HeroesCon: DC Comics - "Countdown" and Beyond

Day Two of the Heroes Convention in Charlotte started out just like the first, with a panel loaded with information about the DC Universe. Joining Executive Editor Dan DiDio on the dais were Eric Powell, Steve Niles, Jann Jones, Scott Hampton, Ethan Van Sciver, Sanford Greene, Cliff Chang and Michael Siglain, along with ever present vice president of marketing John Cunningham.

Plans for the Flash were again on everyone's mind, but this time DiDio went into a little more detail than just saying "no comment." As far as the current series goes, DiDio said that "Flash" #13 will cross over with Justice League of America #10. "That will see a resolution to the story with Bart Allen as the Flash," DiDio confirmed. He also said that while people might be confused, there is a guideline for the Flash family and always has been. "The plan that is in place with the Flash has been in place for a year. We misled people and we apologize. Mark Guggenheim did interviews as if he was the ongoing writer when he knew that he would only be on the book for a few issues."

Again DiDio mentioned plans for "All Flash" #1 and Mark Waid's return to the characters he's perhaps most famous for writing. Moving up the timeline from what was announced previously, DiDio said that in the third week of August fans can expect to see "The Flash" revert back to the numbering from the previous series, starting with issue #231.

Possibly giving a hint as to what might happen to Bart Allen, DiDio said that they meant what they said when launching the current "The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive" series last year. "The Flash that you meet in the book would not be the Flash you see for the foreseeable future, that's still true," DiDio said.  

The rest of the panel was largely spent answering questions and releasing information about books set to come out later this year. "Countdown" was on DiDio's mind and he asked if there were any Jason Todd fans in the audience. The answer came in a form of boos and DiDio asked why. One man said that he paid good money to kill Jason the first time, referring to DC's infamous 1-900 number voting campaign to decide if Jason Todd would live or die. The fan's remarks were echoed by several others in the Charlotte crowd. Another reader said that he didn't like the character because the resurrection story – the similarly infamous Superboy-Prime-Punching-Reality episode-- was "just terrible."

"But that doesn't make the character terrible," DiDio argued. He went on to talk about DC's plans for Jason. "We want Jason Todd to be an important part of the DCU. [During 'Countdown'] we want to put him with Donna Troy and see what friction develops."

Also on the subject of "Countdown" was the question of what's going on with Jimmy Olsen. Fans were curious as to where Olsen's newfound knowledge of Jason Todd's identity came from and if it means he knows the identities of other masked heroes in the DCU.

"What Jimmy knows and doesn't know is a major plot point in 'Countdown,'" confirmed DiDio. "It is not a mistake."

DiDio also promised that fans would find out what's happening with Mary Marvel and also more about Karate Kid, specifically why he's stuck in the present day. The Secret Six will also have a part to play in "Countdown," DiDio revealed, prompted by a fan's questions about the popular characters. There are no plans for a Secret Six ongoing series, though. "Not at this time," DiDio said, "because of events happening to the individual members during 'Countdown.'" He added that fans will get to see the Six as part of the Piper's journey through the criminal underworld.

The other big event discussed was the Sinestro Corps War, which readers will get a glimpse into with "Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps Special" later this month. "Sinestro's put together his own army based around the color yellow," said "Corps" artist Ethan Van Sciver. "We've assembled 72 of the most fear-inducing monstrosities that were able to make their rings work and are completely loyal to Sinestro."  

Van Sciver said it was very tricky talking about the event, "because there's a lot of stuff happening in the Special which affects the rest of the DCU." Van Sciver also said that in the 54-page special, fans will also get more information as to the current status of Superboy-Prime. There was some potentially bad news. Van Sciver remarked, "Kyle Rayner fans may not like us after June."

Switching gears, the panel revealed information about several new books set to hit the stands later this year. Included in that bunch were "Green Arrow/Black Canary," "Wonder Girl: Champion," "Suicide Squad" and "Simon Dark."

Artist Sanford Greene gave some insight into "Wonder Girl: Champion," which he's drawing from scripts by J. Torres. "She's very strong," Greene said, "punching out dragons, a hydra, a lot of creatures from the Amazon world." The artist added that it was "a ton of fun working with Torres and that it was really great to come into the DCU."

DiDio broke in and added that there would in fact be an additional book spinning out of the "Amazons Attack" miniseries, that being a new "Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters," although he didn't say if that would be another miniseries or an ongoing series.

Michael Siglain discussed the various series spinning out of "52." Those include "Black Adam" and "The Crime Bible," along with "Infinity Inc.," "Four Horsemen" "Countdown to Mystery" and "Booster Gold."

It was then time to say goodbye to the current "Green Arrow" series. DiDio said that after it wraps up with issue #75, there will be a big build up to the Green Arrow & Black Canary wedding in September. A "Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special" will kick things off in September, followed by the bachelorette party in "Countdown" and the bachelor party in that month's issue of "Justice League of America." The new "Green Arrow/Back Canary" series will then be released, written by current "Green Arrow" scribe Judd Winick and drawn by artist Cliff Chang.

"I thought it was kind of funny [to do this]," said editor Jann Jones of the wedding special, "because Black Canary kicks people's butts and here she is trying to put together a wedding. And it turns out she's not that good at it." Jones promised a lot of fun for the special.

Cliff Chiang said he was excited about the "Green Arrow" project, having not had that much of a chance to do superhero books before. The fans also praised his art on the Dr. Thirteen stories in "Tales of the Unexpected," which Chang said he enjoyed. "It's probably one of the best things I've drawn, it was goofy and funny and there's a place for that in the DCU," he said.

The room was then noticeably disturbed by a fan's pitch to DiDio in the form of three simple words: Lobo. Swimsuit. Edition.

After recovering, DiDio said that there was possibly some room for more Lobo goodness, but not in a bathing suit.

Steve Niles and Scott Hampton talked about their new book, "Simon Dark," which brings aspects of the Frankenstein mythos to the DCU. "Basically, the setup is that this boy lives in Gotham and hides in the alleys," Niles explained. "He doesn't know anything about himself and has been [literally] sewed together. It's about him coming into contact [with people in the area] and what happens when the outside world finds out about him."

Scott Hampton added,"We incorporate the Frankenstein story, but 'Simon Dark' isn't a take on Frankenstein. Plus it takes place in Gotham and there is the potential for the obvious people to show up."

Niles also mentioned that the character's innocence and naivety play a role. "There's an innocence there," he said. "At one point, a friend gets killed and [Simon] thinks that he can just sew their head back on, good as new, because his head is sewed on."

As to what set up this series, DiDio said that "'Simon Dark' gave us a different flavor with the DCU, because a lot of our horror and supernatural characters had been farmed out to Vertigo."

Another Lighting Round gave quick answers to questions from the fans.

  • When will we see Scott Free again? - "Countdown."
  • More Ambush Bug? – "There's a chance."
  • After "52", where does "Birthright" stand as the Superman origin? – "No comment" from DiDio.
  • Will we see the All Star Squadron? - DiDio said, "Not at this time, but that's not to say we might not see a JSA story set in the '40s sometime in the next year."
  • Where's Azrael? - DiDio said, "He's still dead, He's the only one who stayed dead"
  • New "Justice League" writer? - Dwayne McDuffie, starting with #13.
  • More Captain Carrot? – "Coming in October" was the word from Jann Jones.
  • More Alex Ross? - DiDio said that he's taking a break after "Justice," but that the artist had an open invitation to do anything he wants.
  • Status of the "Wonder Woman" art team? - Drew Johnson and Terry Dodson will be rotating shifts.

Finally, DiDio thanked the fans for coming and offered something of a timetable. "You'll get a better sense of where the DCU is headed in three to four months," he said.

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