WWPhilly: DC Nation panel

A new stand-alone Jonah Hex graphic novel, a new Doc Savage series, the possible return of Lobo and a sneak peak at the upcoming "Wednesday Comics" were among the tidbits revealed during the DC Nation panel today at Wizard World Philadelphia.

The DC Nation panel was raucous and lively, thanks largely to Executive Editor Dan DiDio, who kept the audience literally on its feet as he prodded them with a variety of questions about DC Comics.

Joining him on stage were Associate Editor Adam Schlagman ("Green Lantern Corps"), Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne, "Superman/Batman" artist Shane Davis, "Blackest Night: Titans" writer J.T. Krul, Franco Aureliani writer for "Tiny Titans" and "Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam," and "Identity Crisis" and "Justice League of America" artist Rags Morales, who will be the artist on the upcoming "Doc Savage" series.

DiDio was clearly both ringleader and cheerleader for the panel, exhorting fans to share their opinions, good or bad on a variety of books that make up the DC Universe. Starting with the Green Lantern series of titles, he had audience members wearing different color GL Corps shirts to stand up and defend their sartorial choices.

DiDio then moved on to the Batman series of books ("Does anyone here have a problem with Dick Grayson as Batman?"), the ongoing "World of Krypton" series in the Superman books, and Gail Simone's current work on "Wonder Woman." Most of the fans seemed to be enjoying the current revamps on these stalwart series ("Battle for the Cowl" being a possible exception for some fans in the audience), and DiDio noted how these recent changes are part of a larger goal for the publishing line.

"One of the goals for this year is introducing a lot of new ideas and concepts," DiDio said. "but organically out of what existed before. One of things I heard last year from a lot of the fans was that they like when stories feel like they've grown organically over a period of time, that it's been building, so when it gets [to the big revelation] you feel you have an investment in what's going on. With Superman we're building to a bigger story down the road but wanted to get you invested in all the various aspects so that when it comes at you, it doesn't hit you over the head and you have to learn it all in five seconds. You'll already be engrossed in it when it happens."

Turning to the "Justice Society of America" got DiDio the biggest round of applause during the panel. When a fan said he didn't care for the quiet tone of the last issue, DiDio said "We had a big epic story and the whole purpose of Justice Society is family and generations. And we had a big epic, we told it across almost a year's worth of comics. We wanted to take a moment, sit back and reflect and show that these people could be family to. And for me it was the right way to go."

DiDio then noted that DC was getting ready to launch a "Magog" series by Keith Giffen and Howard Porter, which didn't seem to arouse a lot of interest from the audience. "We're trying to build JSA into its own mini-franchise," he said, referring to "Magog" and the new "Power Girl" series. "We want to show the different flavors we can do. There's high action and light comedy in 'Power Girl' and 'Magog' has this dark, gritty story, which shows you how diversified that franchise is."

Turning to "Justice League of America," DiDio mentioned that while the "Cry for Justice" storyline got delayed it was a "beautifully painted book." "It's taking a little while," said Schlagman "but it looks beautiful and it's so important to the DCU as a whole."

DiDio moved then to the next team book, "Teen Titans," and received thank yous from the crowd for putting Static in the line-up. "We always talk about diversity. And we have this wonderful group of characters that help diversify the DC Universe in Milestone universe. We finally got to the right point where we were able to work all those books together. I think they've enhanced the overall DC Universe just by coming in. I think [Static] adds a lot to the Teen Titans. He's a great character."

Continuing on the book, DiDio said fans will start seeing a more stable team starting with issue #75, adding that a "couple of returning characters are going to be coming back in"

Then came one of the highlights of the panel, as Wayne took out of his briefcase a copy of the first issue of "Wednesday Comics," the weekly series designed to mimic the Sunday newspaper comics of old. Printed at the size of a small tabloid newspaper, the comic folds up easily enough to fit on most comic store stands but spreads out nicely to some beautiful giant pages featuring work by folks like Paul Pope.

"We have no idea how people are going to react. But this is one of the most exciting things that has come across our floor in quite a while," DiDio said. There will be twelve issues of "Wednesday Comics," after which Wayne said that the series would be collected in trade eventually.

Didio then revealed that DC would bring back the classic pulp hero Doc Savage via a monthly series to be written by Brian Azarello ("100 Bullets") and drawn by Rags Morales. Morales said that the series will bring Savage into the DCU, though it will take place in an alternate universe where he will work and interact alongside such classic characters as Blackhawk and Will Eisner's The Spirit. The world Savage lives in will also be a blend of our modern era and the classic '30s pulp era he comes from ("cell phones and tommy guns" as DiDio put it). No news was given about a release date yet.

In answer to a question from a young Jonah Hex fan, DiDio said that not only would DC be reprinting a number of classic Hex tales in trade to tie in with the upcoming movie, but that the company was also going to release an original hardcover Jonah Hex graphic novel by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Tony DeZuniga.

DiDio then took the floor over to questions from the audience, where a few choice tidbits were given:

  • Sam Keith is working on a new Lobo story right now.
  • Aureliani revealed an upcoming issue of "Tiny Titans" will have a "Blackest Night" parody.
  • The last issue of the "Ambush Bug" mini-series will be out "soon."
  • Overall, DiDio said, the current plan is to focus more on the current DCU and less on the multiverse, since Grant Morrison is currently working on the "Multiversity" project. "We've got enough good stuff right now," DiDio said.

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