DC Comics brought out a boatload of talent for its DC Digital First panel at New York Comic Con, discussing current hits like “Injustice” and “Batman Beyond 2.0” as well as unveiling three all-new series. John Cunningham, DC’s VP of Marketing, moderated the jam-packed panel on the show’s final day. “Wonder Woman ’77,” telling new stories in the same continuity as the Lynda Carter TV series, and two video game-inspired tales, “Mortal Kombat X” and “Fables: The Wolf Among Us,” were the biggest announcements for DC’s digital first line of titles.
Panelists included Hank Kanalz, Senior Vice President Vertigo & Integrated Publishing; “Injustice” artist Bruno Redondo; “Batman 66” writerJeff Parker; “Smallville Season 11” artist Cat Staggs and writer Bryan Q. Miller; “Mortal Kombat X” writer Shawn Kittelsen; “Arrow” EP and “Arrow: Season 2.5” writer Marc Guggenheim; “Batman Beyond 2.0” writer Kyle Higgins; and editor Alex Antone. Marc Andreyko, writer on the recently announced “Wonder Woman 77,” joined a bit late.
The big announcement for “Smallville Season 11,” unfortunately, was that the series would end with “Continuity.” Miller said he and Staggs were “wrapping up the series with this arc” and later posted about the series’ cancellation on Twitter.
Grinning, Staggs told attendees, “Start a petition!” but both she and Miller were happy to have the series last as long as it did. “In retrospect, it breaks down to like 14 episodes,” Miller said. “It’s like almost a whole other season of the show. We thank everybody for reading, and there’s still lots left to happen in these last few issues.”
Staggs also promised that there is “one more cover to be revealed,” but it’s spoiler-heavy, so they couldn’t show it at the panel.
Shawn Kittelsen, a comic book newcomer, was incredibly excited to announce his new series, “Mortal Kombat X,” which serves as a prequel to the upcoming video game of the same name and begins in January. “I think you guys are going to shit your pants when you finally see this,” he said. “You’ve never seen ‘Mortal Kombat’ quite like this.”
Kittelsen explained where “Mortal Kombat X” would fall in the universe’s continuity. “You’ve got about 25 years that go by between the last ‘Mortal Kombat’ and ‘Mortal Kombat X.’ So we’re going to plant a flag firmly in the middle of that timeline, and we’re going to start telling you some really cool stories about who these characters are, how the new characters come into the world, and how they interact with all your favorite characters,” the writer said. “Then for your favorite characters, we’re going to show you them in situations and roles and going through emotional struggles like they’ve never been through before.”
As for its tone, Kittelsen described series as “real, it’s action-packed, and it’s hardcore violent.” “I promise you guys, every 10 pages there will be a fatality, because I know what you really want,” said Kittelsen. “But in between the fatalities, you’re going to get some good emotional arcs, and a little bit of storytelling, too. This book is going to knock your socks off.
“I’ve been taking pictures with cosplayers that are dressed as MK characters all weekend long,” Kittelsen said of any confused cosplayers he might have encountered during the show. “None of them knew why. I was just some really excited guy like, ‘Oh my God, will you kill me?’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, we’ll kill you….’ And I’m like, ‘Please kill me, ’cause I can’t tell you why!'”
Though English is not his first language, Bruno Redondo still made the audience laugh when he admitted, “I don’t know how much time we can keep [‘Injustice’ going], because we’ve almost killed all the DC Universe. Maybe we can create new superheroes to kill them, too?”
Hank Kanalz then introduced the “Fables: The Wolf Among Us” digital comic, a tie-in with the video game of the same name. Fans of “Fables” will be comforted to know that the comic is not only being produced under the supervision of series creator Bill Willingham, but is being co-written by his longtime collaborator, Matthew Sturges, who will co-write alongside Dave Justus. Stephen Sadowski, Travis Moore and Shawn McManus will draw the series, with Chrissie Zullo providing covers.
Like the game, the “Fables: The Wolf Among Us” digital-first comic will serve as a prequel to “Fables.” However, there will be some key differences between the game and the comic. “If you guys have played the game, you know that you can choose which way to go,” Kanalz explained. “Our comic will kind of throw you for a loop. It’s not going to be an identical adaptation of the game, but a couple of surprises and twists and turns are waiting for you here.” During the panels Q&A section, Kanalz also promised that the creators would be adding “tons” of characters who are not already in the “Fables” universe.
Cunningham also shared that the video game has “driven graphic novel sales through the roof,” and he hopes that the digital-first comic will similarly bring more readers and players to the world of “Fables.”
“Batman ’66” will adapt the infamous lost episode written by Harlan Ellison as a comic by writer Len Wein and artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, which will also see print in November. “The infamous ‘lost episode’ — this will be adapted into comic book form based on Harlan Ellison’s lost episode,” said Kanalz. “He actually wrote a treatment for a Two-Face episode for the original series for ABC, and for reasons which will be detailed in the actual book itself, it didn’t get made. This will be the first introduction of Two-Face to the Batman ’66 mythos.”
“Batman 66” writer Jeff Parker also hinted at how the lost episode issue would affect the series going forward. “I’m taking full advantage of the fact that this means now we can bring in villains that were not on the show as if they were on the show. So we have been talking about a new crime wave.”
However, the new villains will still be connected to the villains from the show. “I like the idea that any other villains would be created by show villains,” said Parker. “So if you remember in the King Tut story, a big guy named Whalen got hit by a crocodile serum and ran off into the streets…” He grinned at the audience. “Who knows how that could end up?
“So keep an eye on the book,” Parker continued, “I think we’re probably going to start spilling some of that around the time of the DVD [release of the original series], when everybody catches ’66 fever.”
Marc Guggenheim said his goal with the “Arrow Season 2.5” comic is to “spend all the money I don’t have on the show,” for which he serves as an Executive Producer. “What can’t we do on the show? You know what we can’t do? We can’t have Oliver and Roy hanging off the end of a plane. We can’t shoot Roy with a machine gun and throw him out of said plane.”
Guggenheim was also excited to use some of Green Arrow’s less TV-ready weapons, including “a really cool parachute arrow” as well as “the first appearance of the infamous boxing-glove arrow, which everyone has been asking for.”
Continuity-wise, “Arrow: Season 2.5” is set between Seasons 2 and 3, and Guggenheim will be bringing back some old characters, including Clinton Hogue. “We’re going to revisit some of the events of that episode [‘City of Blood’] and see a little bit more from Clinton’s perspective.”
Other characters slated to appear include Sebastian Blood, Sarah Lance, the Huntress, Slade Wilson and Ra’s al Ghul. “We’re also going to do the Suicide Squad. It’s written by Keto Shimizu, one of the writer-producers on the show. It is drawn by the amazing Szymon Kudranski. It will feature not just Diggle working with the Suicide Squad, but a couple of other fan-favorite characters. We really are trying to scratch the itch that a lot of fans of the show had after the Suicide Squad episode from Season 2.
“If you’re a fan of the show or just a fan of the comics, the whole thing is meant to be a fun, seamless reading experience,” said Guggenheim.
“Similar to Marc’s deal, they’re just doing all the stuff that they can’t do on the show,” said editor Alex Antone of how “The Flash: Season Zero” comic will operate “It’s crazy huge explosions, and Flash fights a band of circus freaks, complete with giant elephants and monkeys.”
Kanalz also gave the “green light” for “Flash: Season Zero” to cross over with “Arrow 2.5” following the TV crossover that takes place across the eighth episode of each TV show.
Writer Marc Andreyko was delighted to preview his upcoming project, which is going full-on ’70s. “If there’s two things I love, it’s Lynda Carter and the ’70s — I mean, I’m planning on the appearance of Studio 54. It’s going to be a blast,” Andreyko said of the just announced “Wonder Woman ’77.”
“Wonder Woman was a huge influence on me as a little kid,” he continued, “I’m surprised I actually don’t have brain damage from spinning around trying to change my clothes.” Andreyko will also take advantage of the universe flexibility he’s been granted by editorial. “Like with what Jeff is doing with Batman ’66, I’ve gotten permission to use comic book villains in the ‘Wonder Woman’ TV show world. Because if you watch the TV show, the villains were Nazis and gangsters — and the occasional alien.”
Andreyko couldn’t give many details, but he emphasized how fun the series would be. “The schedule will be announced soon, as will the art teams. But if you enjoy it half as much as I do already, I think it will be a lot of fun.”
He also hinted at a crossover with “Batman ’66.” Looking over at Jeff Parker, he teased, “And maybe somewhere between ’66 and ’77… maybe BatWonderWoman ’68? ’72?”
Kyle Higgins announced that “Batman Beyond 2.0” would be wrapping up with chapter 40. Though the series has seen many relationships fractured, Higgins aims to end on a hopeful note. “If there’s been one kind of consistent motif throughout the run, it’s been this idea of second chances,” he said. “Whether it be between Dick and Barbara, rekindling a friendship in the wake of 30 years of things that have happened, to Terry and Melanie, to Davis now trying to get his father back. And so, if there’s one thing I can tease off this finale — connect the dots. Terry and Bruce are kind of the last of the group that have not tried again.”
Higgins was so excited about the ending, in fact, that he nearly gave it away during the Q&A. “The final chapter in particular has a fantastic ending with Terry, Bruce, Barbara and Dick Grayson,” he said, “I’ve written a lot of endings, and this is one of my favorites. I think you’ll see the way that these characters get back together again. It’s a very hopeful, fun, optimistic ending — did I just spoil that?”
Though his own run with the character is coming to a close, Higgins is sure Terry will be back in action soon enough. “It’s been a tremendous honor and privilege to do this series — and you seem to really like it, and that’s always a big plus. I’m just a huge fan of the character,” said the writer. “This won’t be the end of Terry McGuinness. This is 2.0, but he’s got at least two more years of college, right? So there’s all sorts of possibilities.”
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