The current DC Comics lineup features multiple books centered on morally dubious lead characters, and that was the basis of the "New DC Universe: The Bad Guys Panel: Are You Ready?" panel early Friday evening at Comic-Con International> in San Diego. On the panel: "Harley Quinn" co-writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, "New Suicide Squad" writer Sean Ryan, "Lobo" writer Cullen Bunn and "Injustice: Year Four" writer Brian Buccellato.
The panel started with talk of "Hew Suicide Squad," and the recent addition of Reverse-Flash to the cast. Ryan spoke of "New Suicide Squad" #11, which he described as a "big action issue" dealing with the team taking on a refinery with an unconventional goal. "They're trying to refine Lazarus Pit fluid," Ryan said.
Turning to "Injustice: Year Four" #6, out on July 22 Buccellato said that Sinestro's appearance will have significant consequences. "All bets are off," Buccellato said.
Bunn talked the recently released "Lobo" #8, which he described thusly: "I wanted to write a story where Lobo ripped one guy's head off and beat another guy to death with it."
Discussing the currently unfolding "Harley Quinn and Power Girl" miniseries, Conner recapped the premise of the comic depicting a missing two weeks' worth of adventures that happened between panels in the main "Harley Quinn" series. In the mini, Harley will try to convince Power Girl that they're a superhero duo -- "Frankly, Harley is a frustrated superhero."
Panel moderator Jason Inman, of video series "DC All Access," asked who is the Harley Quinn and who is the Power Girl in Conner and Palmiotti's relationship. "I got to say, I think you're the Power Girl," Conner said to Palmiotti.
First fan question -- will the Gang of Harleys stick around? Conner said they likely will, as long as series artist Chad Hardin won't be driven too crazy by drawing so many characters.
Inman asked Buccellato what it's like to write the Batman of the main continuity in "Detective Comics," and an alternate take in "Injustice." "In Batman's case, I don't think he's much different in either universe," Buccellato said. "Superman is the really different character."
Conner explained Power Girl's origin to a fan, and the differences between Power Girl and Supergirl. "She looks exactly the same," Conner said. "Except... grown up."
An audience member asked the panel for some of the favorite characters they've written. Bunn picked Sinestro. "There's a joy in writing a really arrogant, really smug character. He's a villain, but he thinks he's doing the right thing."
"I loved writing Jonah Hex," Palmiotti said. "That was a fun one."
A fan asked the panel for their picks for underrated characters. "I think Eclipso's pretty awesome," Bunn said.
Next question: Who do you enjoy writing more, heroes or villains? "I think villains are more fun for me," Bunn said. "A villain can still surprise you. You don't have that assurance of how they're going to behave. With Sinestro, I have to remember he can't ever be too likeable."
"It's maybe a little more difficult to write villains, but I think it's more rewarding," Ryan said. "You know that motivation. With villains, you're not exactly sure what they're going to do, or why they're doing it."
Towards the end of the session, a fan asked if writing Suicide Squad was more rewarding with better-known villains, or more obscure ones that may be expendable. Ryan chose the former. "I know part of 'Suicide Squad' is people dying all the time, but at that point, you're not really getting invested in anyone," Ryan said.