To open up the stories of its superhero line at New York Comic Con, DC Comics put on a live version of its “All Access” web video series Sunday afternoon at the Javitz Center.
All Access host Tiffany Smith MC’d a panel that featured talent like Heath Corson, Brenden Fletcher, Jimmy Palmiotti, Scott Snyder, Babs Tarr, Annie Wu, Karl Kerschl and Steve Orlando.
Palmiotti started out with a wide-ranging round of facts and jokes about “Harley Quinn and Power Girl.” For example, for the cover of issue #4, the writer had to grow a mustache so he and wife/collaborator Amanda Conner could pose to provide photo reference for the kissing cover. Asked whether they’ve ever gone too far with the tongue-in-cheek tone of a series that includes Power Girl’s costume and “the hairiest comic book character in the galaxy,” the writer said, “If we went too far, we’re doing our job. If it’s funny, that’s residual.”
Palmiotti also said that two months after the incoming Wonder Woman-centric “Harley Quinn’s Little Black Book” one-shot, the team will do another solo Harley special utilizing another DC character.
Shifting tonal gears, the panel focused on Orlando’s work on “Midnighter,” and the writer said the experience of reintroducing the hero in a solo book has been great. “He’s more darkly humorous and more creatively violent than anyone in the DC Universe…it’s fun to bring in some guest stars that bounce off of Midnighter [like Grayson] who I’m pretty sure Midnighter thinks is hilarious,” he said.
But as dark as the book is, there are comedic elements. “That’s the balance that makes him unique. We have his cynicism and his innuendos right next to the fact that he’s a guy who can’t stop punching people in the brains,” Orlando said. “This book is all about work/life balance…but his work just happens to be horrifying.”
Coming up, more DCU heroes will step up to challenge Midnighter who remains confident that no one else can do what he can do. “We have some really exciting things coming up. Issue #6 and 7 shows finally who stole things from the God Garden, and that blows up in the most explosive way imaginable,” he said, adding that issue #8 has the most bizarre guest star with an unbelievable power showing up.
After six months of working together on a daily basis, “Bizarro” creators Corson and artist Gustavo Duarte met for the first time face-to-face at the con, and the artist joined the panel to ham it up with his partner. “It’s a lot of fun. We have a great time. There’s nothing they’ve told us we can’t do yet,” said Corson. “If you’re not reading ‘Bizarro’ – and sales say you’re not -Â this is the story of Bizarro and Jimmy Olsen in ‘Planes, Trains & Automobiles.'” In an upcoming issue, the odd couple stop in Branson, MO and meet up with Zatanna who teaches the backwards-thinking superclone to be the world’s greatest backwards-speaking magician.
“We have a lot of conversations on our take of Bizarro and how we wanted to make him totally alien,” Corson said. “Bizarro is like me in middle school: he’s big and doofy and just wants to be loved…we realized in talking that we were both seeing the character in the same way.” Duarte said the character was not a bad guy. “It’s more fun. He’s Bizarro. He’s sweet.”
The various Gotham creators teamed up as they discussed “Gotham Academy,” “Batgirl” and beyond. Fletcher said that being several issues into the private school mystery series has changed what the creators can do with the book. “Out of the three books I write, that’s the one that floors me when I see people cosplay [as Maps and Olive,]” he said.
The writer said that oftentimes he and Becky Cloonan try to cram too much in the book, but Kerschl is often the third writer on the book who helps his partners balance the many elements – humor, dark drama and school stories – across the issues. The creators also said they’ll continue to draw elements from “Batman: The Animated Series” into the book. “[That show] is like a bible for us, though we do follow current continuity,” said Fletcher. “It’s our eternal touchstone.”
Coming up for “Gotham Academy” is a “Robin War” tie-in that will be “the fun issue” for the otherwise harrowing story. Then they will move on to their own unique story in January’s #14 which starts a story called “Yearbook.” “This is a whole new thing for ‘Gotham Academy,'” Fletcher said, noting that #12 and 13 will close out a lot of the dark mysteries that have run through the book until now. But in January, “We’re going to put the spotlight on the supporting characters we haven’t spent a lot of time with yet” by bringing in new creators to the book like Hope Larson, Dustin Nguyen and “Mouse Guard’s” David Petersen. “There’s a lot more names to come,” the writer promised.
Fletcher also spoke to the impact of the “young Gotham” series on the rest of the DC line saying, “We’re so fortunate.” And of course, the keystone book for that change was “Batgirl” which Tarr and Fletcher spoke on. The Velvet Tiger character coming up in the book is actually based on a design from Tarr’s fashion designer sister. “I own that dress,” the artist said, adding that she probably wouldn’t cosplay characters from her own series at cons.
Wu recently became the latest member of the “young Gotham” extended creative family and said that social media has helped push their collaboration forward even when they can’t get together to plan stories in person. “This is a new lens to see this classic character in,” she said of “Black Canary.” Fletcher credited Wu as being a major influence on how the stories came together overall.
For future issues, Tarr said she’d really like to work ’90s Superboy into “Batgirl.” Duarte wants to draw the Joker, but Corson would rather have him draw Plastic Man. “A Robin” will show up in issue #11 as a guest star, and Kerschl said that he often gets told he can’t include more core Batman characters in the story, so he was excited to get a few panels with a Boy Wonder.
Asked by a fan what kind of books they’d like to do, Corson said he wants to do a “Blue & Gold” book with Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, and the entire panel said that if fans demand more books like that, DC will likely get behind them.
A secret crossover between Wu’s work on “Black Canary” and “John Constantine: The Hellblazer” has been going on as Fletcher said that the dark magician is obsessed with the screaming singer’s first EP, and they’ve snuck Canary tour posters into the Hellblazer’s book.
Asked if fans will see Azrael at any point in the near future, Orlando said, “It’s possible that you already have” sending “Midnighter” fans back to take a closer look at their issues.
Similarly, the panel wrapped with Fletcher and the “Gotham Academy” team noting that they’ve been dropping “Batman Beyond” related Easter Eggs through their series with the name McGinnis for a while, though it sounded like more of an homage than any specific seeds for a crossover.
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