WC11: DC Universe

On Saturday, DC Comics continued its full-frontal assault on WonderCon with its DC Universe panel.

Before the panel even started, John Cunningham, Vice President of Marketing, asked everyone in the room wearing a Green Lantern shirt to stand up so he could distribute prizes. He also showed the "Green Lantern" movie footage that was released earlier that the day on the web, to an enthusiastic response from the crowd.

Cunningham turned the podium over to Bob Wayne, Vice President of Sales, who introduced the rest of the creators on the panel: Executive Editor Eddie Berganza, "Legion of Super-Heroes" writer Paul Levitz, "Justice League of America" writer James Robinson, "Power Girl" and "Justice League: Generation Lost" writer Judd Winick, "DC Universe Online Legends" writer Marv Wolfman, "Flash" artist Francis Manapul, "Green Arrow" writer J.T. Krul and "Outsiders" artist Phillip Tan.

Wayne began the panel by showing the cover to "Brightest Day" #23, which is due in stores next week, asking the panel if fans would be surprised by what happens in it. "Fans will be shocked," Berganza responded. "Everything you think you know about the White Lantern? Yeah, not right."

Berganza then mentioned events in "Green Arrow" that tie into "Brightest Day." "There's stuff in the forest that has been happening," Bergenza said, teeing it up for Krul to discuss the title.

"He's a regular guy with arrows, and basically this incredible, unbelievable, epic event has its eyes focus on Star City and the forest. It's just gonna be crazy," Krul said. "It's about this regular guy trying to make sense of the insanity around him."

Next Wayne showed the cover to "Flashpoint #3," with Berganza noting, "what 'Blackest Night' was for Hal Jordan, this is for Barry Allen."

"It's really Barry's journey, and I think it's one of those things that, at the end of 'Flashpoint,' we'll respect who Barry is and it'll bring forth why he's important to the DCU. Maybe even more so than Crisis [on Infinite Earths]," Manapul added.

According to Berganza, "Flashpoint" will better define the relationship between Batman and Barry Allen, because "the world's greatest detective should hang out with a forensics person." He also said Andy Kubert is already working on issue #4.

Wayne reminded the audience that DC's upcoming Free Comic Book Day offering, which features Green Lantern, will include preview pages from "Flashpoint." He teased the audience with a copy of the book, which he flipped through at the podium.

The next slide showed "DC Universe Online Legends," the comic that sets up the "DC Universe Online" game's story and features a large cast of DC characters.

"I've never actually worked with all the DC characters before," Wolfman joked, noting that the characters in the book are slightly different versions of their DCU counterparts, "as their world gets darker, weirder, stranger and more bizarre."

Next, Robinson spoke about "Justice League of America," which is currently in the midst of a storyline involving the villain Eclipso. The writer said he is attempting to make Eclipso "truly kick ass. His ultimate goal this time is the biggest thing he's ever tried to attempt before," Robinson said. He also said he's having "a lot of fun" writing Blue Lantern Saint Walker.

Levitz took the microphone next, discussing his current storyline in "Legion of Super-Heroes," which features the Legion taking on the Legion of Super-Villains.

"We've got a whole bunch of super-villains running around at the moment, and they've decided they'd really like to end civilization throughout the universe," Levitz said. The storyline wraps up in issue #16.

Manapul next spoke about "The Flash," but was reluctant to say much. He joked that they were planning to kill Barry and replace him with Wally West before recanting with, "No, April Fool's."

"We all know so much that's gonna be happening, we're all excited about it, but we can't tell you," Robinson said. "I literally want to blurt out everything, but I won't. And I think we're all experiencing that on this panel."

For his part, however, Judd Winick had something to say about the end of "Justice League: Generation Lost."

"We are wrapping it up all in issue #24 -- and I can promise you that it is basically one giant, long ass-kicking that Booster [Gold] gives Max Lord, because, y'know, he's really got it coming," Winick said.

Winick said the final issue is titled "It All Comes Down To This," and all questions would be answered -- "Nothing will be left dangling; it's the first time I've had the opportunity to write a series with a beginning, middle and end like this."

Wayne also reminded the crowd that Booster Gold and Blue Beetle will appear in the April 22 episode of "Smallville," which is written by Geoff Johns, CCO of DC Comics.

Winick's recent work on "Power Girl" was highlighted next, specifically a two-parter guest-starring Batman that kicks off in May. Winick said it's been a while since he was able to write Bruce Wayne. "You don't see them together too often," he said about the pair. "It's also about Bruce Wayne and Karen Starr. Karen Starr as you'll see in upcoming issues is coming into her own as a personality." He said Power Girl has never had a serious alter ego, and Bruce Wayne is going to help her develop one.

During the Q&A session, the panel was tight lipped about whether Max Mercury would appear in "Flashpoint," what new games they have coming out besides "Batman: Arkham City" and "Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters," if a new "Shazam!" series was in the works, what Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver are working on together and the status of Justice League International after "Justice League Generation Lost."

They did confirm that Captain Boomerang will appear in "Flashpoint" after playing a major role in the last two issues of "Brightest Day." Also, Rocket Red will not be in "Flashpoint."

Noting the appearance of Death in a recent issue of "Action Comics," a fan asked if there were plans for more Vertigo/DC Universe crossovers. Wayne joked that she should be on the lookout for the upcoming John Constantine/Tiny Titans crossover, "Hells 'a Poppin' Tiny Titans."

Robinson said rumors of him writing a new "Hawkman" series are just rumors. He told another fan he would be interested in pursuing Justice League Africa, featuring Vixen, which he mentioned at WonderCon last year. He said it would have to wait until after "Flashpoint."

A fan asked about the status of "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" now that writer Nick Spencer is exclusive to Marvel. "When his story arc wraps up, we'll take a look and decide what to do going forward," Wayne said.

Some of the best moments at the panel came when young fans took the microphone to ask questions. One very young fan asked Robinson about Eclipso, while another told Winick how much he appreciated the character of Jason Todd. Wayne gave them both Green Lantern rings.

Another fan expressed his appreciation for the recent and upcoming focus on Cyborg, who figures prominently into "Flashpoint." Berganza said that was Johns' idea, and it was a "long time coming."

A fan who asked about Cassandra Cain was told to "check out 'Batman.' Maybe."

"Teen Titans: Games" is finished and will be out in September. Wolfman called it "one of the most beautiful Teen Titans jobs we have ever done."

The final question came from a fan who asked Levitz about "retconning" or reversing a previous story.

"Every story is imaginary," Levitz said. "If you want to edit it out of your particular anon, that's fine ... you can decide what happens between the panels."

All photos by Caitlin Holland

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