Today at New York Comic Con, DC Comics co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio sat down with fans to discuss the publisher’s plans for winter 2018 and beyond. With the relaunch of Vertigo and the Sandman Universe in full swing alongside writer Brian Michael Bendis’ quickly expanding Jinxworld and Superman saga, what will these two publishing legends reveal is next for your favorite heroes? Stay tuned to the Beat’s liveblog to find out.

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The panel opened with Lee and DiDio soliciting responses from the audience on the previous evening’s premiere of Titans. Lee described this look at the characters as “hard edge” and a version of this story that they could do on their DC Universe streaming up but not on other platforms. Lee teased some more about the upcoming Doom Patrol DC Universe streaming series, which will be “pretty faithful” to the Grant Morrison and Richard Case run on the title. That series is currently filming in Atlanta, Georgia.

Lee teased that new information on the DC Universe streaming Young Justice show would be revealed at the publisher’s upcoming panel focused on the streaming service.

Turning to DC’s coming publishing lineup, DiDio said that he hasn’t been this excited for DC’s publishing lineup in “quite a bit.” DiDio mentioned the start of Tom King’s and Clay Mann’s Heroes in Crisis as well as the coming climax of Geoff Johns’ and Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock as the DC Universe characters begin to confront the Watchmen universe characters in full force.

Lee turned the conversation to DC’s YA lines– Ink and Zoom. Lee said that many publishers, in the past would put out work with simpler art and vocabulary and let it find an audience, which “never worked.” Instead, with these comics, DC plans to make a “dedicated effort to reach out to fans” who are “young kids.” Lee mentioned specifically Minh Lê’s Green Lantern: Legacy comic which will introduce a Vietnamese Green Lantern to the DCU.

DiDio summarized some of DC’s biggest creator acquisitions in recent months. With Kelly Sue DeConnick on Aquaman, Grant Morrison on Green Lantern, and G. Willow Wilson on Wonder Woman, the DC universe has not seemed so fresh since the start of Rebirth two years ago.

The panelists then turned their attention to the Walmart special comics. DiDio said that the 3-4000 Walmart stores nationwide almost equates to the size of the Direct Market. DiDio was insistent that DC believes that there must be more people who want to read DC Comics than those who know about and visit Direct Market shops, so “if they can’t find us, we’ll find them,” said DiDio. The ultimate goal is to be inclusive to as many readers as possible.

DiDio teased that next year will be Batman’s 80th birthday, which the publisher plans to celebrate with the release of Detective Comics #1000 among other things. DiDio said that he wants to make Detective #1000 even “bigger and better than Action Comics #1000.”

Lee praised the success of Vertigo’s new lineup debut Border Town. The first issue of that series is the first Vertigo comic in “at least seven to eight years” to go to a second printing, according to Lee.

DiDio moved to DCs popup imprints. In the past, DC has had curated lines of comics such as Gerard Way’s Young Animal and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Universe. DiDio said that the advantage of these lines is that having a leader gives the comics “a sense of authenticity, a sense of direction”. He then said that DC is preparing to launch a brand new popup imprint as he brought Brian Michael Bendis to the stage.

Bendis revealed Wonder Comics, a new YA focused lineup of titles focused on what he says is “who you’re going to be and who you might be…but you’re going to have to fight for it.”

The first title of the lineup, Young Justice, had some very flashy key art unveiled. According to Bendis, this book and others in the Wonder Comics lineup feature the return of Conner Kent, Bart Allen, Tim Drake the Monkey, Amethyst, the Wonder Twins and more. A new character, Naomi will be introduced as well.

Bendis said that some of these characters are those that people on Twitter have been “yelling at” him to bring back to the DCU. DiDio said that the publisher had wanted to bring some of these characters back for some time, but didn’t want to do that without stories to tell about them. He didn’t feel the confidence needed to bring people like Conner Kent back to the DCU until Bendis came to him and said that he wanted to launch Wonder Comics with this team.

Jenny Hex, the “Great great great great great granddaughter” of Jonah Hex, will soon be introduced in the next Walmart Batman special by Bendis before moving into a Wonder Comics title. This character won’t know she’s related to Jonah, but will discover a trunk full of “Random DC crap” such as a ray gun that she doesn’t know what to do with.

Bendis teased a new character called Teen Lantern, a teen from Bolivia who figures out how to hack into a lantern battery and do things with it that “she should not be doing.” According to Bendis, this title will tie into what Morrison and Liam sharp are doing in Green Lantern.

Lee mentioned a new line of Funko toys based on DC characters “if they existed back in the 80s,” reminiscent of He-Man or RemCo toys. Lee decided to play up the faux 80s nature of the toy line by promoting it on DC Weekly as a toy line that was concepted but never produced. Lee created fake color guides along with creator Marv Wolfman to further give the advertising campaign authenticity. The line is called “DC Primal Age.” The basic conceit of this elseworlds universe is that it’s the DC characters– but prehistoric. Instead of a Bat Computer there’s a “Bat Magic Crystal.” Lee and DiDio then brought Wolfman to the stage for a special announcement.

Wolfman announced that he’s writing a comic book “Exclusive[ly] in Target” about the Savage Age DC superheroes. “I can create a whole bunch of magic,” Wolfman said, in this book that will allow you to see the DC universe heroes in a way you’d never have expected. Wolfman teased Batman with a sword and a shield.

Lee revealed that everyone in the panel audience would receive a DC Primal Age Mr. Freeze figure as a special gift.

Returning to Wonder Comics, Naomi will be co-written by Bendis and David Walker with art by Jamal Campbell. Wonder Twins will be written by Mark Russell with art by Stephen Byrne. Dial H for Hero will be written by Sam Humphries and drawn by Joe Quniones. For more information these series and the rest of the Wonder Comics lineup, tune into the Beat’s liveblog of the Bendis spotlight panel later on this weekend.

Thanks for joining us for this panel liveblog and stay tuned to the Beat all weekend for more NYCC coverage.

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