Getting DC All Access At Wondercon – From Jim Lee To Shelly Bond (UPDATE)

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It was a full hall shortly after the opening of Wondercon and just as DC’s booth at the con is front and center, DC snagged one of the earliest opening panel times for the show as well in their “all access” approach.

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Panelists included DC’s Co-publisher, and penciller on Superman Unchained, Jim Lee, and 3 editors, including Jim Chadwick on DC Digital, next Vertigo’s Shelly Bond, and the New 52’s, Mike Cotton.

The panel started off by reminding us that 2014 is the 75th anniversary of Batman a “tough old bird”, and a reminder to watch out for “July Batman 75 day”, in comic stores, and libraries, as a “huge worldwide celebration”.

Starting with Jim Lee, Superman Unchained #6 was released recently by Jim Lee and Scott Snyder, with Lois reemerging as an important character. It’s the “ultimate super man story” laid out, with Lois playing a huge part in the mythology. In issue # 7, she plays an even more important role.

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Superman’s going to be an “avenging hero” in issue # 7, including an attack on the Fortress of Solitude, and conflicts involving Batman and the Batcave. The cover is going to be “violating type rules” on #7.

It’s going to be a big Superman summer, not just a big one for Batman.

Superman events will include Superman #32 on June 25th, and the debut of new team—Geoff Johns, and John Romita Jr.  Editor Mike Cotton said the book will include new threats, old threats, old characters, new characters, making the book both “exciting and modern”.

On May 7th  Superman Doomed, the big crossover event kicks off with a huge cast of creators including Scott Lobdell, Charles Soule, and Tony Daniel among others. This is not a “death of superman a retelling”, since after the fight with Doomsday is the “big thing” of the book, exploring how it affects Superman. Cotton said Superman Doomed is “unifying” titles for the first time in the New 52, and setting up a big year for superman titles.

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On July 16th, Teen Titans #1 arrives, with Wondergirl and a “slimmed down team”, and they’ll be focusing on the celebrity of the characters and social media, and also including an anti-hero character who hasn’t shown up in New 52 yet.

Also coming up, we have Earth 2, World’s End, and Mike Cotton said that a lot of stuff happening in other books leading up to this will “come to a head” with Daniel H. Wilson writing, and Paul Levitz will be involved. It’s really “about the end of the world” and asking “How do you handle your world falling apart and fighting gods?” “It’s dark and aean and I don’t like happy endings” said Cotton.

DC’s digitally “integrated publishing”, has had a “big raging success” in Batman 66, and they recently found out that the first hard cover will debut #2 New York Times best seller list.  Jim Chadwick said that it’s typical of the book that everyone working on it is “having fun”, and Jonathan Case will be back for a special 3-part story, including Batgirl, the Joker, and Catwoman, issues #31, 32, 33, appearing twice a month on Wednesdays, then collecteded into print.

Coming in Fall 2014, of course is the Batman 66 television series finally, appearing in Batman’s anniversary year.

DC has announced the next iteration of Batman 66 in crossover format, with Alex Ross covers, all 6 by Ross.  The crossover is written by Kevin Smith, and will be co-published with Dynamite, featuring the Green Hornet. This is inspired by the crossover from the original TV series. In May, the crossover will start alternating with the ongoing series.

The panel then focused on video game tie-ins for DC comics, and the audience was shown a trailer for Infinite Crisis, which featured taglines like  “We all fight for something, while showing Joker clocking Batman in slow motion. The phrases “Hope” were superimposed over a Superman image,  “Peace” over  Wonder Woman, and for Batman,  “Justice”, while fighting the Joker. “What do you fight for?” was the final questions, and Infinite Crisis can currently be played for free online.

The digital online comic series tying into it will be “Infinite Crisis: Fight for the Multiverse”. Chadwick said it’s going to be “cosmic stuff, keeping it human, and crossing over from DC multiverse”. It starts off as basic Batman story as he thinks he’s investigating a series of Catwoman burglaries, but he’s got the Catwoman part wrong and things get “very weird” for Batman on a cosmic scale, as he teams up with others trying to stop the destruction of the multiverse. The game is “MOBA” and you will be able to “pick iterations of characters”, and different versions of characters throughout “decades of publishing”.

The audience  was also shown a trailer for the next Arkham game, featuring the voiceover by Thomas Wayne of his “last will and testament” . He asks that Bruce “honors the Wayne family legacy” and urges him to “commit yourself to the improvement of gotham city”. There were some humorous moments, like when Thomas advises Bruce“do not be frivolous”, and don’t waste money on “fast cars”, and a destructive lifestyle while images of the Batmobile and car chases were being shown. The trailer featured a prominent role for Two-Face and plenty of car chase scenes, ending in a fiery exploding bat symbol.  This is no longer as 2014 project, they reminded the audience, but a 2015 project.

We’ll  also soon see the return of Injustice, the comic, with digital chapters on sale April 22nd.  The Injustice comic started with a storyline 5 years before the start of the game. Moving into year 2, Superman has been successful in his mission, but now there’ll be a  lot of focus on the Lanterns. Hal Jordan will be torn about where his allegiances lie.  Two print books a month will be collecting the weekly digital chapters.

Then the panel proceeded to a focus on Vertogo books, where there was plenty of push for the print collected editions coming soon for recent books.

Shelly Bond started off by talking about issue #2 of Sandman: Overture that just came out. She thanked everyone for reading, and promised they’d “continue to kick it out of the park” this year. She said she is “so psyched with the Sandman”, especially with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the series this year.

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Showing the cover to issue #2 by “collaborator” JH Williams, she described it in one word as “majestic”.  JH Williams is working on “widescreen” scale and “reinvents himself every time he puts pencil to paper”, she said. Each release in the new series, 6 issues in number “takes it up another level”, she said, and is a “new type of masterpiece in sequential storytelling”.

Vertigo Defy is currently starting to release trades for FBP and John Cunningham came up with a “sales team strategy”, Bond said, to bring out new monthly series and collect them into single volumes for $9.99 very quickly, being released only one month after the single-issue storyline concludes in an “aggressive” approach. Coming up are Hinterkind and Coffin Hill to trade editions.

There was plenty of buzz for Vertigo’s new upcoming book Bodies,  and Bond said introducing it: “I’ve always been into the darker side of Vertigo” and horror, but here we have a “time travelling serial killer” in 8 issues, which she’s very excited about. The format is unusual on the book since there will be 8 issues with 4 different artists, featuring 4 detectives, moving in 4 different eras, investigating 1 body. Each issue, in fact, has 4 chapters in it and 4 time periods.

The 1890 period will feature Dean Orbston as artist, and other artists will be

Meghan Hetrick, Phil Winslade, and Tula Lotay ( who is drawing the “future” 2050 segment). Rotating artists will do covers, including Paul Pope, Francesco Francavilla,  and Brian Bolland.

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Bodies takes place in London with 4 diff time periods showing how 4 different detectives try their best to solve the case, and Bond described the book as a  “dissection of social and policial morais of the time”. It’s written by Si Spencer of Vinyl Underground and Hellblazer and is coming out in July.

One interesting question at the end of the panel was directed toward Jim Lee, about why there are no “animations” relating to Vertigo books. He said the “economics” of it may not support that business model because of the R rating on some of the comics, but that there is “nothing technically that would prevent it from happening”.

All in development as live action shows are FBP, iZombie, and Coffin Hill, so animation is a “next nut we need to crack”, said Lee.

Two questions that made Jim Lee “uncomfortable” and made him laugh were whether there would be “an imp from 5th dimension” in upcoming Superman comics, and he said not in Superman Unchained but otherwise he was “not at liberty to discuss”. Lee did mention that he’d be taking a break from monthly books after Superman Unchained. The second question was about Multiversity, a book they said Grant Morrison has been working on “his entire life”, but they carefully avoided commenting further on the title.

Top photo by Nerd Talk Radio

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