ECCC: DC Entertainment - All Access -- Gerard Way Reveals "Young Animal" Line

Less than two weeks after DC Comics announced the (nearly) full lineup for its major upcoming "Rebirth" initiative at WonderCon, the publisher was back on the convention scene: This time at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, with a "DC Entertainment - All Access" panel on Thursday afternoon spotlighting various DC titles -- and broke some big news along the way.

On the panel: "DC Comics: Bombshells" writer Marguerite Bennett, "Poison Ivy" writer Amy Chu, "Harley Quinn" artist Chad Hardin, "Dark Knight III: The Master Race" inker Klaus Janson, new "Supergirl" writer Steve Orlando, "Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps" writer Robert Venditti and "Superwoman" artist Emanuela Lupacchino. DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio served as moderator. Fellow Co-Publisher Jim Lee joined the session shortly after the panelists were introduced.

DiDio started the panel by talking a bit about the previously stated motivations for Rebirth -- reconnecting with DC's core fanbase -- and called it "one of the most important relaunches of our line in quite a while." That led to a quick video showcasing some of the previously released Rebirth covers.

Teasing the upcoming "DC Universe: Rebirth" one-shot, out May 25 and kicking off the Rebirth initiative, DiDio said the issue contains "one of the most stunning moments in DC Comics history."

DiDio asked Venditti to describe "Hal Jordan and the Green Lanterns." "Will versus fear, which goes back to the core concept of not just Hal, but what the Green Lantern concept is," the writer answered. "It's a great ensemble cast, and you really have this entire cosmic landscape at your disposal." Venditti said the book will be "Grand in scale" and "epic in scope," and praised the work of series artists Ethan Van Sciver and Rafa Sandoval.

Keeping with the "Rebirth" talk, DiDio recapped two of the main components: The $2.99 price point for DC Universe titles, plus 17 of the core titles going twice-monthly. DiDio also talked the twice-monthly "Green Lanterns," which stars new Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz, from the creative team of writer Sam Humphries and artists Ardian Syaf and Robson Rocha.

Orlando talked his upcoming "Supergirl" run. "It's intimidating, but it should be intimidating," Orlando said, because of the character's stature and what she means to people. "For me, Supergirl is a character whose compassion is as mighty as her strength."

"She's a character that, because she can see us from the outside, always sees the best in everyone," Orlando continued. "Especially now, I think that's incredibly important for a character." The book will take place in National City -- new to comics, but the setting of the CBS series -- and also include Cat Grant, a major character on the TV show.

Lupacchino who is also drawing the "Supergirl: Rebirth" special, talked "Superwoman" briefly, specifically the chance the book offers to put her visual stamp on a new character.

Bennett discussed "Bombshells." "I wake up excited every day that I get to work on this project," she said. "From the very beginning, because we were given such a sprawling task -- to create a complete alternate history, an alternate environment -- I had all the heroines start on different places on the map, and represent a different form of art and media from the era."

Turning to "Poison Ivy," Chu told the crowd, "It's been really amazing. I did not expect to have so much love for this character. She's a difficult character." DiDio said that based on fan reaction, DC will likely be talking "a little bit more" about doing more "Poison Ivy" comics.

Next up, a close associate of Ivy's: "Harley Quinn." Hardin said "Harley" co-writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner always keep him guessing, and thanked fans for the support of the hit series. "Everyone that's involved is just completely blown away, and we're completely grateful."

Harley Quinn also appears in the Rob Williams-written "Suicide Squad," and Lee will share art duties on the book with Philip Tan. "The cast resembles the team you see in the movie," Lee said, and pointed to the just-released "Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad: April Fool's Special" as what the series will be like. "It shipped on time," Lee said of the one-shot. "Hopefully that's a sign of things to come!"with

Janson talked "Dark Knight III," and said one of the best aspects is getting to see Frank Miller regularly through the process. Though he has a reputation for a "serious and dour personality," Janson acknowledged, "The fact of the matter is, he's funny. He's funny as hell." Janson said "Dark Knight III" is a "fulfillment" of his wish to work again with Miller. "Honest to god, it's just been a blast."

Continuing, Janson spoke of current pushes for "diversification" in comics and "making the books look more like America looks like," and gave credit to Miller for the creation of Carrie Kelley. "I'm so proud to have been a part of 'DKI,' where Frank Miller introduced a female Robin. He was 30 years ahead of his time. I think he deserves a lot of credit for that."

Orlando briefly spoke of the soon-to-conclude "Midnighter," saying "issue #12 contains "everything that I've been bringing together." DiDio told the crowd that while the book is ending, Midnighter is "still an important part of the DC Universe."

Here's some news! Gerard Way joined the panel, and announced that he has his own imprint at DC, called, "DC's Young Animal." "DC is letting me have an imprint called Young Animal. The first book is 'Doom Patrol,'" Way said. It'll be written by Way, and illustrated by Nick Derington. "It's really weird," Way said. It'll pay tribute not just to Grant Morrison's famed run on the series, but the history of Doom Patrol.

Also coming from Young Animal: "Shade, The Changing Girl" from writer Cecil Castellucci and artist Marley Zarcone. Cover by Becky Cloonan. "It's another alien, a woman alien, who's hiding in the body of a teenage girl that used to be a bully," Way said. "She has the Madness Vest. The Madness is kind of taking over."

Another Young Animal book: "Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye." Written by Way and Jon Rivera with art by Michael Avon Oeming. Way said that the comic will deliver on its promise of indeed explaining why Cave Carson -- a sci-fi spelunker introduced by DC back in 1960 -- has a cybernetic eye.

Rounding out the lineup: "Mother Panic," written by Jody Houser, with art by Tommy Lee Edwards and John Paul Leon (covers by Edwards). "This one is set in Gotham," Way said. It'll focus on a new character. Lee pointed out that "Mother Panic" is a mature readers book.

"We do realize that the marketplace is changing, we want to address that chance, we want books that cater to emerging audiences, new readers, people who haven't picked up a superhero comic before and want something a little different," Lee told the audience. "We really welcome Gerard coming back and becoming more involved with the world of comic books."

Another announcement! In the spirit of 1985-1986's "DC Challenge," a 12-issue series where 12 teams of creators told one story, round-robin style, DiDio announced the "Kamandi Challenge," where 12 writers and 12 artists were "carefully selected" and then paired at "random" to tell a story starring Jack Kirby's Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth.

Here are the teams: Dan Abnett & Dale Eaglesham, Peter J. Tomasi & Neal Adams, Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti, James Tynion IV & Carlos D'Anda, Bill Willingham & Ivan Reis, Steve Orlando & Philip Tan, Marguerite Bennett & Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen & Steve Rude, Tom King & Kevin Eastman, Greg Pak & Joe Prado, Rob Williams & Walter Simonson, Gail Simone & Ryan Sook and Len Wein & Jose Luis García-López. (Yes, that's 13 teams.)

First audience question: Will Young Animal connect to the rest of the DC Universe? Way said that's still being figured out and "they're playing it by ear." They'd like it to fit, but Young Animal will also be in its own world to an extent -- comparing it to the early '90s "Doom Patrol" and "Shade the Changing Man."

Orlando cited the Supergirl from the '90s "Superman" animated series as another inspiration for his take on the character.

DiDio told a fan that there are plans for the more horror-tinged characters of the DCU. "We want to build the core of that horror universe."

Chance of a Supergirl/Midnighter crossover? "What would the rating on that book be?" Orlando wondered. "If you talk to me ever, you know that I have a strong affinity for Midnighter. We want to show people what's vital about the core of Supergirl." After that, "there's really nothing we can't do if you guys want it."

Will Elseworlds make a return? "In some ways, 'Bombshells' is Elseworlds," DiDio said. "'Multiversity' sort of filled that gap. We want stories that have a real meaning, with relevance. It's not that we haven't been looking, we want the right ones. If we bring it back, it has to matter."

With that, the panel wrapped -- but keep reading CBR all weekend long for the latest from Emerald City Comicon!

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