A year ago at WonderCon 2016 in Los Angeles, DC Comics announced its initial lineup of "Rebirth" titles and creative teams. WonderCon has returned to Anaheim for its 2017 edition, and brought with it a new "DC Universe: Rebirth" panel showcasing the line on Saturday afternoon. No roster of creators has yet been announced for the panel, but expect plenty of the current Rebirth talent.
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DC All Access host Jason Inman took to the stage as the moderator of a massive panel of DC's creative talent, including the Benson sisters, Sam Humphries, Phil Jimenez, James Tynion IV, Chad Hardin, John Semper Jr and Danny Miki with surprise guest Geoff Johns.
Inman began the panel by asking Johns for his favorite moments of Rebirth. Johns replied by first, thanking the fans for supporting Rebirth across the board. "I've worked with everyone on this panel, and I'm so proud of the work everyone has done," Johns said, before singling out that Jimenez is one of the first artists that Johns met at DC.
Inman asked for a tease for Rebirth's future from Johns. "I'm going to be returning to comics to do a series this year." Johns said, surprising the audience. "You'll hear more about that soon."
Next up is the Benson sisters talking about the "Birds of Prey" -- Shawna Benson spoke about bringing Roulette in to the book to make the universe feel more "lived in" with a meta-human fight club. Inman asked about bringing a new Oracle in for the Birds as a team, and Julie Benson fielded the question saying they will be looking into Gus's origin soon.
The Bensons also spoke about Black Bird, the new villain for the Birds, who will be "a real problem" for the team in the future.
Johns then spoke about how the Birds about how the Birds of Prey as a team are a corner stone of the DCU, and then continues to tease a potential Rebirth for other "cornerstone" teams like the JSA and the Legion of the Super-Heroes, to a very excited response from the crowd.
The focus then shifted to "Detective Comics" where Tynion IV takes over talking about Cassandra Cain's role in the story. "I started reading comics monthly around "No Mans Land," Tynion said, "Which is when Cassandra was really introduced to the comics. She's very important to me."
Tynion continued, "This upcoming arc [of "Detective Comics"] is when we find out what the connection between the League of Shadows and the League of Assassins actually is, and where Ra's Al Ghul comes into play. He is not there as an ally."
Inman asked Tynion about a twitter interaction between Tom King and Tyion on Twitter about who the most skilled fighter in the Batfamily is -- King said Cassandra, and Tynion said he definitely agrees. "Cassandra's first language is fighting," Tynion explained, "If Cassandra and Batman wanted to fight and go-all-out, Batman might not win."
"The core tragedy of Cassandra," Tynion went on, "Is the danger in her. She's afraid of herself, in a way. And she worries that the people around her are also afraid of her."
Johns then went on to shed some light on the creative process in deciding the roster of "Detective Comics" "You can't just say "I loved this character as a kid" that's not good enough, you really have to get under the hood of that character and that's something I think James has really done with Cassandra."
Inman then asked about the process that went into creating "Green Lanterns" behind the scenes, since they are characters that Johns himself created. "When DC approached me about the book," Humphries said, "I was like "where's Hal? But as time went on I realized that these new characters were the next Hal Jordan, the next Kyle Rayner."
"Green Lanterns" is a story about "courage over fear", Humphries elaborated, and expressed his excitement about the depth of the world of Green Lanterns with "Hal & The Green Lantern Corps" being so different a story. Johns chimed in at that point to explain that Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz's contrasting personalities are what make "Green Lanterns" so strong, and singled out Cruz's anxiety as a specifically relatable concept for fans like himself.
Inman then steered the conversation toward cliffhangers and Johns chimed in "Writers out there, don't ever do a cliff hanger where your characters walk into a building and that building blows up. It never works." Humphries laughed, "No, no, there always has be a personal component for a cliffhanger."
"I don't know if I'll ever do a cliffhanger as crazy as the one I did in "DC Universe: Rebirth," Johns laughed.
Next up, the focus is moved to "Superwoman" with Phil Jimenez. Inman asked for some retrospective from Jimenez now that "Superwoman" has been collected."
Jimenez laughs and says "I have a hard time reading my own work. I wrote Superwoman about two characters who may have not ever gotten along or been friends, but they realize they're better together. I didn't want to be the "Superman" guy, I wanted "Superwoman" a little more off beat and quirky. I wanted to address some of the weirder parts of the Superman world."
"I loved writing a moment in "Superwoman" #5 when I got to write Lana call Lex Luthor out on being an awful human being. He's an awful human being, and I was so glad I got to write that scene," Jimenez recounted.
Johns had to depart the panel, so Inman refocused to "Harley Quinn" with Chad Hardin. "The whole creative team is like a group of 12-year-olds," Hardin said, "Sometimes we push it too far and have to dial it back, but we're having a lot of fun."
Danny Miki, inker of "Batman" then took focus for a moment, when Inman asked Miki what it's like to ink David Finch. "He's got this heavy metal feel to his work," Miki said, "It's like a puzzle. It's a wild ride."
"Is there anything David just doesn't like to draw that you just fill in? Like does Finch hate drawing cars?" Inman teased, but Miki laughed and responded "No no, he's down with everything."
Next up is "Cyborg" with John Semper Jr. "Now John," Inman started, "You've been writing "Cyborg" for 11 issues -- are you afraid of your phone yet? Skynet? Technology?"
Semper laughed, "I'm always afraid of my phone."
Some teasers for upcoming issues of "Cyborg" were presented on the screen featuring Cyborg facing off against a villain in a stylized 8-bit world, which Semper explained was partly inspired by his own interest in classic video games and his love of pushing new limits with Vic as a character.
"Was there any difficulty in finding Vic's voice as an individual hero apart from the Teen Titans?" Inman asked, which was met with a quick "No, no, I was given a blank slate with this character going into it," from Semper, but he went on to explain that the complicated elements of "Cyborg" are leading up to a "cataclysmic" event he can't talk about.
The panel then began to field questions from Twitter. The first was about returning characters with Tynion fielded immediately by saying that Zatana will be returning in the pages of "Detective Comics." Back in her classic costume, no less.
The Bensons then chimed in that there are some big returns coming up for the Birds of Prey, while Humphries explained that Jessica and Simon are going to be venturing to Mogo to meet up with the other Lanterns soon.
"I'm bringing back Beast Boy," Semper then adds in, "I don't know if I'm allowed to say that, but Beast Boy is coming back." So it sounds like Beast Boy will eventually be making a cameo in "Cyborg" outside of his current home in "Teen Titans" -- something to look forward to for fans of the duo's friendship, to be sure.
A fan then asked a question about villains being introduced like the Court of Owls -- characters who are retroactively added to characters histories the way the Court was in the New 52. Tynion fielded the question by saying there is "absolutely" always room to do that, and that sort of introduction is what inspired him to introduce the "Colony" in his first arc of "Detective Comics."
A fan then asked what Sam Humphries favorite cliff hangers were, to which Sam replied that he loved "Lost" the TV show's cliff hangers but he was disappointed in the overall outcome with the show. "But some great people worked on that show!" He clarified quickly.
The next question from a fan went to Julie and Shawna Benson about the anxiety revolving around introducing new villains into the Birds of Prey world. Shawna explained that understanding the things that drew them to the Birds in the first place was the cornerstone of inventing villains -- the Birds are a "found family" to them, and the key to making a good villain was to find the opposite of that in Black Bird.
A fan then asked about Tynion's work on "Detective Comics" and making changes to characters like Clayface that the fan believes will "last a long time." Tynion, flattered, explains that all these changes he's making to characters like Clayface and Stephanie Brown are coming from the "core" of the characters. He explained how Stephanie's recent arc has worked for her because she has always, "even when she was Batgirl" has worked "as an outsider" to the Batfamily.
"Clayface is a character with a lot of sadness at the heart of him. Batman knows what it's like to have a really terrible day. Clayface had a terrible day and he fell apart, and fell apart. He became a monster," Tynion went on, "That's at the core of his character."
The final question came from a fan who is also a retailer, asking the panel for their plans for the longevity of the Rebirth line. Humphries laughed, "Well my plan is to just never let anything I write suck," and John Semper joked "Well I just won't ever let DC fire me."