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WonderCon ’17: DC Universe: Rebirth Panel – Johns’ Teases his Return to DC Comics!

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Saturday afternoon at WonderCon, DC’s Rebirth panel kicked off with DC All Access host Jason Inman sporting a Booster Gold hoodie. Inman introduced James Tynion IV (Detective Comics), John Semper Jr. (Cyborg), Julie and Shawna Benson (Batgirl and the Birds of Prey), Phil Jimenez (Superwoman), Danny Miki (Batman), Sam Humphries (Green Lanterns), Chad Hardin (Harley Quinn) and a special guest with DC Comics President and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns.

Inman asked the panel for some of their favorite moments about DC to kick things off. Johns mentioned that he enjoyed worked with everyone on the panel in Rebirth. He went on to talk about artist Phil Jimenez saying that “Phil embodies the spirit of DC.” Inman asked Johns if there was any hint of something to come and Johns announced that he is doing a new series later this year.

The conversation turned to Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. The Benson’s teased Roulette’s introduction to the series. The writers explained that the title of Oracle has gone to a new character in Birds of Prey. Inman asked about Black Bird as the team mentioned that they were looking to introduce one sole villain for Batgirl and the Birds of Prey coming up in issue #10.

Inman wanted to know about the Birds of Prey’s legacy on the DC Universe. “I think Rebirth built off the foundation” mentioned Johns. “Why is there no Birds of Prey book” said the writer who went onto tease and ask why there isn’t a Justice Society of America or Legion of Superheroes series–this moment elicited a strong reaction from the crowd.

Inman turned to Tynion, shifting the focus to Detective Comics, asking about Cassandra Cain’s role in the series. “She was one of the core characters that I wanted play with right from the beginning. That era of the bat family is what made me fall in love with these characters.” Tynion mentioned the current League of Shadows storyline in the series and mentioned that hints from this story had been peppered through the comic since the original storyline. “This is a story that I have been very excited about and has set the stage for a let of things coming up” he said.

Inman asked Tynion about splitting up the League of Shadows and the League of Assassins. “It felt like it needed to have a special place in the DC Universe, noted Tynion. “It allows you to focus on some of the things that made the League of Assassins scary and that is something that we are going to focus on in the next few issues.” Inman mentioned that Tom King called Cassandra Cain the most skilled fighter in the DC Universe on Twitter, Tynion agreed mentioning the body language of Cain. “If she and Batman wanted to go head to head, Batman might not win” teased Tynion. “She is afraid of unleashing herself, she sees herself as a weapon.” Tynion referenced Detective Comics #950 as a key issue for the character.

Johns talked about a writer’s room in the DC Offices with a 7-foot whiteboard. The writer said that Tynion has grown as a writer since creating the series. “I remember discussing the pyramid idea and taking the character down to their fundamental core so you can understand what is about to happen and take it of the next level” Tynion said. “So much of what’s still in this book today is what came from that conversation.

Inman asked about Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz on Green Lanterns. “I didn’t see the absence of Hal anymore, I saw these two characters” said Green Lanterns writer Sam Humphries. “I think in terms of Green Lantern fans right now, they are getting the best of both worlds.” He talked about his Earth-based Green Lantern series versus the galactic, space-focused Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.. “The thing about Jessica that I really like is that she suffers from anxiety” said Johns. “I think it’s really fun to see a character like Jessica who has this anxiety that she has to overcome.” Humphries talked about Simon Baz, referencing his gun use. He mentioned that at first he didn’t think much of his gun use, but wanted to stop Simon Baz from using guns as a crutch.

Inman asked Johns about his cliffhanger in the DC Universe, Johns started talking about DC Universe Rebirth, referencing Batman clutching the Watchmen button. “For cliffhangers, their has to be an emotional component to it” said Johns

Inman asked Phil Jimenez about Superwoman, referencing the cliffhanger from issue one. “I have a really hard time reading my work, until a year or two after it’s done” said Jimenez. Jimenez spoke on how every issue had an ending that could spiral into several different issues. “I wanted to use Lana to address some of the bizarre things about the DCU. Superwoman #5 has an amazing moment where Lois was able to call out Lex Luthor. Inever wrote Lex Luthor before this, but his voice came so naturally.”

Inman asked what the idea behind Lana Lang becoming Superwoman was. “All I remember is that there was a discussion about who it was going to be and Lana Lang was not on the list.” The writer mentioned that he remembered the idea of Superman Red and Blue.” It was the most receptive room I’ve been in, in a decade” said Jimenez about the Rebirth writer’s room. Inman asked if Jimenez has a Steel book planned. He said that he loved Steel as he was the emotional part of the book. Johns thanked the audience and left but not before telling everyone to see Wonder Woman on June 2.

The focus turned to artist Chad Hardin, current artist of Harley Quinn. The artist joked that the series was educational before revealing that he enjoyed drawing the book for the quirky humor of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. Inman inquired about one of the Joker’s showing up in Harley Quinn as Hardin talked about his love of artist Brian Bolland’s Joker.

“Now let’s talk to the mysterious man at the end of the panel, Danny Miki,” Inman said. Asking about inking Batman artist David Finch. Miki explained that Finch has a heavy metal look. “You have to piece it together to find which panel goes next.” The inker revealed that he works on series out of order. “Is there anything David doesn’t like to draw that you fill-in,” asked Inman to Miki. Miki mentioned that sometimes he fixes cars if the bumpers don’t line up, but that most of the line art is ready for print.

Inman asked about something he designed that was cool. Miki teased his contribution to Wayne Enterprises that is in the newest issue of Batman.

Inman asked John Semper Jr. about Cyborg, asking Jr. if he was afraid of his phone. Jr. The writer mentioned that he is telling a stand-alone story in Cyborg #12 as his first story will began to wrap up in issue #18. Inman asked about what it was like for Cyborg to go solo. Jr. said it wasn’t hard because he was writing the series with a blank slate. He explained that he paid no attention to what was happening in previous DC series with the character. Inman asked for a tease at what’s coming for Cyborg #12 in May. “Vic’s been kicked out of Star Labs and has been on the run” said Jr.. “Did I mention there’s a rap concert coming up” teased Jr.. “I’m exploring all the corners of Cyborg and Detroit.”

A fan asked the panel about returning characters on Twitter. Tynion teased the introduction of Zatanna in an upcoming Detective Comics storyline called Intelligence coming this Summer. “The art that’s coming in from Alvaro Martinez is next level good” said Tynion. Humphries teased that the Green Lanterns are returning to Mogo. Jr. teased the return of Beast Boy as well.

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