WWC: The DC Nation Panel

"This is the part we enjoy the most," Dan DiDio said at the beginning of the hour-long DC Nation panel. DiDio, DC Comics' Senior VP/Executive Editor, was joined onstage by writer Geoff Johns ("Green Lantern," "52"), artist Keith Giffen ("52" layouts), Vice-President of Sales Bob Wayne and Coordinating Editor Jann Jones, the raucous Q&A session was highlighted by tantalizing teases, laughter and a little news.

Many of the questions revolved around "52," DC's weekly comic book series set after the events of "Infinite Crisis" and prior to the current One Year Later titles. DiDio was curious what characters fans wanted to see, which versions of those characters (ex: the Cassandra Cain Batgirl versus Betty Cain or Barbara Gordon; "Mark Waid is the best Batgirl," Giffen cracked) and why.

"I'm always interested to see where people got interested in comics," DiDio said. "It's funny, we always do this at conventions and we get a bunch of people, 40, 50, 60-plus go, 'You've gotta make comics more accessible to the kids,' and then in the same breath they go, 'I want continuing stories in continuity that never repeat anything that you've told before.'"

The questions and answers ranged from the silly ("Every panel mentions Hoppy," DiDio marveled after one fan called out for the return of the Marvel Bunny to the DC Universe) to the serious, when a fan asked about racial and ethnic diversity amongst the DC heroes: "If I put out a book of just a character, a black character, an Asian character, or any character," DiDio responded, "it'll be forgotten in 15 minutes. My goal is to build equity with these characters. When he [Johns] sits there and talks about Mr. Terrific, I know that there's enough strength behind that character that I can support a mini-series."

Another fan questioned the apparent direction DC seems to be taking Captain Marvel in Judd Winick and Howard Porter's "Trials of Shazam!" 12-issue series, saying the character has strayed from his 1940s roots. DiDio responded by reiterating when that character was popular, "in the '40s," and maintaining that Winick's story "stays true to the original concept" of the character.

width="137" height="190" alt="" border="0" align="right">"Justice Society Of America" #2

DiDio also pointed the fan toward Jeff Smith ("Bone")'s upcoming Captain Marvel mini-series, tentatively titled "Shazam!: Monster Society of Evil," as an example of a more classic take of the character.

On large intra-company crossovers, DiDio said, "What the goal is right now, we didn't want to just try to do story after story, big event after big event, because sooner or later they just wear out and they become unimportant. The goal for everything we've got going on right now is putting the best [creative] teams on the best characters and wait and see how everybody reacts."

Other newsworthy tidbits include a Grant Morrison-penned issue of "52" that explores the relationships between Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake; who the real Nightwing is - the One Year Later version or the "Outsiders" one - will be answered in a mini-series separate from "52"; an "Emperor Joker" trade paperback in 2007; Rags Morales drawing an upcoming story arc of "JSA Classified"; and an affirmative answer to a question concerning Wally West's return to the DCU.

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