by Ted Brengle
Things I Learned at the C2E2 “DC Nation” Panel
1. Being the odd men out at a panel always sucks.
I always feel sorry for the guys up on stage who may be wonderful talents with a lot to offer, but who, for whatever reason, clearly aren’t the draw of the day, and then have to forlornly sit and try to avoid looking too obviously at their watch. Horror author Peter Straub looked downright avuncular in his bow tie when he came on stage and, upon introduction, good-naturedly pitched the project he’s now writing for Vertigo concerning a retirement home for serial killers. And that was pretty much it for him. Scott Snyder, writer of Vertigo’s American Vampire, got to say how much writing for Vertigo was a dream come true. Brian Azzarello did a little better, getting to expand on how the allure of working with nonpowered heroes drew him to the classic pulp universe of First Wave. And James Robinson did better still, if only because he got called on the carpet by one fan for JLA: Cry For Justice. But with Geoff Johns coming off Blackest Night, Dan DiDio playing ringmaster, and Jim Lee drinking a Cinnamon Dolce Latte, it was very, very clear who this room of DCU fans were really interested in quizzing.
2. Jim Lee likes Cinnamon Dolce Latte.
3. Brewing inter-cine conflict
A lot of younger fans are irked by the move from Wally to Barry. As one young lady put it, “Barry died when I was six!”
Personally, I can’t wait to see how this all plays out in Quantum Crisis in 20 years.
4. At DCU, dead is dead. Until it’s not.
In response to the question if Blackest Night/Brightest Day will change the rules of character resurrection, Dan DiDio was largely circumspect and scrupulous in preserving the freedom of the writers to tell the best stories possible, no matter the subject.
5. Except in the “First Wave” Universe, where Brian Azzarello claimed that dead will be dead.
6. Geoff Johns considers Brightest Day to be nothing less than Hawkman’s “Rebith”–a deck-clearing renascence for the character.
If you’re looking for a central character for this thing, it sounds like he may be the one.
7. He also really likes writing Deadman.
Or as he now calls him, Liveman.
8. Gentleman Ghost is James Robinson’s favorite villain of all time.
We’ll just let that hang there. Like a monocle.
9. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Simon Dark to reappear somewhere.
When queried, Dan DiDio basically held up his hands, signed and said of the series and character, “We tried.”
Again, this probably means you should look for a exciting Simon Dark cameo 20 years from now in Quantum Crisis, written by that generation’s version of Kurt Busiek.
10. Dan DiDio indicated that DC editorial considers Batman to be a far more “flexible” character than Superman.
This came up when a fan asked about continuity concerns between the Bat family titles (characterization of The Joker and so forth). DiDio pointed out, rightly I think, that they try to foster an atmosphere where each separate writer on each separate Batman title brings a different, but internally self-consistent “flavor” of Batman, and that this broad spectrum approach and adaptability has always been one of the strengths of the character’s. In contrast, Superman has, what DiDio called, “limited bandwidth” which required that creators best keep him as close as possible to his original conception in order to work.
I’ll refrain from editorializing further and leave this matter to the comments section below. However, responders who are able to recite and cleanly reconcile both All-Star Superman and Byrne’s run in their argument will receive bonus points.
11. James Robinson observed that JLA will now have more female members in its line-up than men for the first time ever.
12. Issue 600 of Wonder Woman is Gail Simone’s last and will serve to wrap up her run in the book, both textually and thematically, as well as form a bridge toward JMS’s reign.
13. In issue 601 of Wonder Woman, JMS’ first, Paradise Island is destroyed and, in DiDio’s words, “then things get worse from there.”
14. Paul Dini has some big, possibly character redefining, twists coming for The Riddler soon.
15. Although Dan DiDio mounted an impassioned defense of it, James Robinson seemed a little abashed concerning JLA: Cry For Justice.
This was an interesting exchange. A fan came up to the microphone and politely questioned the series conceptually… its tone, its violence. This set DiDio off. He bristled at the label “Grim & Gritty” (and also, although he never used the exact phrase, Light & Brighty). He claimed them to be straight jackets and insisted that DC was just interested in telling good stories, and that sometimes they were dark and sometimes they weren’t.
Then it was Robinson’s turn. Robinson claimed, and DiDio backed him up, that one of the main raison d’êtres for the series, was the further disposition of Star City, and that this story served an ongoing editorial master plan to break down Star City, and rebuild it anew so it was a more specific place with a unique personality, like Gotham and Metropolis, and not just another generic comic book city with a funny name.
Then Robinson, by way of atonement for the series (and yes, he used the word “atonement”), assured the assembled DC faithful that his run on JLA would be nothing like Cry For Justice. No, his JLA would be epic and adventurous–good, old fashioned fun.
He didn’t use Light & Brighty, either.