All access with DC and Vertigo at Emerald City Comicon

(CBR) DC Comics spotlighted its various developments with their “All Access” panel late Friday afternoon at Emerald City Comicon 2014, featuring some of their marquee creative talent talking the latest in the DC Universe and Vertigo.
On the panel: Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, Kyle Higgins, Mark Buckingham, Jimmy Palmiotti, Derek Fridolfs and Bill Willingham.
The panel opened with talk of soon-to-debut weekly series “Batman Eternal,” which starts April 9. “I'm really proud of it,” Snyder said. “I co-wrote the first three issues and wrote the overarching skeleton of it with James [Tynion IV], but it's really their animal — Kyle [Higgins]. Tim [Seeley], James and Ray [Fawkes].” Snyder promised major status quo changes from the series. “We've got Professor Pyg,” he continued. “You're going to see a lot of the villains from [“Batman Incorporated”]. You're going to get a lot of the villains from the past you haven't seen before in there, too.”
Speaking of the “Zero Year” story in “Batman,” Snyder said the current section is the Riddler challenging Gotham City to evolve its intellect by plunging it into disaster.
“Ultimately, ['Zero Year'] meant a lot to us, and the fact that you let us do it and have been supportive has meant the world to me and Greg [Capullo],” Snyder told the crowd. Snyder and Capullo will follow “Zero Year” with a six-issue story the writer said will have major consequences. “It'll definitely be the most nuclear thing we've done in 'Batman' in terms of changing things around.”

The panel continued with quick mentions of weekly series “The New 52: Futures End,” debuting on Free Comic Book Day, and “Justice League United.”

Higgins spoke of the latest developments in “Batman Beyond Universe,” and the time jump to Bruce Wayne and Terry McGinnis having a falling out.

Lemire, who joined the panel in progress, talked “Futures End.” “It's five years in DC's future,” Lemire said. “You'll see pretty much everyone from the DC Universe” in the series, the writer said, along with the primary characters like Batman Beyond, Firestorm, Frankenstein, Grifter and Amethyst. Lemire also talked “Justice League United,” and the recently revealed new character, Equinox.

Fridolfs said “Li'l Gotham” is “a little bit of everything” he and Dustin Nguyen like about Batman, and also a chance to use some characters that are unlikely to be used in current Batman storylines.

Next up: “Harley Quinn.” “We were calling the comic the 'red flag' book around the house, but DC has been letting us do everything lately,” Palmiotti said. “We're having fun. If you haven't seen the book, it's monthly insanity.” Palmiotti said that while there is an ongoing storyline, he and co-writer Amanda Conner attempt to make each issue stand on its own.

July brings the “Harley Quinn Invades San Diego Comic-Con” oversized one-shot. “It's everything you think would happen to Harley in San Diego Comic-Con,” Palmiotti said. “She does run into a room of cosplaying Jokers. We actually have some celebrities that are in the comic that I won't give away. I use that word in a funny way — when you see it, you'll understand.”

Coming in July from Palmiotti and Justin Gray is “Star-Spangled War Stories.”, which will star “G.I. Zombie,” who Palmiotti described as “an eternal soldier.”

“It's very dark and crazy,” Palmiotti said. “If you like 'Walking Dead,' you're going to love big sections of this book. There is a lot of zombie madness going on.”

In “All-Star Western,” Jonah Hex is back in the old west. The series will feature a two-part backup illustrated by DC Comics legend José Luis García-López. “He's one of our favorite artists,” Palmiotti said. “It's about a woman whose father is killed in a landslide, and she finds a way out, but the way out leads to another world.”

Vertigo executive editor Shelly Bond joined the panel to talk “The Sandman: Overture,” just two days after the delayed release of issue #2. “J.H. is known for his widescreen artwork, and he really goes to town,” Bond said. “He's such a lazy artist, isn't he?” Palmiotti joked.

Next Vertigo series up: “American Vampire: Second Cycle.” “We couldn't be more excited to have it back,” Snyder said. The writer shared that the original pitch for the series focused on Skinner and almost didn't get picked up, leading to a greater focus on Pearl. Snyder said she'll always be one of his favorite characters, and he'll never do anything too terrible to her, since she helped him land his first comic book series.

“This half of the series is really about taking all of the characters, and bringing all of them to bear in one huge conflict, where we're moving everything towards the center,” Snyder added. “This is the stuff we've been waiting to get to forever.” Snyder thanks fans for welcoming the series back, and said he and series artist Rafael Albuquerque won't take another break until the series is complete.

Moving to fellow Vertigo series “The Wake,” Snyder called it a place for him and artist Sean G. Murphy to experiment. “The whole point of it was to be like, 'We want you to turn the page, every issue, and not know what's coming.'”

“It's a very personal book to us,” Snyder continued, saying that while it's “zany on the surface,” ultimately, he and Murphy wanted to do a book that was about feeling out of place and lost, and longing for things you can't get — and how being drawn to the ocean is a part of that.

Willingham discussed “Fables”, which ends with issue #150. The series is leading to a “final 10-issue long culmination.” The “Fables” finale will focus on the on-again and off-again sibling relationship between Snow White and Rose Red. “They've never really had it out,” Willingham said. “This final arc of 'Fables' is very much like the made-up Christmas holiday, 'Festivus.' We've had many issues about the feats of strengths, now we're going to air the grievances.”

Buckingham called Vertigo series “Dead Boy Detectives,” which he's drawing and co-writing with Toby Litt, a “really interesting journey.” An upcoming story, Buckingam said, will explore the world that exists between the living and the dead.

The panel — running short on time, so no fan Q&A — ended with quick mentions of Vertigo titles “FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics” and “Trillium,” the latter of which wraps with issue #8, out next week.