This year's Emerald City Comic Con has arrived, and DC Comics is set to kick off its ECCC programming slate with a DC Universe panel -- spanning its wide array of superhero offerings -- happening Thursday afternoon at the Washington State Convention Center.
In attendance: creators Justin Jordan, Marguerite Bennett, Julie Benson, Shawna Benson, Mitch Gerads, James Tynion IV and Joshua Williamson, plus Hank Kanalz, DC's Senior Vice President of Editorial Strategy & Administration, serving as moderator.
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First up: Bennett talking the current "Fall of the House of Kane" arc on Batwoman. "I have been building this story since the very beginning," Bennett said, calling the work of artist Fernando Blanco "exquisite." "I just cannot wait for you guys to see issue #14. I read 15 different books on plagues and infectious diseases -- it's become my new hobby and I can't wait to share it with you."
"There's no superhero I love more than Kate Kane," Bennett told the crowd. "She means so much to me, and it's been such an honor to get to continue her legacy and her story."
Jordan was next, discussing New Age of DC Heroes book The Curse of Brimstone, which debuts on April 4, and is illustrated by Philip Tan. Jordan talked the autobiographical background that inspired the series. "In my lifetime, I have seen the town I went to high school in go from being a living, vital town, to being completely hollowed out," "There is nothing there."
This led to Jordan contemplating the reasons why people stay in a place like that, and often act against their own interests -- and "The Curse of Brimstone gave me an opportunity to do that in a horror/superhero [story]." "What I'm trying to hit is a Swamp Thing-level of stuff," Jordan continued. "It's set in the DCU, but we're looking at the places you don't see. The forgotten places in the universe." Still, Jordan assured that readers "absolutely will" see familiar characters from the DC Universe -- strongly hinting at John Constantine and Swamp Thing specifically.
Tynion discussed his run on Detective Comics, which started at the dawn of the Rebirth era in 2016 and is coming to a close this spring. "We just announced, last week, that issue #981, at the end of May, is actually going to be my last issue of Detective Comics," Tynion said. "I'm working on some pretty big, amazing things that I can't talk about yet."
"This story was always coming to a culmination point here," Tynion continued, specifically referring to Tim Drake and Kate Kane's arcs. Tynion said the series is "entering a very dangerous moment," and "I'm sad to leave Gotham, but this is the end of the story I've been telling for two years."
"A lot of this story is a celebration of who Tim Drake is," Tynion added. "Do you bringing him back to where he was, or do you find a new path?"
Turning to Williamson and The Flash, the writer talked the current "Perfect Storm" arc and the impending "Flash War." "Gorilla Grodd has been behind basically every bad thing that's happened to Barry Allen," Williamson recapped for the crowd. "He took away Barry's powers. Now Barry is powerless -- he goes out and gets help from the classic Wally West."
Also, Hunter Zolomon is back -- and Williamson told fans in attendance that upcoming issues will detail his plan, and why he wants Barry and Wally to fight each other.
"There's a lot of cool stuff coming," Williamson concluded, including a big role for Iris in "Flash War."
Next up: Mister Miracle artist Mitch Gerads. "It's kind of a funny story how Mister Miracle came about," Gerads said, pointing to the character's relative obscurity. "I have an affinity and a love for the character from when I was a kid. It's something that's super-personal to us."
Gerads said the childbirth in issue #7 was a "little too real" for him, as he recently became a father. Gerads said he and series writer Tom King don't like to tell stories about "characters," they like to tell stories about "people." The first six issues, Gerads said, were inspired heavily by King's life, and from #7 on, it's more influenced by both of them.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey was the next topic of conversation. Speaking of their early days on the series, "We had a lot of learning curve," Julie Benson said, of transitioning from writing for TV to comic books. "Now we're going to wrap with 23 issues under our belt. We're really proud -- it's a love letter, the last arc. For the fans, and us."
The last arc is titled "Full Circle." "It is literally the full circle for the run on our book," Shawna Benson said, as it'll bring back every villain seen in the series thus far. The story will see the main Birds of Prey characters "evaluate who they are, and who they want to be going forward."
"I've been a working writer for over a decade, and I've never gotten emotional writing something, and we definitely cried writing our finale," Julie Benson said. "In a good way. It's a bittersweet thing for us."
Things moved to No Justice, the upcoming four-issue miniseries, illustrated by Francis Manapul and Marcus To, establishing the new status quo for the Justice League. "This story is hard to talk about in some ways, because this is the story that's going to spin hot off the tail of [Dark Nights:] Metal," Tynion said, letting the crowd know of the unconventional team rosters.
"One of the most fun things about this project, it's playing with all the toys in the toy box," Tynion continued. "This is us playing with characters you've never seen together, putting them in the midst of something insane in the middle of the universe. It's also about what happens back on Earth when the worst starts to happen, and there's no Justice League."
"It's all the team books, but really every superhero in the DCU gets involved at some point," Williamson said. "I remember writing -- every hero in the DC Universe is in this. Sorry, Francis."
In No Justice, the mismatched teams are a result of Brainiac putting rosters together based on skill, "But he doesn't factor in their hearts." The panel had fun joking about Beast Boy's role -- seemingly very out of place on a team with Batman, Lobo, Deathstroke and Lex Luthor.
"Francis is doing the best work, it looks so cool," Williamson said, adding that No Justice is the first part of a bigger story.
The panel drew to a close with a plug for April's Action Comics #1000 -- which features Brian Michael Bendis' Superman debut, before he takes over Action Comics and Superman. The session wrapped with a promo for the upcoming Syfy TV series Krypton.