While much of DC Comic’s attention tends to focus on the big events, for me, it’s the stuff happening in the non-flagship titles that is the most interesting and most creative.
Hence, I ditched the DC Batman and Brian Michael Bendis panels at New York Comic Con and instead made an effort to grab a front-row seat for the DC World’s Finest panel.
That panel included Kelly Sue DeConnick, Peter Tomasi, Steve Orlando, Josh Williamson, and James Tynion IV.
It did not disappoint.
Not that I expected it to, especially with the presence of DeConnick. She made a grand entrance to applause and then said “You can do better for my first DC panel,” to even more acclamation. Oh, yes, her jacket was on-point for Aquaman.
But that is not to slight the other panelists, even though I’m also dying for the debut of DeConnick’s history of the Amazons. (More on that later.) Orlando, Tynion, Williamson, and Tomasi provided updates on Aquaman, Flash, Super-Sons, Martian Manhunter, and the Wonder Woman/Justice League Dark crossover, “The Witching Hour.”
Orlando’s upcoming books include Martian Manhunter, which he said was greatly influenced by the classic John Ostrander/Tom Mandrake run. Reissue that run, DC! (Note: Below is a graphic image from Martian Manhunter.)
Williamson, who has redefined Barry Allen, drew gasps and applause announcing Flash: Year One which will run in the Flash title next year. Tynion had a fascinating explanation for why Man-Bat is part of Justice League Dark, and Tomasie talked Super-Sons.
Kelly Sue DeConnick on Aquaman
But, first, Aquaman and DeConnick. She’ll be taking over the title after the events of The Drowned Earth, a Justice League story. Two of her influences? Jason Momoa and Led Zeppelin.
“I happen to have this photo of Jason Momoa as Aquaman on my desktop and, while I didn’t base my character on Momoa’s version, there’s something about the look in his eye, that sense of mischief, that heroic twinkle, that is Aquaman.” Note: At this point, DeConnick stripped off her jacket because, hello, have you seen photos of Momoa as Aquaman?
She described the arc, which is a break from the current political intrigue of the title, as big and bold as if Led Zeppelin was doing the soundtrack. But it will also be grounded in human pain. “I was struck by one moment in the Geoff Johns run, where his [Aquaman’s] father takes his son to the sea every day to wait and see if his mother would return after leaving them for her duty in Atlantis. I thought ‘that is abuse’ and that leaves a mark. Aquaman can call anything to him from the sea but he can’t call his mother home.”
Which is not to say the series is about Aquaman searching for his mother but more about the how that abandonment is reflected in his personality. The run will be drawn by Robson Rocha and his work already looks impressive. She said the biggest influences on her run is the Peter David/Esteban Maroto maxi-series, The Atlantis Chronicles.
DeConnick also talked a bit about Wonder Woman Historia: the Amazons, a black label (mature) title that will debut next year. When asked who her favorite characters are to write, she said, “Hera and anyone but especially, Hera and Zeus.” That’s because, she said, Hera is usually seen as the harpy, the one so jealous she’s causing all the problems. That is not DeConnick’s Hera.
Of particular note to Lois Lane fans like me, DeConnick said Lois would be her dream character to write. “She’s a journalist doing dangerous work and it speaks to these times. She’s out there fighting for truth and justice with no powers.” (DC, I hope you are listening to this.)
Martian Manhunter and Justice League Dark/Wonder Woman
Orlando and Tynion both talked about their current work as being dream projects. Orlando’s Martian Manhunter will be about exploring his identity, both on Earth as Detective John Jones and on Mars as J’onn J’onnz. Orlando said this is a personal project for him, as it’s about someone who has to hide who they are. His journey speaks to Orlando as part of his own coming out story. This is another title that I’m eagerly awaiting.
Tynion’s “The Witching Hour,” an event that spans the Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark titles plus two specials, kicked off last week, with a chilling issue that featured Hecate, a witch so powerful that she was able to wipe the memory of the magical threat from the minds of the regular Justice Leaguers. This was unexpected and twisty and I enjoyed it more than the much-hyped Heroes in Crisis debut, supposedly DC’s current marquee event.
Tynion said he’s been pushing to write Justice League Dark and to write a horror story for years. He gathered a cast, he said, that looks to different areas of DC’s magical history, from Zatanna in the 1970s, to the more recent Justice League Dark books.
His favorite duo to write in this story? Wonder Woman and Detective Chimp, who recognize “who each other are and there’s no artifice between them.” Asked a question about why he included the scientist Kurt Langstrom, aka Man-Bat, in the team, Tynion said he wanted a wild card. In his Detective Comics run, that was Clayface. But Man-Bat was his second choice for Detective Comics, and so he used him here instead. Plus, Tynion said, “I love mad scientists.”
The Flash: Year One
Williamson’s announcement of Flash: Year One was a surprise that drew cheer but the crowd grew quiet as he talked about the events of the upcoming Flash Annual #2, which has fallout from a death in Heroes in Crisis. [SPOILER INCOMING]
Barry has to tell Iris about the death of Wally West. Williamson said it was “intense” to write but he wanted to do right by the emotions of all the characters. Before Flash: Year One but after the annual, he said Barry and Iris would take a “sort-of” honeymoon around the world as Barry delves further into the mystery of the various forces similar to the Speed Force. (Barry has already fought the strength force and another one currently taken over Heatwave, to devastating effect on those around him.) Asked about his favorite duo to write, Williamson answered “Batman and the Flash,” which he wrote in the Batman/Flash crossover, The Button, a prelude to the current Doomsday Clock series.
Tomasi likely had to be somewhat coy about the future of the Super-Sons, given that it’s been revealed that Jon Kent comes back from a galactic tour older and a little bit grimmer. But Tomasi spoke about how fun it is to write Jon Kent and Damian Wayne, given the contrast between them, and that how pleased he is that the duo seems to be the gateway for kids into DC Comics.
DC’s World’s Finest: Conclusion
Of note, two of the panelists talked about being influenced by books long out of print that were not huge hits at the time: the Martian Manhunter series, which is still out of print, and The Atlantis Chronicles, which was only collected last year after decades of being out of print.
Tynion mentioned Shadowpact, part of an offshoot of Days of Vengeance from 2005, which also featured Detective Chimp, among other of DC’s magical characters. This was also not a huge hit at the time.
But that these stories were cited by three of DC’s current creators proves just how much creativity and originality can be found in many of the supposed B-list stories. These are the stories that I’m anticipating the most in the coming year.