Saturday afternoon saw DC Comics hold its regular DC Universe panel at WonderCon in San Francisco, CA. Ringmaster Dan Didio fielded questions from fans and revealed the tagline for "Final Crisis" - "The Day Evil Wins." Also on hand were the "Trinity" team of Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley, as well as Senior Editor Mike Carlin, "Green Arrow/Black Canary" writer Judd Winick, "Countdown" scribe Adam Beechen, VP of Sales (and "Timemasters" writer) Bob Wayne, "Tiny Titans" and "Ambush Bug" editor Jann Jones... and special guest appearance by Joe Michael Straczynski.
JMS said that it was exciting to be working in a new universe, and that he hopes to work with DC "later in the year." Didio said, "This is the first time we're talking about it."
Correcting himself from yesterday's DC Nation panel, Didio said there is not a "Batwoman" series coming in the near future, but that Adam Beechen will be writing a new "Batgirl" book. "All of your questions about Batgirl and the way she's been acting will be answered," he said.
Didio ran off stage to drag, purportedly, publisher Paul Levitz to the front of the room. The man on stage was dressed in a rather festive costume, but wasn't Levitz.
Regarding the "death" of Oliver Queen in the "Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special," Winick said he really didn't think anyone would take it seriously. "We thought it was just this over-the-top, ridiculous ending," he said. "We thought it was a joke. Not according to people on the internet! We thought it was so over the top it was obvious. Then, we shot Conner." There were some boos from the crowd here. "He's not dead! He's not even remotely dead, comic book wise. He's just completely brain dead. That's like a hangnail." He then joked that, "He's gona be brain dead for a really long time," and reminded fans that everything is reversible. "I'm the writer who brought back Jason Todd!"
Busiek said "Trinity" was pitched to him doing a seven-page story every week, but that now he's doing 22 pages every issue, between the 12-page lead and the backup.
Mark Bagley joked that he "ended my 22 year career at Marvel to get away from Straczynski," and said that "Trinity" plays to his strengths. "And I'm far enough ahead that I don't have to draw 12 pages a week," said Bagley.
Busiek said that the two stories per issue in "Trinity" are "not two separate tracks" but create "one big sprawling story." The lead will feature Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, while the second will have other characters who will influence the main story.
Straczynski had to leave early, so Didio asked fans to direct questions to him. The first wondered whether "he would divorce Superman." Didio chimed in that, "I was never married to Superman."
JMS is working on a "Babylon 5" graphic novel, and his favorite DC character is Superman. "I've probably got the biggest private archive of Superman stuff on Eastern seaboard," he said.
Jann Jones said that a woman came up to her yesterday to say that reading "Tiny Titans" was "like getting a hug. "That's not what 'Trinity's' gonna be like," Carlin said. Didio said that it was important to create comics truly geared toward kids in order to introduce them to the characters. "As they get older, they can read these different stories that we have come to like," he said.
Though there is no series planned, Didio said that "Batwoman will be an integral part of the DCU in 2008."
There was some discussion of fill-in issues, with many fans saying they would rather wait for the artists they like. Didio said it's something they're always debating, but that DC had a responsibility to publish its books on a periodical schedule. "We had a situation where we didn't have any Superman books for a month because they were all late. We're the publisher of Superman," he said. Bagley agreed that a long wait dampens enthusiasm for a series.
On the subject of Aquaman and the various Aqua-men, Didio said, "We consider Aquaman to be one of the Big Seven, there should be an Aquaman series. We just want to wait and make sure we do it right."
"All Star Batgirl," previously announced with the writing team of Geoff Johns and JG Jones, is on hold due to both creators' schedules. Didio said they were considering another team, but those creators are also busy.
Judd Winick said he has "literally just got back to the drawing board" on his creaor-owned series published by Oni Press, "Barry Ween." "I'd stopped doing 'Barry' when I was literally juggling three monthlies, doing an animated series, and my wife just had a baby." He said that, although he's promised more adventures for the character for several years, this time he means it.
A young fan thanked the panel for bringing Wally West back, and was invited on stage when Didio remembered him from last year's convention. Didio then told the story about how the boy, Wyatt, refused to leave the microphone until his question about Wally's return had been answered. Then, too, Wyatt was invited on stage, but his only answer was "Maybe."
Didio: "Mation Manhunter plays a very prominent role in 'Final Crisis."
Winick: "Yes, Tempest is coming back. Not right away."
Carlin said the cover of "Countdown" #2 has Jimmy Olsen as Turtleboy fighting Darkseid. Everyone on the panel and in the audience laughed.
When a fan asked about Absolute editions for some of Grant Morrison's work, which the writer had apparently told him he'd like to see, Carlin replied, "Wait a minute, Grant Morrison called you back?"
Didio regarding the "Legion of Superheroes" 50th anniversary: "we'll come up with something, I promise."
There was an extended conversation about the "killing and maiming of young heroes," and Busiek told the fan to "Check out our new series coming in July, 'Tiny Titans: Slaughterhouse!'" At the end, the fan lamented that, "Black Adam never tore a geriatric in half."
On the subject of a Power Girl series, Didio said, "There's a story that's going to be told in 'Justice Society,' where Power Girl goes to visit Earth 2. How that story resolves itself could ultimately lead to more stories for Power Girl."
Didio said he may have answers at the New York Comic-Con in April regarding series for Holly and Harvey, as well as other "Countdown" characters, based on which story arcs are most successful with fans.
There was much discussion of reinventing characters, and how far one can really go with icons. Carlin said that it was "really freeing" when DC revamped Superman with John Byrne, but that fans are initially resistant to change. "Eventually, it becomes the thing people kind of like." Bagley said it was a mistake to marry Superman and Lois, and praised Brian Michael Bendis for keeping "Ultimate Spider-man" perpetually 15 years old.
Asked about deaths in "Final Crisis," Jones piped in with, "it could be like 'Rambo' where you have 2.3 deaths per minute."
"We promise not to break that," Didio said.