WonderCon 2011 in San Francisco started in earnest Friday afternoon with the DC Nation panel presenting the latest in news from the creators of DC Comics, and CBR News ass on hand for all the news. Before the action got underway, a DC employee took the mic to make sure everyone was there for the "Which color Hulk are you?" panel and then jokingly castigating those who cheered. DC VP of Sales Bob Wayne then introduced Co-Publisher Dan Didio who apologized for having "convention voice" after three weeks of traveling before introducing Executive Editor Eddie Berganza, writers JT Krul, Eric Wallace, artists Frank Quitely and Francis Manapul and finally writer Len Wein.
The talk started with the fact that there was very little about the current DC Universe that they could discuss until the incoming "Flashpoint" series hit, with Didio noting that this would make for an interesting panel.
"We thought the last issue of 'Brightest Day' came out this Wednesday, but it comes out next Wednesday, so we brought all this new stuff to show you that we can't," laughed Didio to a few hoots from the audience. Didio also spoke to each of the main plotlines of "Brightest Day," asking fans what they enjoyed about the book, giving particular interest to Firestorm. "People have told us how much they like Ronnie Raymond...and people like Jason too, so we were so glad to find a way to use both of them," the Co-Publisher said, adding that what happens in the DC books is heavily influenced by what the fans think.
Conversation swung to "War of The Green Lanterns" which Didio praised for continuing to feel like a whole epic that has been carefully planned by writer Geoff Johns. He also related a story of how at a previous con, fans appeared at a panel to ask "What's 'War of the Green Lanterns about?" He simply said in reply, "Well, the Green Lanterns go to war." The fans said, "Okay" and left the panel. It appeared that Didio wished all convention interactions went down so smoothly.
The Co-Publisher then queried the crowd on whether or not they supported Martian Manhunter with pants or without (it seemed without pants had a slight edged).
Didio then asked many fans when they started reading -Â the longest reader had been following DC for 52 years -Â before announcing a new series of one shots called "Retro-Active" which will bring back creators associated with specific eras of DC to create one-shots set in that period of continuity. Each property will have a one-shot set in the '70s, '80s and '90s as Didio revealed that the teams for each character would be:
Superman - Martin Pasko ('70s), Marv Wolfman ('80s), Louise Simonson ('90s)Batman - Len Wein ('70s), Mike Barr ('80s), Alan Grant ('90s)Wonder Woman - Denny O'Neil ('70s), Roy Thomas ('80s), William Messner-Loebs ('90s)Flash - Carey Bates ('70s), William Messner Loebs ('80s), Brian Augustyn ('90s)Green Lantern - Denny O'Neil ('70s), Len Wein ('80s), Ron Marz ('90s)The Justice League of America - Cary Bates ('70s), Gerry Conway ('80s), Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis ('90s)
The floor then opened up to fan questions. One reader who had been a fan of Paul Cornell's run on "Action Comics" wondered if Lex Luthor's story would continue. Berganza pointed him towards issue #900 of the title while Didio added that Superman's return in the comic would stick with the book.
Fans thanked the panel for DC's sticking to a $2.99 price point and also asking about the move to reintroduce letter columns. The Co-Publisher called many of the letters they'd gotten already "thoughtful, exciting and motivating for the people who are working on the books" while he also admitted that he was worried at first that the promotion would fall flat and get no letters coming in.
A fan who appreciated the fun tone of the book asked after "Flash's" ending at issue #12. He wondered if there would be any release of the solicited 13th issue of the comic. "We didn't want to spoil what was happening in 'Flashpoint,' so we didn't want to advance a book that wasn't actually going to happen," Didio said. The reader explained that his son very much enjoyed DC books but that the boy felt the kids line was too kiddish, but he himself wanted something more fun for his son. He asked the Co-Publisher how they approach splitting that difference between adult material and material appropriate for kids. "Comics for us have been slightly subversive. They always have been since the 1950s," Didio said noting that with DC's kids like - AKA Johnny DC -Â he wanted to make a line that parents could read to children in order to create a bond between young readers and comics. He called that bond an attempt to make the DC Universe "feel like it belongs to kids" so they'd want to continue on to the mainline on their own.
Another reader said that his favorite DC titles were tertiary books in the line such as "Zatanna," "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" and the new "Xombi" and asked what the chances those books had of surviving after so many DC cancelations. "There's a lot of changes in the lineup, and a lot of books were cancelled because we had minis coming into tie into 'Flashpoint,' and we didn't want to overextend the line," Didio said. He noted that they were committed to continuing with the ongoings still on the schedule as long as the fans supported them at the comic shop.
Someone asked after whether Bane would go to the returned Bruce Wayne in a conciliatory fashion after his regrets about the pair's history were voiced in "Secret Six." Berganza responded saying, "There's rumor that they're making him the bad guy in the new Batman movie, so I think making him nice and cuddly wouldn't be the direction they wanted to go." Didio added that Bane will be elevated to a major character around the time the movie comes out.
Asked if Wally West would soon return to the DCU, Didio said, "Which one's Wally West again?" Manapul responded by saying that part of the strength of the current Flash run is that it introduces Flash to a new readership and adding a bunch of Flashes in so early in the run would only be confusing to potential new readers. Didio did say that the Flash issue of "Retro-Active" set during the '90s would feature Wally West.
The status of writer J. Michael Straczynski and the "Brave & The Bold" book came up with the Co-Publisher saying that he just had dinner with JMS in LA this week to talk comics. "He loves comics, but he is extraordinarily successful writing in film and TV," Didio said, noting that for now the writer will focus on the future of "Superman Earth One" in graphic novels and that they decided to retire the DCU "Brave & The Bold" book to not create confusion with the kids cartoon property.
A young lady asked if Dick Grayson would return to his Nightwing persona. "I'm sorry...is there another question behind her?" Didio said at first before unbuttoning his shirt to show a Nightwing T-shirt underneath to applause. Wayne added, "For those of you listening to the podcast at home, Dan Didio is the new Nightwing."
"We loved the 'Wednesday Comics' experiment, and it was an experiment...it was different than anything we'd done before," he said, saying that they were looking into doing future similar projects down the line.
A reader asked about the status of the much-delayed "Batman: Europa." Wayne said the title wasn't ready yet and has been pulled from the schedule to be resolicited at a later date.
Wayne then asked if with the branding of a DC Nation animation block on Cartoon Network whether Didio would appear on it and if he'd be animated or live action. Didio spoke a bit to the future of the line, saying it would be a one-hour block with "some of the lesser known characters...and things that will make you feel like you're part of the company. We're really excited to see our little DC Nation all grown up on TV."