CCI Day 2: WB Animation Strikes Back

Fans of all ages were treated to a whole lot of animated antics from the enthusiastic staff of WB Animation in one of the best run panels of the convention. Moderator Sam Register from Cartoon Network came out with all of the energy of a motivational speaker, urging the crowd towards more and more cheering.

On hand for Q&A was voice talents for Robin, Raven and Beast Boy, actor Ron Perlman (who played "Hellboy" on the big screen and gives voice to villain Slade on the series) and series producer Glen Murakami.

Register asked Perlman about "Hellboy 2," and Perlman begged ignorance. "They think I'm too irresponsible," he laughed, "so they won't tell me anything. I guess I'll see you all opening night, hopefully I'll know by then."

After showing a music video for the theme song, a lengthy clip of a fight scene with a new villain (in an old outfit) was shown, along with brief clips from the upcoming season. Fans cheered when the familiar lines of Nightwing appeared on screen, swinging a long staff. New team member Terra was closely overlaid with Slade in the clip, implying their stories may be intertwined. A taller, gray haired man was seen who closely resembled many incarnations of Ra's Al Ghul, but the panelists confirmed that Brother Blood would be coming to the show, so the character's red highlighted costume probably imply another kind of immortal than the Demon's Head.

Register was especially prolific with his praise for Glen Murakami. "There would be no 'Teen Titans' without Glen," Register gushed.

As the "Titans" team was ushered off stage, the screen flared to life again, showing scenes from the upcoming season of "Justice League Unlimited." The clip showed several guest stars that have previously been announced -- Captain Atom, Green Arrow, Rocket Red, Supergirl, et cetera -- and a network of satellites replacing the Watchtower lost in the season finale, "Starcrossed." It also showed clips from the season opener, with Supergirl, Green Arrow and Green Lantern in action, and a nice coda with Batman.

Then the laughs and surprises started coming. When Register asked the "JLU" team what was different about this season, producer James Tucker, who works closely with Bruce Timm, quickly said, "B'wana Beast," which got a good laugh from the crowd. Register asked about the deluge of new characters, and Timm revealed that they asked for but could not get Blue Beetle for the show, due to a logjam of rights issues. Timm did say that the Power of Shazam would be coming to Cartoon Network, with an appearance this season by Captain Marvel.

As for villains, this season will play host to Lex Luthor and return appearances by Thanagarian antagonists, Amazo, Sersi, and even Brimstone appearing as a runaway killer giant robot created by the government.

Again Register was on hand to give credit. "Remember how I kissed Glen's butt?" Register asked the crowd. "Bruce Timm trained him."

Comic book veteran Dwayne McDuffie talked about bringing in more comic book writers for the show, including J.M. DeMatteis, Warren Ellis, Darwyn Cooke, Ron Zimmerman, and Gail Simone for a "double date" episode involving Green Arrow and Black Canary. McDuffie admitted that Wonder Woman is the toughest character for him to write, "because she's such a symbol. No matter what character trait I try to give her, it's wrong for somebody." Stan Berkowitz, another member of the writing team, said the Flash was a challenge due to the impulse to go overboard with wisecracks.

Finally, the "Justice League" team left and were replaced by a full episode of the new animated series, "The Batman." In the episode, a young Bruce Wayne is the title character, the Batman is chased by the cops as often as he chases villains, and the Man-Bat goes toe to toe with the nascent Bat.

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