WC: DC Universe Panel

CBR's Saturday coverage of WonderCon continues with the DC Universe panel. Yesterday saw several announcements and discussion about the Batman and Superman titles, while this second panel will address the aftermath of "Final Crisis." Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler moderated, with panelists including Ivan Brandon, VP of Sales Bob Wayne, Judd Winick, Joe Casey, editor Liz Gehrlein, and James Robinson.

"I'd like to remind the panel that there are children in the audience," Robinson joked. "There are seven dirty words we can't use, and two of them are 'Final Crisis.'"

Sattler began the panel by playing the "World of Krypton" trailer first seen at Friday's DC Nation panel.

Robinson recapped developments in the Superman titles, which have led to 100,000 surviving Kryptonians, and Superman living among them. "It's Superman among his people, and what Zod and Alura may or may not be planning." He added that the series would impact other DC universe titles, and mentioned that Superman would not appear in "Action Comics" or "Superman" for the duration. Nightwing and Flamebird will take over "Action Comics," while the Guardian, Mon-El, Steel, Black Lightning, and Zatarra.

"You're going to see these characters, and in their separate story arcs," Robinson said. He indicated that he wants to give Metropolis a personality, as he did with Opal City in "Starman."

He also said that "'Supergirl' the comic and Supergirl the character will play a big role in the ['Worlds'] storyarc," and that Kara would return to her roots as Superman's secret weapon. Robinson then praised "Superman Secret Origin" by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, and that he expected it to be one of the big books of the year. "I think you will be delighted by the fresh look Geoff is bringing to the story."

Sattler then moved on to "Battle for the Cowl," which is written and illustrated by Tony Daniels. "This book is going to be total action and total insanity, and maybe not what you think," the editor said. He recapped yesterday's announcement that Paul Dini is writing "Gotham City Sirens" and "Streets of Gotham."

Sattler then announced that Judd Winick will be writing "Batman."

Winick then jokingly presented the Top 10 Things You Expect from Judd Winick's Batman:

Batman & Robin "explore their relationship"

9. Superboy-Prime punches a wall

8. Jason Todd: Dead Again, and Barbara Gordon will walk

7. Jason Todd brought back to life again

6. Commissioner Gordon learns the dangers of smoking and teen pregnancy

5. Batwoman regular guest star

4. Bruce Wayne elected mayor, invalidates heterosexual marriages in Gotham City

3. Ad space

2. Guest stars G'Nort and Ambush Bug die

1. Superman and Batman explore their relationship in a special story titled, "Meet me at Midnighter, I will be your Apollo."

Sattler disavowed knowledge of Winick's presentation, particularly in recognition that press were in the audience.

Robinson asked Winick if he could name all of the characters on the Batman slide, prompting a fan to make the attempt. He got about halfway before incorrectly guessing one character as Katana. A second fan finished the lineup.

The discussion then ran to the several "Final Crisis Aftermath" miniseries, with Brandon talking about "Escape." "It's probably the creepiest thing I've ever written," he said. "Nemesis finds himself imprisoned in Electric City-he doesn't know how he got in, he doesn't know how to get out." His situation becomes stranger through his interactions with would-be friends and foes. "They all want something from him, and it cannot be good."

Joe Casey then discussed "Dance," which stars Super Young Team. "You'll see them drinking, you'll see them Twittering, you'll see them making out with other cosplayers," he said. "They're trying to be heroes, yet the world has no idea that they did this. They expect to join the pantheon of DC icons, but there are forces in motion trying to prevent that from happening." He said Japan's fate in "Final Crisis," which was not shown in that series, would be addressed in "Dance."

Gehrlein said a few words about "Doom Patrol," by Keith Giffen and Matthew Clark. "Something that's very important to Keith is how accessible this book is," she said. Gehrlein also praised the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire "Metal Men" "co-features" that appear in the series.

Sattler then opened the floor to questions.

The first fan was the woman from Friday's panel who read questions at the request of her boyfriend. Today's question comes via text message, and asks why Wonder Girl no longer wears her magic bracelet.

"This guy really is in another state," Casey joked. Gehrlein said there is a reason, and "keep reading 'Teen Titans.'"

Cassandra Cain will not be a member of the Bat-family after "Battle for the Cowl," Sattler said.

Terry McGuinness of "Batman Beyond?" "Possibly," Sattler said. There will also be more Milestone characters appearing soon.

Will Doomsday get a Black Lantern ring? "Not dead."

Will Jack Knight be a Black Lantern? Robinson said that it was a valid question, but he hadn't thought of it because he'd put much of "Starman" behind him. "If you'd asked me that question last year, I guarantee something would have come of it."

Wally West will still play a role in the DC Universe after "Flash Rebirth," Sattler said.

"There's always been a divide in the archive-buying community" between those who prefer glossy presentation or reproduction that more closely resembles the original printing, Wayne said, in response to a complaint about poor quality in the DC Library series. In this case, though, Wayne said that quality of reproduction results from the quality of available source material, as original art is not always available.

Robinson said that "it's up to writers and artists to do their best work so you can't wait for the trade," after a fan discussed the economics of buying single issues.

A fan asked whether the Manhattan Guardian from Grant Morrison's "Seven Soldiers" would appear in "Superman." "He's still in Manhattan, as far as I'm concerned," Robinson said, noting that he enjoyed the character but felt more affinity with the Jim Harper version and the take he's developed for this Guardian.

"There's a conversation that's going to happen in #686, that he's given up on being Steel and has decided to be the anti-Luthor," Robinson said of his take on John Henry Irons as a science hero, but that he would be forced to don the armor again.

"I think when people go back for their second read, and they have all the stuff in front of them," readers will see the story more clearly, Sattler said. He said that there were aspects Morrison intentionally left for readers to fill in, but "the pieces are all there."

On the topic of continuity, Robinson praised Morrison's and Geoff Johns's ability to incorporate multiple versions of characters, using as much of their history as possible. "But for Mon-El, there was all that Valor stuff about a guy in the twentieth century," he said, noting the pre-"Zero Hour" series from the 1990s. "I have to ignore that, because it doesn't make any sense with what I'm doing. But I try to use as much of Mon-El's continuity as is possible."

Which version of the "Doom Patrol" will the series feature? "There are acknowledgements of previous versions, we're not saying that all that never happened," Gehrlein said. "But we want to make this as accessible as possible."

Any comic tie in with the "DC Universe Online" video game? "That's a great question," Sattler said, but did not answer it. "Look for our DC Universe panel," Wayne added.

Will pre-Crisis characters rise as Black Lanterns? "Maybe."

A fan asked if the Milestone characters would remain in the DC Universe, or whether they were "from Earth Black-5." He also asked if they would be given a city, "like Detroit," to which Sattler said the heroes would all be in the cities they were originally meant to be in. Static will continue to appear in "Teen Titans," and "there are plans" for the characters.

Asked about an ongoing Legion series, Robinson said "they will appear in an ongoing book."

More promotional Lantern rings? "Come to some events later this year," Wayne said.

Will DC do more series with two stories, as in "Doom Patrol?" Wayne said that the publisher is playing with the format, and they understand that fans want value, especially in the wake of rising cover prices. He noted that it's also an opportunity for writers and artists who don't have time for a regular series to maintain a regular presence.

"There are plans for Captain Atom to appear in a couple of Superman books," Robinson said when asked about the character.

Will the Fifth World play a role in the DC Universe. "Yes, you will," Sattler said. "I can write a thesis about that."

Who's going to make an impact in 2009? Green Arrow, Zod, Prometheus, Human Flame, according to Sattler and Robinson.

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