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SDCC ‘18: Dan DiDio Assembles DC’s Best To Talk What’s Next and Their Love of Comics at the DC Nation Panel

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It’s been a while since DC had a DC Nation panel, and moderator Dan DiDio spared no time setting up a light, cheery tone for the room.

“It means we’re gonna be a little silly, we’re gonna have some fun,” DiDio said.

DiDio introduced a group of DC talent including Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Mark Russell, Joshua Williamson and Tom King.

“The man who made us think Batman and Catwoman were gonna get married,” Didio said of King. “What the hell was that? I got a tuxedo, I was all set. I bought gifts!”

Didio asked the crowd who read Batman #50, and the room cheered. When he asked if any of them actually want to see Batman and Catwoman get married, a good portion of the room cheered and put up their hands. Even King put his hand up.

King, who had bodyguard Dave with him due to death threats,  thanked the audience for reading the book and supporting his run. He said he’s halfway through his story and compared issue 50 to the point when the Nazis got the Arc of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Arc and Darth Vader’s reveal in Empire Strikes Back. Batman has been beaten before, but King is setting out to do something that’s never been done before: break Batman’s heart.

“The whole point of everything is Batman is to give you guys inside Batman’s cowl. To make you feel like you’re looking out his eyes and feel what he feels. With the anger you felt, the disappointment you felt. That passion, that’s exactly what batman felt. He thought he was getting married. He bought every fucking tie. So now, Batman has a new pain. From day one the story was always going to be about someone breaking Batman, about Bane breaking Batman,” King said.

King also spoke about Heroes in Crisis, who he will be working on with frequent collaborators Clay Mann and Mitch Gerads. He called it a thematic follow-up to Mister Miracle where he deconstructs the entire superhero community instead of one character. Readers will walk alongside characters as they battle their own traumatic journeys after a massacre in “one of the safest places in the DC Universe.” King described the series as deeply personal and an attempt for readers to emotionally connect with these characters in a way that no other comic universe has done.

“It’s something that you haven’t seen before because it’s you and [the heroes are] telling you guys that you can keep fighting.”

Attention then turned to Joshua Williamson, who just finished up work on the Flash Wars arc.  The writer insists that someone’s gonna have to kill him to get him off Flash and that he is already working on big plans for the next year. He and artist Howard Porter are already hard at work on storylines for next year, and he said that the follow up to Flash Wars will be an emotional journey that sees both Barry Allen and Wally West adjust to their new status quos.

Williamson was tight-lipped with the details, but he teased  Force Quest coming in November. He said that Batman and Superman have had globe-trotting journeys for self-discovery, so now it’s time for Barry to get out there and rediscover a few things.

“I love Barry Allen, but it’s still my job to give him a little hell.”

After Williamson finished breaking down the series, DiDio asked the audience about their favorite Flash. Barry got a few woos but Wally was the clear favorite. This segued into a moment where DiDio made an audience member spoil the ending of Flash 50. Williamson even teased that the final word in that issue was “Crisis.”

“You can’t have a Crisis without a dead Flash,” DiDio chimed in again with a smile.

Russell, who is nominated for an Eisner award for his work on Flintstones, is working on the new Huckleberry Hound/Green Lantern crossover. Russell made sure to point out that “it’s actually the son of the Huckleberry Hound who killed himself.” The story is set in 1972 right as the Vietnam War is winding down and sees Green Lantern return to Earth. Despite the tumultuous era, the character is not allowed to use his powers. Huckleberry sees that as Green Lantern “sitting on his hands during a Crisis,” allowing the whole story to be an exploration of people’s conscience and what is right.

He also  has a new Vertigo series coming out with covers from Conner. He described it as “an omnipotent superhero sharing a two bedroom apartment with Jesus Christ” and labeled it as his critique on superheroes. The book will explore the fact that “throwing a guy through a window only solves a portion of the world’s problems” and how empathy is an equally important superpower in the grand scheme of things. The series is called Second Coming and will launch in 2019.

Palmiotti and Conner are working on the Wonder Woman stories in the Walmart books. The series will be cannon-light because the creators are treating the book as an introduction for new readers. Palmiotti said they’re “trying to show why we love Wonder Woman in the story” and said that the Walmart book is the perfect place to pull in new fans.

“We need to get new readers, we all know that,” Palmiotti said. “We’re gonna get comics to people who’ve never read them but maybe just watch the TV shows and the movies,” he said referencing people who are drawn to Comic-Con to see the cast of Infinity War.

Near the end of the panel, Didio asked the room how long they were reading comics for. While he’s been reading comics himself for most of his life, he admitted to not reading DC about 25 years ago and joked that’s “why I’m not a Wally West fan.” The longest consistent reader has been a comic fan for 58 years and even remembers his very first issue: Superman 146.

“It doesn’t matter what it’s worth, it’s what it’s worth to you,” DiDio said of the feeling people have when they think about their first comics.

To end things, Didio asked everyone on stage to announce their dream projects:
Tom: “Anything with you, Dan.”

Josh: Superman/Batman
Mark: “A thing about super villains that are not quite up to par with the Legion of Doom, more like the League of Annoyance”

Amanda: Wonder woman, Harley and Starfire crossover. Also a Powergirl/She-Hulk crossover.

Jimmy: Legion of Superheroes

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