WonderCon: Wildstorm Panel

DC Comics Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne began the Wildstorm panel at WonderCon in San Francisco by introducing Kurt Busiek, JJ Kirby and editor Scott Peterson, who handled the rundown of new projects from the Jim Lee-founded imprint.

First up was the new six-issue DC/Wildstorm crossover miniseries "Dreamwar," written by Keith Giffen with art by Lee Garbett. Starting in April, Peterson promised the DCU Multiverse will not play any role in the series. Peterson noted that any time there are crossovers like this, there is always a fight but the heroes eventually get along. "Even if they realized that they are on the same sides, the Justice League and the Authority are just not going to get along," Peterson said. "They are just too different." Wayne added that Garbett was going to be the new breakout artist from this series.

The ongoing "Midnighter" title also comes courtesy of the same creative team as "Dreamwar," which prompted Wayne to joke that Peterson was making a permanent team of out of Giffen and Garbett, with Peterson agreeing. According to Peterson, Giffen "was so extremely happy by the first packet of pages he got out of Lee that he asked if he could work with him a whole lot more." Peterson explained the current "Midnighter" arc covers the introduction of Assassin 8, "who has been genetically designed specifically as the counter to Midnighter and is disturbingly successful at it."

Wayne next spoke about "Gen 13," saying a forthcoming arc will depict the kids in the fight of their lives. The arc is written by Simon Oliver with art by Carlo Barberi.

"The New Dynamix" starts next month, with Alan Warner writing and JJ Kirby illustrating the miniseries. Peterson says the Wildstorm office thinks it is a "really fun book" with the heroes set in the Bay Area. The thrust of the book is to explore the lesser-known heroes of the Wildstorm Universe and see what they have been up to. "The New Dynamix" will feature at least one Jim Lee cover, and Wayne asked if the artist would help or hurt the book – just as Jim Lee arrived to join the panel. Lee jumped right in, saying his cover is expected to help sales before segueing into a laundry list of heroes that will appear in "The New Dynamix," including: Brass, Graymalkin, Quickness, Union, Sword of Damocles and others. Kirby assured the WonderCon audience that Wildstorm plans to stay true to the characters while updating them for the new series. For more on the series, don't miss CBR's interview with Alan Warner.

The miniseries "Number of the Beast" starts in April, featuring a group called the Paladins. While capturing super criminals, thwarting dictators and helping old ladies, as usual, they notice that events are building to something huge and apocalyptic in their hometown of San Francisco. Scott Beatty will write and Chris Sprouse handles the interior art. The panel said huge, permanent ramifications are in store for the Wildstorm Universe after this series is done. Wayne said he agreed to the series after being tortured in the hot sun of La Jolla, but really thinks that it is "a great read."

B. Clay Moore brings "Casey Blue: Beyond Tomorrow" to Wildstorm, a book about a normal high school student who suddenly murders a stranger to stop a full scale invasion of Earth. "It's just your usual High school student who turns out to be a savage murderer story," said Wayne.

Coming from Wildstorm's manga division CMX is "Batman: Death Mask" by Yoshinori Natsume ("Togari - The Sword of Justice"). Peterson described the project as "an original manga by authentic Manga-ka, Mr. Matsumi, starring Batman set in the present day with flashbacks covering Batman's martial arts training that might have set off major trouble for Gotham City in current day."

In June, Wildstorm will publish the first "Ex Machina" hardcover, collecting issues #1-11 of the hugely acclaimed Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris series.

"Astro City: The Dark Age" Volume 3 will resume after this month's "Astro City: The Dark Age Special" #2, when enough pages have been completed so as to ensure the next arc will be released on time. The next 'Astro City' character special is Astra from the First Family. Busiek pointed out that the last time we saw Astra, "she was a 10-year-old girl, but since 'Astro City' moves in real time, she is 18 and just starting college."

In July, Wildstorm will release Book 1 of "The Dark Age" in hardcover. It will include the first two "The Dark Age" miniseries and the prologue story originally published as "Astro City: The Flip Book." The collected edition introduction is to be written by Marc Guggenheim and the book will come with lots of extras.

This May sees the release of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Raising Cain" by Bruce Jones and Chris Gugliatti. This series features new tales of the past of the Hewitts. In one story, a mother tries to flee with her twins but doesn't quite make it. One of the twins does get away, and readers will see the difference in how the children grow up.

Jim Lee noted that Wildstorm's "World of Warcraft" comics are turning out to be a surprise hit, with multiple sell-outs already announced.

A fan asked about the future of "Welcome to Tranquility." Peterson assured the questioner that a new project was in the works, but it is still too early to talk about.

Kurt Busiek then announced a new "Arrowsmith" series is coming with a different format, that of a profusely illustrated novel. The original "Arrowsmith" team of Busiek and Carlos Pacheco will produce something similar in format to Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess's "Stardust," and will tell the story of Fletcher behind not only enemy lines, but behind mystical enemy lines as well.

"Where is 'Wildcats?'" was a cry that came from the back of the room. Jim Lee quickly and calmly replied, "I don't know." Lee confirmed he has the second script, but said nothing will be solicited until enough scripts are completed.

Another fan worried that Keith Giffen and Lee Garbett's work on "Midnighter" would interfere with their "Dreamwar." Peterson sympathized with the question, but was resolute that the work ethic of Giffen and Garbett would not let them fall behind on either title. "Both work extremely fast," said Peterson. He also said the duo would remain the creative team on "Midnighter" for the foreseeable future.

"What is the future of Stormwatch?" asked another fan. "Big plans for Authority, Stormwatch and many major characters," Peterson said. "Can't really say much now until 'Number of the Beast' comes out." Bob Wayne added, "What I will say is that the new concept was different and unique."

The next question was about the return of "The Highwaymen" by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman. Peterson said that he would love to work with them again. He then confirmed that they had a new project in 2009, but no details can be given yet.

Fans asked about Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' "Sleeper," and if there is there any chance that some of the characters may show in "Number of the Beast." "Yes, they will show up," is all Peterson had to say.

What about "Desolation Jones?" Peterson again stated, "The future of 'Desolation Jones' is that more will be published when the creative team is able to work on it in a more sustained fashion." Peterson is very happy with series writer Warren Ellis, but recognizes that he is very busy.

Things then lightened up a bit when a fan wanted to know on which server Jim Lee played "World of Warcraft." Lee admitted to playing on Twisting Nether, then asked if the fan was Horde or Alliance. The artist seemed disappointed to find out his fan was Alliance, as Lee is Horde. Lee then revealed his strategy of sending his low level kids as bait to bring mid level characters to him, so that he could kill with his much higher level character.

But all good times must end, which is what happened when the panel was asked, "When is the final issue of 'Planetary' finally coming out?" Peterson answered candidly that when it is finished, it will come out. "Probably the end of year," Peterson offered. Wayne confirmed that "Planetary" would be collected in one of DC's oversized Absolute editions. The panel was then asked if Wildstorm plans to reprint Volume 1, with Jim Lee pointing out that "Absolute Planetary" and "Absolute Authority" were the hardest-to-find Absolute Editions. Wayne made a note to himself to look into a reprint of the first volume.

Another fan asked about the possibility of more Kev. Wayne replied, "No plans, but DC is open if Garth Ennis wants to write more. I think that Garth is very happy with the amount of 'Kev' books right now."

Jim Lee said he has a long list of creators he wants to work with to pick up techniques and different approaches to making comics. The list includes Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Brad Meltzer and others. Lee says it is great working with Frank Miller and he thinks that they have another ten issues to go on "All Star Batman and Robin."

In response to another fan's question, the panel confirmed Gene Ha is working on a new "Top 10" series with Xander Cannon.

"Where is Grant Morrison's 'The Authority?'" was finally asked, and Scott Peterson jumped on this grenade, saying he'd talked with Morrison about the current arc and following two storylines, but Wildstorm is going to wait until there is a surplus of issues before soliciting again. Peterson indicated the title will probably resume at end of this year.

A fan wanted to know if the Top Cow-owned Cyberforce chapters would be included in an "Absolute Wildcats." Lee said one of the problems with an Absolute edition is that Wildstorm is not in possession of have the original elements needed to create such a release and they will have to digitally scan in a lot of the earlier issues, but that a collected edition should include the Cyberforce work.

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