The Emerald City Comicon began with a bang on Friday as an excited group of fans turned out to hear the news DC Comics brought to the city of Seattle. In addition to being one of the first panels of the convention, this gathering represented one other "first" - it was the first DC Nation to be led by Bob Harras since he was named DC's Editor-in-Chief. As things got underway, he jokingly requested, "As this is my first DC Nation, be kind to me."
Joining Harras at the front of the room were Matt Idelson (Group Editor of the Superman comics) and Vertigo Editor Will Dennis, along with writers Chris Roberson ("Superman," "iZombie"), Marv Wolfman ("DCU Online Legends"), and Sergio Aragones ("MAD," "Groo"). After making introductions, Harras directed attendees to a microphone at the front of the room and opened the floor for questions. To encourage quality queries, the EIC promised donuts to those who asked good questions, as well as an "All-Star Superman" DVD for the best one. Fans quickly assembled, and the barrage of inquiries began...
First up was a question regarding the status of DC's "Earth One" line of original graphic novels. Harras replied, "'Superman: Earth One' was phenomenal and right now we are working on the sequel. I actually saw pages yesterday from artist Shane Davis. It was awesome! We have "Batman: Earth One" in the works. That should come out...we're hoping late this year or early next year, and that's by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. We have other 'Earth One' series in the works, but I can't really comment on them right now."
The next person to the mic wanted to know if the DC would be producing any more "Archive Edition" books. This was an easy question to respond to, as Harras explained, "That was actually my old position at DC. We are still doing archives - maybe not as much as we've done in the past - but the program is still going on. I don't know exactly what the next releases are, but that program's not going away."
A "program" another fan wanted to see more of was over-sized comics - specifically, he asked if there would be a follow-up to DC's "Wednesday Comics." The EIC assured the person that more "Wednesday Comics" were coming and said, "Mark Chiarello is working with people right now to start the next wave." And while he couldn't say who would be working on the book, he did say that it "will be on the same level of talent as the first round."
After this, another attendee asked about the new "DC Universe Online" game and how it will impact the comic universe. According to panel members, they are separate entities to be enjoyed in their own rights. But as Wolfman was a writer for the game and is now writing the "DCU Online Legends" comic which ties into the game, he added a bit of insight.
"Tony Bedard and I are alternating writing issues of the 'DCU Online Legends' comic, and the third one just came out this week. We co-wrote the first issue together and then we're alternating back and forth on the rest. Part of what we're having such fun with is that we can write these characters in a way you haven't seen them before, because we're moving from the point where Brainiac came to earth to that great trailer that you all see in the beginning of the game."
Wolfman then asked fans if they liked the game, to which he received loud applause. He grinned and informed fans where he could be found in "DCU Online." "You can find me on the Killing Joke - I'm Titan1. Don't kill me though..."
Next up were a couple of questions about DC heroes in media outside comics. To begin with, one attendee asked if the costumes being planned for the Wonder Woman TV show and the Superman movie would resemble the outfits worn by the heroes in the books.
"I haven't seen anything on 'Superman,'" Harras replied. "I've seen some sketches for the Wonder Woman costume and I will say this today - there is every intent to make them similar. People do these TV shows and these movies because they love the characters. And with DC being able to work much more closely with Warner Bros, I think you'll be happy with what comes across."
This led to another fan asking about the level of involvement DC Comics had with the Superman movie. He cited the fact that Geoff Johns and David Goyer had worked together in the past, and since Goyer is writing the Superman script, the attendee was hoping there was some kind of coordination between the comic and film iterations.
Harras looked to Idelson with a smile and said, "Matt actually spoke with David Goyer this week. He cannot tell you anything."
Idelson, however, did say that "there's definitely a connection." He also assured everyone there that "Geoff and David talk all the time, so there is interaction."
A teenage boy then approached the microphone during the panel and posed an interesting (and bold) question: "'Doom Patrol' and 'R.E.B.E.L.S.' and 'Freedom Fighters' have all been canceled, so what are you replacing them with? And if you're replacing them with more Batman and Superman and Flash comics - aren't there enough of those already?"
Attendees applauded the query. Harras nodded his head at the young man and responded, "There's going to be a lot of new stuff coming down the pike, and I can tell you a lot of it will not be Superman or Batman or Flash."
The line for the microphone continued to grow, and Harras covered a variety of topics, including:
- A request to bring back "Elseworlds." Harras replied, "Right now we don't have any specific plans to bring it back, but we do have something on the table we're discussing that might be similar."
- An enthusiastic plea for more Lois Lane. Harras informally polled the audience and yelled out "Who would like to see a Lois Lane series?" The EIC said, "Watch out for 'Flashpoint,' because there's some very cool Lois Lane stuff coming up in there." (There was not, as some outlets have reported, an announcement of an ongoing Lois Lane series.)
- A request to re-form the JSA into a single team and a single book. Harras said they look at lots of things when reviewing a comic, and that "it's been discussed."
In answering a question about upcoming events in the DC Universe, the EIC brought up "Flashpoint" and said, "The quote is, 'Everything you know changes in a flash.' It's coming up this summer and it will have a huge impact on the DCU."
When asked about the Milestone characters and their status, Harras responded, "We actually do have plans. Dwayne McDuffie did an amazing thing creating these characters. I can't go too much into it right now, but there are plans."
With regards to a different group of characters, a fan wanted to know more about the Wildstorm heroes and how (or if) they'll be interacting with DC Universe. Harras explained, "Nothing is definitely planned. On a structural/editorial level, there is just the DC world now. We're working with [Wildstorm founder and DC Co-Publisher] Jim Lee a lot, so we'll see what happens."
Another attendee who approached the microphone was concerned that writer Paul Cornell wouldn't get to finish his current Lex Luthor story in "Action Comics." Harras assured the fan that he would, although Idelson cryptically added, "We'll see if there's any story left to tell with Lex after Action #900 - it's called karma."
After this, Aragones was asked about the status of his Groo character. Although he's not a DC character, the artist was happy to talk about his creation. "I'm doing a Groo crossover with Conan right now. Thomas Yeates is drawing Conan and I'm drawing Groo. It's going to be a four-issue miniseries. I've finished issue #2, and it's going to be a lot of fun. It's going to be out probably by the San Diego ComiCon."
Wolfman also had his turn answering questions, and received a couple about the origin and status of the upcoming Teen Titans original graphic novel "Games" (with George Perez on art). Marv was pleased to talk about the project and its history.
"Years ago, George had drawn 60-70 pages of the original storyline. It was semi-integrated with what we were doing at the time - the costumes were the same but it was a standalone story. Sadly, because we're no longer the age we were when we started it, neither of us could remember what the story was about. So what you have now is actually an incredibly different story using the same artwork that's much more powerful and with stronger villains. We've worked some brand new ideas into it - we knew the basics, we just didn't remember the specifics of all the little stuff.
"We only wished - honestly - that we could have done an extra 30 or 40 pages because we had so much fun getting back to this thing that we had started twenty-five years ago. The two of us getting back on the Titans for a long-term story...it felt - and George can tell you - it was exactly the same dynamic we had all those years before. We just fell right back into it. It felt like such a Titans story that we couldn't believe that any time had passed."
As for the book's status, he said, "George is done. I'm done. Mike Perkins, the inker, is two pages short. The lettering is all done, and the coloring is almost done. It will be out this fall as promised, and I can tell you George's work is the best I have ever seen from him. It is gorgeous."
Shortly after that, questions concluded and Harras took an informal poll to decide the best question. The precocious teen who asked about the canceled titles was awarded the DVD, and then the panelists and attendees headed out of the room for more con fun and (potentially) some Seattle nightlife adventures.