The New DC Universe Takes Shape At C2E2 Panel Essay
The New DC Universe panel took place immediately after Gene Ha’s presentation, and judging by the standing-room-only crowd, it was definitely the event of the day. It seems that many of the convention attendees were eager to see what the home of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have in store in the coming months, and with some interesting and curious announcements of new titles being made recently, there is little reason to doubt why.
The convention brochure lists Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Meredeth Finch, David Finch, and Khary Randolph, but those weren’t the only names that graced the stage. Introductions went fast, but I believe that the panel was moderated by Heath Corson, and it must have been Ming Doyle that spoke of the forthcoming Hellblazer as well.
After Jimmy Palmiotti joked that the panel must either be filled with attendees who were unemployed or independently wealthy (given that it was a Friday afternoon), the panel began with a commercial for DC All Access.
The duo of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti were up first to talk about their success on Harley Quinn and announce their upcoming new titles. They explained that Harley is very overworked lately as she tries to balance her life as a doctor and psychopath. As a result, she is forming a gang of Harleys to help her in her endeavors. The cover to issue 17 is a parody of the cover of We Are Robin 01, which will probably come out around the same time (possibly during the same week).
In keeping with the parody/homage theme, the cover to issue 18 depicts Harley hiding in a telephone booth from a curiously familiar looking sailor. Conner and Palmiotti explained that the cover comes from a Superman issue of the 1970’s in which Superman must face off with Captain Strong. Captain Strong was a villain who became mentally unstable after eating irradiated seaweed (which should sound as familiar as this sailor’s appearance) and fought Superman from time to time. I am willing to bet money that this issue will be his reintroduction into the New 52, so comic historians will want to be certain to pick up what will be a monumental event in DC history.
Palmiotti and Conner next introduced Harley and Power Girl 01, which will be on sale June 17th. This is a six issue miniseries that takes place between two of the panels of the recent Harley Quinn issue in which Harley exploits a amnesiac Power Girl. This will be written in conjunction with Justin Gray, who wrote the original Power Girl miniseries. The due explained that because Power Girl is such a good, stoic character, she has served as a straight (wo)man for many characters in the DC Universe. Thus, she was the perfect foil for Harley’s madness.
They then announced that Starfire 01 would hit the shelves on June 10th, with the second installment following on July 8th. The series will have a very different tone than Harley but will still be fun. Starfire, they explained, is very much a fish out of water, who is very intelligent but just doesn’t understand Earth culture. Palmiotti explains that the setting is Key West and that the joke is that Starfire fits right in because everyone there is orange anyway. The team promised that cameos will happen and that issue 3 will introduce something that nobody will expect but that will make everyone very happy.
The man who I believe was Ming Doyle was up next to talk about the reintroduction of Hellblazer into the DC publishing lineup. He explained that he wanted to write the John Constantine that you see at the end of the bar but aren’t sure you want to approach because you suspect that doing so will ruin your life. He added that you are correct in that belief. Hellblazer 01 comes out on July 8th.
He emphasized that Hellblazer means horror and that that is what fans should expect from the title. He also addressed the change to Constantine’s icon coat, which he said was perfect when it was introduced but couldn’t be purchased now. As such, it has been replaced by something more modern. He ended by promising that the title will be more John-centric and stated that while it may explore other characters within the DC Universe, the purpose was to focus on Constantine. He alluded to another title, Dark Universe, that may fulfill the desire to see the dark corners of the DC Universe from others’ eyes.
Khary Randolph next plugged We Are Robin, the first issue of which is released June 24th and will be followed by a second on July 22nd. The premise of the issue is that there is a gang of Robins in Gotham; he described them as a mixture of the mutant gang from The Dark Knight Returns and a youth vendetta group with a hip hop flair. He said that whereas Batman was a rooftop-style vigilante, this group was more of a street-level organization. The action revolved around the character Duke, who he believed was introduced in Batman 38, and he promised that the series will be violent and gritty.
David Finch next spoke about forthcoming developments in Wonder Woman. He began by talking about the next annual, which comes out June 3rd and is almost solely devoted to a fight between Wonder Woman and Donna Troy. He spoke of working with his wife Meredith (the title’s writer) and stated that while there are sometimes fights (which she always wins), it is gratifying to be able to work with someone who will look at his layouts and occasionally take his ideas into consideration.
After showing the cover to Wonder Woman 41, which hits the shelves on June 17th, he spoke of Wonder Woman’s new costume. He said that he had wanted to give her a costume more in league with the other members of the Justice League and noted that her past costumes were very stereotypical. He did note that it was hard to give her pants without giving her pants. He ended by announcing that issue 42 would come out on July 15th and teased a character who was mostly covered up on the cover.
The panel’s moderator next became a panelist to discuss Bizarro 01, a title that has a June 3rd release date. He was immediately asked by Jimmy Palmiotti why he was qualified to write this book, to which he responded that he wasn’t and that he cornered an editor who was drunk to pitch the title.
He stated that the book was a Planes, Trains, and Automobiles road trip through Bizarro American (Canada). In fact, the cover to issue number 2 is the movie poster to the film. Jimmy and Bizarro will be traveling across the DC Universe, and they will begin their adventure in Smallville, where they will have to face off with King Tut, the auto salesman. It will be a silly book that includes some cameos and will also feature Bizarro’s pet chupacabra, Colin.
The author went on to say that Bizarro just wants to be loved and doesn’t understand why nobody loves him. He stated that he shares this with Bizarro and that this makes him qualified to write the book. He also noted that as a child, he had tried to turn himself into Superman by adding an S to his chest with masking tape but that because he did so in the mirror, he ended up looking like Bizarro. There is an allusion to this childhood moment in one of the books.
The final panelist who spoke was Genevieve Valentine, who is currently working on Catwoman. She stated that issue 41, which has a June 10th release date, sees Catwoman realizing that she can’t accomplish everything that she wants to accomplish as mob boss alone and so will once again take up the Catwoman identity. Valentine described Catwoman as someone who “doesn’t like dealing with anyone but who likes to get s@# done.” She also noted that Catwoman has always been a gray character but that recent events should make everyone question whether or not she can be redeemed.
The big reveal during this segment was that Stephanie Brown/Spoiler will return, probably in July 8th issue 42. Valentine noted that “Selena is not ready for this, and Stephanie just does not care.”
The question and answer portion of the panel began next, and as some people stood up to leave, Jimmy Palmiotti noted that a big announcement was to take place at the end of the panel and that audience members were best served staying. He wasn’t exaggerating, so be sure to read to the end of this article.
Someone noted that Vartox was on the cover of the one of the forthcoming Harley Quinn titles and wondered if he was done working for 52 News. Palmiotti noted that Vartox is “the sexiest man in the galaxy and proves it in this mini [Harley and Power Girl].
Someone asked why there seemed to be an obsession with drawing Dick Grayson’s derriere. After an awkward pause in which nobody knew just how to respond, Khary Randolph stated, “He’s got a great @$$.”
The special guest that was welcomed to the stage just prior to the end of the panel was Brian Azzarello, who made what will probably be the biggest announcement of C2E2. He asked everyone in the audience to close their eyes and imagine two letters and one number: DK3. When he then announced that he was working with Frank Miller on The Dark Knight Returns 3, he reacted to everyone’s surprise by wondering what else he could have been talking about. Jimmy Palmiotti joked that everyone thought he had said BK3 and thought it had something to do with Burger King, pointing out that it was lunchtime and that everyone was hungry. Azzarello noted that The Dark Knight Returns 3 is a big project and that he is really jazzed that it is coming out.