Wizard World Philly: "Countdown" Panel

DC Comics kicked off their announcements at the Wizard World Philadelphia Convention yesterday afternoon with a "Countdown" panel announcing plans for the weekly title of the same name, as well as new titles following in the wake of the year-long epic "52" and "World War III." Present at the panel were Senior Sales Vice-President Bob Wayne, as well as editors Mike Carlin and Eddie Berganza and writer Ron Marz.

The panel began with jokes and took a bit of time to settle down. "We're trying to decide if we should call Geoff Johns and hang up," Bob Wayne said after the panel members had taken their seats. "Do it!" shouted members of the audience. "Ask if he has Bendis' number!" yelled one fan, inciting more laughter. The panel proceeded to reach Johns on the phone and then quickly hung up on him as promised. Bob Wayne joked repeatedly that Johns was "busy with 'Teen Wolf 8.'" After some more jokes, the panel was again interrupted, this time by DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio, calling from HeroesCon in Charlotte just as the presentation was about to begin.

"DiDio wants to know if it's okay that we mention we're canceling 'The Flash' with #13?" Bob Wayne asked the panel with a smirk. The crowd was seemingly unresponsive to this, not applauding or booing. "I don't think they like that very much," Wayne said, pointing to one fan in the back. "There's a guy on a laptop with a flash t-shirt and I think he's booking a ticket to Charlotte right now Dan... and he has a gun!"

Mike Carlin continued, saying they were canceling "The Flash" with #13 and relaunching the title as "All Flash #1." The reaction to this news in Philly was seemingly mild, but Wayne continually held the phone up to the room and the raucous applause to DiDio's announcement in Charlotte was audible. Wayne and Carlin continued to joke about the possibility of canceling "The Flash." "Would we do that to you? It was only a year or so ago when we said times are always tough for Flash during a Crisis but we wouldn't do that, right? Anyway... #13 is the last issue."

At this point in the panel, Ron Marz arrived, announcing that he "heard DiDio's voice and felt compelled to follow." The panel then began to show art from "Countdown" and a series of titles they unveiled on the spot. The first of these was "Countdown to Adventure," edited by Eddie Berganza. The title was described as the return from space of Animal Man, Adam Strange, and Starfire all of whom were last seen in "52." The title also features a new character named Forerunner. The project is to debut in August.

The second title mentioned was "Countdown to Mystery," an eight issue miniseries featuring Doctor Fate and Calypso. Each issue will be 48 pages. At this point, DiDio switched to a slide of the previously unveiled cover to "The Flash" #13 featuring the apparent death of Bart Allen at the hands of the Rogues. He again joked that #13 would be "the last 'Flash' issue."

The next slide was the third title of the hour with "Countdown" in the name. Wayne advised that fans should be on look out for "Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer." The title featues Jason Todd, Donna Troy and Kyle Rayner visiting the 52 new earths of the new Multiverse born out of the conclusion of "52." The new team will be called the Challengers of the Beyond, and the first issue of The Search for Ray Palmer will be written by Ron Marz and feature the Multiverse debut of the Wildstorm Universe.

Ron Marz said he was looking forward to this issue. "It gives me the chance to play with Kyle and Donna again, and this time John Byrne won't be able to break them up!" The crowd laughed, and Marz added, "but Jason Todd might." Other worlds revealed to be on the horizon for the new team were the Crime Syndicate world and the vampire universe of "BloodRayne."

At this point, the panel mentioned the possibility of calling DiDio again, but Wayne nixed it, offering instead the first digits of the DC President Paul Levitz's phone number before stopping with a laugh.

Other new "52" spin-off titles debuted were "Infinity, Inc." by Peter Milligan, the cover promo to which featured prominent "52" charcters Steel and his niece Natasha Irons, and a new eight issue "Suicide Squad" mini-series by John Ostrander.

At this point the panel opened the floor to questions, with one fan asking about Brad Meltzer's new JLA team, and expressing his disappointment that Flash and Martian Manhunter were not featured in the line-up. Eddie Berganza hinted several times that the fan would be "very happy" with "Justice League of America" #13, indicating a possible return of one or both of the popular Leaguers.

Another fan asked about the upcoming conclusion to Gail Simone's run on "Birds Of Prey" and whether Misfit's background would be covered before Gail departs. Mike Carlin's response was that "Gail's last page explains a lot about Misfit."

When asked about Starman, Wayne responded, "Wait for the end of the 'JLA'/'JSA' cross-over before we start talking about Starman."

In a turn toward the serious, Bob Wayne addressed the reasoning behind reviving Golden Age titles even if the content itself bore little resemblance to their predecessors, a question very relevant in a panel debuting so many old titles and characters with new twists. "It's about trademarks," he answered, plainly.

Wayne and Carlin also addressed the concept of new stories and titles being "event-driven," given the relatively quick return of Ray Palmer to the DC Universe and hints about a potential "Flash" re-launch so soon after the One Year Later reboots. "When you hear about what's happening with the Flash, I think you'll see that we understand that concern." Carlin agreed that re-launches weren't always ideal, but reminded fans, "We do have titles that have been going longer than any other company."

Wayne added, "Yes, obviously we're a business and I'm the V.P. of Sales so when you talk about art versus the commercial, sometimes I will lean toward the commercial side. But we obviously strive for both." Thanked for his candor, Wayne jokingly mentioned the bottled city of Kandor.

Lastly, when asked whether DC has all 52 worlds of its new multi-verse mapped out, Carlin replied that there is an entire chart in the DC office with a number for each. "Yeah, but I've seen that Chart," Wayne remarked, "and Disneyworld's on it." Carlin also reminded fans that they've still left room in that planning for unexplored worlds and there are still plenty of places left to go in the multi-verse.

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