WWLA: DCU - Countdown to Crisis

Welcome to CBR's coverage of the DCU: COUNTDOWN TO CRISIS panel at Wizard World LA from the Mike Wieringo Room at the Los Angeles Convention Center, featuring announcements and revelations courtesy of DC Comics Executive Editor Dan DiDio, VP-Sales Bob Wayne, writer-artist Darwyn Cooke, writer James Robinson and a girl dressed as Mary Marvel in her black costume.

DiDio began the panel with an explanation of the 50-cent "DC Universe" #0, which he described as a "springboard" to the events of "Final Crisis." The issue will make 104 weeks of weekly comics from DC.

The editor then asked if anybody in the crowd had seen "Justice League: The New Frontier," and then asked Cooke what he thought. "I feel great about it," Cooke said. "It was very hard for us to do because of the time limit we had to deal with. So there was a lot of tears as we cut the book down. But when we put the rough cut together, it was clear the story was strong and we were hitting all the beats we wanted to with the characters." Cooke spoke emotionally about the film's premiere at WonderCon.

DiDio indicated the "New Frontier Special" nearly got him into trouble vis-a-vis some legal issues concerning a certain "bunny club," alluding to Playboy.

Cooke hinted that there may be more "New Frontier" in the future, which prompted a loud applause from the LA crowd.

Turning to James Robinson, DiDio reminded the crowd the writer will be taking over "Superman" with issue #677. "I'm bringing a lot of passion to this book," Robinson said, explaining he's been out of comics for a couple of years and is eager to recharge his creative batteries. Robinson worked with Geoff Johns to revitalize the title and character by taking inspiration from the past, with storylines encompassing the whole DC Universe. "We're going to turn this book into something everybody loves."

"What character haven't we touched upon that you would like to bring forward?" DiDio asked Robinson.

"One of the things I'm going to do with Jimmy Olsen... in the future, he will be the greatest investigative journalist the Daily Planet has ever seen. He just isn't there yet. One of the threads will be him reconnecting with the Guardian - Jim Harper, the original Guardian. I'm going to make him another fun part of the Metropolis world."

The writer also said he's written the first issue of a new Justice League. Called simply "The Justice League," the book will follow a mission statement born out of the events of "Final Crisis." The book will come out before the end of the Grant Morrison miniseries. "Hal Jordan decides he wants a pro-active team," Robinson said. "The thing that's always bothered me about the Avengers is they're never avenging anything. With the Justice League, they're never going out to get people." Robinson's series will see Jordan and Green Arrow traveling the DC Universe. "When I write Hal and Ollie, I just write me and Geoff Johns talking to each other."

Additional members of the new Justice League team include Ray Palmer -- not The Atom, but Ray Palmer. He still shrinks, though.

"Not the Atom?" asked Cooke. "This is news to me, too."

"Stop living in the '50s, man!" DiDio said.

Supergirl, Batwoman, Freddie Freeman and Mikael Thomas - the blue, alien Starman -- will also be members of Robinson's team. Robinson's special choice for the final member is a character called Bill. Congo Bill. "He's 90 years old. He's seen it all. He's done it all. And within six issues you will love this character. I guarantee it." Robinson likened him to The Shade, a previously goofy character who Robinson made hugely popular in the pages of "Starman."

Robinson characterized his book as being about justice, as opposed to Dwayne McDuffie's "Justice League of America," which the writer said was more of a family title. The series artist will be revealed at a later time.

DiDio then opened the floor to fans' questions, the first of which was about the role of Chris Kent in Robinson and Johns' plans for the Superman titles.

"Who the hell is Chris Kent?" asked Cooke, frustratedly. Robinson indicated the character would be key in upcoming stories.

Next, a fan declared his love for Jason Todd, which caused his fellow DC fans to boo loudly. DiDio said Todd will play a role in the Batman family of titles.

Another fan asked if Cooke had plans to return to Will Eisner's The Spirit, to which Cooke said yes. "He's probably my favorite character to write," Cooke said. "He's not meta. He's just a guy. And not even the brightest guy. He's a great character to write."

As to the return of "Manhunter," the panel said that although the series picks up with its original numbering, it will not pick up directly from the Wonder Woman trial seen previously. DiDio said the series will follow current events through the prism of a Marc Andreyko superhero. As previously announced, Michael Gaydos will illustrate the series.

In response to fan's question, DiDio reminded the crowd that the "Last Son" storyline by Geoff Johns, Richard Donner and Adam Kubert is set to be completed, with all the art now finished and a print run to be set within the week. He said DC had broken its committment to fans, and promised such a pronounced delay would never be repeated.

"With the Legion of Super-Heroes in 'Action Comics' - are we going to see them more?" asked a fan. DiDio explained that the Legion will be celebrated in a lot of ways, as it's the 50th anniversary of the team.

The Mary Marvel girl continued to stand silently.

DiDio said the events of "Salvation Run" will feed into "Final Crisis" by way of "Justice League of America" #21, which is a direct lead-in to the event miniseries. Later, the villains will play a role in James Robinson's Justice League series.

Frustrated with his ignorance of current DC goings-on, Darwyn Cooke turned the conversation to his friend Jimmy Palmiotti, who with Justin Gray wrote an issue of "Jonah Hex" especially for Darwyn Cooke to draw.

A fan asked about the occasional continuity overlaps seen during "Countdown" -- such as Kyle Rayner and Superboy-Prime appearing in different states of development relative to their appearances in "The Sinestro Corps War." DiDio promised such things would not reoccur, citing the Green Lantern storyline's format as the model for future major DC events.

A fan asked what readers can expect to see from the Marvel family in upcoming events, which prompted DiDio to ask the Mary Marvel girl what she thought. "I think you'll have to get used to this costume," she said. DiDio attempted to ellaborate on the status of the Marvel family, but accidentally revealed that Mary would be in league with Darkseid. Whoops.

Concerning DC's all-ages books, DiDio declared DC's commitment to the line, and Darwyn Cooke indicated he was talking to editor Jann Jones about a project for children.

Bob Wayne announced that George Perez would be moving on from "Brave and the Bold" to draw another project -- poissibly the rumored Geoff Johns Legion of Super-Heroes miniseries? - and that Jerry Ordway would take over for a time, followed by Scott Kolins.

A fan asked about the future of Shadowpact. Explained DiDio, because of the events of "52," Neron is missing from Hell, causing a power vacuum. This is the premise of "Reign of Hell," in which Shadowpact will appear.

Regarding the death of Steve Gerber, DiDio said he met the creator on the animated "Transformers: Beast Machines" series. Gerber pitched DiDio a direction for the series, which DiDio said he would have gone with were the choice his. "I was really happy to work with him [on 'Hard Time' and 'Dr. Fate'] at DC. The last time I talked to him, he was in a hospital bed apologizing for not turning in a script. We got Adam Beechen on the phone, and Gerber dictated the script to him from the hospital."

Adam Beechen, Gail Simone, Mark Evaier and Mark Waid will each provide an ending to the Dr. Fate miniseries, each trying to approximate how Gerber would have ended.

Bob Wayne described his time as a retailer and seeing Gerber's famous creations as they were originally released, and James Robinson recalled working with Gerber at Ultraverse. "He was a complete gentleman," the writer said. "Always encouraging other people's work."

"There was a point when I got into comics, I said I would follow six writers anywhere, and Gerber was one of them," DiDio said. "I got to do stuff with four of six of them."

"We'll do something one day, Dan," Cooke joked.

Returning to "Final Crisis," DiDio said Chip Kidd will be designing the covers for "Final Crisis" as well as "Trinity." Each issue of "Final Crisis" will come with two covers with approximately 50/50 ratio.

A fan asked if Black Adam will be seen soon, causing the Mary Marvel girl to stir. DiDio said Adam will be appearing in a book "that you would expect him to appear in."

Another fan asked about the progress of Adam Hughes' "All-Star Wonder Woman." Bob Wayne said the series is still in production and will not be solicited until there aresufficient quanities of completed issues so as to avoid a "Last Son"-style delay.

In response to a fan's question about Bart Allen, the panel simply said, "No."

"When are you bringing back Barry Allen?" asked the next fan.

"Barry Allen's an old character, so let's turn to Darwyn Cooke!" DiDio laughed.

"It's just a matter of time," Cooke said.

As to whether James Robinson has plans to have his Justice League crossover with Geoff Johns' Justice Society, the writer said that while he loves the Golden Age characters, he wants to get away from them for a time and explore more modern heroes. "I don't want to be the next Roy Thomas," he said."

"That's my joke," sighed Cooke.

Concerning "Superman/Batman," DiDio said Michael Green will remain the writer on the book, but that art teams will rotate with each arc. Shane Davis will draw for at least six issues.

"How's the build-up to 'Blackest Night' going to tie-into 'Final Crisis'" asked a fan. DiDio said the Red Lanterns are the throughline.

A fan asked about the role of Shazam in "Final Crisis," and DiDio said that Mary Marvel will play a big role.

Lightning round:

More Joe Kelly?

"I think he just signed with Marvel. So yes!"

Do you have plans for another weekly series after "Trinity?


Will the "Booster Gold" series continue after the current creative team leaves?

"Yes." Darwyn Cooke says he's waiting for the book.

Any chance of Darwyn Cooke working on the JSA characters?

"I can almost guarantee it."

Any plans for Hourman 3 - the robot - showing up?


Is "Final Crisis" really the final crisis?

"Absolutely. Until the next one. Seriously, it is my final crisis."

More Earth-2?

"I've been working on a special project for the last six months that involves Golden Age characters - I forgot!" said Robinson. "So, yes."

More Metal Men?


With Sinestro's popularity, will "Emerald Dawn II" be published?


More Levitz "Legion of Super-Heroes" trades?


Which Earth in the Multiverse is our Earth?


Another Time Masters series by Bob Wayne?

"You should all go out and buy the trade first," Wayne sighed.

Any big cosmic multiverse-type changes after "Final Crisis?"

"Sort of."

Now discuss this story in CBR's Countdown To Final Crisis forum.

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