Old School was the name of the game in Charlotte, NC this afternoon, when DC Comics opened up the Heroes Convention with their "DC Nation" panel. Sitting on the dais were Executive Editor Dan DiDio, "52" editor Michael Siglain and Coordinating Editor Jann Jones, along with artists Jamal Igle, Ethan Van Sciver and an alpaca )the alpaca comes in a bit later).
The crowd laughed when DiDio introduced Jamal Igle as "The man who protects Nightwing from me." Indeed, the lists of DC characters like Nightwing who are living on "borrowed time" as well as those killed over the past few years popped-up constantly during the session, with some interesting comments from the creators.
After jokingly reminding everybody that what happens in the room stays in the room, DiDio had a serious question for the audience, asking those in attendance if the current state of the DC Universe, especially "52" and "Countdown," is making sense. The answer was a resounding "Yes!" from the crowd, and DiDio explained why that was important. "The main thing is to coordinate the DC Universe to where it's moving in real time," DiDio said. "Each month, stories in DC will reflect what's going on in 'Countdown.' If it's an important scene, you'll see it from different angles [in different books]. The same event might be seen from several points of view."
A question came from the audience about the cryptic clues seen on Rip Hunter's chalkboard in "52" and whether they have all been answered. That subject was tackled by both DiDio and Michael Siglain, who confirmed that time is still broken in the DCU.
At this point, DiDio paused and asked the crowd if they liked the weekly book concept, and was met with a definitive roar of approval from those in attendance. The cheers quickly turned to boos, however, after the crowd heard his answer to a remark about the death of the Question. A man near the front asked why DC had killed the Question when it appeared the character was at the height of his popularity. DiDio answered the man with a question of his own.: "How many people cared til lwe killed him?"
DiDio's answer referred not just to the Question, but also to Ted Kord, the late Blue Beetle. DiDio described Kord as an overweight heart attack victim who was flopping around the "Birds of Prey" book when the decision was made to kill him. "We made him more interesting so his death could be more interesting," DiDio said. "And we're sorry."
Jann Jones told the story of how she first learned of the Beetle's impending death and characterized her reaction as, "Aww, you made him cool and killed him."
Above all, the biggest news of the day was the announcement of both an end and a new beginning for the Flash. Joking around with Bob Wayne, who was on the phone from the Wizard World convention in Philadelphia, DiDio said they would never do such a thing as cancel "The Flash" with #13 and then send out false solicitations for #14 and 15. It turned out, however, that's exactly what DC did, with #13 actually ending the current "The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive" series.
The next words DiDio uttered were enough to cause everyone in the room to go crazy: "Mark Waid back on 'Flash.'"
Coming up in September, a special one shot called "All Flash" #1 will be released, and it will be written by legendary Flash author Mark Waid. Then, sometime in the fall, fans will see the monthly "The Flash" book back in action - which doesn't mean that future title comes complete with a new #1 issue. When a fan asked why DC chose to reboot the title again so quickly, DiDio answered back, "Who said it was a reboot?"
After that exchange, the word "Flash" became just another way to say "no comment," as the DC creators were tight-lipped about anything pertaining to Barry Allen, Bart Allen and the rest of the Flash family.
One of the next questions inspired an interesting discussion of what the purpose of comics actually is. A fan asked if there was a point to the "Amazons Attack" crossover, and DiDio again answered with a question of his own, asking what books the man read.
"'Green Lantern' and 'Batman,'" the fan anwered.
"Entertainment," DiDio said. "That's your answer. Our goal is to entertain." He added, however, "Yes, there was a point to 'Amazons Attack' and maybe it's possible something could happen to Wonder Girl during the event that might cause her to spin out into her own mini-series later this year. Also there might be another story or two about Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters following the event."
Touching on another issue with fans, DiDio talked about the increasingly popular belief that many comics are "written for the trade" now. A fan brought up Paul Dini's work on "Detective Comics," which has been characterized by featuring stories that are one and two-issues long, and asked if there could be more comics like that in DC's future. "I agree that you should get something out of every comic you buy," DiDio said. "It should feel complete."
Along similar lines, Ethan Van Sciver brought up "Green Lantern" #9, saying that it was a one-off, while the rest of the panel suggested readers check out "Jonah Hex," which is mainly composed of one-issue stories as well.
DC fans praised the new "Justice Society of America" title, with one man saying he'd never collected comics before and that the Geoff Johns title got him hooked. Now, he said, he and his father both read the series, while his brother has started reading "Teen Titans." Another fan said that he enjoyed the series because of the older characters who were referenced in the first few issues. "The ones we killed?" DiDio joked.
For anyone looking to get an idea of what the next solo book from the "JSA" family could be, DiDio suggested checking out "JSA Classified." "That's what the book was intended to be," DiDio explained. "A way to see which characters could potentially support their own series." Of those arcs already completed, DiDio reported that Power Girl's had done really well.
Asking the fans who else they'd like to see in "JSA Classified," the resounding favorite was Dr. Midnite, who has already starred in the title. Rounding out the top five requests were the Crimson Avenger; another story with Power Girl; Stargirl; and Starman.
The proposed new Dr. Fate book was also discussed, and DiDio indicated that there'd been a slight change of plan. He asked if anyone had heard about "Countdown to Adventure," the title spun out of "52" featuring Adam Strange, Starfire and, the crowd roared, "Animal Man!" DiDio announced that plans are now in the works for "Countdown to Mystery," a companion title that will feature the new Dr. Fate as the lead character.
The always-controversial Jason Todd also got a lot of attention during DC Nation. One fan asked if Jason was beyond redemption, to which Michael Siglain answered, "As of issue #27 [of 'Countdown]." However, that didn't stop the fans -- and DiDio-- from speculating about the former Robin's future in the DC universe. Todd's name was brought up again in a group that included Donna Troy and Kyle Rayner, by a fan who asked if these characters would form a new version of the Challengers of the Unknown."
DiDio suggested, "Instead of the unknown, how about calling them 'Challengers from Beyond,'" after which DiDio was hit by a pen from Jann Jones' direction and told he couldn't say anything else. Insisting that he was "just speculating," DiDio brought up the different worlds in the Multiverse and how it could be possible that a group of heroes would travel to the different worlds with their adventures contained in a series of one-shots.
Under threat of assault, DiDio again said he was again just speculating.
In regards to the Multiverse, DiDio did confirm that, "New Earth is New Earth. One thing we want to make clear is that this is a new Multiverse. There are real rules to the Multiverse and how it works."
A running joke throughout the session involved a fan who was sitting in the middle of the room. Every time DiDio would ask for questions, the man would hold up a t-shirt or some other prop. Eventually this fan was brought up to stand behind the panel, holding up items from the bag he brought with him, such as "Got Alpaca?" and other DC t-shirts as questions were taken.
When anther fan asked for an update on "Batman," DiDio said, "We're waiting for scripts." A question was then asked about the "Batmen of All Nations" story arc writer Grant Morrison has promised.
"Are we going to see Batman in a sombrero or what?" asked a fan. At the same time, the fan behind the panel held up a "Many Faces of Kiss" t-shirt as both the audience and panel couldn't help but laugh.
Other topics breached during the panel included:
- Barry Allen coming back - "No comment."
- What's going to happen to Kyle Rayner - Van Sciver said that the future of Kyle and the Ion persona will be answered in "Sinestro Corps" #1.
- Are there any plans for the 50 th anniversary of the Legion of Super Heroes coming next year - DiDio confirmed there were plans for the Legion next year, and also that the Legion characters currently appearing in the "Lightning Saga" storyline in "JLA" and "JSA" will be making an appearance in "Action Comics" soon.
- Will there be a Red Robin solo book - Michael Siglain said, "He has to make it out of Countdown first," which seems to indicate that Jason Todd is in fact the Red Robin seen in the infamous "Countdown" teaser image, despite Dan DiDio's contradictory remarks in the past.
- Will any Vertigo characters like Swamp Thing or Constantine appear in the DCU- DiDio said that he didn't want any mature reader books to cross over, because of the all-ages nature of the DCU's audience.
- Where is Cassandra Cain AKA Batgirl -Michael Siglain said, "She's around and you will see her soon."
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