DC Comics kicked off its presence at Comic-Con International 2013 with its All Access panel, bringing all the details on current and future projects both for the New 52, Vertigo and more. Guests for the panel included Chief Creative Officer and “Justice League” scribe Geoff Johns, “Justice League Dark” writer Jeff Lemire, “Fables” artist Mark Buckingham, “Batman: Li’l Gotham” creator Derek Fridolfs, “Batgirl” writer Gail Simone, incoming “Earth 2” writer Tom Taylor, “Fairest” cover artist Adam Hughes and more.
After introduction of the panelists and some brief announcements involving DC’s We Can Be Heroes Campaign and CCI panel plans for Superman 75th Anniversary, the information started coming in full swing, beginning with Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire on “Trinity War.”
“Obviously, we’re not spoiling a lot of things, but I’m really excited to be working with Jeff and all the artists on this book,” said Johns. “I think the fun thing coming up with Justice League Dark is seeing that team interact with the greater DC Universe. I see Constantine, Deadman and Zatanna the unholy trinity,” Lemire said, comparing the trio to Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
“Trinity War” leads in to September’s “Forever Evil,” which features “all the great DC villains.” “There will be more made clear about what that story is by the end of ‘Trinity War,'” said Johns. DC then displayed some pages by artist David Finch featuring Nightwing, Captain Cold and more.
Johns also discussed one of his other titles, “Aquaman,” which is in the middle of the storyline “Death of a King,” which sees Aquaman and Mera meeting someone claiming to be the first King of Atlantis. “I keep hearing people asking me if Aquaman will fight Sharknado,” said Johns. “He won’t, but if he did, Aquaman would win.” Johns has apparently been getting many questions about Sharknado.
Brian Buccellato, clad in a Flash mask and a tattoo based on an unused cover for “Flash” #3, and discussed “Rogues Rebellion,” which is a part of “Forever Evil.” “The Rogues, they’re going to rebel against something,” joked Buccellato. “They’re about stealing, the score, the job. They want to drink some beers at the end of the day and know they stole something really, really expensive.”
“Brian and I have gotten together a lot to talk about this,” said Johns. “I think they have a great take on the rogues, but something happens in ‘Forever Evil,’ but not all the villains are excited about it. It’s like the new boss is worse than the old boss.”
“Rogues Rebellion” is a five-issue miniseries that Johns likened to “The Warriors.”
In “The Flash” ongoing series, Buccellato teased that readers will soon get to see who’s under the mask of the Reverse Flash. “Iris was trapped in the Speed Force and has not manifested powers yet, but there’s a killer out there targeting people that have been touched by the Speed Force, so Flash has to protect her,” he said.
Lemire, who recently took over “Green Arrow,” took the microphone next to discuss his work with the character. “It’s not a character I would have anticipated enjoying writing as much as I do,” Lemire said. “I guess we’re going to have some fun stuff coming up. We have a ‘Zero Year’ crossover coming up where we see a crude version of Green Arrow in Gotham. For Villains Month, we have a Count Vertigo special where I creeped myself out.” Lemire also teased a Green Arrow versus the Outsiders showdown. According to the writer, he’s watched the first season of “Arrow” that he’s picking and choosing things to bring his own take on in the comics.
“Animal Man” was up next, and Lemire said one of the most exciting things about the book right now is the recent addition of Rafael Albuquerque to the book as its artist. “What I’m trying to do right now is focus on Buddy’s celebrity and on our focus and approach toward celebrities,” said Lemire. “Using a superhero to do that is pretty fun.”
The writer also has a Vertigo project, “Trillium,” which is written, drawn and painted by Lemire in a flipbook-type format with two different stories, each on one side of the book. “There are two narratives that run in perfect symmetry to each other,” said Lemire. “I try to do something really crazy with the floppies that are a crazy reading experience that might not be replicated in trade. The flip book thing is unique to the floppies.”
The opening to Vertigo books led to Mark Buckingham taking the stage to discuss “Fables.” “If I say one thing too much during this panel this morning, there’s going to be entrails decorating this panel room,” said Buckingham — who teased a cover that featured Bigby Wolf and Boy Blue. “This is a story that came to Bill [Willingham] where he said he had a story he wanted to tell and he built it into this next arc. It’s very exciting.”
The new “Camelot” arc focuses on Rose Red, who is now a paladin of hope and decides what aspect of hope she represents. “That inspires her to build a new Camelot,” said Buckingham. “Fables” and Mike Carey’s “The Unwritten” are also currently crossing over. “For a while, we weren’t sure how to do it,” said Buckingham. “I said to Mike, ‘Which character do you see as the focus of the story?’ He really wanted to do something with Frau Totenkinder. We told that to Bill and Peter [Gross], and they got together, and they threw a whole bunch of ideas together. It’s very much a collaborative venture between all of us. I’ve wanted to work with Mike Carey for a long time.” As a result, Carey wrote pages for Buckingham, while Willingham wrote pages for Gross.
“Batgirl” and “The Movement” writer Gail Simone was up next, and she briefly discussed the current “Batgirl: Wanted” story. “Batman got punched,” Simone recalled about the current issue. “The new art team — Fernando Pasarin and Jonathan Glapion and Blond — are the best art team I’ve worked with ever. Fernando is so good at characterization that we can build all this characterization and tension on the page without adding captions. Coming up in Batgirl, everything that happened with James, Jr — everyone is at the edge of what they can take. Everyone’s about to fall apart. Barbara doesn’t think she should be Batgirl because it’s too painful for her father. He puts up with Vigilantism, but not murder, and Batgirl murdered someone in his eyes.”
“The Movement” is still in its fledgling issues, but Simone teased there’s an issue coming up where the cast takes on the police. “Freddie Williams II has done a great job of giving it a unique look,” said Simone. “It shows that if something like the Teen Titans or a young team was created today, what would it be like? Would it be people somewhere in a tower somewhere or people on the ground? People participating all over the world doing things that you can’t keep up with.”
The Gen13 character Rainmaker has recently showed up in “The Movement” and Simone said she was “very excited to bring the character into the New 52.”
“Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan” artist Adam Hughes took the stage next to discuss his interior work on the miniseries, and Hughes briefly discussed his approach to the assignment. “It was not intimidating at all to draw him — he’s very easy to draw. He doesn’t have hair or pants, so it was less work,” he joked. “No, it was very intimidating. I aged President years last year working on that book.”
Hughes is also drawing the cover for “The Fables Encyclopedia.” “I work almost exclusively at the end of Shelly Bond’s whip,” said Hughes. “This is the wraparound cover for the ‘Fables’ Encyclopedia. I really enjoyed the chance to do some ‘Fables’ characters. It was fun to do something that wasn’t my usual wheelhouse.”
Fan-favorite creator Derek Fridolfs discussed his digital-first series “Batman Li’l Gotham,” and what makes the series unique with such a different tone. “A lot of the writing actually gets done during convention trips,” said Fridolfs. “Over time, Dustin Nguyen and I decided to pitch this book together and came up with a year’s worth of stories. I might take half of the stories, Dustin will take the other half, and we’ll write until we run out of jokes and puns and we turn in the issue. It’s a tough book to paint on a monthly basis, so a lot of props go to Dustin.”
Fridolfs stated there are indeed a full year’s worth of stories, and the next one drops this Sunday, which is a Comic-Con themed story. “The Gotham Comic-Con rivals the San Diego one in terms of craziness. Even Batman has a tough time getting tickets, just like everyone else.”
Incoming “Earth 2” writer Tom Taylor stepped onto the stage next, discussing his current “Injustice” prequel digital-first comic. “Obviously, Netherrealm and the Warner Bros. guys — they’ve given us a lot of free reign. I keep in contact with them, but they’re pretty happy,” said Taylor. “‘Injustice’ is the breakup of the World’s Finest friendship. ‘Injustice’ is going well, people seem to like it. Thank you for reading it.” The “Injustice Annual” will be a Harley Quinn/Lobo story. “It’s violent, but it’s going to be fun. I think those two will mix in ways you never expected.”
Questions started up after the panel announcements wrapped. After Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire described the recent Superman/Shazam brief fight for a fan, Johns said the heroine previously known as Mary Marvel will have a new name. “We still call her Mary, but you’ll find out what her name is,” he said.
One fan asked about Johns’ recent conclusion to “Green Lantern” and closing the series. “If I was going to write these characters forever, where would they end up?” said Johns. “Some of them, I wanted to have closure. The human guys — Hal, Kyle, John — I wanted to give them their sendoff.”
“I feel like before, Oliver Queen was so defined by his relationship with Black Canary,” said Lemire. “I think the longer we wait, the more story possibilities there are for me.”
Simone stated the way Barbara Gordon got her legs back will be revealed as the title continues. “We’ve been telling little bits of it,” said Simone. “You’ll get pieces here and there as we go along.”
Another question for Simone had to do with Barbara’s transgender roommate. “The goal is to treat it as naturally as possible,” she said. “it’s definitely something that’s a part of the book. She is her roommate. Things will come up. We also have some issues in ‘The Movement,’ which may be handled differently than in ‘Batgirl.’ It’s a very strong issue in that book. Mostly Barbara’s job is to be Lucia’s best friend and roommate.”
The final question was for Taylor, who was asked about taking over “Earth 2” from James Robinson. “It’s tricky. James has obviously established something enormous,” said Taylor.
“It’s an entire world that he’s built. Of course we’re following that. We are going to be focusing a bit more on Batman of Earth 2. I can’t tell you who he is, but we’re building on what James has created and we’re going where we’re going as well. It’s going to be big.”