FAN EXPO: DC Comics' "Champions of Justice" with Azzarello, Lemire, Pak and Finch

Saturday at Fan Expo Canada is always the biggest day of the convention, and this past weekend's 2014 edition was no exception. With a long list of high-profile comic book panels planned for the day, DC Comics got things started with the "Champions of Justice" panel, which featured a few of the publisher's most prominent creators: "The New 52: Futures End" co-writers Brian Azzarello and Jeff Lemire, "Action Comics" and "Batman/Superman" writer Greg Pak and "Wonder Woman" artist David Finch, gathered at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

It's been known for a few months that Azzarello's three-year "Wonder Woman" run will end in October, and he's excited to see what the future holds. "I'm happy to be done," Azzarello said. "We told the story we wanted to tell, and we maintained the character throughout. We always knew it would end like this."

Always entertaining, Azzarello gave very succinct answers to questions, much to fans' delight. When asked where he thought they were with Wonder Woman right now, he simply replied, "Well, we're at the end." He teased the idea of several revelations developing in the final issues of the arc, but ensured that the beloved icon will still be around. "Come on, you guys know how this works," Azzarello said. "She's not going to die. I mean, some characters will die in the finale, but she won't be one of them."

When a fan asked if there was anything Azzarello didn't get to do in this run with the character that he wished he did, the writer had another clever quip. "She started dating that Superman guy, so she couldn't date who I wanted her to date," Azzarello said, laughing.

Before he left to sign autographs at his table, Azzarello had some advice to share with David Finch (who will be taking over "Wonder Woman" along with his wife, writer Meredith Finch, in November). "You have to treat Wonder Woman differently than any other character in comics," Azzarello said. "I learned that the hard way. The people are so passionate about her, and you really have to treat her with respect."

Focus then moved to David Finch, who began to discuss taking on the responsibility of working on a character after a great story had unfolded in the preceding run. "I haven't had a challenge like this in forever," Finch said. "This is an incredible book. We know that we can't be Brian Azzarello, but we know what we want to do, and we're going to be respectful of the character."

As much as he loves working on the book so far, Finch noted that there have been some challenging artistic elements. "I have so much trouble drawing her hair! I find myself spending all of this time on her hair, trying to perfect it," the artist said. He also discussed his desire to have Swamp Thing fight Wonder Woman early in the story, and his wish became reality when Meredith Finch wrote the Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson creation into the story (solicitations for November's "Wonder Woman" #36, the Finches' first work on the series, state the character appears in that issue). Finch then showed a few early sketches and previews of what Wonder Woman will look like when he takes over drawing duties on the character.

Jeff Lemire spoke next about his current ongoing series, "Justice League United," which was introduced with an alternate cover on the screen filled with Canadian flags and its original title, "Justice League Canada." "Oh, way to play to the crowd," Lemire said, laughing. Despite one audience member's request, Lemire admitted that unfortunately hockey commentator Don Cherry will not be making an appearance in the book any time soon.

Lemire described the Zeta loop that Alanna and Adam Strange experience in the book, as they will never be allowed to be together in the same place. "Me and Scott Snyder are stuck in the same Zeta loop," Lemire joked. He voiced his passion for the book and all of the Canadian inspiration found inside the pages, and also his excitement about being able to include Animal Man in his work once again (Lemire wrote the most recent volume of "Animal Man," which wrapped earlier this year).

"I find Animal Man so interesting because he's one of the few characters in the DC Universe who actually has a family, wife and kids," the writer said. Lemire told a story about staying with a family in Ontario while working on this cosmic "Justice League United" storyline, and getting the inspiration for the Equinox character from someone in the family, who was actually attending the panel that morning.

Lemire also commented on his work on "Futures End" with Brian Azzarello, and how cool it has been to work with the relationship between Constantine and Kal-El. He admits that a lot of characters from his "Green Arrow" run will be making more appearances in the upcoming issues. Lemire said he believes "Futures End" #17, which released last week, was the best issue of the run so far, but teased that issue #21 will be spectacular -- though he couldn't say much more about it.

Greg Pak is one of DC's resident Superman writers right now, responsible for both "Action Comics" and "Batman/Superman," and one of the scribes of the recent "Superman: Doomed" event. He discussed "Batman/Superman" and the hijinx that will ensue after both title characters have had their minds wiped.

"We have a Batman showing up in Gotham who has no recollection of being Batman, and that gives us some cool things to explore," Pak said. "We have Superman teaming up with Catwoman of all people, and then we have Batman and Lois Lane working together." Three lucky fans from the audience were given a copy of issue #13 to read, and they anxiously turned through the pages as the panel continued. In regards to his run on "Action Comics," Pak advised Lois Lane fans to not miss issue #34.

Keep reading CBR for more coverage from Fan Expo 2014.

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