Saturday's DC panel at WonderCon in San Francisco looked like the packed bench of the McCarthy show trials, as somebody on stage quipped (but there were too many of them to tell who). Bob Wayne was joined by Jeph Loeb, Bob Schreck, Mark Chiarello, Mark Verheiden, Alex Ross, Greg Rucka, Geoff Johns, Gail Simone, and Dan Didio. And yet it was the bench itself that was pleading the fifth, no matter how much the audience wanted to know about "DC Countdown" and how it will affect every DC storyline for the rest of the year.
All Dan Didio would tell those assembled was that "DC Countdown" will "look at the DC Universe to figure out what makes it tick," defining what it is to be a hero or a villain, and spell out the magic and cosmic elements of the universe to make it "a cohesive world, and add a level of depth."
Jeph Loeb reminded visitors that "Superman/Batman" #19 will lead to the return of Supergirl in the summer (more on those plans can be found in CBR's interview with Loeb last month), with Ian Churchill art that's "incredibly detailed, there's so much love in it." Meanwhile, "Superman/Batman" is heading to a wrap up point. "Issue 25 ties up just about everything that's happened since the first issue. You can read them as arcs, but there have been certain things that people saw as plot holes, and others recognized as clues." Loeb is following Didio's philosophical lead, and trying to find the inner nature of the characters, "not only seeing how they fit in the world, but how they fit in all universes."
Mark Verheiden said he' be taking "Superman" "in a different direction." When pressed on the direction, he replied: "Linear."
Gail Simone's "Action Comics," although including the "punching and kicking" will "be with Lois and Lana as someone Superman might actually love, and not just bitching and whining." Simone will also be writing "Villains Unlimited," which is going to be "just wrong," Simone said. "Sexy romance, punching, kicking, shooting; and all of it is just wrong. It focuses on the villains who don't want to go along with the rest of the villains. It does have some violence, yes. It makes you feel dirty after you read it, but in a good way."
Geoff Johns kept mum about "Green Lantern," except to say that he's been doing research to prepare for the return of Hal Jordan, including spending time at Edwards Air Base with the test pilot department, and checking all his facts with a major. "Everything could happen," he said, "except for the ring." He's also just about prepared to talk about the upcoming Teen Titans/Outsiders crossover, which is another result of DC's long term plotting. "It's been building up for a long time, we've been planning it for two years. And it's going to make a lot of people throw the book and say 'What the hell is going on?'" After that, there will be a new penciller on the book, who Bob Wayne admitted under pressure would be Ivan Reis.
Alex Ross is bringing the "Paradise X" team (Doug Braithwaite and Jim Kreuger) to DC to create "Justice," this time "doing final art painting over Doug's pencils, based on my style." "Justice" is Ross's JLA as "the ultimate Superfriends payoff, the Justice League vs. the Legion of Doom or whatever," featuring over 50 villains including Luthor, Brainiac, the Joker, and Cheetah. "As much as I like to go back to the classics, it's seeing it through my filter. These guys are supposed to be horrifying. The Parasite is a big burn scar from head to toe. Now this is a toy you can play with with your child."
The only story hint Ross gave was that "the JLA get killed off in the first ten pages - just kidding." However, he did reveal that the press release cover for DC Countdown "is not the final cover." Jeph Loeb said that the big change was the price, but apparently the real cover will show which character dies (though Greg Rucka is now maintaining it's Paul Levitz).
Interestingly, this all led to a discussion about the Spectre, who "has to go somewhere" after "Green Lantern: Rebirth," Didio said; and the new Spectre will be trying to destroy all magic in the DC Universe.
Ross has also committed to doing monthly covers for JSA, speaking warmly of its internal coherence. "It's got big plans, a three year plan, and almost every DC character gets at least a tangential relationship to this book. Most books have, like JLA has 15 titles. I would consider that the most important characters in the DC Universe are in this team, and they're all written by one writer, with one voice. You don't have to deal with, like, which character is blind this month." Since this was an obvious reference to the preview of Rucka's "Wonder Women" (and giving away the plot), Rucka bristled "now you owe me a cover."
Otherwise, the assembled panel repeatedly kept to their "loose lips sink ships" policy.
Well, Bob Schreck did claim that, in "All Star Batman & Robin," Robin will come into the Batcave, see the place is trashed, and believe they've been attacked until Batman and Catwoman emerge looking decidedly disheveled. It was not clear if he was joking, but he did tell us that the Frank Miller / Jim Lee Robin will be Dick Grayson. He also said that when he told Lee that he was working with Frank Miller, "you could here him warbling like Daffy Duck."