Saturday, October 15, 2011

NYCC Exclusive: DC Justice League Panel

Editor's Note: As the crowds here at NYCC have quadrupled in size, the benevolence and wisdom of the security guards and volunteers have decreased proportionally, so I apologize in advance if any acid or frustration creeps into my tone. I shall do my best to overcompensate.

The DC Justice League Panel! Geoff Johns! Jim Lee! Other people! Costumes! Comic Books! Yay!

There weren't many big reveals at the Justice League panel, or any in point of fact, which is interesting since the far less attended Avengers panel broke plenty of news. By all accounts this can be seen as proof that DC's New 52 initiative is bearing its intended fruit. What it lacked in revelation, however, it made up for with some moments of awkward drama.

Justice League

The biggest title, and apparently best selling one as well, of the new 52 has been Justice League, and thus the architects Geoff Johns and Jim Lee came on to the panel first. The entirety of their presentation involved some pages put on screen of upcoming issues, specifically that #2 doesn't just feature the unoriginal fight between Batman and Superman, but Green Lantern steps in to try and beat on Supes as well. Naturally he doesn't do so well, and calls the Flash for assistance, who shows up quickly, true to character. And thus it seems Johns continues his slow assemblage of the biggest team in the DC Universe.


Johns segued quickly into his personal favorite title, Aquaman, written by him and drawn by his longtime partner Ivan Reis. He jokingly referred to Aquaman as the "world's worst superhero", a declaration not refuted by the masses in attendance, and went on to explain that that is "what makes him cool." Despite Johns' recent script that removed Aquaman's power to talk to fish. He went on to explain that the overriding story for the first year of Aquaman is the quest for our not-respected hero, along with hot, powerful wife Mera, to discover who sank Atlantis. Expect a villainous new race called the Trench. Also, for those Mera fans out there, issue #6 will focus entirely on the former-blood-spewing, green-body-suited Queen of the deep.

Wonder Woman

Brian Azzarello outdid even Fraction in his brevity and arrogance, deadpanning left and right, and jokingly, though convincingly, admitting he suffered no compunction over the retooling of Wonder Woman's origins. When asked if he could share a hint as to the story concerning her father, he simply responded with a "No" and passed the microphone. Mostly he was glad the conversation was no longer solely about her wearing pants or a bikini bottom.

The Flash

Francis Manapul, on his first real venture as a writer, expressed his genuine happiness at working on the Flash, and critics have agreed that his debut has been impressive. The book is beautiful, dynamic, and well-paced, and Manapul has clearly thought about the character: In trying to find away to make the Fastest Man Alive actually vulnerable, Manapul has been inserting plot lines and art that force Barry Allen to actually stand still. Such as waiting by the phone. And that, my friends, is how you beat the Flash. Make a skype appointment. Also the character of Manuel will turn out to be a government agent of some kind.

The Savage Hawkman

Tony Daniel provided rousing insight into his exploration of the oft-ignored Hawkman, saying "he really is savage" and pointing out his ability to fly, what with those giant wings strapped on his back. Which he says, and I am proud to bring this to you exclusively, is "a lot of fun to draw."

Green Arrow

Ann Nocenti, of classic Daredevil fame and a former X-books editor, coming onto the panel was a bit of a surprise. She clarified her presence, after announcing that she was taking over writing duties on Green Arrow, but repeatedly calling herself the "Token Female" on stage for DC, following all the bad press at San Diego Comic Con over the massive decrease in female writers. She went on to clarify that she was "incredibly happy to be the token female" and spoke about beefing up Green Arrow's Rogues Gallery, adding several new crazy chick bad guys, and continuing off of the stories that JT Krul did before her.

Mr. Terrific

Eric Wallace, writer of Mr. Terrific, came on panel and non-verbally set the stage for the theme of DC and tokenism by being the only black comic writer in attendance, coincidentally writing a black superhero that not many people read. His plans for Mr. Terrific include sending him to outer space, where he may just find legions of fans since few people on Earth have heard of him.

Other Titles

JT Krul spoke about Captain Atom fighting a giant monster rat and being super powerful, and then the guy who draws Firestorm showed up.


-When asked an awkward question about the decrease of pages and the increase of prices in Justice League, Johns skillfully revealed an upcoming backup feature for Justice League called the Curse of Shazam, which will eventually lead to an ongoing Shazam solo title.

-Questions about the mysterious robed woman who, since Flashpoint, has appeared in the background of every single new #1 were essentially ignored.

-A young boy of about 8 asked point blank "Why the New 52?" Johns and Lee had some trouble getting out of the mouth of this babe, and initially tried to turn the tables on this irritating investigative reporter by asking him about the first comic book he ever read. Fortunately he answered "I dunno...Superman stuff I guess" instead of, say, something Marvel, but Jim The Spin quickly stepped into to repeat his unfortunate and intellectually insulting Relaunch tagline: "Whether you love it or you hate it, you're thinking about it."

-Ryan Choi was said to be alive, despite his gruesome murder a year back, and that original Atom Ray Palmer would be appearing in the Frankenstein title.

-A female questioner decided to shoot for the jugular and asked about the recent decisions concerning Starfire and Catwoman. (One audience member helpfully shouted "Why is Starfire such a slut now?" while the rest of the audience's eyes glazed over remembering the now infamous panel of Catwoman and Batman having acrobatic, raunchy, semipublic, uniform-on sex at the end of Catwoman #1.) The answer given was that the New 52 is a wide range of titles with varying interests, and the fan reaction to Starfire's shameless and overactive libido was "premature" at which this blogger was not fast enough to stifle a ringing guffaw.

-The final question asked about the inspiration behind Cyborg's promotion from B-list Teen Titans hero to Justice League member. Geoff Johns fielded this one, tactfully omitting any politically correct diversity reasons, instead pointing out that Cyborg is not only one of the best black characters in comics and thus a good way to shake-up the JLA's line-up so that his relaunch wasn't entirely the same exact team as always, but that Cyborg, being one-third-Man, two-thirds-Machine is a character with great relatability in these modern ages where people have entirely different personalities in the real world and online. In the interwebs.

-Jim Lee took the final moments for, you guessed it, some PR control, going back to Ann Nocenti's "semi-facetious" (actual quote) comments about being a token female, and extolled her resume, swearing a blood oath that plans to hire her were on board well before any controversy broke about DC's no-estrogen hiring policy. If Obama's looking for a new running mate (and honestly, why wouldn't he be?) he might be pleasantly surprised to discover the considerable political abilities of Jim Lee.

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