Mike Grell Confirmed On DC Retroactive At Wondercon

Peter S. Svensson writes for Bleeding Cool.

DC Editor Ben Abernathy confirmed Mike Grell’s participation in the DC Retroactive event at the DC Icons Panel at Wondercon 2011 as part of his elaboration on the event previously announced by Dan Didio. Abernathy explained that the intent was to do something more light-hearted to contrast this summer’s release of Flashpoint, and harken back to DC’s legacy at the same time. It will be a series of over-sized one-shots, each with a new story by a classic DC creative team and a reprint by the same creators. Abernathy listed off names involved with the project, which included Mike Grell, who wasn’t one of the writers confirmed by Didio. As such, the odds are high that he will be drawing the 70s Green Lantern issue with Denny O’Neil, harkening back to their Green Lantern/Green Arrow work. We will see the first wave of DC Retroactive in July’s solicitations.

Amy Reeder was offered Batwoman by Dan Didio, something she didn’t expect when signing her exclusive deal with DC Comics. “It’s even awesomer!” said Reeder, who had been expecting lower profile work after concluding Madame Xanadu. She had already been a fan of JH Williams III, and he had given a positive review to one of her works. Bob Wayne explained that this was a case of two mutual fans of each others’ work getting a chance to work with one another, which Reeder agreed.

Ryan Benjamin explained that he when was offered Batman Beyond, he said yes immediately upon hearing the “Batman” part of the title, not letting the “Beyond” part sink in. When he told his art dealer about his new project, the dealer freaked out because this was a title that the fandom had been waiting for. And under no circumstance would he allow Benjamin to mess this up. Which added a great deal of pressure to the mix. Benjamin wanted to know if DC wanted him to use his own style, as seen in his webcomic Pancratia, or something more akin to the style seen in the cartoon. He was told to use his own style, and Benjamin then experimented with the art for a bit before coming up with what was seen in the Batman Beyond miniseries and now the ongoing. He’s shocked that he hasn’t received more negative feedback, and wants to get criticism from the hardcore Batfans.

Frank Quitely, whose All-Star Superman was recently adapted into an animated feature, got asked by Bob Wayne if this was all part of his master plan concocted at that UK convention years ago when the two of them first met. Wayne was shown three vastly different pieces of art, and found that all three had been done by Frank Quitely. “Uh, yeah. My master plan.” responded Quitely. He can’t recall when he first heard about the adaptation of All-Star Superman being made, but was shocked when he heard nothing but gushing reviews from Grant Morrison about it. As Morrison is not easily pleased.

Bob Wayne chuckled at the precise phrasing used.

Quitely is currently working on the extra content for the upcoming We3 deluxe hardcover, and should have a Multiversity script from Grant to work on, featuring the Charlton characters. Morrison has stated that this is the most complicated thing Quitely will ever have drawn, and given that Quitely is already a slow artist it will take some time before it gets released. Bob Wayne pointed out that one of their previous collaborations, the Doom Patrol spin-off miniseries Flex Mentallo will finally be collected later this year. Both Quitely and Wayne will soon be attending a convention in London, where as opposed to this time, both of them will have exotic and strange accents. Wayne will play up a Texan drawl for added effect.

[It is really important to note reader, that these are very loose and casual discussions and that there's a great deal of humor that doesn't always translate properly.]

Judd Winick revealed that he got the most flack from fans when it was announced he would be on Generation Lost, but that’s par for the course for him. He had just finished proofing the lettering for issue 24, a 38 page finale that will probably be released in the same week as Brightest Day. It will be a single, glorious fight, perhaps the best fight scene ever done in comics. Winick, with a smile on his face, then dared anyone who didn’t believe him to buy the book and find out for themselves. Winick will also be doing a three part story in Batman and Robin featuring the return of Jason Todd, who is now interned in Arkham Asylum after the events in Morrison’s run of Batman and Robin. This will be the first interaction between Bruce Wayne and Jason Todd since Under the Hood. Winick gave Todd’s reaction to seeing Wayne: “You look pretty good for a dead guy. But then, I’m one to talk.” The plot will deal with Jason Todd’s attempts to get transferred from Arkham to a regular maximum security prison, as Todd feels he is not insane, he just wants to kill criminals. He will at one point be teamed up with Dick and Damien. Winick enjoys writing Damien, because rather than being a snotty brat of a kid, he’s a pompous aristocrat.

Long time DC editor Joey Cavalieri was asked what he’s working on. “This or that.” was his response. Which lead to a lengthy passive-aggressive back and forth between he and Bob Wayne, which Winick compared to a lover’s spat. “It’s like watching Mommy and Daddy fight.” Cavalieri did mention Walt Simonson’s upcoming graphic novel, The Judas Coin but didn’t pick up on Wayne’s hint that he talk about the Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans GN. Cavalieri is also teaching at the School of Visual Arts, and has found talented artists there. He didn’t want to name any names for fear of embarassing them though.

The floor was then opened to questions.

Fan: After Generation Lost, will we be seeing more JLI from Winick?
Winnick: I’m not allowed to tell.

A female fan who admitted that she fell in love with Dick Grayson over 50 years ago when she was six and read her first issue of Batman was thankful for his prominence in the DC Universe but asked if he would return to being Nightwing, and still be safe from the wrath of Didio. The panel couldn’t give any promises.

A young fan struggled to ask if the ending of Brightest Day would see more DC characters becoming deputy lanterns as seen in Blackest Night. Bob Wayne responded that he couldn’t answer without spoiling the end of Brightest Day, which would mean that people wouldn’t buy Brightest Day, which would cause him to lose his job at DC, and the job market is harsh and there are so few jobs that have the perk of free comics. The young fan was satisfied with this response.

Amy Reeder was asked if there would be anything in the Batwoman comic dealing with the recent revelation that Kane was Martha Wayne’s maiden name. Reeder didn’t know, as that was more of a question for writer JH Williams, but did find that the idea of Batman and Batwoman sharing lineage was pretty cool. “But you’re not going to get paid for it.” she jokingly replied to the fan who suggested the idea. Bob Wayne joked that if they connect everyone’s family trees then all of a sudden Nightwing will die. Winick added that Wally West would also become the new Nightwing.

The next fan adored the Batman: Under the Hood DTV and wondered if more adaptations of Judd’s work were in the pipeline. Judd talked about how he pitched Under the Hood, and that it was mainly good timing that lead to it being adapted. He loved the process, and would enjoy doing another, but whether it happens or not is out of his hands.

Frank Quitely was complimented for his recent backup featuring the New Gods in DCU Legacies #8. The fan then asked about his upcoming work. Quitely reiterated that he was going to be working on Multiversity, and that his will be one of the first books in the event to be released. “It’s early in the project. Someone fast needs to start it!” joked Quitely. Wayne explained that they don’t have a release date as they’re waiting for everything to gel and for all the artists involved to be ready.

Fan: Will the Question be appearing in Batwoman?

Reeder: JH doesn’t give anything away. But I can tell you what I’ve overheard from him. He is going to address everything in Batwoman’s history, but not always right away. *wink*

The next fan first expressed a desire to keep Scott Synder on Detective Comics forever, and asked the panelists what comics they’ve been reading. Judd Winick has been enjoying the manga Pluto, by Naoki Urasawa. It’s eight volumes, and loosely based on an old Astro Boy story. Amy Reeder has mainly been reading Batwoman comics as research, but really loved Skydoll. Ryan Benjamin has been so busy with his art that he hasn’t set foot in a comic shop in three months, but had been enjoying the Superman books. Frank Quitely has a huge pile of trades and graphic novels to read, but has been enjoying Eddie Campbell’s Alec: the Years Have Pants. Ben Abernathy enjoys 20th Century Boys, also by Naoki Urasawa, many Vertigo titles, anything connected to the Hellboy universe, Walking Dead and too many other books to list. Joey Cavalieri reads “this or that.” He’s also been enjoying re-reading Promethea while working on the Absolute volumes.

The next fan complained about poor treatment of the Spectre and Anti-Monitor in recent stories and how they never accomplish anything in big events, asking why these characters are treated such? Judd Winick jokingly answered “It’s because none of us like them, so we want to make them look bad.”

In response to the next question, Judd confirmed that while Generation Lost may be ending, he’s stickin with Power Girl for the duration. His next plot will involve Power Girl working on developing her secret identity of Karen Star and will feature a few minor guest stars. Superman, Zatanna and Batman. No one special. Winick also praised artist Sami Basri for his ability to nail the comedic timing and expressions in his scripts.

Amy Reeder confirmed that Batwoman was delayed not because of JH Williams’ art but because DC wanted to give it a bigger promotional push in September. Reeder hopes that will increase the amount of readers on the title, increasing the odds that the book will survive. She had nothing but positive things to say about Williams being prompt and timely, pointing out that she receives scripts from him before they are due, and that the work she’s seen from him comes quickly. Williams is currently finishing issue three of a five issue arc, and Reeder is currently working on comics that won’t get released until next year. She reassured everyone that Batwoman is still going to happen, and that there’s nothing wrong.

The final question was whether we’d see more magical events such as Reign in Hell in upcoming months. “We’re not saying anything.” said Bob Wayne.

Peter S. Svensson (peterssvensson@letsreadcomics.com)

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