After standing in line with several hundred other people to get in, we filed into a huge room to see DC’s New 52 panel with
Eddie Berganza, crisis master
Dan DiDio is up addressing the troops and asking, “We heard a lot of conversation scared worried and nervous. Why were you scared worried and nervous?”
“I was scared because I thought some of my favorite characters wouldn’t show up any more.”
“I was scared you’d screw it up.”
“I was worried diversity would be lost, everyone would be white males again.”
After a bitch session, DiDio asked, “Now I come to you — what do we have to do for you to change your mind?”
“Hire more women. You went from 12% women to 1% women.”
“Who should we have hired?” DiDio demanded. Some from the audience suggested Nicola Scott and Carla Speed McNeil.
DiDio explains what is happening: “We needed to make it more accessible and more vibrant and more importantly to be around for a very long time. Numbers don’t mean anything if there’s no one around to read them. Every day we are going to try to win you over.
“I want to hear at the end of the weekend if we’ve made you feel more confident, less scared, and excited about what we’re doing. ”
Cliff Chiang is up next and talks about Wonder Woman: “We hit the ground running; we’re doing a story with a character rnamed Zola who has anger from the gods somehow. Tyring to keep it a little more lively. We’re lot of comics on digital platforms and I want mine to feel hand drawn and give it some energy and life.”
As the art showed Wonder Woman with short pants, DiDio asked about the costume.
“We’re taking a page from the competition and her pants are retractable,” said Chiang.
Another slide with no pants. “She’s got the lasso which I forgot to draw on the first cover but I’m learning.”
Eddie; What you’ve done is turn the gods into something modern, not just toga wearing guys.”
Cliff: We’re bringing them into a world that is modern.”
Lobdell talks about the Teen Titans: “We thought that Wonder Girl would be separated from being yet another version of Wonder Woman and have worked really hard to make these characters like you’re there at ground zero of a brand new book.”
JT Krul on Green Arrow: “It’s been great as he’s one of my favorite characters. It’s a matter of honing who my character is, and he runs his own corporation called QCorp with his own Q Pad. He’s going to bring up the technology he uses and we’ll ramp up the villains. The challenges he faces are bigger. He goes up against high powered new villains in the first arc. Working with Freddie and Dan has been great.”
Dan Jurgens allowed as he was excited to be working with George Perez again who is inking.
Paul Cornell: Demon Knights is if you like Game of Thrones you will like this. Some of them are figthing for what’s left of Camelot. I’m having the time of my life. Art is Europ style. It ties in with the entire medieval DCU.”
Stormwatch: the artwork is extraordinary. YEs they are , in answer to questions you’ve all asked. I’m getting a T-shirt made saying ‘Yes they are still gay.’ They deal with the problems no one else will deal with.” A page of art showing Stormwatch fighting the moon came up.’ It’s SF, big panels, big action, a team that is falling apart at the seams while they insist they are the ones in charge. I couldn’t be happier with these books.”
He noted that there’s a character called the Horsewoman who is my Clint Eastwood who rides her horse because she can’t walk, and you can’t replace one character of diversity with another but she’s my hero.”
Paul Levitz: I’m writing Legion #1 for the third time. They’re making me do it until I do it right.
“Paul Cornell may have a medieval world to fuck around with but I have the whole future.”
It then went to audience questions.
Q: I’m burnt out with DC because of all the crisis. My question is do you have all your shit together.
DiDio: Personally, no.
Q: I need a reason to spend $60 a month for this.
Bob Harras responded: I am very aware people spend money on our books and one of things we’re doing we’re spending money we want people excited by our books. It’s a contract with the reader and want you to be excited by what we’re doing.
Q: I don’t want to be here next year with “Crisis Reset.”
DiDio: We want every book to stand on its own right. If they stand up individually, it’s a stronger line. We need them to all work, and we’re working on the whole line. It’s a reason we’re holding it to $2.99. It’s a big investment we’re trying to make it as accessible and affordable as possible .
Audience member considered Neil Gaiman. Didio says he had an open invitation.
Q: At Grant Morrison panel earlier it summed up how I feel about this whole. Change, retcons it’s all part of the industry. That’s why DC has been around 75 years. I’m buying all 52 comics. I’ve already goen to my shop and said put me down I want to be on board with this and see what’s changing.
NEW Q: What about Widening gyre and Elseworlds.
DiDio: Widening Gyre #2 will come out when Kevin Smith’s schedule clears up. Batman Odyssey is scheduled to come out right after the launches. The 52 books isn’t all that we’re producing. but we are trying to limit the amount of product on the stands, to make it a stronger line overall.
Q: What about late books?
Didio: I used to say we’ll make late books as long as you keep buying them and guess what——you stopped buying them. We responded to that. Our mission is to make sure that every week you go in, the books will be there.
A fan came up with a continuity question which was booed.
Q: Will you be going into the history of these characters with all that rebooting?
Eddie Berganza; I have a timeline you’ll never see. We’re keeping the most important events but compressing it. We are not making this for people to have to read all the history at once.
DiDio: there will be a continuation of the Batman Inc. storyline early next year. Robin is still Damian and there are other Robins.
Q: Wonder Woman is not portrayed as a compassionate character — too warlike and not an ambassador.
Chiang: We’re not really going to be focused on that, but I think the covers we did are deliberately. We’re trying to be rocking about it and they might be more extreme than the book turns out to actually be. Give it a shot.
Same Q: Is there going to be a compassionate side to her. Rucka already did modernization of the gods which Gail Simone wasn’t allowed to do. Why now?
DiDio: it was a story line that was out of the table on a story beat as continuity, they were removed at that moment.
Q: I’m here to talk about Wally West. Last year you told us you took Wally West off the table so you could focus on Barry.
DiDio: Why does everyone listen to me! (laughter)
Same Q: Goes on a rant about things that double crossed. This is getting ridiculous. He just got killed two weeks ago. We need some Wally West. I think it’s been almost 7 years since Wally West. We had editors writing Wally and it wasn’t very good.
Eddie Berganza; Wally was a big deal in Final Crisis!
DiDio: right now and for the future Barry Allen is the Flash for the world.
Same Q: How does that work with the Robins of the world but not the Flashes.
Didio: that is one of the problems — we had multiple interpretations.
NEW Q: I applaud DC for the courage of what you’re doing (applause) There’s a reason I’ve been reading DC since I was 13, and this is a fantastic opportunity for DC to tell great stories. My q is for Paul Levitz. I’ve been a long term reader of the Legion. Why the decision not to touch The Legion as much as that.
Paul: When I left the building I had a lot of blackmail photos. I have some photos of Dan DiDio and that explains it.
Q: I mean no malice by this questions. You guys have talked about diversity launches earlier. And one is changing Barbara Gordon to Batgirl from the Oracle. People are upset because she was disabled and kicking butt. Why?
DiDio: Barbara Gordon is as recognizable and we need to make the stories as accessible as possible. With Gail in charge she will be strong. We try to be as diverse as possible and will continue. We want to reach the widest audience. We will not discount the diversity as much as possible and we hope people come on board.
Q: Why is there no World’s Finest???
DiDio: We want to re-establish new status quos for Batman and Superman and down the line we can revisit that concept.
Q: I look at the new Superman costume and it’s bugging the hell out of me. How does he hide it when in street clothes?
Didio: Retractable! (Laughter.) He folds it up very small.
Q: Any more Authority characters besides Apollo and Midnighter?
Cornell: Engineer Jack, Hawksmore. Many, Jenny Q, as we call her now. There’s nine leagues in Stormwatch. It’s like the Brady Bunch — there’s a lot going on.
Q: Will comics be accessible by being carried at different stores?
Didio: We’re looking at Barnes & Noble and subscriptions.
Q: What of Thunder Agents, Xombi, and Stephanie Brown?
Didio: Yes, no, yes.
Q: With the exception of Blue Beetle there is not much for us Latinos, it’s the fastest growing population in the US.
Eddie Berganza: answered in fluent Spanish to applause.
DiDio: We look at the room and we need to create a world that reflects who we see here. One more thing there is a second Thunder Agents series coming in November written by Nick Spencer.
Scott Lobdell also announced some diverse characters including Latino.
Q: (missed question but was about continuity.)
Didio: This is why we need new readers, so we have people who didn’t read what I said before. With Arsenal they didn’t like it when we ripped his arm off, and now they don’t like we put it back on.
Q: What about his daughter?
Q: We want beginning characters and this is about Roy startingout and this takes place before he had kids.
Q: Is it still canon that Lex Luthor stole 40 cakes? (Laughter.)
Cornell: I tried to fit that into Action Comics issue after issue. It’s the DC visual dictionary and it was a TERRIBLE thing. (Laughter)
A little girl then came up and announced she made Dan DiDio a present and wanted to give it to him. Despite Akbar cries of “It’s a trap!” in the room, DiDio came down and received a bracelet.
Q: (A woman dressed as Batgirl.) How many viewpoint characters in the 52 are female? Because I have a 7 year old daughter who loves Teen Titans GO and Tiny Titans. She likes Batgirl and Red Robin and she doesn’t have anyone to dress up as.
Didio: Wonder Girl, Supergirl, Batgirl. (To panel) Who else?
Lobdell: Teen TItans is four females and four males. And three of the male charfacters will be dying. THAT WAS A JOKE. It will be fun — you look at Young Justice and it’s always a token female. This will be different.
Didio: We’re going to give her a bunch of things to dress up as.
Q: What about Stephanie Brown?
DiDio: No spoilers out there for Stephanie Brown.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.