto power, Wacker joked he's always telling Waid "no." Rucka praised the entire team on the book, saying it's a collaboration like no other.

As the format of the DC Nation panels allows for the creators to ask the audience questions, Waid asked, "How long till Spider-Man puts his mask back on?"

Some fans wondered if Superman would be seen dealing with the death of Superboy, prompting Didio to say that he didn't want to play the same beats in all the stories and felt the Superman books dealt with it appropriately, as did "Teen Titans." Didio said he was focused on setting things on the right direction in the DCU and the audience cheered.

Rucka also mentioned he's trying to do a Renee Montoya team-up with her partner Crispus Allen, the new Spectre. "It's harder now that she's Supernova," laughed Wacker.

"Dead means dead," said Didio, re-affirming that Superboy, Maxwell Lord and Ted Kord are all dead. He wants to impart a sense of meaning into the big deaths and feels it serves the stories better by leaving the character dead. Rucka added the "Cult Of Conner" in the DCU might just be on to something, so don't discount their theories.

One funny moment happened when a fan dressed as the Spectre was asked why he dressed as that hero, and said he wanted to dress as Mr. Terrific, but it cost too much. "I'm glad you came dressed at all," replied one of the panelists.

width="137" height="190" alt="" align="left" border="0">Expect to see Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, explore the magic side of the DCU in his quest during the series.

"You know it's not the real Hal Jordan that's back?" joked Wacker when the audience was divided on their favorite Green Lantern.

Didio joked about talking about Batgirl, which drew strong booing from the audience, which seemed to surprise the panelists a bit.

"You've got Kurt Busiek writing 'Aquaman,' what else do you want?" asked Wacker when a fan asked when the "real" Aquaman was returning.

The panelists were asked if the Green Lantern Corps would be appearing again, because "they kick the most ass" said the fan. "If only we had a giant segment of this book happening in space," teased Wacker.

"Listen, World's Greatest Detective," said Rucka to a fan dressed as Batman who wanted to know Batwoman's origin. "When you have the clues, then you solve the case" laughed Rucka. The crowd, including Batman, erupted with laughter.

Asked about doing comics for kids, Didio admitted the costs of comics were child-prohibitive and highlighted the Johnny DC line as a way of getting kids into comics. He feels if you tell stories people care about, people will keep reading and demonstrated this by asking audiences if they started most comics with issue #1, comparing superhero comics to soap operas.

Demonstrating his knowledge of all things DC, Mark Waid identified a Batman comic (issue # and series) by a one-line vague description of the cover. He then pulled his Superman cap over his eyes and sank in his seat, acting dejected, "You just broke Mark Waid. You work for Marvel," laughed Rucka.

Asked, "Official Superman origin story: 'Man Of Steel' or 'Birthright'?" Didio answered, "yes." Didio also wouldn't say if the current Superman had ever been a costumed Superboy in his youth.

The discrepancy in Nightwing's behavior in his book and "Outsiders" will be "resolved," said Didio. He also said to stay tuned for big announcements on Saturday involving creators working on Superman, Wonder Woman, and other big DC heroes.

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