When one amasses a large group of followers, it's said that person's fans are legion. Well, in the case Geoff Johns, his fans are corps. As was evidenced by attendance to the DC Nation Panel at the Emerald City ComiCon this weekend, Johns' "Blackest Night" story in the pages of "Green Lantern" has cultivated him a loyal following. Fans (many wearing plastic Lantern rings) were applauding for him as he entered the room before the panel even began.
In time, Johns was joined on the stage with fellow writers Brian Azzarello, Peter Tomasi, James Robinson, editor Eddie Berganza, and DC Comics' Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler, who would serve as the moderator for the panel. Before things could get underway, however, some fans presented the DC visitors with three dozen Top Pot donuts (a favorite of many Seattleites). As this was more than the guests could eat, they offered donuts to every fan who asked a question.
The first attendee to the microphone had more of a statement than a query, though. However, if the panelists had been anywhere near the internet in the past two weeks, it had to be a statement they were expecting...
(SPOILER ALERT for those who have not read "Justice League: Cry for Justice" #7--highlight the text to see the fan's statement.)
"I wanted to voice my extreme disappointment in the 'fridging' of Lian Harper in 'Cry For Justice' #7," the female fan said.
While most folks in the audience knew of the event the fan was referring to, the term "fridging" confused some, including Sattler. The fan explained how "fridging" was a term coined by writer Gail Simone when Green Lantern's girlfriend was killed in a refrigerator in issue #54 of that series (check out Wikipedia for the details).
Sattler said he disagreed with the assessment that the character was "fridged" (i.e. that her death was pointless). Robinson (the writer of the story) quickly added, "The decision has been controversial and one that I know has been greeted with displeasure by some. I'm sorry if it upset people. In all honesty, they wanted to kill Speedy too, and I said no, so give me some credit for that."
It appeared that Robinson was joking about wanting to kill Speedy, although some in the crowd were unsure. Sattler jumped in and said, "I'm proud of the story and stand by it. I'm happy it upset people because it means that the story had some weight and emotion."
Robinson and Sattler also added that this story needed to be told to get Green Arrow to a specific place story-wise, as the character is going to have a "big" year. During the panel, Robinson also noted, "If you see what DC has planned for Green Arrow; Star City (Green Arrow's hometown) will be one of the greatest cities in the DCU."
Next up, an attendee commented on how he's enjoying his Lantern rings - and can't wait for his Flash ring - but he still wanted to know...when is DC going to be giving out Legion rings?
Johns smiled and replied, "For every Marvel comic you rip up and send to us, you'll get a ring." The crowd laughed loudly at this answer.
The fan that followed wanted to know more about DC's future, specifically their thoughts on digital distribution. Sattler looked to Johns and then back to the attendee before replying, "It's something we're seriously planning for, but I can't say our plans yet."
The individual that approached the microphone after this wanted to know about the possibility of seeing their favorite character - Batman Beyond - in a comic sometime soon. Sattler surprised this person with good news: Batman Beyond would be getting his own comic this June. "And not only do you get Batman Beyond in June, you'll get Superman Beyond," Sattler said. "Look to an upcoming 'Superman/Batman Annual' with these characters."
While asked at different times, Johns kindly provided several upcoming tidbits about Green Lantern throughout the panel too, which naturally held great interest for those present. Johns said certain members of the Sinestro Corps will get further fleshed out as things continue in various books. He talked about Larfleeze, saying the character loves Earth because "its people are just like him." The writer even added that there would be a Larfleeze Christmas Special this December (although I can't say whether Johns was joking or not, the audience seemed to love the idea). In another upcoming story, Johns said Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns will tangle with Lobo and promised things will get "bloody."
The scribe then switched gears and talked about Green Lantern in other media. With regards to the Green Lantern movie that's being planned, Johns said he is involved. He's seen plans for the Lanterns, OA, and has even been to New Orleans (where filming is to take place). A fan asked about the possibility of a Green Lantern animated series, to which Johns replied, "There's a good chance, but...maybe."
The next topic which was batted around by the panelists was that of the JSA. One fan was hoping for more JSA, particularly outside of their title. Robinson was happy to accommodate and said that issues #44-45 of "Justice League of America" brings the JSA and JLA together, and that the teams would remain united at the beginning of the upcoming "Brightest Day."
Another attendee was hoping to see a live-action JSA again, as the "Absolute Justice" episode of "Smallville" in which they appeared proved popular. Johns then revealed that the JSA will appear again in the upcoming season of the show...before wondering aloud if he was supposed to have revealed that fact. Either way, he made many fans happy with this news.
The question of whether the current Robin - Damian Wayne - would join the Teen Titans was posed to the panel. Sattler laughed and replied, "He'd hurt them. We've actually talked about it, but he's busy in the Batman books all year. We'll revisit it at the end of the year."
The subject of the "Earth One" graphic novels ("Superman" by J. Michael Straczynski and "Batman" by Geoff Johns) also surfaced. Johns shared a few facts about this mysterious project with the audience: he and artist Gary Frank are aiming to release two of these books a year; the Riddler is the main villain of his Batman book; and Barbara Gordon will be appearing in his book.
As Straczynski's name came up, Sattler reminded everyone that the writer would be starting his run on the main DC Superman book after "War of the Supermen." He also encouraged everyone to read Straczynski's essay at the DC website as to why he's excited to write the character.
Since Robinson is one of the scribes for "War of the Superman," he added that he will be ending his run on the Man of Steel with that event. However, the writer did let the crowd know he's developing a Shade series, and they responded enthusiastically to this bit of information.
An interesting moment occurred when a fan asked about the possibility of a Marvel/DC crossover. Geoff Johns replied, "When they stop telling people to rip up our books, we'll talk."
The next question moved away from this uncomfortable topic to a subject with its own perils - legacy heroes. A fan wanted to know more about what could be done with legacy heroes, as they never seem to graduate. "Kid Flash became Flash, and now he's out. Dick Grayson is now Batman, but Bruce returns and he's out. It's like Conan O'Brien."
Everyone in the room laughed at the comparison, but Johns managed to respond, "I don't know - Kyle Rayner is doing okay."
A few other characters were mentioned before the panel was over, and fortunately Sattler and Johns managed to offer comments on each: Firestorm ("He's a main character in 'Brightest Day'"); Shazam ("There are big plans coming up for the Marvel family"); and Power Girl ("Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey will be leaving the book as of issue #12").
Another tidbit offered during the panel concerned a comic title fans hadn't heard about in awhile: "All-Star Batman and Robin." Johns assured fans in the room, "There will be some information from Jim [Lee] on that soon."
So after an hour of answering questions and handing out donuts, the DC Nation Panel concluded with a loud round of applause and fans flashing their "plastic ring bling" in appreciation of the publisher.