At the beginning of Friday's DC Nation pane at WonderCon, DC Comics' Executive Editor and Co-Publisher Dan DiDio announced that this panel would be a little different from previous DC Nation panels. Now that Jim Lee and Geoff Johns are taking on new roles at DC - Lee as Co-Publisher and Johns as Chief Creative Officer - DiDio decided to host a DC "town hall" meeting, where fans could learn more about Lee and Johns's new roles and offer their feedback on the current state of the DC Universe.
It wasn't until the end of the panel that Lee announced the panel's biggest news. The long-promised "All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder" will no longer be set in the All-Star universe, but in Frank Miller's Dark Knight universe. The series, now titled "Dark Knight: Boy Wonder," will run for six monthly issues, starting in February 2011.
The rest of the panel was especially low-key, with DiDio, Lee, and Johns fielding questions from readers about DC's present and future. DiDio stressed the significance of having creative talent like Johns and Lee in executive positions at DC. "You are looking at three of the most competitive people in comics," he said. As for Johns's new role as CCO, he is, in addition to overseeing all of DC's lines, also overseeing DC's film slate and developing strategies to see a wider array of DC characters - not just Batman and Superman - represented in video games, television, and other entertainment media. Lee touched on his role spearheading DC's digital initiatives, and promised that we will be seeing some digital projects coming down the pike.
But don't expect digital to replace DC's print comics any time soon. "At the end of the day," Lee said, "I haven't seen anything more compelling on the digital side than a print comic." Currently, he said, DC is treating digital and print as two separate products, and is looking to play to the strengths of each. The goal is to find more interesting ways to utilize digital formats beyond mere scans of print comics.
When one fan told the panelists that readers could use a new "History of the DC Universe," DiDio pointed to the upcoming "DC Legacies" series, written by Len Wein, which will focus on five generations of superheroes, starting from comics' earliest masked heroes. DiDio also revealed the full artist slate for "DC Legacies:" Andy and Joe Kubert for the first book (comprising issues #1-2), Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and Dave Gibbons for the second (#3-4), George Perez for the third, Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway for the fourth, and Rags Morales for the fifth and final book.
The panelists also teased a handful of changes coming to the DC Universe. When one fan suggested Wonder Woman's lack of a strong "big bad" was an obstacle for writers, DiDio agreed. "One of the problems with Wonder Woman is the depth of the villains' bench." However, "Babylon 5" creator J. Michael Straczynski is coming aboard for "Wonder Woman" #600, and Straczynski may well give the Amazon's rogues' gallery an evil helping hand. DiDio alluded to additional changes for Wonder Woman and Superman as well, although he said, "We want to make sure we don't make random changes."
Perhaps one of the most profound questions came mid-panel, when one fan cited books like "The Invisibles," "Promethea," and "Sandman" as "mandatory" comic book reading. What, he wondered, were the panelists doing to make new comic books mandatory reading. Johns said, with a bit of shrug, "I just try to write the best stories I can."
DiDio added those comic books "weren't created to be mandatory. They became mandatory."