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SDCC: New DC Universe: Mysteries in Space

DC Comics' refreshed publishing lineup includes multiple space-faring titles including "The Omega Men," "Lobo," and, of course, multiple titles in the "Green Lantern" family such as "Green Lantern: The Lost Army" and "Sinestro." Thus the "New DC Universe: Mysteries in Space: Are You Ready?" panel Thursday afternoon at Comic-Con International in San Diego dedicated an hour to these books, with panelists including "Sinestro," "Lobo" and "Green Lantern: The Lost Army" writer Cullen Bunn; "Sinestro" artist Brad Walker; "Batman Beyond" creative team Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang; and "Green Lantern" writer Robert Venditti -- along with "The Omega Men" writer Tom King, who joined the panel in progress.

The panel started with a look at the cover of "Batman Beyond" #2, featuring Inque, a villain from the animated series. "We couldn't help but get her in the story fairly soon," Jurgens said. Chang said that the book is looking to attract both "fans of the original 'Batman Beyond' series and also the current DC Universe." Jurgens said the series aims to present "one cohesive future timeline for the DCU." Jurgens said that the "nemesis of Brother Eye" and the threat of Inque will "continue to build to a head for the first six issues."

Bunn talks the recently released "Sinestro" #12, and how the current status quo of the missing Green Lantern Corps means Sinestro has a chance of making his Corps the top police force in the galaxy. "That's what he's working towards. He just has to root out this traitor, and also deal with a daughter who hates him more than anyone in the world.

Bunn said that Walker excels at capturing Sinestro's smugness. "I feel like I draw the same pompous look on his face a little too often," Walker added.

"Virtually everyone wearing a green ring has vanished," Bunn said of the "Green Lantern: The Lost Army" premise. "They're going to be fighting for their lives. They're in a very hostile environment for Lanterns. They're trying to find their way home, and not all of them will."

Venditti addressed the current "Green Lantern" status quo, which features Hal Jordan wielding a gauntlet rather than an individual ring. "He finds himself now in a situation where we as readers know he's the hero he always has been, and he's out there helping people, but the Corps is gone, and most of the universe thinks he's an outlaw," Venditti said. "He has no safe quarter. Everyone's after him."

"He's in hiding, he's on the run, he's living in a spaceship that has an AI that doesn't like him very much," the writer added. "It's a whole set of new things. Him trying to be a hero in an environment where everybody else thinks he's a villain." Jordan will also investigate what happened to the Green Lantern Corps, though obstacles will get in his way.

With "Omega Men" writer Tom King not present, Venditti talked the series' presmise while showing his enthusiasm for it. "It's a great book, very political in the way it's crafted," Venditti said of "Omega Men." "There's a whole ton of mystery involved in it right now. I definitely recommend checking it out."

Discussing "Batman Beyond" further, Jurgens opened up on lead character Tim Drake's motivations. "When he finds himself years in the future actually being called Batman, that's intimidating," Jurgens said. "He has to prove it not only to others, but to himself."

Walker discussed the challenge in drawing the Parallax entity. "Drawing him is the worst," Walker said. "He's the hardest thing to reference -- I think everyone who's drawn him as drawn him completely differently. You kind of end up going your own way. The nice thing is, with a big, glow-y yellow creature, you're not going to confuse anybody."

Burn said Sinestro wants respect from his daughter, Soranik. "I think she's just as proud as Sinestro in, just in a slightly different way. Now that she has a yellow ring, Sinestro's going to use it as kind of a teaching opportunity. She grew up thinking the Sinestro Corps was vile and evil. He's trying to show her that's not necessarily the case."

Turning back to "Green Lantern: The Lost Army," Bunn spoke on his choices for the cast, including Guy Gardner, a personal favorite of the writer. "I wanted a diverse group that would interact with each other in some interesting ways, especially in this weird situation," Bunn said. "One of the things I liked about Guy was his dynamic with John Stewart." Bunn said Guy Gardner is set to become a "voice of dissent" against John Stewart.

Venditti discussed more of the challenges that Hal Jordan is currently facing in "Green Lantern." "He has to, in the midst of everything else, learn how to control that gauntlet better," Venditti said. "There are pluses and minuses to it. It's so much more powerful than a ring, but it definitely comes with its downsides, as well."

On the recent reappearance of Black Hand, Venditti said he's a "really fun character to write, because he's completely insane, and horrifying and terrifying, but he's also sympathetic in a way. He just want some friends, hew wants to fit in."

When asked by panel moderator Joshua Yehl of IGN what the best part of working in DC's cosmic or sci-fi books are, Venditti answered, "It's just such a great sandbox to be able to play in," not just being able to write existing concepts, but also the opportunity to introduce new ones."

"It's more of an open book," Jurgens replied. "As an artist, a lot of it is design work," Change added. "Design work is immensely fun. With 'Batman Beyond,' it's 35 years in the future. We're not going to be able to have buildings floating in cloud cities. There's an amount of research, dedication; with respect to what happened in the original 'Batman Beyond' universe and a look forward to what could happen."

Contrasting his time at Marvel on "Guardians of the Galaxy" to his current cosmic work at DC, Walker said he doesn't think the cosmic style at the latter publisher has been as "specifically established" by specific artists. "It feels like there's more freedom to go balls to the wall," Walker said.

First fan question asked about Carol Ferris' status in "Green Lantern." "She will be present," Venditti answered.

Will more "Batman Beyond" villains from the animated series appear in the comic? Jurgens said that along with Inque, they're planning on using Spellbinder and Shirek.

Tom King joined the panel towards the end of the session, saying the panel wasn't on his schedule, and he raced from the hotel after reading this report on CBR.

"It's a brutal space opera, an odyssey, an epic," King said of "Omega Men." "It's my dedication to '80s comics like 'Watchmen' and 'Dark Knight.' It's your old cliche -- it's rebels versus the empire. Except they're not normal rebels, they'll do anything to defeat the empire. It's my favorite thing I've ever written. It's wonderful."

Speaking of Kyle Rayner's much buzzed about role in "Omega Men," King said now that he's no longer a Lantern, he's going to learn what being part of the Omega Men means.

For the last fan question, an audience member asked if Geoff Johns still had any role in DC's cosmic titles. "I think he's sort of an inspiration for all of us," King said, pointing to Johns' ability to take seemingly minor elements and "explode" them in major ways.

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