Every year at the end of July, the San Diego Comic Convention emerges in California and within it, a torrent of news and promotional events explode upon the Internet. While it would be impossible and impractical to summarize it all from an armchair in Brooklyn, here are the notable highlights that pertain to DC Comics and/or DC Entertainment:
– DC leaked to the NY Daily News that under the “New 52”, not only will Lois Lane be the editor of the DAILY PLANET (as well as a TV anchor), but that she will already be dating a blond guy named Jonathan Carroll in the new SUPERMAN #1 (http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/2011/07/21/2011-07-21_lois_lanes_new_boyfriend_revealed_superman_loses_out_to_jonathan_carroll_in_supe.html). Quite what this accomplished besides some Super-angst is unknown, as to many a common person, Lois and Clark go together like peanut butter and jelly, or like a long running TV show (or two). Quite what making Superman single accomplishes, besides appeasing the small minority of fan fiction writers who want him to shag with Wonder Woman is unknown. For more on Superman, there was an entire panel about him (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=33475).
– At a panel, it was revealed that Jim Lee and Cully Hamner were responsible for redesigning virtually every character in the “New 52” that debuts at the end of August, and especially in September (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=33553). Up until now it was often circulated that Jim Lee had done it all alone, especially as many designs were derided for having too much “90’s edginess” to them. Slides were shown of many characters and the two notes that the basis for many redesigns was to make the characters look younger. As adult characters like Green Arrow and Batman were many younger, that meant their sidekicks had to become a bit younger and “x-treme” looking too. Some redesigns were an attempt to capitalize on alternate media; for example, Harley Quinn being redesigned to look more like her counterpart from the BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM and ARKHAM CITY video games, Red Hood to look like a recent animated DTV, and Green Arrow borrowing some influence from his “SMALLVILLE” design. Hamner was brought into such a critical design assignment due to his success in designing the Jamie Reyes version of BLUE BEETLE, which has since been duplicated successfully in cartoons (“BATMAN: BRAVE AND THE BOLD”) and live action (“SMALLVILLE”). The two also denied any redesign of Superman arose from the lawsuit with his creators’ heirs. Supergirl was among the characters Jim Lee redesigned (who was inspired by 70’s flair, and nothing says contemporary by being inspired by the 70’s), while Poison Ivy was all Cully, for example. The writers of various titles did have some influence on the designs, Lee said.
– At the premiere of the latest DCU animated DVD film, “BATMAN: YEAR ONE”, producer Bruce Timm revealed that the next one up would be “THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS”, an animated adaptation of the Frank Miller classic from the 1980’s (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=33534). No cast or release date was mentioned, but it seems like a no-brainer sort of thing. He did claim that the story could be adapted without it being rated R. The DTV’s are usually rated PG-13.
– The mood of the fans at DC’s panels were mixed (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/sdcc-2011-mood-of-dc-fans-110725.html). The company’s decision to alter their entire universe with the “New 52” has interested and enraged many fans online and in shops. A Facebook campaign to stage a costumed protest of DC’s policies, that was reported upon back on July 4th (http://joltleft.com/comic-books-in-new-york/dc-comics-news-7-4-11-the-new-52-and-you-dcnu-protest-gl-film-flops-harder) did actually occur. The downside? While 500 fans signed up for it on Facebook, only about 15 actually showed up to do it at the SDCC itself (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/sdcc2011-dcnu-protest-110723.html). Most of them were dressed as Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, or the Joker (or other Bat-related characters). At least one female fan, who came dressed as Batgirl with a daughter dressed as Spoiler, attended quite a few DC panels and asked quite a few uncomfortable questions about the lack of female creators at DC these days as well as whether female characters were being properly presented on covers. The mood of the panel and the fans assembled at them were reported to be against her. Todd McFarlane, who knows something of 90’s style relaunches, thinks it will be a turkey: “I’ll bet against it. And here’s why: I think it’s a fool’s game” (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=33485). That is an interesting statement considering the involvement of figures he has worked with, such as Jim Lee, Scott Lobdell and Bob Harras.
– At the Justice League panel, a few mysteries were revealed (http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/07/23/dc-new-52-panel-day-3-comic-con/). The Atom as shown with the team would be Ryan Choi, the replacement of Ray Palmer who starred in his own series until recently, when Palmer retook the mantle. While DC often cites Choi being back in the name of ethnic diversity (as he’s Asian), it is more likely to do with him being the Atom featured in “BATMAN: BRAVE AND THE BOLD”. It was also revealed that the “mysterious woman” in some of those shots is a character called Lady Luck. She is a creation of Will Eisner who DC apparently owns lock, stock and barrel along with Eisner’s best known character, the Spirit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Luck_%28comics%29). Jim Lee claimed the character will be reinvented for the League. She didn’t have any super-powers, but that may be one of the aspects to change; “luck powered” characters have emerged in comics (such as Marvel’s Longshot, Domino, and to a degree Black Cat). Cassandra Cain will still exist in the New 52, and so will Power Girl’s alter ego. Barbara Gordon will have still apparently been Oracle, but will be back in the mantle of Batgirl despite not having been in the mantle in 26 years. Wonder Woman’s design may or may not have “retractable pants” as some covers and shots have her in black leggings, and some in a star spangled panty.
– Despite mixed reactions and the presence of that aforementioned Batgirl fan, DC’s upper brass (Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, Bob Harras, and Grant Morrison) insist that the reaction to their “New 52” has been positive (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=33496). They also insist on their awkward strategy that many past DC stories will count, but at the same time characters will be made younger and have status quo’s that never happened. For instance, how can IDENTITY CRISIS still be canon if Clark Kent and Lois Lane were never married? How can Batman have amassed four or five sidekicks within five years yet Superman’s hangers on like Superboy and Supergirl have to be reinvented? If the Justice League never appeared before, how can DEATH OF SUPERMAN still be canon? While newer fans may not care, the gamble is that more of them have to emerge to replace any DC fans who abandon the company in disgust. On the plus side, Johns seems committed to trying to properly relaunch Aquaman to audiences in the same way he did so with Flash and Green Lantern. He may NEED Lady Luck on his side for that one. Sinestro will also be back on the Green Lantern Corps, which may or may not have something to do with a recent film, even though said film was a flop (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=33479). DiDio claims that this entire exercise is to get back DC’s “epicness” and feels the universe had gotten stale (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=33465) – which doesn’t speak highly of his editorial control as he has basically been running most of DC Comics since about 2002-2004. If DC got stale, wasn’t that a problem he helped cause?
– The entire span of the DC Universe will now be about five years. Some comics, such as ACTION COMICS and JUSTICE LEAGUE, will be set in the past (at least initially) while others are set in the present. Batman’s “out” is that he was long considered an “urban legend” and thus may have existed for a longer period of time. Keep in mind that while this sounds similar to “Marvel Time” over at the House of Ideas, they often insist the span of their entire universe is about 13-15 years these days.
– FABLES, the hottest VERTIGO franchise for DC since SANDMAN, will launch a new ongoing series called FAIREST which will spotlight the female characters of the modern fairy tale universe. This will be the third monthly title, after FABLES and JACK OF FABLES (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/sdcc2011-willingham-fairest-110724.html).
– DC will team with IDW to have classic STAR TREK meet the LEGION OF SUPER HEROES in a crossover intended to appease sci-fi comic nerds, or as many as three people on Deviant Art (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/sdcc2011-legion-star-trek-crossover-110721.html). Will Matter-Eater Lad eat a Tribble? Can Captain Kirk score before Cosmic Boy? Who has bigger ears, Mr. Spock or Chameleon Boy? In fairness, Marvel did have the X-Men meet at least two or three crews of STAR TREK back in the 90’s, back when they were published by TOPPS.
– At a panel for “YOUNG JUSTICE”, a cartoon story edited by Greg Weisman that airs on Cartoon Network, new character designs were shown. The series debuted in Nov. 2010 and has been airing in repeats since about March, but should return with new episodes in September and finish out it’s first season, before a ten episode second season debuts in “mid-late 2012”. According to these pictures, characters expected to appear soon are Zatanna, Rocket (a Milestone/ICON character like Static), the Joker, Vandal Savage, Dr. Hugo Strange, Queen Bee (voiced by Marina Sirtis), Count Vertigo (who appeared in Greg Weisman’s GREEN ARROW short that was packaged with “SUPERMAN/BATMAN: APOCALYPSE”), Wolf, Ocean Master (Aquaman’s evil brother), and the oddball duo of Monsieur Mallah and Brain (http://dcwomenkickingass.tumblr.com/post/8039146594/yjcards).
Last Week’s DC Comics News – http://joltleft.com/comic-books-in-new-york/dc-comics-news-7-19-11-the-new-superman-the-dark-knight-rises-trailer
This Week’s Indie Comics News – http://joltleft.com/comic-books-in-new-york/indie-comics-news-7-26-11-the-2011-san-diego-comic-con-round-up-edition
Last Week’s Marvel Comics News – http://joltleft.com/comic-books-in-new-york/marvel-comics-news-7-19-11-new-stores-initiative-new-defenders-asm-film-more