DC held their standard All Access panel at WonderCon, showing off trailers for DC properties and a handful of comic previews. Jason Inman of DC’s All Access App served as the emcee. Ming Doyle, co-writer of Constantine; JT Krul, writer of Bloodlines; Mitch Gerards, artist of Sheriff of Babylon; Annie Wu, artist of Black Canary; Jamie Rich, Vertigo editor; and Nathan Sawaya, Lego artist were attending.
Jason Inman is a pretty charismatic dude. He started the panel off by mentioning a minor movie that had just been released. “There hasn’t been a lot of press for it.” So the panel began with the trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
When it ended, Inman continued by pointing out that DC doesn’t do anything by halves, and played the trailer for Suicide Squad.
He then used that as a transition to start talking about Constantine: the Hellblazer, written by Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV. He asked Doyle if she could talk about what happened in issue 10, which had artwork from it displayed on the screens. She couldn’t however, as she couldn’t recall what happened in that specific issue since she scripted it so long ago. She explained that she loves writing John Constantine, because “he’s a sleazy sort of sexbomb. He talks to whoever he wants, does what he wants to do.” She admitted that her initial attempt to use British writer Ollie Masters, who she worked with on The Kitchen, to get proper Briticisms into the scripts didn’t quite turn out well, with him not understanding what she was trying to go. So now “I’m just going to write what feels right.”
Inman asked of John Constantine, “Is he a good guy?”
Ming Doyle but laughed. “If it’s convenient, he’ll do the right thing. If it’s inconvenient, he’ll look out for himself first. He has no interest in saving the world. He looks out for number one.”
Inman then asked what it was like to work with artist Riley Rossmo. She loves his kinetic style, and how he’s updated Constantine’s look, much to the dismay of the classic trenchcoat devotees. She revealed that issue 11 in April will feature John coming to Los Angeles to meet some literal angels.
The next question Doyle answered was her writing relationship with James Tynion IV. She’s pointed out that James is a prolific writer, practically writing every Bat book, while she’s new to writing. So his skills as a writer complement her background as an artist. They’ll collaborate on the plotting, then Tynion will come up with an outline of the script, which he will write one half of, and she will write the other.
The next image on the slideshow showed up, featuring Justice League #49. Jason Fabok, artist on Justice League was running late to the panel, so Inman tried to hype the audience up in his absence. He asked the audience if they thought that Darkseid War, the current arc in Geoff Johns’ Justice League, is the best Darkseid story ever. There was scattered applause. He then asked if it was the best Lex Luthor story ever.
Justice League #50 comes out in May.
Switching to a title which did have creators present, Annie Wu then began talking about Black Canary, and working with writer Brendan Fletcher. Wu pointed out that not only is Fletcher an amazing writer, but that the two of them have similar loves for music, rock history and musical theater. If you’ve ever read comics but wondered where all the musical theatre references where, Wu demands that you read Black Canary #10.
The Black Canary album! You can listen to “Fish Out of Water” at www.blackcanarymusic.com. One of the tracks is a Bauhaus cover! Wu was very excited about that point. She pointed out that while she did some of the art for the album, the music itself was done by Brendan and his friends. It was important to them to nail down exactly what genre of music that Black Canary would perform, so settling on Gothy Electro Rock was crucial for the book.
Wu pointed out that she didn’t want Black Canary to have a singular costume, so cosplayers who have some combination of jackets and fishnets and boots are all perfectly fine. Brendan doesn’t write panel by panel breakdowns, which means the 25 panel pages she’s drawn are all her fault, and she can’t blame anyone else.
Bloodlines. JT Krul writes the New 52 version of the classic 90s event. He’s taken the concept of the original, of an alien presence infecting people and their getting abilities from said infection, but is treating it as more of a horror science fiction story. He’s not writing these as powers, but as curses. He’s aiming for creepy and Lovecraftian horror in a pocket corner of the DC Universe. No capes, or cowls or codenames, Krul described it as Vertigo-esque. There will be some faces from the 90s series in new forms but it’s meant so that new readers can come in and enjoy it.
Inman asked if Krul has the 1993 Bloodlines trading cards set. Krul admitted that he has all of the Bloodlines comics, but didn’t know there were cards.
Now we move to Jamie Rich’s part of the panel, Vertigo. We began with an iZombie trailer, followed by a Preacher trailer, and then a Lucifer trailer. Rich spoke about the new Lucifer comic written by Holly Black. The premise is that God is dead and that everyone thinks that Lucifer did it, so he’s on a quest to find out who really did do it. Issue 5 deals with Lucifer heading into the Dreaming for clues. There will be some callbacks to Sandman in that issue, but also checking back where characters were at the end of Mike Carey’s legendary run on the character. This series is meant to be a new beginning, but one that can touch back on the past.
Rob Williams’ new series, Unfollow was then featured. With art by Michael Dowling. The premise features a multibillionaire who made a social media app, who randomly chose 140 people who will inherit his fortune split between whoever survives. So with a strong incentive to winnow the crowd, the book is a morality play. Everything is a spoiler. #5 finishes the first arc, and will be followed by two one-shots by guest artists. Readers may pick up the first TPB and then leap straight into the ongoing. While there were talks about making the app real that didn’t go through, the Vertigo website has a countdown of how many of the 140 are still alive.
Gail Simone’s Clean Room was the next Vertigo book to be showcased. The twist between Simone’s silly twitter persona and the dark, twisted things she can write was pointed out. The book features Astrid Mueller, who has a clean room, hermetically sealed so that nothing can get in, and nothing can get out. She exorcises your dark secrets. Sometimes it’s a literal exorcism.
It is at this point that Jason Fabok finally arrived to the stage. A little late. (But we forgive him. It’s a new convention center, and figuring out where the panel rooms were took some work.)
Next Vertigo book? Dark and Bloody. Shawn Aldridge writes a “Hammer horror story” (kids, go ask your parents) set in rural Kentucky. An Iraq vet trying to get his life together, despite the terrible things he did in the war that are coming back to haunt him. Artist Scott Godlewski did work on Copperhead at Image, and Patricia Mulvihill colors.
Sheriff of Babylon was the next book to be featured, which despite what the slideshow stated, is written by Tom King and drawn by Mitch Gerards. Gerards spoke about what makes the book so special to him. That writer King was a CIA operations officer before becoming a comics writer, so he gets to draw the world that King lived in. Gerards cares about getting the authenticity right, because the Iraq war was a major part of US history. The book is set in 2004, right after the invasion of Baghdad. It can be difficult to find reference photos, and Tom King can’t share photos of his time there due to CIA restrictions, but Gerards has become quite adept at using Google to research. He then revealed that this is the only comic that has to be cleared by the CIA.
Jamie Rich verified that as a former CIA operative, anything Tom King writes that involves the CIA needs to be vetted by the organization, not for accuracy but just to make sure that they don’t say anything they shouldn’t. Also that there’s a video interview on DC’s site between DC All Access host Jason Imnan and Tom King, as both were veterans of Iraq.
We then move to Paul Dini and Eduardo Risso’s graphic novel, Dark Night: A True Batman Story. It focuses on the real life experience of Paul Dini, who was violently attacked on the street during his tenure working on Batman: the Animated Series, and how he managed to recover from the depression that came afterwards. An exploration of what it means to write stories about someone who would have saved him from that situation if only Batman were real. Risso is doing both line art and coloring on this one, a comic about how art gets us through the world.
Inman then interrupted the panel to discuss how awkward it was to have an Orion cosplayer sitting in the front row of the panel, right next to where I was sitting, as he felt silently judged. “What does Orion think about the panel?!” he quipped. The cosplayer, in a fantastic rendition of the Cliff Chiang model from Brian Azzarello’s run on Wonder Woman, then gave the panel a nice thumbs up.
He was a pretty awesome dude.
So now we move back to Jay Fabok, artist of Darkseid War in Justice League. Fabok hadn’t been a huge Kirby fan, or a major Fourth World enthusiast, but that changed when he watched the episode of Justice League Unlimited featuring Mr. Miracle and Big Barda in the pits of Apokolips. When Geoff Johns spoke to Fabok about doing what would be Darkseid war, Fabok responded with “I want to draw Mr. Miracle. He’s kinda lame with a weird name, but I love this character!” Geoff agreed, and that got him fired up. Johns read every New Gods comic in preparation, and would overwhelm Fabok with information, which he’d just ask to have put into the scripts.
Inman asked if any part of the scripts surprise him. Fabok agreed that every issue has had something, because Geoff tries to write Justice League as if it was an event series in every single issue. He explained that Geoff will do things like ask for a two page spread with 200 Green Lanterns flying down, and when Fabok explains that will take a week to draw, his response is “yeah, but it’ll look great!” Apparently issue 50 has huge nuclear bombs of revelations paying off two years of planning that people will be shocked and amazed by. “I hope I can overhype it.”
Inman then prepared to show a featurette about Lego. Instead… we got a trailer for the Flash. Then Arrow. Then Legends of Tomorrow. Then Gotham. Then Supergirl. Then the Flash/Supergirl crossover.
FINALLY, we got to “Art of the Brick: DC Comics”, showing off the Lego skills of Nathan Sawaya, who did the Bat-signal and hovering Superman Bleeding Cool readers saw at the DC Comics booth in our pre-show tour of WonderCon. Sawaya spoke about his art exhibition contrasting good and evil, using Lego, the world’s most popular toy, combined with the world’s greatest superheroes. It’s a traveling exhibition. The Bat-signal was 75,000 bricks that took 5 weeks to assemble. And despite popular belief, Sawaya has to buy his Lego bricks just like everyone else. His favorite piece is the Lego Batmobile, which is 18 feet long, and made of half a million Lego bricks.
The panel neared the end with… yet another trailer. This time for DC Super Hero Girls, showing the Hero of the Month: Wonder Woman video. I may have cheered a bit too loudly at that one. The DC Super Hero Girls comic, Finals Crisis was shown.
DC’s Rebirth announcement was then told to the fans, and then we ended with the DC Comics Fan Channel, followed by YET ANOTHER TRAILER, this one for the DC All Access App.
Peter S. Svensson continues to be embedded at WonderCon. You can find him at the DC Rebirth event