SDCC ’18: DeConnick on Aquaman, Silvestri on Batman/Joker teamup, and more from DC’s Meet the Publishers Liveblog

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Hello fellow DC fans! We’re live at San Diego Comic-Con’s DC Meet the Publishers panel featuring DC co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio. With Lee spearheading DC’s upcoming DC Universe digital service and acting as Chief Creative Office while Dan continues to push ahead on the New Age of Heroes and more, we’re sure to get some fantastic new announcements about the publisher’s fall 2018 lineup. Stay tuned to the Beat as we scoop all the latest for your eyeballs.


  • DiDio and Lee kicked things off by reaffirming DC Universe’s price point: $7.99 a month or $75 for a full year, plus three extra months free. Lee positioned DC Universe, in his words, as not only a place to see new DC video content, but as a “subscription model” for their comics.
  • DiDio mentioned once again that the DC Universe platform will “refresh” the available comics regularly. No further detail has yet been provided as to how that will work, but the move strikes a more conciliatory tone with comic book shops that might feel hurt by the move as opposed to Marvel Unlimited, which offers almost all of the publisher’s comics prior to a certain date.
  • Check out our DC Universe app hands-on impressions for more.
  • Lee discussed DC’s new YA line, featuring Ink and Zoom. Lee mentioned that the product stemmed from a desire to “reach new audiences” who weren’t being served by the typical direct market content that the publisher puts out. Everything from the book formatting to the covers to the price point are designed specifically for this new market. The publisher announced a second wave of titles in the Zoom and Ink lines today.
  • DiDio discussed DC’s Black Label line, the flipside of Ink and Zoom. This imprint focuses on mature reader material in the vein of The Dark Knight Returns. The publisher played a new trailer featuring the content of this line up, advertising upcoming titles as “provocative” and “uncensored.” The trailer heavily featured art from Batman: Damned, ending on an image by the book artist, Lee Bermejo, showing Batman in a church, looking up at the Joker’s crucified body.
  • DiDio and Lee brought Batman: Damned writer Brian Azzarello on stage to talk about the new book. Azzarello said that Damned stemmed from conversations Bermejo, DiDio, and he had following the publication of Joker a decade ago. They had, at one point, had ideas for a “Jokerverse” set of stories. Damned features Batman stumbling on solving the mystery of the Joker’s murder. “He doesn’t know who did it, but Constintine does,” Azzarello said.
  • Zatanna, Deadman, Swamp Thing, Etrigan, Spectre, and many other mystical characters that Batman doesn’t normally interact with will appear in Damned.
  • DiDio put a DC Comics fan on the spot, asking him to stand up say what he felt about Batman #50‘s reveal that Catwoman and Batman were not going to get married. The book sparked controversy after the New York Times revealed the twist a few days before publication, setting off a debate about expectations versus reality in comics.
  • DiDio said that the day that Batman gets married, in his mind, is the day of the last Batman story.
  • Lee introduced Marc Silvestri to the stage. Lee talked about he and Silvestri’s history, leading up to an image Silvestri did for a Batman anniversary story. After Lee saw the image, he said that Silvestri had to do a Batman story at some point in the future.
  • Silvestri took the mic to announce his Black Label project, a Batman and Joker teamup called Batman/The Joker: Deadly Duo. Silvestri discussed the first pitch he submitted, which was rejected. Silvestri said he was going to have Batman never get over his parents’ death. He just sat in his room all day, playing video games and crying for six issues. HOW EXCITING.
  • Silvestri said the premise of his story is that someone is “screwing with” the Joker. They’ve taken something important to him and Batman is forced into teaming up with him after someone kidnaps Jim Gordon and starts sending pieces of his body to him on a semi-regular basis. Batman/The Joker: Deadly Duo will be around 7.5 issues long, according to Silvestri. Like all Black Label books, this one exists outside of continuity.
  • DiDio emphasized that DC is committing to their books coming out on time and on schedule, to which the fan quizzed about Batman #50 yelled “Doomsday Clock!”, referencing that title’s delays. DiDio said they’d get to Doomsday Clock.
  • Lee said that Batman: Damned will be coming out in September.
  • DiDio mentioned the new changes to DC’s main title lineup. G. Willow Wilson, as previously announced, will be writing Wonder Woman.
  • Kelly Sue DeConnick will be writing Aquaman. Lee talked about DeConnick’s pitch, saying that it starts with a core examination on where the character comes from. Caught between land and sea with a mother that doesn’t want him, Aquaman finds when he is young that he can command sealife to come to him, but he can’t command his mother to come back. At the start of her story, Aquaman wakes up on an island with amnesia living amongst other castaways and creatures of myth that have been cast away by an angry ocean. Aquaman will have to find community and new strength in his new reality.
  • DiDio emphasized that this is not a reboot on Aquaman. His continuity will remain intact, but this story will help fans to find a new way to view the character.
  • DiDio then moved on to Green Lantern and his journey to bring Hal Jordan back to the forefront of the Green Lantern saga. He said he was blown away that over the course of 30 years of working for DC, Grant Morrison, the new writer of Green Lantern, had not written for Hal.
  • DiDio put on his best Scottish accent to reenact the conversation that led to Grant taking the book. Grant was reticent at first, but the gears started turning in his head straight away. Less than a month after their first conversation about the title, he turned in a pitch. And from there, DiDio knew they had to find a great artist to match Grant’s grant pitch. Hence, Liam Sharp, who DiDio then introduced to the stage.
  • Sharp said that he and Morrison had been discussing working together for years, but had never had the opportunity. DC had been coming to Sharp with pitches for Hawkman and Justice League with Scott Snyder, but as soon as DiDio threw the Morrison pitch at Sharp, the artist said his mind was made up.
  • Sharp discussed some of the crazy story ideas he and Grant had been kicking around, including a crazy idea about entities that take thousands of years to have a thought, but at the start of this story, one of them has managed to kill another and Green Lantern has to figure out who the killer is.
  • Sharp said that there will be many easter eggs for old fans including aliens from Green Lantern comics of the 50s and 60s in the background of various stories.
  • Sharp characterized the story as a “consolidation” of Jordan’s character. The story sounds surprisingly down to earth for a Morrison comic, featuring Hal as a drifter caught between his mundane life on Earth and his desire to be in space. “Old girlfriends” will show up as well.
  • Lee took the reins back to direct the conversation towards Vertigo. He started off discussing the new Sandman Universe titles which will kick off later this year, curated by Neil Gaiman.
  • Lee mentioned Vertigo’s new main lineup as well, characterized as being by creators you wouldn’t normally see on books that are topical and modern. The line is curated by Mark Doyle.
  • The panel concluded with a surprise: a representative of the Guinness Book of World Records came up on stage to confirm that Action Comics, with 80 years of publication and over #1000 issues, is now officially the “longest running superhero comic” of all time. DiDio said that he wanted to receive the award on stage at this panel because the award is not just for them, but for the fans who have allowed the book to stay in publication for so long.

Thanks for joining us for our DC Meet the Publisher’s liveblog! Stay tuned to the Beat for more SDCC coverage as the weekend goes on.

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