Saturday as Emerald City ComiCon was well underway, the WildStorm panel began small with twice as many panel members as audience members though more fans moved in as the hour of news rolled along. In attendance were Phil Hester, Kurt Busiek, Senior Editor Ben Abernathy, Darick Robertson and Francesco Francavilla. To add to Abernathy's nerve-induced headache, the AV portion of the presentation wasn't working. While the editor failed to elicit a loud response from the assembled fans, Kurt Busiek soon chimed in, pointing at this reporter and saying "You. What's your question?"
Caught flat footed, the best I came up with had nothing to do with comics. "If you were stuck in an Office Max during a full scale vampire attack, what would you use as a weapon?"
They rolled right into it. Phil Hester would use a T-square, Kurt Busiek claimed that despite his best weapon foraging attempts he would end up with a stapler and go down quickly, Ben Abernathy would break some broom handles to use as stakes, Darick Robertson would use two drafting triangles as punching daggers, and Francesco Francavilla would assemble a cross out of whatever he found. On cue, J.J. the convention AV guy, fixed the slide show and the presentation began.
Abernathy launched into an overview of the coming year.
In recent issues, "The Authority" faced a choice to re-board The Carrier, which has been reactivated by a mysterious beam of energy, and head out into the universe or to remain on earth to deal with the dead planet. In choosing the former option, the origin and purpose of The Carrier will be hinted at. Tom Taylor, a writer known for work on Dark Horse's Star Wars titles, is working on this story arc. The new artist, Mike Miller has a style similar to original "Authority" artist Bryan Hitch, Abernathy explained.
In "Wildcats," the team has been left on earth to deal with a threat from a Kheran warlord. There will be lots of story development with the classic characters like Voodoo, Zealot and Spartan, and the art by Tim Seeley was highly praised by all members of the panel. At this point Abernathy confessed his fear of public speaking. "And you're drunk," quipped Roberson. Some laughter rolled around the room.
"Gen13" writer Phil Hester explained how he felt that Gen13 works best as a classic superhero team that fights classic super villains. Despite the setting being a post apocalyptic world, he said he was devoted to this take on the title. He gave the team a goal worth saving in the form of a tiny corner of the American west untouched by the devastation. This take gave him the opportunity to write classic superhero stories and create new villains which he has never been able to do in his expansive 20-year career. Then Hester had to split for another panel.
Brian Wood, writer for Vertigo, soon launches with "DV8" along with artist Rebekah Isaacs, tells a story not revolving around a post-apocalyptic theme. Cover art is by Fiona Staples with a Jim Lee variant for April's issue #1. The team is the antithesis of Gen13, and in this story, they have been taken from their planet by an unknown power and dropped into a prehistoric world where they are revered as gods by the natives. Being less than scrupulous, they exploit their status in the eyes of the planet. The 8-issue arc is called "Gods and Monsters" and goes on sale in a couple of weeks.
"The Authority: The Lost Year" - the twelve issue arc started by Grant Morrisson and continued by Kieth Giffen working off Morrisson's notes - also features Giffen's "Justice League International" co-writer of JM DeMatteis on the current arc. In the story, the Authority find a planet where all the members are hucksters of a sort. For instance, Midnighter is a used car salesman. It is plugged as a "hilarity ensues" type of story. Darick Robertson worked with Giffen on the first two issues of the series. He shared with the audience that Giffen gave him one of the best compliments of his life by not giving any art direction. Instead, the writer simply passed off the script with a note that said "Darick can handle it." He then gave a sketch he had been working to the only person in the room with a WildStorm comic -Â a young fan. Robertson wants another chance at Authority. He says he had the most fun on the Midnighter single issue he did in the past.
"Welcome To Tranquility" is back for a six-issue series called "One Foot in the Grave." It is set outside of the current continuity and picks up where the last series ended. It hits shelves in July.
"Sparta USA" is a new series that just debuted last week. It is written by "Stray Bullets" creator David Lapham with art by newcomer Johnny Timmons. It centers on an all-American town with all the cliches, though when a former football quarterback who has left returns, the town's dark secrets emerge.
"Victorian Undead: Sherlock Holmes vs. Zombies" is exactly what is sounds like. Moriarty is back from the dead as the nemesis, in an "undead" fashion, and Holmes and Watson are London's last line of defense. "And they don't even have an Office Max" joked Busiek. Ian Edginton writes with art by Davide Fabbri. The variant cover is by Simon Coleby and Jonny Rench. In response to an audience question, Busiek and Robertson claimed that after zombies and vampires "yetis and werewolves" would be the next big trend.
"Garrison" is the new title from Jeff Mariotte and Francesco Francavilla. It will be set the near future where the entire society is closely monitored by cameras while the crime rate is nearly zero and all seems well. Then, a mysterious man shows up and starts a rampage of murder. Nobody knows who he is or where he's from, but during the six-issue series you will discover his origin. Francavilla was loathe to give away more than that.
"Astro City" has two more issues to complete the "Dark Age" story cycle. After that, Busiek is writing the final character special. It will be a two-issue arc about the Silver Agent and will tell the origin and why he has been traveling back in time. We will also learn why there are so many heroes in Astro City. "It will be an important story," said Busiek. After that, the title will go back to a monthly style with stories that range from the Honor Guard to a talking gorilla who comes to Astro City to be a drummer and winds up being a hero. The first eight issues of "Dark Age" are now available in a trade paperback.
"Tom Strong and The Robots Of Doom" debuts in July. The mini series is written by Peter Hogan, who co-wrote "Terra Obscura" with Alan Moore, with art by co-creator Chris Sprouse and Karl Story. The series sees history rewrite itself as Tom finds himself in the capital of the new Nazi empire that conquered the earth in 1945 and discovers that his son Albrecht Strong is the new Fuehrer. There are in fact robots of doom in the first issue.
"Ex Machina" concludes in two issues. In the first two pages of the final issue, Mitchell Hundred reveals that the four years as mayor of New York City have been the worst of his life. "Whenever 'Ex Machina' comes up, I can't say enough good things about working with Tony [Harris] and Brian [K Vaughan]. These guys are geniuses," said Abernathy. "It's been a great run."
"Gears Of War," written by Josh Ortega and Michael Capps with art by Liam Sharp, takes place between the two popular game titles. The next issue comes out in July.
"God Of War" - a new liscenced title tied to the release of the third "God Of War" game - will be written by comics legend Marv Wolfman with art by newcomer Andrea Sorrentino. It tells the back story of Kratos and his family.
"Supernatural: Beginning's End" is the third arc of a trilogy of stories that began three years ago with "Supernatural: Origins." The series follows the story of the father, John Winchester, and takes place entirely in Manhattan, revealing why hunters try to avoid cities. It also reveals what transpired to cause Sam to leave the family and go to college in California. The series will end just before the beginning of the TV pilot.
Check back to CBR across the weekend for more news from Emerald City ComiCon 2010!