DC’s ‘Dark’ and ‘Edge’ Creators Sell Fans on New Books [Comic-Con]
DC Comics' final Comic-Con panel of Saturday focused on the Dark and Edge lines of the forthcoming DC Universe relaunch. On stage for the San Diego crowd were editor Pat McCallum, Swamp Thing writer Scott Snyder, Animal Man and Frankenstein writer Jeff Lemire, Blackhawks writer Mike Costa, Suicide Squad writer Adam Glass, Men of War writer Ivan Brandon, Stormwatch and Demon Knights writer Paul Cornell, Deathstroke writer Kyle Higgins, All-Star Western artist Moritat and I, Vampire writer Joshua Hale Fialkov.
While no major news was announced at the panel, each creator was able to discuss their work in quite a lot of depth, even to the point where there was very little time for a Q&A session with fans. Their enthusiasm was palpable, with many of them discussing the research and themes that went into their books and going into more detail about the whys and hows of what makes their titles unique.On Swamp Thing: Snyder largely reiterated his comments on the book from the New 52 panel just previous, stating that the book would focus on the relationship between Alec Holland and the Swamp Thing, and introduce a new villain who Swamp Thing was actually created to fight. Snyder also intends to further delve into Swamp Thing's history and the Parliament of Trees.
On Animal Man: Jeff Lemire stated that the book's main character is actually Buddy Baker's daughter Maxine, who's developing new powers. The book will also chronicle the Baker family traveling across America. He described it as a horror book, not a superhero book.
On Frankenstein: Lemire stated that this is the opposite of books he usually writes: it's all big, over-the-top action. The writer said that he wants to explore the different people whose bodies were used to make Frankenstein, and that the title will feature one-shot issues with different artists featuring Frankenstein in different times in American history, with the first one in issue #5 being Frankenstein in Vietnam in 1969. The crowd met that description with much applause.
On I, Vampire: Fialkov described the vampires of the DC Universe as being mostly undercover and wanting to embrace their monstrosity and fight back against the humans who run society, with a large romance element added to the horror. He also said it was massively violent and gory, and also a great deal of fun, with "piles of bodies."
On Demon Knights: Cornell described the basic concept of the series: seven strangers in a small medieval town, including Etrigan the Demon, being forced to defend it from a horde when they just want to get a drink, comparing it to The Magnificent Seven. He stated that many of the characters were there in Camelot and, after its fall, are attempting to keep its noble spirit alive. He also once again described the Horsewoman, a "diversity character, to state it crudely" who he compared to the Man With No Name.
On Stormwatch: Stormwatch attempt to keep themselves hidden from both the people of the world and the superheroes who they regard as brightly-colored amateurs. They see themselves as a "higher authority," and the villain in the first arc is the moon, which has come alive. Cornell also commented on Apollo and Midnighter, who are both gay but meet for the first time in the first issue. Cornell wants to write a slow-build romance between the two. He also joked about his presence on the Gays in Comics panel later in the evening, saying that if he decided to "go in another direction" with Apollo and Midnighter, he wouldn't expect to leave that panel alive.
On Deathstroke: Writer Kyle Higgins stated that Deathstroke is and should be the "biggest badass in the DC Universe," but by being cast as a villain so much recently, he's been turned into a parody of himself since he always has to lose. Higgins wanted to get away from that with the character, so he wrote him as "a villain through and through" with an understandable point of view. In the first issue, Deathstroke will "lay waste to the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles," which LA resident Higgins said was incredibly cathartic for him to write.
On Suicide Squad: Adam Glass grew up reading the original book and wanted to write a comic where the characters never got to "sit around drinking coffee" -- the characters are hardened criminals in prison and they get taken out on missions with bombs in their necks and then, afterwards, sent back. Members include Deadshot, who'll be leading the team; King Shark, who will be losing his humanity and devolving; and a new version of El Diablo who Glass described as a "warrior priest."
With regards to the cover, DC acknowledged negative reaction to the scantily clad Harley Quinn by saying "provocative is good." Later, a woman who said she named her children Talia and Harley asked why Harley Quinn looks so sinister on the cover. Glass said that he didn't draw the cover and that while she has a new outfit, Harley Quinn has the same bubbly personality she's always had, and that the fan will "certainly be able to recognize the character."
On O.M.A.C.: Art from Keith Giffen was shown in a very Jack Kirby style.
On Blackhawks: Writer Mike Costa said the book will be about an international response team to technological situations and villains who have technology they shouldn't have, and the Blackhawks' job will be to track down the electronics suppliers for villains like the Toyman, the Trickster and the Joker. There will be an underlying conspiracy behind the arming of the villains, involving the belief that technology of man and machine is inevitable and needs to occur. Costa stated he wants to do "one ridiculous thing per issue" while also dealing with issues about ethics of technology.
On Men of War: Ivan Brandon said the book takes place in the DC Universe, but for the most part it will feature traditional military missions. While the new Sgt. Rock will be a private contractor, he will still be working for the United States Military. This new Rock will come from a military family, so most of his family will be dead, and will start off in the U.S. Army in the first issue and then go down a "different route." While the characters are not superheroes or on superhero missions, superheroes will figure into the book. A new version of Circe will appear in the book, and is the main DCU character in the first arc. Brandon's main goal was to appeal to both old fans and potential new readers, such as servicemen and servicewomen and military buffs.
On All-Star Western: A page of a 19th century Gotham City train station was shown, with mention made that it inspired Jim Lee to include a modern version of the same location in the first issue of Justice League. Moderator John Cunningham commented on the fact that much of the history of the new DC Universe, and the connections between the titles, are being built as the comics are being created.
The floor was then open to a very short Q&A session.
On Longevity: When asked about keeping interest as the numbering increases from issue #1, Josh Fialkov mentioned that titles aren't guaranteed to succeed, and that while it "sucks," it's the fan's job to promote titles they enjoy or else those titles won't exist anymore.
On a Shared Universe: Scott Snyder commented on the fact that many of the writers in the Dark and Edge imprints are friends and collaborators, so they work together naturally and enjoy riffing off each other's concepts and ideas.