San Diego Comic-Con panels are pretty hard to get into, especially if they’re in Hall H or Ballroom 20. Luckily, the All Access: DC NOW! panel in Room 6DE was far enough off the beaten path that fans were able to sit down with some of DC’s top talent to discuss what’s to come in the next few months. On the panel were Chief Creative Officer and “Green Lantern” guru Geoff Johns, writer Scott Snyder (“Batman”, “Swamp Thing”), writer Brian Buccellato (“The Flash), writer Scott Lobdell (“Teen Titans”, “Superman”), writer/artist Rob Liefeld (“The Savage Hawkman”, “Grifter”), artist Amanda Conner (“Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre”), and writer Jimmy Palmiotti (“All-Star Western”).
Geoff Johns opened up with “Batman: Earth One,” his graphic novel collaboration with artist Gary Frank. “It’s a rollback Batman,” Johns said. “He doesn’t know what he’s doing and he does it for the wrong reasons. It’s very character-centric and you’ll see new takes on Alfred, Harvey Bullock, Jim Gordon, and the Penguin.”
Showing the cover of “Justice League #12”, Johns joked, “Aquaman looks pissed!” He went on to state that the first year of “JL” was about who the team is, and the second year will be about who the team is supposed to be. “This image reflects Aquaman calling the Justice League out and saying we need to be a team.”
Moving on to “Justice League #0”, Johns revealed that Captain Marvel/Shazam will be joining the team, delivering on the promise set up by the series of mini-comics at the end of previous “Justice League” issues.
Displaying the “Justice League #13” cover, Johns told the audience this issue will feature the Wonder Woman villain Cheetah, leading into next year’s Trinity War. When asked to describe what to expect in the upcoming event, Johns stated that “exactly two people know what happens in Trinity War.”
Switching gears to “Green Lantern”, Johns asked the audience, “Why would a Green Lantern ever carry a gun?” when referring to the cover to “Green Lantern #0.” He then joked that this new GL carries a sidearm as a backup in case his ring runs out of power. Johns then explained that the upcoming “Rise of the Third Army” story will be about the Guardians’ effort to eliminate free will from universe. “It’s kind of dickish,” Johns added. “Green Lantern Annual #1 is where it all starts.”
Up next was “Aquaman #0”, an issue telling the story of when Aquaman first finds Atlantis. He went on to praise artist Ivan Reis for his work, saying that Reis draws “poetry in the water.” To close out the discussion of his upcoming work, Johns joked about the cover of “Aquaman #13”, which features the Aqua-family, even his dog. “I love that dog! Everyone’s trying to figure out what his name is.”
Next up was Amanda Conner and the cover of “Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #4.” Conner explained, “This is the biggest thing I have every co-written. Without giving too much away, [Laurie] has gone to San Francisco. It’s 1966 and it’s just before the summer of love, and she’s discovering all the things the young people of the day discovered back then. Even the stuff you’re not supposed to discover.”
“She made me do all the experimental drugs for reference,” Jimmy Palmiotti, Conner’s husband, joked. “That’s why there are clowns in ‘Jonah Hex’ next week.”
Palmiotti and Conner then moved onto their digital series “Ame-Comi Girls,” based on the popular line of figurines. Palmiotti explained that the print version of the comic will be released in October and will collect the first four chapters.
“I like drawing Amazons.” Conner said as the image of Ame-Comi Wonder Women came up on the screen.
Speaking about “All-Star Western #0,” Palmiotti stated the issue will, “give you the origin of Jonah Hex - how he got to be who he is, what he went through as a child, and how he became the man in front of us, ripping through paper and shooting into the air,” referring to the #0 cover.
Rounding out Palmiotti’s contributions, he showed off the cover of the third issue of “Phantom Lady” by artist Cat Staggs. “Look at that! That’s awesome!” he gushed.
Scott Snyder then took over, speaking about “Batman #0.” “This is, literally, one of my favorite issues that we’ve done,” he said. “It exists in the spaces you haven’t seen in Gotham. You’re going to see Bruce set up shop somewhere very different from the Batcave with a different sort of mission.”
“Bruce is a demon before he learns to be a man,” Snyder continued, promising readers a new Bat cycle and new gadgets.
Moving to a topic many fans were eager to hear about, Snyder explained that in “Batman #13”, the Joker will see his place in Gotham as the court jester to Batman’s king, and won’t be happy about being forgotten by Batman during his year-long hiatus. “It’s our love letter to the Joker, and our exploration of his character. It’s our ‘Killing Joke’ or our ‘Arkham Asylum.’”
Snyder went on to talk about “Talon”, the story of the first assassin from the Court of Owls to successfully escape the fate that befell countless Talons before him. He is excited to be working alongside his former student, James Tynion, detailing the adventures of a Talon on the run from the Court.
Turning to “Swamp Thing #0,” Snyder told the audience, “It focuses on Alec Holland and gives you the secret story behind the explosion, at the moment he was supposed to have been turned into Swamp Thing, but it’s told through the eyes of Arcane.” Stating that the issue will also dive into Arcane’s past, Snyder said the issue sets up the “Rotworld” crossover beginning in issue #12 of both “Animal Man” and “Swamp Thing.”
Talking about issue #13 and the “Rotworld” crossover, Snyder says he is setting up Poison Ivy as a “warrior” protecting the Green against the Rot.
Moving onto his “American Vampire” series for Vertigo, Snyder told fans the next arc features a new breed of vampire, born in the American west, and existing throughout several decades of American history. Main characters Pearl and Skinner will team up to fight vampires in Hollywood in the 1950s, harkening back to the Joseph McCarthy era, only this time the Reds are now Undeads.
Rob Liefeld then took over with “Savage Hawkman #0”, recounting to the audience that the first few issues of his arc shows Carter Hall attempting to discover the history of his Nth metal armor, while being followed around the world and attacked by those interested in taking it from him. Issue #12, the culmination of the most recent arc, leads right into #0, and “they just let me go gigantic, really big with Hawkman’s origin. It’s a gigantic space opera, telling the rise of Thanagar,” Liefeld said, adding that #13 sets the stage for “Hawkman: Wanted”, where Carter learns that he is now an intergalactic criminal and has to prove his innocence. The following issues will crossover with “Green Arrow,” and feature Red Hood, Starfire, and Deathstroke.
Describing “Deathstroke #0”, Liefeld quickly added that Slade’s origin issue ties into the new “Team 7” series, revealing that Slade was a part of the team, alongside Grifter, Steve Trevor, and Black Canary. “After #0, we spin into Slade’s personal demons coming back to haunt him,” Liefeld said.
Scott Lobdell, who took over “Superman” with #0, promised readers will see “Krypton in a way that it has never been portrayed.”
“Superman #13” will “examine what it means to be the single most powerful person on the planet...but you’re hiding out amongst humanity hoping to fit in,” Lobdell said. Lobdell then promised in “Teen Titans” that Raven will be joining the team, as well as Supergirl. Crowd reaction was extremely positive, especially when Lobdell asked how many fans would love to see a "Titans" spinoff. "The Teen Titans will battle the Court of Owls and Joker," Lobdell joked.
To round out the panel, Brian Buccellato told the audience that he and Francis Manapul were not changing Barry Allen’s origins in "Flash #0", but will add "subtle, new dynamics...and see sides of Barry that you’ve never seen before.”
“Then 350 billion gorillas are going to attack Central City, so the odds are not in his favor,” Buccellato said about issue #13 as the audience laughed. He also added that the “Flash Annual” Rogues storyline will also connect to the gorilla invasion, forcing Barry to choose a side in the conflict. And much to the crowd's disappointment, Buccellato added, "And there is no Wally in this run, I’m sorry.”
Exciting things on the horizon in the DC Universe. Keep your eyes on the comic shop shelves in the coming months for all the issues mentioned above!