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WonderCon: DC Universe Panel

by  in Comic News Comment
WonderCon: DC Universe Panel

Saturday at WonderCon in Anaheim has already been a newsworthy day for DC — announcing two new Justice League ongoing series, plus writer Adam Glass and artist Bernard Chang taking over Teen Titans.

The publisher looked to up the ante on Saturday afternoon with the DC Universe panel, featuring creators including Justice League Odyssey and The Flash writer Joshua Williamson, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey writers Julie and Shawna Benson and Mister Miracle artist Mitch Gerads.

RELATED: Two Justice League Series Announced from Tynion, Martinez, Williamson & Sejic

Williamson started the panel by thanking the fans for their support of Dark Nights: Metal and its related books, reminding the audience that the final issue, #6, is out on Wednesday. Williamson also recapped the premise of the weekly miniseries Justice League: No Justice — where Brainiac puts together four different teams based on Justice League and Titans members, to counter major cosmic threats.

Things then moved to Justice League Odyssey — or “JLO,” for short — which Williamson is writing, joined by artist Stjepan Šejić. The team is led by Cyborg, joined by Starfire, Green Lantern (Jessica Cruz), Azrael and, “the wildcard member of the team,” Darkseid. Justice League Odyssey is sparked by the realization from the Justice League that they need a team in space, following the events of No Justice.

Williamson said that he originally wanted he book to be called “Justice League WTF,” because of how unconventional it is. Of course, one of the most unconventional parts is having Darkseid as a team member.

As far as why that’s the case? “He knows certain bits of information,” Williamson said, stressing that they wanted to do something different with the character. “He needs them just as much as they oddly kind of need him.” Williamson also teased that issue #2 begins with “Darkseid Is… no more.”

Next up were the Bensons discussing their Green Arrow Annual, out in May, the same month Batgirl and the Birds of Prey ends — which will lead to the duo taking over writing duties on the ongoing series as of August’s issue #43. Javier Fernandez is on interior art, with covers by Alex Maleev.

RELATED: DC Names Bensons, Fernández, Maleev as New Green Arrow Creative Team

Julie Benson expressed their enthusiasm for taking over the book, especially as female writers taking on a male character. “It doesn’t always happen,” Shawna Benson said, given that such a thing is still a rarity at major mainstream American comics publishers. “We’re keeping Black Canary on the book, so we’re bringing one of our Birds,” Julie Benson said. They’ll also introduce a new villain, someone that “Ollie can relate to quite a bit.” “We’re intending to keep Kate Spencer on the book,” Julie Benson said.

Gerads reflected on the acclaim that Mister Miracle, by him and Tom King, has received. “It feels very special to me, and I know it is to Tom, as well,” Geards said. “We’ve taken the superhero story, and done it as almost a biopic of me and Tom.”

Discussing why he thinks Mister Miracle has connected with people when New Gods characters can sometimes be a tough sell, Gerads said it was due to the perspective of the main characters. “He and Barda are the only New Gods who have no interest in being gosds,” he said. “They want to be ergulal people. Also, you can never out-Kirby Kirby — so don’t even try. We kind of took Kirby’s ideas, and the legacy and creativity, and spun that into the Tom King and Mitch Gerads filer. So, just make it said.”

Turning to fan Q&A, an audience member asked if an underdog character would get the spotlight soon. “I think that’s Green Arrow,” Williamson answered. “He plays a really major part in No Justice. He’s trying to save the world by himself.”

The Bensons addressed the end of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. “We’re really sad to see the Birds go,” Julie Benson said. “We’re really happy with the way we ended it. Anyone that’s been following along with that story will be satisfied. We’ve sort of dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s and put the toys back in the box, for whomever the next person will be.”

A fan asked about how Doomsday Clock may affect the DC Universe — and Williamson answered that they couldn’t comment, beyond that Geoff Johns is telling a “massive” story.

Williamson talked the upcoming “Flash War” storyline, first surveying the crowd on which Flash they liked best (a fairly even split between Barry Allen and Wally West). Williamson said when he was younger, at first Impulse was his favorite Flash character, then Wally West. “At this point, my favorite Flash is Barry Allen, part of which because I feel a bond with Barry like no character I’ve ever written,” Williamson said.

The story will explore the dynamic between Barry and Wally, and the “tension between them that goes deeper than bad guys they’re fighting.” In the story, Zoom, Hunter Zolomon wants to find out who will be the best hero — which he believes can only happens through tragedy, which Zolomon thinks can be achieved by Barry and Wally fighting each other.

Williamson praised his collaboration with The Flash artist Howard Porter, who had to re-learn how to draw afte having to step away from the industry to the injury. “Howard’s one of the guys I’ll work with until the day I die,” Williamson said.

A brief video promoting Syfy’s recently premiered Krypton was shown to the crowd.

Instead of wrapping with more fan Q&A, the panelists asked questions of each other. Mitch Gerads asked Julie Benson about Javier Fernandez’s art on Green Arrow, and Julie Benson then asked Gerads if the baby in Mister Miracle was based on the new addition to Gerads’ family. “Yes, it was,” Gerads confirmed.

Williamson asked the Bensons who their favorite DC characters are. Julie Benson chose Pariah, and Shawna named Zatanna. Gerads said his favorite DC character is Batman, and second favorite is Wally West. Williamson picked Batman, Barry Allen and Green Arrow.

The panel ended with the creators picking their favorite recent DC stories. Williamson praised Tynion’s soon-to-wrap run on Detective Comics; Gerads went for the “pandering” choice of naming his Mister Miracle collaborator Tom King’s run on Batman; Julie Benson chose Action Comics and New Super-Man and the Justice League of China; Shawna Benson named Green Lanterns.

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