Unlike their Marvel-ous competition, the DC crew arrived in Baltimore with a bunch of exclusive announcements in their back pocket. You've probably already read a few of those announcements in Dooley's coverage of yesterday's DC Nation panel, but this afternoon's DCU panel offered plenty more of the same. Joining Dan DiDio and Bob Wayne on today's panel were Jann Jones, Mark Waid, Jim Shooter, Jim Califiore, Billy Tucci, and Sergio Aragones.

Oh, yes, regarding my headline: the DCU panel also featured an absolutely priceless a capella turn with artist Cully Hamner rocking the mic. More on that later but, for now, let's get right to the announcements, pronouncements and noteworthy quotes!

Billy Tucci spoke about Sgt. Rock and the Lost Batallion, saying, "it's a dream project of mine." Tucci will be drawing and co-writing (with Academy Award-nominated writer and fellow "World War 2 nut," John Milius) the book, and he showed the crowd the original of his first piece of Rock artwork ... a very sweet pencil original, as well as a colored version. Given that both of the primary creators are WW2 buffs, Tucci promises that the series "will be really authentic."

Mark Waid confirms that "George Perez is on [The Brave and the Bold] until at least issue 12."

Jim Shooter, speaking of his return to writing The Legion of Superheroes after decades away confided that "the two main villains are Geoff Johns and Brad Meltzer, who keep stealing my characters." Kidding aside, however, Shooter explained that his first story "will be a 16-issue epic" which "sort of picks up where [Waid] left off." Later in the panel, a fan questioned whether Shooter had considered that he might have a legal claim to the Legion characters he created in the '60s, given that he was only 13 (i.e., a minor) when he signed the rights to his creations away. Dan DiDio and Bob Wayne started to look very nervous as Shooter began answering the question, explaining that after he left DC for Marvel, legal counsel at Marvel explained that since he was a minor when he signed the DC contract (and since his parents never signed anything), he could make a very strong case for legal ownership of the Legionnaires that he created. Shooter's response, then and now, was that since even though he was only 13, he fully understood that under the terms of the contract, DC would own his characters, and so he wouldn't seek legal action because to so would be "dishonorable." Shooter went on to explain that, years later, Steve Ditko expressed the same sentiment to him regarding Ditko's co-creation of Spider-Man, leaving Shooter to conclude that, "if it's good enough for Steve, it's good enough for me."

All-Star Batman & Robin #8 cover DiDio noted that "issue 8 of All-Star Batman & Robin is done, the script for number 9 is in, and Jim's just starting on it."

Sergio Aragones was announced to be taking on The Spirit, a job which the lifelong admirer of Eisner's seminal creation is clearly thrilled to have gotten. Aragones will be plotting and doing layouts for the series, with longtime collaborator Mark Evanier handling scripting chores and a yet-to-be announced artist providing the finished artwork over Aragones' layouts. It was also announced that Aragones will be writing Bat Lash for artist John Severin, with covers provided by Walter Simonson. Aragones promises "a different type of Western character."

Jann Jones announced three new titles for the DC Kids line: Tiny Titans, Billy Batson and the Magic of SHAZAM, and Super Friends. Jones feels so strongly about the need for quality comics for kids that she'll be personally editing the titles even though editing isn't in her job description.

Bruce Jones will be writing The War that Time Forgot, which will be set within the DCU.

Peter Tomasi will be the new writer on Nightwing, and will also take over the writing chores on Green Lantern once the Sinestro Corps storyline concludes.

The fan-favorite team of Doug Moench and Kelley Jones will return to Batman with Batman: Unseen, wherein the caped crusader faces the Invisible Man.

Marv Wolfman will be writing a new Vigilante series starting at the beginning of next year. DiDio teased that "there's a traitor among the DCU, just one" and that plot thread will lead directly into the new Vigilante series.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. About ten or fifteen minutes into the panel, Cully Hamner walked in and approached the panel, saying, "excuse me, am I interrupting something?" Hamner went on to explain that the reason he was here was that he had lost a bet to Jann Jones, a bet that was made in 2001 regarding the Olsen twins, and an unspecified activity involving the paparazzi prior to the twins turning 21. Hamner explained, "the reason I'm here is 'cause I have to sing to you guys." At which point, with mic in hand, and standing at the front of the room, Hamner performed an a cappella version of the Beatles' "A Little Help from My Friends," with an unrehearsed Tucci providing backup vocals on the "yeah's" and "whoa's," and the crowd joining in on "do you need anybody?" chorus. Hamner made it through the entire song, acquitting himself admirably under the circumstances, while the panel, the crowd, and Jann Jones in particular, utterly dissolved into laughter throughout. (And here I thought Hamner had been brave to participate in yesterday's tribute to Mike Wieringo...)

I'll leave you with one final exchange to wrap up my coverage of the DCU panel: In response to a fan asking whether there was ever a story where the bad guy wins, Waid deadpanned, "well, Iron Man would be one." The confused fan responded, "I thought Iron Man was a good guy?," to which Waid replied, "yeah, so did I."

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