FanExpo Canada: DC Talks Black Label, Other Upcoming Projects

At this year’s FanExpo Canada in Toronto, DC Comics held two panels hosted by co-Publisher Dan DiDio himself. The first, titled “World’s Finest” featured writers Marguerite Bennett, Steve Orlando, Frank TIeri, Peter J. Tomasi, James Tynion IV, and Joshua Williamson. The next day, another panel called “DC Nation” featured writers Tom King and Scott Snyder along with artists Greg Capullo, Jason Fabok, and Greg Capullo.

 

BEING THE FLASH

Joshua WIlliamson, the current writer for The Flash discussed his approach to Barry Allen. He told the audience that most of the people around Barry would describe him with a sentence that starts, “Barry is a nice guy, but…” Barry aspires to be the great guy that others see him as, but he’s a normal flawed human like everyone else. Wally West fans know that Wally has long idolized Barry, but Barry finds it hard to live up to that idealized picture of himself.

When speaking of the difference between Wally and Barry, Williamson noted that Barry wants to be the hopeful and optimistic personality that people tend to see him as, but Wally is inherently like that without having to strive for it.

He also stated that the important difference between Barry and Godspeed is that Barry seeks justice, while Godspeed is focused on revenge. Williamson also offered the minor spoiler that Godspeed would be returning to the title very soon.

GOTHAM CITY: NEW & “OLD”

Frank Tieri was discussing his upcoming Old Lady Harley miniseries. This book is set thirty years in the future in a Gotham City long since cleaned up by Batman. In this new era, there is no need for a criminal asylum, so Arkham has been repurposed as a home for senior citizens.

Tieri went on to explain that Harley has been profoundly affected by an incident in the past where she killed the Penguin. The Joker too is long dead – or is he? It seems that the Joker has resurfaced, but is it him or an impostor?

Peter Tomasi will be taking over Detective Comics with #994, with Doug Mahnke as the artist. Tomasi has written Batman before on the title Batman and Robin, but in this title he plans to focus on Batman without Robin or the extended Bat-Family. He also promises that the title will be a Bruce story, putting emphasis on the man beneath the mask. He also indicated that the stories would put emphasis on Batman as a detective to reflect the book’s title.

 

THE RETURN OF HORROR

James Tynion IV discussed his approach for Justice League Dark. He stated that DC has the best history of horror comics, but that familiarity has made their horror characters seem tame. Tynion stated that he aims to make DC’s magical universe scary again.

He further explained the unknown is what is truly terrifying, so he plans on subverting the reader’s expectation of established characters as well as introducing new ones. He also spoke of drawing on other types of horror than just the Gothic horror that DC’s supernatural world is based around. He offered Japanese horror as an example of a different type that he might draw upon.

 

DARKNESS RISING

Dan DiDio opened the DC Nation panel by plugging the panel’s namesake publication DC Nation, which contains news, interviews, previews, and other tidbits – and is offered free at local comic shops. But the main focus of the presentation was DC’s new line: DC Black Label.

He described DC Black Label as following the prototype of The Killing Joke, a self-contained story that took a unique look at Batman and the Joker, but that stayed within DC canon. As DiDio put it “Those things are kind of interesting because they sit on the shelf. a complete story that gives a chance to explore these characters in ways we’ve never seen before.”

As part of this discussion, Jason Fabok spoke about Batman: Three Jokers, while Scott Snyder discussed The Last Knight on Earth. While discussing The Batman Who Laughs, Jock let slip the spoiler that Jame Gordon, Jr. will be in the title. And finally, Greg Capullo hinted that he had something in the works involving the Swamp Thing.

 

WEDDINGS, HEROES AND KNIGHTS… OH MY!

Tom King discussed the infamous Wedding story, once again reminding the audience that the story is only halfway through. He admitted that what happened in the issue was planned from the beginning of the story, and that the purpose was to bring Bruce to an emotional low point. Instead of physically breaking his back, Bane has broken Batman in spirit this time.

King also discussed the upcoming Heroes In Crisis miniseries, which he describes as a mystery story. He also dropped a small spoiler by revealing that Lagoon Boy will be one of the characters who meets his death in the story.

He also mentioned that he had been given a choice between writing Mister Miracle or an Atomic Knights series. Dan DiDio admitted that he had wanted to go with Atomic Knights, but King joked that a book featuring giant dalamatians slitting their wrists might not go over well with readers.

THE AUDIENCE TAKES THE STAGE

DiDio then threw the floor open to questions from the audience, which the panel endeavored to answer if they could. However, DiDio sidestepped any questions about the Justice Society, the Legion of Super-Heroes, or the Question, presumably not to give any spoilers away for upcoming projects.

When asked about the possibility of any DC/Marvel crossovers, DiDio explained that was ground that had been well traveled in recent years, but that they may return to that someday in the future, when it would be new and fresh again.

An audience member asked why there seems to be very little interaction between any of DC’s black characters. DiDio pointed out that this will be addressed in the upcoming miniseries The Other History Of The DC Universe. This series by John Ridley will look at DC history from the black perspective – and that of other disenfranchised groups.

When asked about the status of the Milestone Media relaunch, DiDio stated that it was being delayed due to the creative lead Reggie Hudlin being in high demand. Once he’s available to get to work on the project, then DC’s plans for Milestone will move ahead.

One audience member asked if there were any plans for the Spectre. DiDio stated that while he couldn’t tell him if there was anything planned, he might want to go ask Peter Tomasi about the Spectre – and to tell him that his script’s late.

Similarly, when asked about Hawk and Dove, DiDio told that questioner to walk past Tomasi to Steve Orlando and, “Not that he’s working on it, not that it’s planned, but his script’s late too.”

On the matter of why all the announced DC Black Label titles featured DC’s A-list heroes, but none of the lesser known properties, the publisher replied, “from the business side… we gotta go with the bigger guys first, because they sell better – establish the brand, and then we build out from these. the more you have faith in what black label stands for… then we can take risks with other material.”

What about Amethyst? There are plans…

How about Ted Kord? Snyder revealed that Ted will be a presence in the Hall of Justice in the Justice League titles.

One conventioneer asked if Kiteman was going to be okay. The response is that Kiteman has never been okay. The panel further joked that Kiteman will be taking over the identity of Batman and end up marrying Catwoman. (Wouldn’t that be a twist!)

When asked about Sandman, DiDio avoided asking which Sandman and directed the questioner to check out the recently released Sandman Universe Special, and the titles spinning out of it: The Dreaming, The Books of Magic, Lucifer, and The House of Whispers.

In answer to a question about DC’s plans for the 1000th issue of the title the company is named for, Detective Comics, DiDio promised that it was going to be even bigger than Action Comics #1000 was and that everyone on the panel would be involved in that issue.

The final question was one that was on the mind of many fans at the Toronto con: Is the DC Universe streaming service coming to Canada? DiDio stated that service is remaining in the United States while it is in beta, but that plans are being worked out to bring it to Canada very soon.

 

Well, there you have it, folks!  Thanks for checking out my coverage of FanExpo Canada and be sure to check out DC Comics News for all you news, reviews, and con coverage needs!

 

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Derek McNeil

I have been an avid reader of DC Comics since the early 70s. My earliest exposure was to Batman and Superman comics, Batman (Adam West) reruns, and watching the Super-Friends every Saturday morning.