CHICAGO DAY 2: New 'Challengers of the Unknown,' Richard Corben Monthly Announced, DC Teams with Aspen

of the Unknown"

DC Comics began the day at WizardWorld Chicago with the unveiling of several new series and mini-series and an announcement of collaboration with another comics company in their Future of the DC Universe Panel Saturday morning.

One of the first books talked about was a new Elseworlds book titled "Batman: Detective #27." It will be written by Michael Uslan with pencils by former Starman artist Peter Snejberg.

"Batman: Detective #27" tells the tale of a secret society of detectives known only by their numbers. Editor Michael Carlin said "A young Bruce Wayne will become Detective number 27 ... to stop a 100-year-long plan that started with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Michael Uslan is primarily known as a film producer, notably on the Batman films.

Editor Michael Carlin noted the reduction in Elseworlds production of late, saying "We're trying to put the luster back on them."

Building on the success of the Cartoon Network's "Teen Titans" series, DC announced "Teen Titans Go" which will be written by comicbookresources.com contributor J. Torres. That book will hit the stands in November.

Following with animated related news, Paul Dini was on hand to talk about his new DCU project, "Batman: Harley & Ivy."

"Bruce Timm and I started this about eight years ago as a follow up to Mad Love," Dini said. "It's three issues of madness with the girls running around doing crazy things."

The theme of women in Gotham City continued with a look at "Catwoman: When In Rome." This will be the first project of the returning, and now DC exclusive, team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. The mini-series will serve to fill in readers on what happened when Catwoman dropped out of the "Dark Victory" story line.

Geoff Johns was brief in speaking about upcoming events on his team book, "JSA."

"Crimson Avenger comes back and she's really mad at Wildcat and she's going to kill him a lot." That story will be followed up with a Thanksgiving follow-up to the hardcover JLA/JSA team-up "Virtue & Vice," followed in turn by "Black Reign," a crossover with the Johns scripted "Hawkman."

In keeping with team talk, Carlin revealed plans for future "JLA" story arcs by saying "It's tough to come up with stuff to keep it fresh." That's why DC has commissioned story arcs from many creative teams, including runs by writers Denny O'Neill, Howard Chaykin, Dan Slott, and Gail Simone.

The one-time "Uncanny X-Men" team of John Byrne and Chris Claremont will also be turning in six issues of the title.

"I'm very curious to see what this turns out to be," Carlin said. "It will help set up a new series for next year with John Byrne."

Greg Rucka turned talk to that of a specific JLA member by discussing his upcoming run on "Wonder Woman." "The first issue is called 'The Mission.' It's your primer to the run, he said.

The following arc, "Down to Earth," will culminate in the anniversary issue #200, which will run 64 pages and include excerpts from the book of essays and speeches that Wonder Woman has released in the story and gets her into trouble.

Rucka also took the opportunity to announce that, following Phil Noto's covers on issues #198 and 199, Adam Hughes replacement as regular cover artist will be previous Rucka-Wonder Woman collaborator J.G. Jones.

"Give us the first five," Rucka said, "and I think we'll get you good."

Switching gears a bit, Editor Matt Idelson announced a new series called "Toe Tags," which will attempt to bring horror back into the DCU fold. Filmmaker George Romero will be lending his name to the first run of the title and it will feature work both written and inspired by him.

"He always had an interest in writing comics," said Idelson. Artwork will be provided by Richard Corben.

A new "Challengers of the Unknown" to be created by Howard Chaykin drew approval from the audience. In an attempt to get different slants on DC properties, the title is actually being edited by WildStorm editor Scott Dunbier.

Editor-in-Chief Dan Didio closed out the panel with the announcement that Aspen Studios will be doing some work with DC in the near future as Michael Turner, Talent Caldwell and Peter Steigerwald joined the panel. A recent "Teen Titans" variant cover was fans' "first clue," he said.

"Talent Caldwell will be working on a six-issue [Superman] stunt leading into the new creative teams," Didio said in reference to the overhaul of the Superman titles coming in 2004.

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