Good morning, everyone!  We are here live at the DC Universe Rebirth– What’s Next panel, where DC talent including Amanda Connor, Jimmy Palmiotti, Juan Ferreya, Ben Percy, Christopher Priest, Greg Rucka, Rob Venditti, and Josh Williamson will tell us about the upcoming books and storylines stemming from the DC Rebirth lineup.  The moderator for today is Larry Ganem.

The panel kicked off with Ganem and the audience lauding Priest.  Ganem commented that Priest has been writing comics “longer than some of you have been alive,” which is true in this writer’s case.

Ganem proceeded to direct questions towards Conner and Palmiotti, the cowriters of HARLEY QUINN.  Ganem asked the duo what they thought of Margot Robbie’s interpretation of the character in the recent SUICIDE SQUAD movie and Conner responded affirmatively.  Ganem asked the audience what they thought of the film and there was a generally positive, albeit not rousingly enthusastic reply.

In an upcoming issue of HARLEY QUINN, cartoonist Jill Thompson is slated to have a four page sequence painted in watercolors.  The sequence will feature a flashback to the early days of Dr. Harleen Quinzel’s transformation into Harley Quinn.

The panel turned to Ben Percy and Juan Ferreya, collaborators on GREEN ARROW.  Ben Percy’s deep baritone voice stunned the crowd. Ferreya commented that it “makes Darth Vader pee himself.”  When they were reinventing the character for Rebirth, they tried to figure out what made the character tick.  They knew his goatee needed to come back, but Percy mentioned that he also wanted to tell stories that were “ripped from the headlines.”  

On Black Canary’s and Green Arrow’s relationship, Percy said that they are an interesting match and one of the cores of the book because of their push-pull dynamic.  They are “attracted to each other” as much as they are “repeled” by each other at times.  Green Arrow “wears his heart on his sleeve” while Black Canary is more “scarred over.”  Canary is almost a “teacher” to Green Arrow, in a way.

When asked to give the audience a secret, Ferreya said that he likes to go to supermarkets and put expensive things in other people’s baskets.  More seriously, the creative team is bringing back the boxing glove arrow!  Percy commented that next arc in the series, which sees Queen return to Emerald City, is like The Wire.

Because we couldn’t get enough of Percy’s voice, the panel moved towards TEEN TITANS.  Percy said that the first arc is dedicated to Damian Wayne, “the little shit.”  Percy charactered Damian as someone who’s built up “thick armor, but there’s cracks in it.”  The first words of the arc are “I’m alone,” but the last word is “together.”

While Percy said the arc “belongs” to Damian, Percy also added that he thinks Starfire is a character who long “hasn’t been given her due.”  Damian “thinks he is a leader more than he is one” and Starfire will be needed to really hold the team together.

No mention was made of Jonboy Meyer’s recent departure as artist of TEEN TITANS.

The panel turned to Greg Rucka and his current run on WONDER WOMAN with artists Nicola Scott and Liam Sharp.  Rucka said he returned to the book because he can’t walk away from writing Diana.  He thinks Diana, Kate Kane, and Renee Montoya are the best characters the DCU has to offer and loves to write for them.

When asked what the creative spark for his current run on WONDER WOMAN was, Rucka said that this year is a huge year for her character.  It’s her 75th anniversary and she has a movie coming out so it’s time she finally got to step out of the shadows and get her due.  The arc is Rucka’s attempt to reconcile all the various changes that have been made to Diana’s character and show those who aren’t already in love with the Amazonian princess “why she’s one of the best characters ever created.”

WONDER WOMAN #8, part of the “Year One” arc drawn by Nicola Scott (odd numbered issues are drawn by Liam Sharp as part of a modern day storyline called “The Lies”), is a story from Diana’s past but is focused on Barbara Ann’s past.  As someone so integral to Diana’s life, Rucka wanted to show us Barbara before she became Cheetah just as we have seen young Steve Trevor and young Etta Candy before. We’ll see Barabara Ann has been “fascinated by the Amazons from a young age” and that the “strings of fate” have been “playing with her,” bringing her into Diana’s web which ultimately leads to her tragic fall. “Barbara Ann is not a bad person.  She got a really bad deal.”

Rucka revealed two secrets about WONDER WOMAN’s future: Nicola finishes her work with issue #14, who will be replaced with Bilquis Evely on even numbered issues.  Going into process, Rucka says that Nicola Scott likes working from “full scripts” written down panel by panel.  Liam, on the other hand, prefers to work “Marvel style” where Rucka simply lists what happens from page to page and allows Sharp to work out the layouts.

Moving on, we came to Robert Venditti, writer on HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS.  The writer is excited to have the opportunity to work on this title because it allows him to work closely and focus on different Lanterns from issue to issue. From arc to arc, we’ll see the focus turn from Hal Jordan to Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner.  The stories told in this way are currently planned to play into a two year storyline that builds into something major. At some point, Arkillo and Guy Gardner will get into a fistfight– no rings!

The next arc of the HJATGLC series will feature legacy characters including Starro, Zudar, Rotlarfan, and Katmatwee (I may be the managing editor, but I make no apologies for misspelling these names, which the moderator said Venditti was definitely “making up.”).

Josh Williamson got the spotlight and started talking about his run on THE FLASH.  At some point a little while back, Williamson was talking to Scott Snyder and said he wanted to write THE FLASH.  Snyder encouraged Williamson and soon enough Williamson was pitching Dan DiDio on the character.  DiDio said he loved the pitch but Williamson was never told he actually got  job until Geoff Johns approached him in casual conversation about when he wanted to start working on the series.  

Speaking to the themes of his arc, Williamson said that he wanted to focus on “family.”  Barry Allen is interested in protecting and “creating a family for those who’ve lost their own,” hence the increased emphasis on Kid Flash Wally West and Iris.  Williamson spoke about Godspeed, the villain of the first arc who “sees himself as a hero.”  He’s not just Flash’s foil, but Barry’s foil, “challeng[ing] his ideas of justice.”  He is the opposite of Barry Allen many ways.

After the first arc, Williamson will reintroduce the Shade to the Flash’s universe.  Then the book will move into a storyline called “Rogues Reloaded” which features the Flash’s rogues gallery taking him on in full force.

The conversation finally turned to DEATHSTROKE.  Writer Christopher Priest said that when he was first approached about the series, Priest asked immediately: “is he black?”  Priest’s take on the character is “not as chatty” as previous incarnations of the character.  He won’t talk much to anyone except Wintergreen, so if we see Deathstroke talking to anyone else at length they’re likely being set up for something terrible.

Thanks for joining us, everyone!  That concludes our liveblog.