The near-announcement of a new James Robinson series was the big event at the DC Nation panel Friday afternoon at San Francisco's WonderCon. DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio moderated the panel, and was joined by VP of Sales Bob Wayne, Sergio Aragones, DC Coordinating Editor Jann Jones, Senior Group Editor Mike Carlin and James Robinson. Robinson appears to be writing a new "Green Lantern/Green Arrow" series, though this is not confirmed. The writer also indicated that there is a Shade miniseries in the works, much farther off. Also announced at the panel was that "Countdown to Mystery" #8, which was to have featured the conclusion to Steve Gerber's Fate story, will feature several possible endings written by different writers as a tribute.
The session opened with a lot of banter, and this pattern continued throughout. DiDio chided Bob Wayne about now being the "best selling novelist, author of 'Timemasters,'" to which Wayne replied, "Dan doesn't like anyone with hair."
Upon mention of Mike Carlin and his role as editor of the "Countdown" series, Wayne quoted Keith Giffen as saying that "it's just like going to a NASCAR race: really, you want to see a crash." DiDio then one-upped him with Grant Morrison's take that it's more like "sex with a jellyfish: it's fun to do once but you really don't want to do it again." To which Sergio Aragones promptly shouted, "That's not true!"
The floor was immediately opened to questions, and a fan praised Chuck Dixon's "Batman and the Outsiders." DiDio said the lineup of that series is not yet finalized, but that Green Arrow has a purpose for being there.
"James, do you like writing Green Arrow?"
"In the book we can't talk about?" Clue 1 for Robinson's next project.
DiDio's comment that "Who really thinks Blue Beetle's back forever?" drew groans from the audience.
A question about "Countdown to Mystery," which features Steve Gerber's take on Fate, turned the panel serious for a moment. Gerber, who passed away last week, "was working with us to the very end," according to DiDio. Adam Beechen will write the Fate episode in issue #7 from Gerber's plot, and issue #8 will feature Mark Evanier, Mark Waid, Gail Simone and Adam Beechen providing endings they think Gerber would have written.
"James, what do you think about Green Lantern?'
"What, in the book we can't talk about?" Clue #2.
Mike Carlin then followed with, "Sounds like we should get Neal Adams to draw it."
DiDio said there were no plans for a crossover with Marvel, but said this was not bad blood. "We have a strong, cohesive universe in the DCU, and we're proud of that," he said. "We should tell our stories, and they should tell theirs." Carlin said that he wants DC's best creators to be working on stories that fit into the bigger picture, rather than stories that "don't stick" because they can never be referenced.
Jann Jones said that Marc Andreyko is working on scripts for "Manhunter" now and that DC wants to bank several issues before soliciting so the series stays on time.
Asked why a recent issue of "Birds of Prey" had Superman "slapping down Barbara Gordon," Carlin replied that, "Superman is not a regular member of Birds of Prey because he acts like that." He then said that the purpose of the story was to get the team out of Metropolis and into a new fiction city more appropriate to their skills. "Also, we're going to try to have Barbara run across the Joker."
DiDio suggested that we may have already seen the return of Ralph and Sue Dibny, as well as the Secret Six, and that the place to look is "Salvation Run."
Renato Gedes will be the artist on James Robinson's "Superman." Robinson has committed to two years on the series.
DiDio said he did "not know how to answer" to the question of whether the Legion from "Action Comics" will be getting its own series.
"DC Universe" #0 will feature art by George Perez, Ed Benes, Aaron Lopresti, Philip Tan, and others. As DiDio listed all of the series that this issue would lead into, Wayne began slapping an empty Dr. Pepper bottle against his palm at the mention of "Blackest Night." Wayne then pulled Carlin's jacket over Carlin's head. DiDio said, "That's pretty funny, I just got it."
DiDio indicated that the cover art of "DC Universe" #0 "shows what George [Perez] might be doing next."
There was some laughter at a fan's comment that he would buy "every goddamn issue" of "Tiny Titans." DiDio joked that "Goddamn Tiny Titans" was the original title of the series.
Jann Jones squealed at the mention of Beastboy Puppy.
James Robinson said that he will be doing a Shade miniseries, but that it will be at least a year before he writes it. "Opal will be in the book we can't talk about."
DiDio: There will "absolutely" be more miniseries featuring the Question.
A fan thanked Jones for getting a new "Ambush Bug" miniseries approved. The series begins in July. Following Jones' Beastboy Puppy Swoon, Carlin said, "Two things: he's green and he's a bug. Ooo!" Jones said Keith Giffen is "having the time of his life" on the series, and that there will be a "Letters to Me" column in the back.
DiDio seemed to stumble when rattling off a list of titles Geoff Johns is working on. He also appeared embarrassed to have mentioned "Rann-Thanagar: Holy War," unsure if it had been announced. "You all had goddamn blank looks on your face!" he said, after Wayne confirmed that it had been announced.
James Robinson said that Jimmy Olsen will play a role in "Superman," and that he's looking to update the "Best Pal" idea. He also indicated that "Superman" and "Action Comics" would be somewhat integrated, perhaps similar to what was done in the 1990s, when there were four Super-titles. Finally, Robinson said that he's "always been a huge fan of the Jim Harper Guardian" and that there is a "cool reason to bring him back."
DiDio said another "Bizarro World" book is "something we've been kicking around for a while." Asked about Swamp Thing in the DCU, he grinned when he said that DC "would never try to force him into another book, even a comedic book, w/o Vertigo's permission."
DiDio said he is not a fan of the Absolute Editions because he feels readers "should be reading more, not one big thing for a lot of money." Nevertheless, the next four editions are "Absolute Sandman vol. 3," "Absolute League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier," "Absolute Ronin," and "Absolute Sandman vol. 4." Wayne said there likely will be an "Absolute Justice," but that it still has life in it as hardcover and softcover volumes first.
In the lightning round, DiDio said that there will be another project for Frank Quitely after "All Star Superman."
There will be an announcement about Batwoman tomorrow.
Jones squealed again at the suggestion of a Beastboy Puppy stuffed animal. "I wish," she said.
There will be a new DC "Who's Who."