DC’s New 52: Jim Lee and Dan DiDio Behind the Scenes of the Relaunch
The second day of San Diego Comic Con kicked off for DC Comics with the second iteration of the New 52 panel, featuring Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, Executive Editor Eddie Berganza, Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and Co-Publisher (and Justice League artist) Jim Lee. Light on creators, it was instead a kind of oral history of the reboot followed by a Q&A session. Click below for more on Wally West and Stephanie Brown, the secret origin of the New 52, hints to Wonder Woman's love life, the purpose of the high collars and more on Berganza's five year timeline of the new DC Universe.The panel stated that the DC reboot came about at a writers' conference, because the DC editorial had felt that they lost the sense of wonder in the DC Universe. "We equate event fatigue with bad storytelling."
Lee stated that things were way too easy for Clark Kent with his beautiful wife, nice apartment, and high-paying job, so they felt it was important to restore the love triangle and the sense that Superman couldn't get everything he wanted.
After spitballing at the meeting, they didn't agree to actually execute their plans, but when sales kept dropping they realized they'd have to execute it. DiDio originally proposed all-new #1s across the board with the exception of Action and Detective, but their bosses claimed people wouldn't take them seriously unless they rebooted the numbering of those two titles. So they did.
There was a "war room" built at the DC offices, where they placed pictures of characters on tackboards and discussed what made them work, what their best stories were, etc.
Jim Lee proposed fifty-two new series, not only due to the fact that it's a traditionally "magic" number for the DC Universe, but also it's evenly divisible by four, so they could roll out thirteen books a week in a four-week month.
Lee essentially annotated the preview pages from Justice League #1, explaining his artistic choices. He made a point of mentioning that the monster has green blood, implying that he might be a Daemonite from what used to be the WildStorm Universe.
Lee stated that they wanted to move away from the strongman influences on the initial costumes, and that over time Batman's costume had moved away from that to a more functional feel already. Lee wanted to extend that to the rest of the Justice League, leading to the closed collars and lack of outside underpants on many of the new Justice League outfits.
DiDio pointed out that the characters had aged a lot in the DC Universe, with many of them having wives, children and multigenerational legacies. Barbara Gordon was a character they discussed a lot, with most DC staffers feeling that she was likely in her mid- to late 30s. Additionally, they wanted to de-age the characters for story reasons, to allow them to go on voyages of self-discovery, since many of the current DC characters had already matured so much. At the same time, they wanted to tell fresh new stories rather than rehashing old ones, just with younger versions of the characters who hadn't already overcome their greatest battles.
Berganza created a five-year timeline of the new DC Universe, compressing many major DC stories into the time period since the new first issues of Action Comics and Justice League.
The panel then opened up to a question and answer session.
On Stephanie Brown: DiDio again confirmed that she was a part of Batman's world in the New 52.
On the Likelihood of Reverting: Lee and DiDio said they made a point of not introducing any trap doors or escape clauses.
On Barbara Gordon: Berganza stated that while they recognized it was a big decision to make, he has faith in Gail Simone's take on the character, and that there will be more to her restoration than a magic wand being waved.
On Superman's Continuity: When asked for six examples of Superman stories that are still in continuity, Berganza mentioned Doomsday and then gave five classic parts of Superman mythology, such as Krypton exploding.
On Action Comics: It takes place a few months before Justice League, and for the second arc will catch up to the present day. It will show how Superman gets his costume, and why he wears kneepads.
On Artistic Synergy: Lee stated that he took a panel from All-Star Western with a Victorian train station in Gotham and placed a similar establishing shot in Justice League, extrapolating that it might still exist in the present day.
On New Characters: The editors didn't want to introduce new characters as part of the new 52 because they wanted to focus on reinterpreting existing ones, but they will continue to introduce new characters in their higher-selling books and using those to spin off into new books, like with Red Lanterns.
On Superman and Wonder Woman: When asked if Superman and Wonder Woman could hook up now that Superman is single, Lee stated that the question assumes Wonder Woman is single, implying the return of her Golden Age love interest Steve Trevor.
On the Collars: Lee states that there's a sense of majesty and royalty with the high collars, and he wanted to make their costumes more formal.
On the Justice Society: When asked about Jay Garrick, Alan Scott and the other Golden Age characters, DiDio stated that they were taking a rest on them. Lee explicated that they did the same thing with the WildStorm characters and it only lasted a year.
On Wally West: When asked why Dick Grayson was Robin and Wally West was retired, DiDio pointed out that Wally had a wife and two kids and they already had a Kid Flash in Bart Allen, while many of the Robins graduated to new roles, calling the position an "internship."