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‘Justice League’ Panel: Ryan Choi, Power Girl, Diversity, Batman on Two Teams [Comic-Con]

DC Comics’ Justice League presentation at Comic-Con International in San Diego featured a panel deep with DC talent and spirited debate with attending fans.

Major topics included Batman’s presence in both Justice League and Justice League International, the future of Power Girl in the DC Universe after the September relaunch, Geoff Johns’s excitement for Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato’s Flash run, Johns claiming to have made a mistake, the importance of diversity (and a very strong hint that Ryan Choi will be the new DCU Atom) and a particularly heated exchange regarding the alleged lack of female characters in central positions on books in the New 52, especially the titles that fall under the Justice League line.

Click after the jump for highlights and loads of new DC Comics artwork.
Panelists included SVP Sales Bob Wayne, Co-Publisher and Justice League artist Jim Lee, Justice League, Aquaman and Green Lantern writer (as well as DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer0 Geoff Johns, Executive Editor Eddie Berganza, Justice League International writer and Green Arrow artist Dan Jurgens, Green Arrow and Captain Atom writer J.T. Krul, Savage Hawkman artist Philip Tan, Flash co-writers and co-artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato and Mister Terrific writer Eric Wallace.

The panel began with the panelists describing their respective titles in what DC has been calling The New 52.

On the Tone of Justice League: Jim Lee said Geoff Johns brought out the “humanity and humor” in the Justice League members, which include all the major DC heroes and Cyborg, and that much of the book focuses on their relationships.

On Justice League International: Dan Jurgens said the JLI will be a United Nations-sanctioned team created as a response to the main Justice League, with a somewhat rotating membership. Some of the characters will wish they were on the Justice League proper, Jurgens remarked. Johns added that the vice versa will also be true.

On Aquaman: “If you think Aquaman sucks, read Aquaman #1,” said Johns. The much maligned hero’s reputation as a guy who just talks to fish will be addressed, and Johns said he wants to bring a lot of humor into the book, as well as all of his books.

On Sinestro as Green Lantern: As readers have been seeing in War of the Green Lanterns, Sinestro, the greatest Green Lantern villain, is now a Green Lantern himself. Neither he nor any other Lantern wants him to be, but the ring chose him and he won’t be able to get it off. In initial arcs, Sinestro will be facing off against his own yellow-lantern Sinestro Corps. Johns later added that the Guardians will think that there might be a reason the ring chose Sinestro, and Sinestro will gain a now-unknown ally who will help him realize this is as well.

On The Flash: Outgoing Flash writer Johns spoke about Manapul and Buccellato’s incoming run with them right there, giving it effusive praise and mentioning his adoration for a storytelling technique they will employ: mid-page there will be a bunch of little inset panels representing possible choices in Barry Allen’s mind. One of the panels will become “realized” on the next page, as a way to demonstrate how fast The Flash’s mind works.

On Captain Atom: Writer J.T. Krul reiterated his statement from yesterday that artist Freddie Williams II is inkwashing Captain Atom but not the backgrounds so as to make him look separate from his surroundings. The writer also added that it was a very different book from what he’s written for DC so far.

On Green Arrow: Krul stated that Oliver Queen will have a new company called QCore that supplies him with technology to facilitate his superhero activities. Krul said that GA will be a fun action-adventure book with a James Bond feel, with artist Jurgens adding that it has a lot of wide-open visuals and action featuring a younger Ollie.

On Mister Terrific: Writer Eric Wallace commented that it’s a difficult book to write since unlike Michael Holt, he isn’t the third-smartest man in the world, and Mister Terrific will never implement simple solutions to problems. He also commented that it was the most fun he’s ever had telling stories in his life, and that Terrific will go to outer space fairly quickly. There will also be a focus on building Mister Terrific a strong rogues’ gallery.

On Savage Hawkman: Philip Tan commented that DC wanted to update Hawkman’s armor to be more of a carapace. Tan said his is not a Hawkman readers have seen for a very long time, and the character will live up to the title’s new name.

After those rundowns of new DC Comics titles, the floor was opened to fan Q&A.

On Batman being in both JL and JLI: Jurgens said that since the JLI is formed by the United Nations, the regular Justice League will send Batman to be their “voice” on the official team.

On Life Starting on Earth in Green Lantern when there were older civilizations on other planets: Johns stated that those civilizations evolved into humanoids while Earth was still primitive; after being grilled further, he just said “I made a mistake, how about that?”

On the Martian Manhunter, Formerly a founding JLA member who’s no longer on the team: Johns said the Martian Manhunter, aka J’onn J’onnz, will be in the first arc of Justice League and that readers will “see where he’s at,” but he doesn’t look to be a founding member. Johns said he wanted to do something different and felt since Superman is an alien he didn’t want any redundancies, hence Cyborg seemingly taking J’onn’s place in the founding lineup.

On the makeup of the new JLI: Asked why Nightwing wasn’t on a team, Jurgens pointed out that Batman is the only character in the new JLI that wears a mask because the paradigm in the new DC Universe ithat nvolves distrust of aliens and superheroes, so these are more open superheroes that the public can trust. As such, the masked Nightwing finds himself teamless.

On diversity in the DCnÜ: Wallace stated that it was very important to him to reflect the real world in his book, Mister Terrific, and that his run will feature a sporting cast with black, hispanic, asian and, he joked, “even white” characters because “I had to stick them in there.” Going back to a serious note, he stated that he wants the world of Mister Terrific to reflect the real world. Jim Lee added that there was a “very small” asian character in the Justice League whose name rhymes with “blatom,” all but saying that the Atom in the new DC Universe is Ryan Choi rather than Ray Palmer.

On female characters in the Justice League line: A female fan in a Batgirl costume, with daughter dressed as Spoiler, was very upset by what she said was a lack of female characters being featured centrally on the covers in the Justice League line of books. The panelists said they are trying very hard to take diversity seriously in terms of both gender and race. The fan said no such characters were featured prominently on the covers, leading to a somewhat heated and awkward back-and-forth ending with her promising to go count them. The mood of the room was definitely against her, with Lee joking and asking if she wanted the female characters to be “dead center or off-center” on covers.

On Power Girl: As to whether she’s still in the New DC Universe, Geoff Johns stated that Power Girl will still be around and is a fantastic character; Eric Wallace added that while Power Girl may or may not be around, Karen Starr (her alter-ego) definitely will be, presumably in his book Mister Terrific.

On Hawkgirl: When asked if Hawkman’s wife Hawkgirl/woman would appear in Savage Hawkman, artist Philip Tan stated that he couldn’t answer that. Hawkwoman seemingly died recently in the last issue of Brightest Day.

On Secret Six: When asked if Secret Six could return, Berganza responded “never say never.”

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