NYCC: DiDio Leads The Charge For DC's Core Heroes

From Superman to Batman and beyond, DC Comics celebrated its biggest names at the "Heroes To The Core" panel Saturday at New York Comic Con.

DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio led a panel that included "Cyborg" writer David F. Walker, "Wonder Woman" writer Meredith Finch, "Action Comics" writer Greg Pak, "Tellos" writer Jeff King, "Superman" artist John Romita Jr., "Hellblazer" artist Riley Rossmo and "Green Lantern" writer Robert Venditti.

Things started out with some breaking news. "Dark Knight III: The Master Race" will take a break in February after its first three issues where it will instead be replaced by a special one-shot prequel to the original "Dark Knight Returns" for its 30th anniversary. The issue will be written by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello and drawn by Romita. "I just found out right now. I didn't know it was a prequel," the artist said.

Then the panel got into some details on their own upcoming books, starting with Pak who described the revelation of Superman's secret identity by saying, "It's a big test. If you take away all these things that supposedly make this guy Superman, is he still Superman?" the writer said. "Things are coming to a big head. Superman has been fighting to figure out who's behind all this, and a big reveal just happened. Vandal Savage is rising in the New 52 universe, and there will be a lot of revelations about him coming up.

"This is a pretty amazing change in the character's career," Romita said, joking that cutting Superman's hair was step one and that Lois Lane needs a new haircut next.

The "Green Lantern" books got a spotlight with Venditti who explained the contours of the recent arc that's seen Hal Jordon become a wanted man across the universe. "We as the readers know, of course, that Hal is still a hero and he's working to protect the Corps -- but the entire Corps has disappeared into another universe," he said. "Now Hal is the last lawman in the universe, and everyone is trying to bring him down...there's a power vacuum in the universe that we're exploring with Sinestro, buu whoever gets Hal will ultimately fill that vacuum...we've known we were going here for several years, and it's a major storyline."

Meanwhile in "The Flash," Venditti and his co-writer Van Williams are using Professor Zoom in a story where the villain "not only kill Flash but ruin his reputation so he can't be a martyr. He really wants to supplant Flash." Henry Allen's reappearance in the book has also had a big impact, and thematically that will lead into learning about Zoom's past and parents.

The writer also promised a major return for the Rogues in an upcoming story. "This is going to be very different and even more of a challenge for [Barry.]"

Walker spoke on Cyborg, saying the core idea of the book is to update the '80s hero in his first solo book and push forward his powers so they feel futuristic again. "Taking him to a new level that introduces that sci-fi element again...and puts him in a place where we're exploring the evolution of his tech, and within that evolution, Vic has always wondered if he's more man or more machine. And how the world views him has an incredible impact on how he views himself...it's a lot of him coming to peace with who he is and what he's evolving into. It's fun getting in his voice and having him express who he is: the coolest character in the DCU," the writer said.

"Wonder Woman" #47 will be a Cheetah spotlight issue drawn by Miguel Mendonca leading into the next arc in #48 where Wonder Woman will go on a quest and be given major challenges in the style of the labors of Hercules. That story was partially inspired by David Finch's desire to draw big, mythological monsters. But more drama with Donna Troy is also in the offing as well.

While DiDio noted that DC published less "Dark" books than they did at the start of the New 52, Rossmo said that he's loving working on the still spooky "John Constantine: The Hellblazer" and noted he'd love to bring Deadman into the series at some point in the future.

In upcoming issues of "Tellos," King will bring in several multiversal characters last seen in "Convergence" including Parallax, Captain Carrot, Captain Comet and some other long lost Legion of Super-Heroes characters.

Palmiotti said that Amanda Conner couldn't make the show because she's drawing pages for December's "Harley Quinn's Big Black Book" where Harley decides that Wonder Woman must need her help. The heroine then travels to London where she teams up with the London Legion of Super-Heroes - a group that includes a character called "The Pub Crawler." Meanwhile in the main series, the gang of Harleys team continues to develop while Harley herself attempts to break her new love interest out of jail and a return to Gotham in issue #25.

DiDio then asked select creators how they were planning on creating milestone #50 issues for the legacy New 52 titles. Pak spoke about his plans for Superman by saying, "What's happened during the 'Truth' story is that before Superman was able to fly into a room and solve a conflict by snapping his fingers," he said. "Now that he doesn't have his powers, he can't control the room, but he's still trying to have the same impact. It's a huge test for him as a hero...as we build towards #50, this question of whether he can do what he needs to do in this insanely dangerous world [will] challenge him at his core.

"It's a big, crazy story that's also building up to massive superhero action as this Vandal Savage stuff ramps up."

In "Green Lantern" #50 Hal Jordan will return to earth and face off against the revitalized villain Sonar who Venditti has been wanting to build up for a while. Another secretive villain also awaits in the shadows. Venditti said aside from the return of the Rogues, some of the major changes coming to "Flash" will be teased on the upcoming series covers.

"Wonder Woman" #50 will draw in some conflicts from Diana and Superman's relationship in "Superman/Wonder Woman."

DiDio wrapped the panel by telling a fan that all things Martian - including Martian Manhunter and Ms. Martian - will be a huge part of the DCU in 2016.

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