DC “New 52” panelists Dan Didio, Jim Lee, Eddie Berghanza, and Bob Harris talked this weekend at Comic-Con about what exactly DC audiences can expect from the upcoming 52 title revamp. First they answered the prevalent question of many fans – why the heck is this even happening!
The answer is the simple and obvious one. Sales were dropping; something needed to change in order to “re-energize” the company. So 23 of the top DC writers gathered together in the “war-room” to throw around ideas. What happened next was a large discussion of character, “event-fatigue”, and complacency instead of progression.
Of course there is always the slightly more convoluted explanation as well, which came out in a press release several weeks ago:
This is an epic and ambitious initiative that ushers in a new generation of comics for DC Comics and will set the tone for storylines and characters for years to come. With all of the titles starting at #1, our creative teams have the ability to take a more modern approach – not only with each character, but with how the characters interact with one another and the universe as a whole, and focus on the earlier part of the careers of each of our iconic characters. A time when they didn’t have as much experience defeating all their nemeses. A time when they weren’t as sure of their abilities. A time when they haven’t saved the world countless times. It’s this period that is rich with creative opportunity as we show why these characters are so amazing, so iconic and so special.
We think fans will be excited by this approach and The New 52 will provide DC Entertainment an opportunity to aggressively reach the widest possible audience worldwide, through captivating stories and an accessible entry point. We see great opportunities to tell new, contemporary, cutting edge stories building off the best known, classic stories that make up each of the title’s back histories.
The panel addressed the idea of bringing the super-heroes back to a less-experienced point in their careers more in-depth at Comic-Con. For example, the first character of discussion was the big guy himself, Superman. What challenges does he really have in his life anymore? He already has the girl, the job, a nice place to live … so the panel gave us a give-away: no more happy-in-love Lois and Clark. A love triangle has been established so that, per tradition, Clark can’t have it all. The writers also felt it important to add more non-super supporting characters to the Superman cast list in general, making things a bit more personal. Currently, his supporting cast is mostly filled with other super heroes.
Berghanza joked that the first thing that had to change was certainly the underwear on the outside look. Many DC fans have probably already seen Superman’s new get-up, but in case you haven’t, check out the image to the left.
There will be a general revamping to the look of many of the classic DC characters. The panel described how they want the new costume versions to be contemporary and functional. The artists were going for a generally more realistic and approachable look in the characters new threads. The duo largely responsible for the new character design is Jim Lee and Cully Hamner. In a separate DC 52 panel, which met to discuss this specific topic of new character design, Lee, Hamner, and art director Mark Chiarello discussed the process of redesigning each character. They included some sketches as preview of some of the new looks:
As for the characterization of the other DC heroes, expect to see a much younger cast. By de-aging the majority of characters within the 52 titles, the writers will be able to better explore (or re-explore) their “paths to self-discovery.” The writers, in general, felt like most of these characters had rather stagnant lives at this point in their stories – many of them were married. Some had kids. Their greatest battles were behind them. The writers wanted to re-introduce younger versions, but make it clear that they do not wish to re-hash old stories either. Instead the point is to work with the younger versions of these characters in order to explore them while bringing them into maturity.
To help facilitate this development Berghanza developed a five-year timeline for this new DC-Universe which is to compress many of the major stories since the new issues of Action Comics and Justice League. Didio assured the audience that that the relaunch is going to be a long-term plan.
To be more character specific now, the panel did address several heroes by name. Another DC 52 panel featuring Matt Idelson, Francis Manapul, Philip Tan, and writers Gail Simone, Brian Buccellato, and Mike Johnson , as well as Dan Didio again, delved more deeply into the individual characters specifically dealing with the new Flash, Batman, and Superman related titles.
Firstly, the Flash will still have a major role in the new 52. The current story arc of Flashpoint is the driving force behind how the new timeline has been bumped into place. Flash is to be written by Manapul and Buccellato. The writing team stated that they are writing in a way that goes directly inside the head of Barry Allen in an effort to make him as a character, as well as his speed power, exciting and fresh. “It’s a very personal story,” said Manapul. Buccellato added, “We are putting ourselves in Barry Allen, we are not trying to reinvent him.”
Flash should also expect a new villain named “Mob Rule.” In reference to the Rogues, Manapul said they will reveal the gallery slowly. These villains will be tightly to Central and Keystone City. On the other hand, Manapul also revealed that the Rogues have broken up. Captain Cold alone is trying to keep the group together. (comicbookresources)
As for the Batman family, most of the discussion was focused on Batgirl (Batman actually had his own panel, which will be discussed below). Gail Simone took the lead in talking about her Batgirl to-be. “We’ll see Batgirl like you’ve never seen her before,” she stated proudly. Simone praised the artwork and new look of the character. “Batgirl is no sidekick, she is the smartest character in Gotham.”
Barbara Gordon is young, fresh out of college, and starting her life by day while fighting crime by night. “Simone also added that the ‘Killing Joke’ did happen in the new DCU, and the comic will reveal how Barbara rebounded from that incident. Simone then told the audience that Batgirl will be dealing with the Brisby Killers, a new group of villains.” (comicbookresources)
Other characters on the Batman side of things were also discussed, such as Stephanie Brown, who it has been confirmed will remain a character post-relaunch, and Dick Grayson, who will not be Batman (that bit of information was strung out of Didio from an inquisitive young audience member. Thanks, kid!)
Simone also spoke of another series which she will be writing: Firestorm. The new series will revolve around two teenage Firestorms. There will actually be Firestorm protocols around the world in this new DCU. Simone also addressed the new villain of the series, Felix. Simone described Felix as “what happens when nuclear power goes wrong.”
Mike Johnson, co-writer of Supergirl, is taking a similar approach to his character as Manapul and Buccellato are doing with Flash in regards to a “seeing the world through the eyes of the character” approach. Unlike many of the stories, Supergirl will show things from the beginning upon her arrival on earth. As for Supergirl villains, expect to see the reinstallation of Silver Banshee.
“One of the things we want to do is really see it through her eyes…we’re with her, we’re in her head … What would it be like to be Supergirl and be ripped from Krypton to Earth…it’s like going to the dark ages,” explained Johnson.
With 52 titles to cover and bits and pieces of information dropped here and there through so many panels, it was difficult to bring it all together to get a sort of image as to what to expect from the new 52. But even though so many characters are being updated, modified, and re-invigorated, one character certainly seemed to be the object of inquiring minds more than any other: Batman.
The Batman-specific panel included editor Mike Martz, Batman: Dark Knight writer and artist David Finch, Penguin: Pain and Prejudice writer Greg Hurwitz, Detective Comics writer Scott Snyder, Batman and Robin writer Peter Tomasi, Red Hood & The Outlaws writer Scott Lobdell, Batwing and Catwoman writer Judd Winick, Batgirl writer Gail Simone, Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins, Batman Incorporated writer Grant Morrison and artist Chris Burnham, and Catwoman editor Rachel Gluckstern.
Here is a breakdown of the Bat-family future:
Nightwing: Written by Kyle Kiggins with art by Eddie Barrows. The focus of the Nightwing series will be to take a look into Dick Grayson’s past and really begin to explore his developmental years with the Haley Circus.
Catwoman: Written by Judd Winick art by Guillem March. Described as being violent and sexy, Catwoman is going to go to make the ‘bad girls club’ look like armatures. She’s smart and obsessive about getting what she wants, whether that is something to steal or Batman himself.
Batwing: Written by Judd Winick art by Ben Oliver. The villain has been named as Massacre. Right from the beginning this hero is to experience some horrible, traumatic events that lead him to seek justice with Batman’s blessing.
Red Hood and the Outlaws: Written by Scott Lobdell with art by Kenneth Rocafort. “I’m not a writer who can really do dark,” says Lobdell. Therefore he’s exploring the miscellaneous characters involved in this title in a way that will be enjoyable for those in the audience who like their screwed up characters to have a little fun.
Batman Inc.: Written by Grant Morrison art by Chris Burnham (Remember Batman Inc. won’t run until 2012. It is not considered one of the new 52s). “Batman has built his army and we finally find out who he’s fighting in the war he’s been preparing for – and it’s not who he thinks it is. He [Morrison] promises tears and tears and tears in this story.” (comicon.craveonline.com)
Because there are so many upcoming titles and characters within each title, it’s impossible to fit information in about every single one. But please take a look down this list to see which ones of the new 52 interest you. You can always get more information as well as cover art (which as all been released for #1 issues) on www.DCcomics.com
1. Justice League: Geoff Johns / Jim Lee 8/31/11
2. Action Comics: Grant Morrison / Rags Morales 9/7/11
3. Animal Man: Jeff Lemire / Travel Foreman + Dan Green 9/7/11
4. Batgirl: Gail Simone / Ardian Syaf + Vincente Cifuentes 9/7/11
5. Batwing: Judd Winnick / Ben Oliver 9/7/11
6. Detective Comics: Tony Daniel (w/a) 9/7/11
7. Green Arrow: J.T. Krul / Dan Jurgens 9/7/11
8. Hawk and Dove: Sterling Gates / Rob Liefeld 9/7/11
9. Justice League International: Dan Jurgens / Aron Lopresti 9/7/11
10. OMAC: Dan DiDio + Keith Giffen (w/a) + Scott Koblish (w/a) 9/7/11
11. Static Shock: John Rozum + Scott McDaniel (w/a) / Jonathan Glapion 9/7/11
12. Stormwatch: Paul Cornell / Miguel Sepulveda 9/7/11
13. Sgt. Rock and the Men of War: Ivan Brandon / Tom Derenick 9/7/11
14. Swamp Thing: Scott Snyder / Yanick Paquette 9/7/11
15. Batman and Robin: Peter Tomasi / Patrick Gleason 9/14/11
16. Batwoman: J.H. Williams III (w/a) + Haden Blackman / Amy Reeder 9/14/11
17. Deathstroke: Kyle Higgins / Joe Bennett + Art Thibert 9/14/11
18. Demon Knights: Paul Cornell / Diogenes Neves + Oclair Albert 9/14/11
19. Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE: Jeff Lemire / Alberto Ponticelli 9/14/11
20. Green Lantern: Geoff Johns / Doug Mahnke + Christian Alamy 9/14/11
21. Grifter: Nathan Edmonson / CAFU + BIT 9/14/11
22. Legion Lost: Fabian Nicieza / Pete Woods 9/14/11
23. Mister Terrific: Eric Wallace / Roger Robinson 9/14/11
24. Red Lanterns: Peter Milligan / Ed Benes + Rob Hunter 9/14/11
25. Resurrection Man: Dan Abnett + Andy Lanning / Fernando Dagnino 9/14/11
26. Suicide Squad: Adam Glass / Marco Rudy 9/14/11
27. Superboy: Scott Lobdell / R.B. Silva + Rob Lean 9/14/11
28. Batman: Scott Snyder / Greg Capullo 9/21/11
29. Birds of Prey: Duane Swierczynski / Jesus Saiz 9/21/11
30. Blue Beetle: Tony Bedard / Ig Guara 9/21/11
31. Captain Atom: J.T. Krul / Freddie Williams II 9/21/11
32. Catwoman: Judd Winnick / Guillem
33. DC Universe Presents: Paul Jenkins / Bernard Chang 9/21/11
34. Green Lantern Corps: Peter Tomasi / Fernando Pasarin + Scott Hanna 9/21/11
35. Legion of Superheroes: Paul Levitz / Francis Portela 9/21/11
36. Nightwing: Kyle Higgins / Eddy Barrows 9/21/11
37. Red Hood and the Outlaws: Scott Lobdell / Kenneth Rocafort 9/21/11
38. Supergirl: Michael Green + Mike Johnson / Mahmud Asrar 9/21/11
39. Wonder Woman: Brian Azzarello / Cliff Chiang 9/21/ 11
40. All-Star Western: Justin Gray + Jimmy Palmiotti / Moritat 9/28/11
41. Aquaman: Geoff Johns / Ivan Reis + Joe Prado 9/28/11
42. Batman: The Dark Knight: David Finch (w/a) 9/28/11
43. Blackhawks: Mike Costa / Ken Lashley 9/28/11
44. Flash: Francis Manapul (w/a) + Brian Buccellato (w/a) 9/28/11
45. Fury of Firestorm: Ethan Van Sciver + Gail Simone / Yildiray Cinar 9/28/11
46. Green Lantern: The New Guardians: Tony Bedard / Tyler Kirkham + Batt 9/28/11
47. I, Vampire: Josh Fialkov / Andrea Sorrentino 9/28/11
48. Justice League Dark: Peter Milligan / Mikel Janin 9/28/11
49. The Savage Hawkman: Tony Daniel / Philip Tan 9/28/11
50. Superman: George Perez / Jesus Merino 9/28/11
51. Teen Titans: Scott Lobdell / Brett Booth + Norm Rapmund 9/28/11