Sporting a hometown Blue Jays baseball cap, Dan DiDio led a lively and sometimes raucous DC Universe Editorial Presentation Saturday at Fan Expo in Toronto, Canada.
DiDio, the DCU Executive Editor, opened the panel discussion with a series of slides featuring the company's heavyweights, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Flash, and said that coming out of Grant Morrison's "Final Crisis," he and the rest of the editorial staff really wanted to look at the key franchises in 2009.
"We looked at what we believe to be the cornerstones of the DC Universe. We looked at Superman, and that's one of the reasons why we went and started to create the 'World of New Krypton' story and basically everything goes to be leading into 2010 with that storyline. We're pretty excited about the way it's being built but more importantly, what's coming down the pipe.
"We made the changes with Batman, which hopefully everybody is reading [huge chorus of cheers]. And for us with the introduction of Dick Grayson - and I fell it's the introduction of Dick Grayson as Batman, because people can say 'Prodigal' was the first time he put on the costume but this is the first time he's really taken over the role and made it his own. We wondered how people would react and so far it's been great."
DiDio then threw to Canadian artist Marcus To, who will be taking over art duties on "Red Robin" beginning with #6, as Ramon Bachs is moving to "Azrael" with Fabian Nicieza.
To said, "I've always been a Robin fan, since I was a kid. And even though it's not the Robin costume, it's Tim Drake, and that's who I grew up with. It's a lot of fun. And it's great working with [writer] Chris Yost, and I've known [editor] Mike Marts for a couple of years, so it's good to finally get to work with him."
DiDio next moved over to Green Lantern and "Blackest Night," noting that, for the first time ever, there were more Green Lantern and Green Lantern related t-shirts than there were Batman and Superman ones at San Diego's Comic-Con International.
"Blackest Night" artist Ivan Reis, who lives and works in his native Brazil, added, "This is the biggest event I've worked on, ever. This isn't a regular superhero book, and it's not a zombie story. It's a real challenge because I have to mix superhero style with terror style. Working with [writer] Geoff [Johns] on one of the most important books of the year is a great responsibility."
DiDio said the mega event will break for one month in January 2010 because, "there's a special stunt tied into 'Blackest Night' that I can't tease about."
He also re-confirmed there will be three more "Blackest Night" miniseries coming in December: "Blackest Night: Flash" by Johns and Scott Kolins, "Blackest Night: Wonder Woman" by Greg Rucka and a yet-to-be-announced artist and "Blackest Night: Justice Society of America." DiDio joked that he couldn't remember the creative team for the final miniseries.
The fourth pillar focused upon was Flash, which, thanks to "Flash: Rebirth," has returned to Barry Allen to the fold.
DC Senior Editor Joey Cavalieri, who edits "Flash: Rebirth" as well as the forthcoming ongoing "Flash" book written by Johns and the "Kid Flash" book written by Sterling Gates, said, "First of all, I can't say enough good things about Geoff. I hope you like Geoff a lot [big cheers].
"Flash is really important to DC Comics, and Flash kicked superhero comics into high gear back in the Silver Age. It's the reason why there were so many Silver Age comics, because Flash was such a success. Geoff is the world's biggest Flash fan, and I was really happy to help the ascension of his career when he started on 'Flash' when I was editing it the first time, and now we're bringing it back."
Cavalieri, who is also a teacher at The School of Visual Arts in New York, said he takes a lot of 'crap' about "Flash: Rebirth" from his students when they ask: "But it's Barry Allen. Why does it have to be so dark? Barry was always this sunny, optimistic guy, how come it's so dark?"
Cavalieri said he always answers the same: "Dude, trust us. Please, trust us. Be patient."
Noting that he didn't mention big plans for Wonder Woman other than Rucka's "Blackest Night" tie-in, DiDio quipped, "Where's the love for Wonder Woman? Believe me, if there was love for Wonder Woman, I'd be giving it. Whoops. That really slipped out."
The requisite, "That's what she said," was heard from the crowd.
Recovering, DiDio remarked that Gail Simone is telling epic stories in "Wonder Woman," and mentioned that DC is looking at renumbering the upcoming "Wonder Woman" #45, scheduled for next June, to #600.
"It would give her the same level of attention [in 2010] as Superman and Batman," said DiDio. Both "Superman" and "Batman" will reach #700 in 2010. "My concern was, I wanted to keep 'Wonder Woman' as accessible as possible and as young as possible. That's one of the reasons I didn't want people to be overwhelmed by the numbering. But if we feel the numbering is important to the fans, then we'll make that adjustment."
He said he needs 600 postcards for a 600th issue and right now he has 55.
After highlighting the importance and upcoming changes on DC's team books, namely, "Justice League of America," "Justice Society of America," "Titans" and "Teen Titans," DiDio shifted gears and asked another Canadian artist, Francis Manapul for his thoughts on drawing "Adventure Comics," also written by Johns.
"It's been great, especially the evolution of how the project started. We had plans about what we wanted to do, but it's changed along the way. What's really good about the book is that's it's really different from what's out there right now. If you're loving 'Blackest Night,' this is the opposite," laughed Manapul. "It's a charming book, and it harkens back to when 'Adventure Comics' first came out. It's not your dad's comic, especially how Geoff Johns writes. It's classic but it's modern too."
Once DiDio started to field questions from the floor, he shared many other revelations of what's to come from DC in the months and years ahead, including:
- Eisner Award-winning "Tiny Titans" creators Art Baltazar and Franco will be contributing to a series in DCU proper.
- "Ambush Bug" #6 by Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming and Al Milgrom is never coming out "due to circumstances out of their control," but the miniseries will conclude with #7 and will "be out in about a month."
- J. Michael Straczynski is writing "a lot at DC right now, you just don't know about it."
- Writer Paul Dini and artist Stephane Roux are collaborating on a "Zatanna" ongoing series.
- When panelist and current "Justice League of America" writer Len Wein wrote the title in the seventies, to challenge himself he'd break up the team using irrelevant means like costume colors or names in alphabetical order. ("All the powerful guys on one team and The Atom and Aquaman on the other team," laughed Wein.)
- Wein is also working on a yet-to-be announced project for DC.
- There are "big stories" coming featuring the Marvel Family, specifically what happened to Billy Batson and Mary Marvel following the 'Rock of Eternity' storyline in "Justice Society of America."
- The recently announced "Batman Beyond" project will be a six-issue miniseries.
- Connor Hawke will be heavily featured in the near future, and Green Arrow is the superhero to watch in 2010.