SAN DIEGO, DAY FOUR: Chaykin, Willingham, Simone on JLA

In a notable show of restraint, DC Comics managed to have a major panel Sunday at Comic-ConInternational in San Diego without mentioning yet another Marvel Comics creatorthat they'd managed to lure over to DC exclusivity with a better offer(presumably including a fat Warner Brothers check).

They didn't need to, though: The World's Greatest Super Teams panel hadenough big surprises on its own, including the prospect of a Howard ChaykinJustice League story.

No, Joe Kelly isn't leaving "JLA" -- not exactly. Rather, he's doing ayear-long sequel to "Action Comics" #775, "What's So Funny About Truth,Love and the American Way" (which editor Mike Carlin on Sunday called "thebest Superman comic in years"), which pit Superman against a DCU superteamthat bore a striking resemblance to the then-red-hot Authority. Next year,instead of merely butting heads with the more violent, more pro-activeElite, members of the Justice League will be working with them, in thepages of "Justice League: Elite," with art by Doug Mahnke, in a storylinespinning out of "JLA" #100.

"It's going to be a darker book, it's going to be a very aggressivestory," Kelly said. "It's going to be a wild, wild ride. ... It's going tobe rough and it's going to be a lot of fun."

And if it's enough fun, there will be more of it: "It's going to be likeSeason One. Hopefully you guys like it, and then there will be Season Two."

So while Kelly is busy with that, other writers will be taking theirturns telling a JLA story.

"I really do believe every great creator has in them one great JLA storyin them at least," Carlin said. Announced creative teams for these arcsinclude: Denny O'Neil (with art by Tan Eng Huat) in #91-93, Chris Claremontand John Byrne in #94-99, and then, in no officially stated order following#100, Howard Chaykin, Bill Willingham, Gail Simone, Dan Slott ("ArkhamAsylum") and Killian Plunklett.

"We're going to have a real good time exploring what the JLA means to alot of people," Carlin said.

Before that point, though, Kelly will keep the JLA busy.

"The biggest thing we've got coming up is 'Trial By Fire,'" Kelly said.The storyline "wraps up some of the stuff from 'The Obsidian Age.' Some ofthe characters who have been out of the book for a while come back, and youfind out what they've been doing. We have a new villain who really, reallykicks the crap out of the JLA, which I always like, because I like beingabusive to the JLA."

Issues #83-90 will be what "seem like a series of one issue stories,"Carlin said, with art by Chris Cross, including the resolution of theBatman/Wonder Woman romance story thread.

In other JLA news, the sequel to "Formerly Known as the Justice League"planned for next year has the working title of "I Can't Believe It's Notthe Justice League."

And while "JLA/Avengers" #4 is still being penciled by George Pérez, thefirst issue is already at the printers, and the other issues are at stagesin between, but "it's really happening this time," writer Kurt Busiek said.

Other superteams also got their moment in the spotlight at the panel.And while writer Geoff Johns was tightlipped all weekend about plans forthe new "Teen Titans" series, he did give out a little information:

"I think almost every Titan is going to go through some major, majorchanges in the first arc," Johns said. "After that, we'll be doing BrotherBlood. ... That'll be the return of Raven, pretty much the Raven you allknow and love, with a spin on her. ... I don't want to talk about who thevillain will be in the third arc, but he's really, really cool."

Johns was much more willing to talk in detail about what's coming up in"JSA" ... and quite a ways into the future, at that.

"We have it plotted through issue #75," he said, "And I don't plan onstopping after 75."

After the current storyline wraps in issue 51, new series artist DonKramer arrives in issue 52 for a two part storyline featuring the CrimsonAvenger coming to dish out some vengeance on Wildcat. The story alsoexplores Wildcat's nine lives, and how many he has left.

Two holiday issues follow, with #54 being a sequel to the "JLA/JSA:Virtue and Vice" graphic novel, apparently including both teams gettingtogether around the dinner table together -- something that Batman finds alittle uncomfortable.

Issue 55 is a Christmas issue, with a focus on the "old guard" characters.

"JSA" #56 is the beginning of "Black Reign," a six-part crossover storywith "Hawkman." In it, a group of superheroes decides to claim Black Adam'scountry for itself, and how to react tears the JSA down the middle.

"We sort of call it the civil war of the JSA," Johns said. "When youread 'Black Reign,' the first two parts, you're just going to be like 'hey,they can't do this,' but we'll do it anyway."

Each of the two books will be twice-monthly for the duration of thestoryline, making it a six-issue weekly storyline.

"Right after 'Black Reign,' we're going to do a story called 'PowerTrip,'" Johns said. The storyline runs three or four issues and "We'regoing to do Power Girl's origin. It's going to happen in space, and that'sall I can tell you."

For those wanting to know if Sandy is (still) really dead, Johns toldattendees that Cave Carson will be coming by to address the issue.

And finally, look for the miniseries that relaunched the Justice Societyof America, "JSA Returns," to be gathered into a trade paperback in thecoming year.

Judd Winick's newly launched "Outsiders" series got its turn in thespotlight at the panel, with Winick talking about what he wanted when askedto do the book.

"Can I have a little more violence, can I have a little harsherlanguage?" he said. "And that's where it started. And the scripts I handedin were a little tougher. They're going to be sort of like bounty hunters... and try and find these guys. ... They're not going to wait for guys todo something, they're going to go out and find them."

Winick said Gorilla Grodd is not the true villain in the first storyarc, and to look for Huntress to appear in the series at some point.

In other superteam news, look for the Legion of Super-Heroes to be moreclosely tied into the rest of the DC Universe in 2004, although Carlinwouldn't give out details in the absence of that book's creative team.

And in addition to her JLA story arc, Gail Simone will also be doing asix issue "Rose and Thorn" miniseries in 2004, with covers by Adam Hughes.

"It's going to be a clean start, but it's the same character," Carlin said.

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