San Diego Comic-Con: DC Meet the Publishers

DC hypes some of its upcoming new services and titles

Dan DiDio and Jim Lee opened up a panel at this year’s San Diego Comic Con that hyped some of DC’s upcoming books.

DC Universe, the online subscription service that would allow fans to watch classic DC superhero films and shows and have access to comics, was the first item touched upon. DiDio stated, “We get asked a lot about a subscription service. Now it’s happened.” Fans will also be able to purchase exclusive merchandise and connect with others in the fan community. If fans pre-ordered at the convention they would get an exclusive members only t-shirt and entry into the Aquaman Premiere Sweepstakes.

Next up was DC Zoom and DC Ink. Both imprints are intended to produce material for readers who don’t frequent the brick and mortar shops. The launch will be next spring with Zoom intended for readers 7 – 12 and Ink 13 and up.

DiDio introduced the Black Label line, “Stuff that doesn’t fit continuity but features strong stories, such as The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen.” DC is looking to do graphic novel sized stories that are complete are the planned model. A video was shown as a trailer to Batman: Damned by Brian Azzerello and Lee Bermejo. Azzerello appeared on stage to talk about the project. He stated the story came out of Lee Bermejo’s Joker story from ten years ago. “It’s exciting right now. Lee’s work is the best.” The premise is “The Joker’s dead. Batman doesn’t know who did it. John Constantine does. Batman doesn’t know what he’s doing to find the killer.” Lee interjected that what he loved about the pitch was the inclusion of the supernatural characters like Zatanna. Azzerello continued, “…Specter. Etigran. Characters (Batman) doesn’t normally see…Though he does dress like one.”

Batman #50 was then brought up by DiDio who knew about the reaction it got online. He asked, “Who bought it? Who read it? Was it spoiled?” A varying number of hands went up, though they decreased for the final question. He asked an audience member what he thought of the book, but he couldn’t be heard. DiDio then chastised fans who thought Batman would get married — he did this as a joke. However, he did add, “If there was any disappointment (in the issue), get over it because there’s so much good stuff coming.”

Marc Silvestri then came to the stage. Lee and Silvestri worked at Marvel and then left to co-found Image Comics. Silvestri revealed that the first time he met Lee he apologized to Silvestri. About what wasn’t revealed, but had Lee saying, “This (panel) is not going the way I expected.” He then refocused on Silvestri’s work on a Batman piece he contributed to something. “I said you had to do (a full Batman tale)!” Lee told his friend, to which Silvestri added, “–Before I die, you were going to say.” Everyone laughed and Lee said, “No. Before you stop drawing.” Silvestri went added, “I’m doing a Batman-Joker team up. It seems like a natural because Batman would hate it and the Joker would love it.”

DiDio then went on to say, “We want to be very specific about our product.” Someone in the audience yelled out “Doomsday Clock!” After the laughter, DiDio said, “I’ll get there! Some things are worth the wait.” Neither DiDio or Lee said anything about Doomsday Clock for the remainder of the panel. Instead, DiDio continued, “We’re committed to top talent coming in. Like on Zoom and the Black Label line. We’re happy with King, Bendis, Synder, G. Willow Wilson. Kelly Sue DeConnick as the new writer on Aquaman.” Lee took over, stating, “Aquaman’s reimagining is very mythological.” Aquaman is kicked from society and ends up with all the other sea gods from other cultures, who have also been cast out. “She’s looking at the existing lore,” DiDio said, “and adding to it. Our job (as publishers) is to the build the mythology out.” He said that if someone wants to know something about the characters, “They should be reading our books. Not just watching the movies or television shows.”

The focus then went to Green Lantern. DiDio wanted to see Green Lantern get back to the focus on Hal Jordan. “What’s happened (in the other Lantern books) is fine, but the focus should be on him.” I was having dinner with Grant Morrison and asked what he would do with the character. Liam Sharp, the artist on the new Morrison led book then took the final chair on the stage. Sharp said, “Grant and I talked for two hours, pitching ideas — space cop, procedures, etc.” For example, if someone was blocking the sun, which was detrimental to another world, Hal would come in and say, “You can’t block the sun. Hop it.” Lee stated that justice is different among the Green Lanterns, as they all come from other worlds and they don’t have the same ideas of what justice is. It shouldn’t just be Earth based. Sharp also added, “Easter Eggs are throughout the series from the 1950’s and 1960’s.” Two completed pages were shown: a splash of the Guardians and a splash of Hal. DiDio said, “We’ve done plenty with the colored corps, but the focus is now on Hal.” To reassure the crowd, Sharp closed with “Nothing hurts the past history.”

The relaunch of Vertigo got a bit of hype with Neil Gaiman coming on board to oversee the Sandman spin-off. The panel then ended with no questions taken. I was hoping for some time for questions from the audience, but that wasn’t the plan of this panel.

NOTE: My apologies for the picture quality: it was a packed panel and I was lucky to get a seat in the back.

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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