ECCC 2008: DC Nation

“Welcome to the first DC Nation in Seattle!”

This was the proclamation Dan Didio, Executive Editor of DC Comics, gave as he kicked off the DC Nation Panel at the 2008 Emerald City ComiCon on Saturday. DC Comics was represented well at this event, with their panel members sitting two deep on the stage.

Representing the comic company along with Didio were Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler, artists Philip Tan (“Final Crisis: Revelation”), Ethan Van Sciver (“Green Lantern”), Aaron Lopresti (“Wonder Woman”), and Stephane Roux (the DC “anti-inspirational” ads), and writers Greg Rucka (“Final Crisis: Revelation”), J. Michael Straczynski (“Brave and the Bold”), Kurt Busiek (“Trinity”), Gail Simone (“Wonder Woman”), and Bill Willingham (“Fables,” “Shadowpact”).

Didio gave a special nod to Willingham as the writer who is “putting the politics into DC Comics,” with the recently announced “DCU Decisions” book - a miniseries where many of the DC characters will actually declare their political leanings. Stephane Roux was also noted for providing the art on this project.

“’DC Decisions’ really going to capture the pulse of America right now,” the executive editor explained. “Everyone’s talking politics; it’s an elections year, and we’re going to try to see how the characters of our universe react to that.”

Didio’s next threw out a question to the audience: “How many people picked up 'DC Universe’ #0.” While 90% of the room held their hands high, Didio playfully shot back with, “Why isn’t every hand raised?”

When a fan jokingly said that he didn’t purchase the issue because it didn’t have Ambush Bug in it, Didio pointed out that Stephane Roux just completed the latest “anti-inspirational” ad which will feature the character. He said it’s an image of Ambush Bug with the word “Unvictorious” underneath it, which seemed to please the audience.

The panel was then opened to questions from the crowd. One of the first fans at the microphone asked if the Joker’s “look” in the comics was going to change in light of the way he’s portrayed in the upcoming “Dark Knight” film. Didio answered with a “no.”

Next, Didio was asked if there were any plans for Monarch to appear again, and the executive editor responded, “We have no plans for Monarch at this time.”

Another audience member who asked a question was revealed to be a plant by Willingham when he threw out the question, “Is it true the idea for 'DCU Decisions' originated in a bar?”

Willingham happily played his part and replied, “As is well known, Dan Didio is a notorious drunk. Everything coming out of DC in the next year started in a bar somewhere...The conversation started in a bar, and after we made bail, we got together and hammered out the details.”

Another query on this book was tossed out when a fan asked whether or not "DCU: Decisions" was a good idea. Didio said it was, and explained that with everything that’s occurring due to the elections, DC wanted a book “that reflected the mood and emotions of the country in the DC Universe. And we felt this would be a great forum to show how our characters react in the same type of environment, and also tell a story that really does work within the DC universe and also has ramifications past the four-part miniseries.”

“And the name 'Super-Delegates’ was taken,” Busiek added humorously.

Another audience member jokingly asked if Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman were Skrulls. This led to Didio jumping off the podium to assist the fan with his questions after noticing the fan was carrying a whole sheet of questions.

Busiek, however, was willing to entertain the fan’s question and responded, “The answer to your question is that Iron Man is a Durlan.”

When the panel was asked how much of the DCU would cross over with the upcoming “Blackest Night” storyline in “Green Lantern,” Sattler replied that he couldn’t say. However, when asked if the spirit of Hawkwoman would be returning in light of the dead being raised, Didio said, “Stay tuned.”

With regards to “DC Universe” #0, one audience member stated that they had difficulty following it, as it was so entrenched in continuity. The fan then asked if DC would be putting out more books that were “new reader”-friendly. Didio responded the Straczynki’s run on “Brave and the Bold” would be fulfilling that purpose, and turned the microphone over to the writer.

“In taking over the 'Brave and the Bold’ for DC, what I want to do is make it a sampler platter for those who want to sample the DC Universe. They’re going to be standalone stories - at most two issue arcs, but mostly one issue arcs to try to bring together people who we haven’t seen a whole lot working together in the course of the DC Universe.”

Straczynski then went on to list some of his planned team-ups for the series, and it was quite a list: Batman and the (Jim Corrigan) Spectre, Lex Luthor and Swamp Thing, Deadman and Wonder Woman, Flash (Barry Allen) and the Blackhawks, Batman and Dial H for Hero, Constantine and Eclipso, Doom Patrol and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Superman and Sgt. Rock, Two-Face and Hawk and Dove, Challengers of the Unknown and the Metal Men, and the Legion of Substitute Heroes and the Inferior Five.

The audience applauded loudly in approval at the last pairing.

Busiek’s upcoming weekly “Trinity” was also pointed to as a book that was accessible for new readers. Busiek stated, “'Trinity’ is not tangled up in 'Final Crisis.’ It’s a tour through the DC Universe. We’re reintroducing Gangbuster, and we’re doing interesting stuff with Hawkman...”

In addition, Simone’s “Wonder Woman” was mentioned as a series that wasn’t tied up in all the Crisis events. The writer of the book explained, “In 'Wonder Woman,’ it’s not a crossover story per se, it’s just huge storylines. Like where the Secret Society reforms and they gather up some evil scientists who go around and collect soils from genocides around the earth and they make a monster. The Society feels Wonder Woman is their number one priority. (We’re just telling) huge kinds of stories.”

The next person at the microphone asked if Bruce Timm would be contributing to any DC books soon. Didio answered that Timm was very busy on DC animated projects, although Timm had an open invitation, as far as he was concerned.

The same fan asked if Didio to comment on the fact he had previously mentioned that Bart Allen’s soul was in the lightning rod that Braniac 13 now possessed. Didio denied saying that, but when confronted again, he playfully disregarded the question.

A request was next made to the panel for more Robotman (of the Doom Patrol) appearances. Didio responded that the character will be appearing in “DCU Decision” and is the “opening act” for the miniseries.

The audience member who followed this asked - somewhat pointedly - why “Amazons Attack” didn’t live up to fan’s expectations. Didio initially explained that sometimes stories don’t work as well as planned, but then pulled Rucka in to help with the answer.

Rucka explained that “Amazons Attack” was initially planned as the fifth miniseries that was supposed to lead into “Infinite Crisis.” However, as they got closer to “Crisis,” they realized the series wasn’t needed to set up the DCU for the events as needed for Geoff Johns run.

By the time that the “Amazons Attack” was usable, it had been back-burnered several times and had been in many other hands (or “foster homes” per Rucka). Van Sciver jumped in at this point and explained that he and Rucka were the original team on this miniseries, and that the initial pitch gave him goosebumps.

Rucka then mentioned that there was still a scene from the original proposal that he would love to see Van Sciver draw: Amazons taking Air Force One in flight, putting a sword to the president, and making him surrender the U.S. He joked, “You would’ve seen a lot of invisible jets...or you wouldn’t have seen them.”

The panel was then questioned about the upcoming “Black Lanterns” storyline with regards to how many characters coming back from the dead will be established characters. Van Sciver replied, “Many, many, many...”

This was then followed up with a query about how many of those returning from the dead will be heroes. Van Sciver just grinned and said, “Again, many, many, many...”

When someone next asked Didio if “Final Crisis” would indeed be final, he joked that he wanted to follow the story up with a Black Adam miniseries called, “Cry-Isis.” Busiek did the editor one better and suggested, “Isis on Infinite Earths.”

Another fan asked when readers might look forward to a Green Lantern animated series or film. Didio responded that their division is just focused on publishing and putting out the best books they can. Straczynski, however, was able to offer the fact that he had had a meeting last year about a Green Lantern film with Warner Bros, but they haven’t found the “right take.” He then smiled and jovially added, “Don’t worry, I’m not doing it.”

A request was put forth next for a Jonah Hex and Ambush Bug team-up in “Brave and the Bold.” Once again, Busiek was ready with a one-liner and said, “It would have to involve the Bug from a century ago - Bushwhack Bug.”

A staple at these DC Nation panels seems to involve a fan asking when readers might see a Batwoman book. At first, Rucka responded that an announcement would be made in San Diego, but then he relented and said a book with the character is coming.

He also added that Batwoman will show up in “Final Crisis: Revelation” issues #2, 3, and “maybe, if things go well, issue #4.” Rucka was excited about Tan’s artwork on the book, and the artist agreed that he’s been having fun drawing it. The two then discussed a fight scene between Batwoman and Killer Croc. Rucka stated, “Kate fights dirty,” which led to Tan saying, “I meant to ask you, what’s a 'Christmas basket’?” Rucka burst out laughing while Didio cut them off with a “Next question!”

A soldier who had recently finished his tour of duty told the story of how he loved reading his comics in Baghdad, but at the end of his service, he had to ship home fifteen months of comics. Therefore, he was wondering if DC would be making a move to digital distribution anytime soon.

Didio’s response was that comics market is strong currently, and that is due to the fact that it is a collectible commodity. As such, digital distribution was not seen as a priority for them right now. Although, he did add that DC was staying aware of the situation and that when the right time comes and they have the right way to do it, they will enter this arena.

Regarding a request made for a follow-up to “Captain Carrot and the Final Arc,” Didio said that Paul Dini is writing a “Zatanna” miniseries at the moment, and as far as he knows, Captain Carrot is in her top hat.

The next audience member at the microphone asked about Willingham about a rumor that the “Peter Pan” characters are now available for use in his “Fable” series. The writer informed everyone that he has finally been given permission to use the “Peter Pan” characters in “Fables,” and they would probably be making an appearance “sometime after issue #75.”

The last question of the panel concerned Billy Batson returning to the role of Captain Marvel. Didio then explained that Batson was still Captain Marvel, and Freddy Freeman is now a hero known as Shazam.

Van Sciver quickly jumped on this query and asked the audience if they’d like to see an ongoing Marvel family series. The crowd erupted loudly.

Didio then closed down the first DC Nation in Seattle with some free giveaways and cheers from the fans.

Now discuss this story in CBR's DC Comics forum.

Marvel Partners With Aspen for Exclusive Immortal Hulk, Black Cat Variants

More in Comics