SAN DIEGO, DAY ONE: Slap Dang! DC/Wildstorm Break Out The News

If anyone thinks that Jim Lee's Wildstorm imprint, distributed through DC Comics, is the redheaded stepchild of DC, then they're in for a surprise at the Comic-Con International in San Diego this year. Today, two panels showed just how much new and sexy material will be revealed from the publisher, as CBR News.

One of the biggest announcements was that super-hot artist Jim Lee, whose work with Jeph Loeb (interviewed recently by CBR News) has made "Batman" the number one book in the industry, has three more years of work lined up with DC. While one might assume that would refer to his management of Wildstorm, it was greatly implied that this work was of an artistic nature and that a big announcement would be coming at Wizard World in Chicago later this year. The "Legion of Superheroes was mentioned as a favorite for Lee to do after his three years of projects.

Lee also said that a new Catwoman statue will be released based on his designs and he'll also be using the Internet to help educate new artistic talents in ways to improve their work.

The biggest news, from DC at least, was that next year Cliffhanger, another of DC imprints, will publish a new J. Scott Campbell project, though no more details are available.

Robbie Morrison, writer of the new "Authority" series, said he loved working with ex-"Doom Patrol" artist Tan Eng Huat and hopes to work with him again.

[Stormwatch: Team Achilles #15]The popular "Stormwatch: Team Achilles" has C.P Smith as the new official artist, with Michael Golden supplying covers. "I just like to draw stuff getting blown up," laughed Smith. Writer Micah Ian Wright also said that those criticizing the current series for being too liberal should take a closer looking at the lead character, Santini, and what exactly this Stormwatch team does. "He runs a military group that murders people- he's not a left wing liberal," laughed Wright.

Also worth some attention will be issue #16, in which a hero goes back in time and kills Hitler.

Wright commented about something and used the term "slap dang," which drew confusion and laughter. Jimmy Palmiotti then used the term jokingly and said, "I slapped dang before I married Amanda," a reference to his wife, penciller Amanda Connor.

Amanda Connor commented on her upcoming "Two Step" project with writer Warren Ellis and said it's set in the future, showing how teenagers might rebel against their elders. Teenagers have animal parts grafted on them and apparently they've discovered new shades of brown drawing fecal matter. When camera-girl Rosi Blades films Zen gangster Tony Ling chasing down a runaway gang member, she quickly finds herself caught in a mad duel over a stolen case. "Wait till you see what's in the case," teases Connor.

She'll also be teaming with Garth Ennis and the rest of "The Pro" team for a new project, but it won't be a sequel to the aforementioned one-shot, because Ennis "wants to give her a rest."

[The League]There will be a trade paperback of the first half of "Sleeper" coming after the "Point Black" trade paperback, collecting the prequel series.

Kevin O'Neil, artist of "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," was on hand and mentioned enjoying the titular feature flick. DC also reported brisk sales of the trade paperback and in bigger news, announced "League of Extraordinary Gentleman Vol.3," though no firm release date was provided. O'Neil did say that it would feature Mina Harkeras the main character, "as she should be," and Alan Quartermain as a retired gentleman. The story will be set in 1910, though we may see other Leagues in the 1950s. "Alan's got some really fabulous ideas," said O'Neil. He also called it a "sexier" and "more daring" version of the League.

[Thundercats: Revenge #1]The announcement of "Thundercats/Superman," by Judd Winick and Ale Garza, drew some laughter from the audience, but will also apparently be a different take on the properties. The T-cats come to Metropolis on the trail of some mutants and chaos ensues.

The Justin Gray/Jimmy Palmiotti duo will continue to please fans with their "21 Down" series that will be re-launched under the Eye Of The Storm mature readers monicker, with a new #1, and a trade paperback collection of the series' first story arc. Another series, "Twilight Experiment," was recently discussed in detail with CBR News.

"Arrowsmith," the mini-series by writer Kurt Busiek and penciller Carlos Pacheco, has sold out from DC only a day after it's release. The publisher said it will consider its option for reprinting, from a second print to a bumper collecting the firsrt and second issues, depending on the demand for issue #2. Busiek also said that he has "Arrowsmith" planned out long term and is presenting it in mini-series format because he wants to give Pacheco time to put out his best work.

Busiek's most well-known series, "Astro City," is back for the long haul. The story originally scheduled for issue #4 of the current mini-series will now be two issues, making the previous #5 into a 30 page special to be released in the near future and next year we'll see a prequel to the big "Astro City" maxi-series that focuses on the Dark Age and reveals many dark secrets of the series. There will be three issue arcs, with character spotlight special issues in-between to give everyone a break.

[Elfquest Archives Volume 1]While not strictly Wildstorm news, Richard and Wendy Pini also announced that in addition to the previously announced "Elfquest" archives to be issued from the publisher, they'll be releasing a new ninety-two page "Elfquest" story in 2004, entitled "Searcher and Sword," and mentioned that a trade paperback of Wendy Pini's sketches may be put together for a release in the future.

Jill Thompson also revealed that Neil Gaiman wants her to take another jaunt in the "Sandman" universe, in the same style as her recent Death GN, and she hinted at perhaps more manga style Death work and perhaps a DeadBoy Detectives graphic novel. She also likened each member to the Scooby Doo gang of characters, which drew applause from the audience.

There will also be a new series by David Brin, the famous sci-fi writer, and artist Scott Hampton, in a series that explores the concept of the Nazi's potentially winning WW2. As DC describes it, "In 'The Life Eaters' it's 1944 and the German forces are on the ropes, sliding toward inevitable defeat…until the gods of Norse mythology inexplicably appear and turn the tides of the war in the favor of the Axis! Written by science fiction novelist David Brin, 'The Life Eaters' is an original graphic novel based on Brin's acclaimed short story 'Thor Versus Captain America,' and features spectacular art by Scott Hampton. Watch for it in October."

For many fans, the highlight of the day was being personally handed a cookie by Jim Lee who waslate for the Wildstorm Panel and made it up to fans by buying them a chocolate chip cookie from "Mrs. Fields," that he purchased on the way to the panel.

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