NEW YORK COMIC-CON 2013 – DC COMICS PANELS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

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DC Comics was different at this year’s New York Comic Con. Electing not to have a traditional booth on the vender floor, DC instead had a section of the Artist Alley roped off specifically for autograph sessions. Compared to Marvel’s booth in the dealer’s section, which was constantly swamped with people looking for signatures from authors and artists and hard to maneuver, this was a pretty smart move on DC’s part. There was more space for fans to line up, and a better sense of overall organization.

However, that wasn’t DC’s only presence at the show. In honor of the 75th Anniversary of Superman, DC Comics set up a beautiful display of Superman costumes from television and movies–ranging from Christopher Reeve’s classic costume, to Tom Welling’s spray painted t-shirt, to a variety of Henry Cavill’s costumes and clothing in Man of Steel. The display was a wonderful way to memorialize Superman, but was in a hard-to-find location. Overall, it was a little disappointing that there was not more of a presence from DC throughout the convention.

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Having no booth in the dealer’s room, there was not a lot of DC swag easily available. I was extremely happy that I was able to get the limited edition Super Best Friends Forever Poison Ivy statue that DC offered as their NYCC exclusive, but it was a difficult statue to pin down. To get it, I had to go far out of my way to find the small Graphitti Designs booth that was selling it, along with other DC Comics merchandise. I understand their decision to be different as compared to their competition, but I think it was done at the cost of drawing more attention and customers.

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In terms of panels, DC didn’t have a lot that appealed to me, personally. Their focus seemed to be split between statues, movies and tv, and comics. Within comics, their focus is obviously on the high selling Batman and legacy Superman lines. Both lines had a lot of announcements, ranging from the fact that Superboy will die, to the shocking announcement that Stephanie Brown would be returning in some capacity in the upcoming Batman Eternal (specifically in issue #3).

I did attend one DC Comics panel, the DC All-Access panel. I was looking forward to it because Amanda Conner was initially slated to be on the panel, and it’s always a pleasure to hear her speak (I was also hoping to  hear a little more about the upcoming Harley Quinn series), but she was unfortunately removed from the panel (which happens a lot at bigger conventions due to scheduling issues and an artist’s preference to be at their booth, making money). I was expecting the panel to cover a broad range of comics that DC is publishing, but the focus was more on Batman and Vertigo, which has only just been recently reinstated as a major line for DC.

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In fact, the only “all-access” aspect of the panel was the announcement that DC is launching an All Access web series that offers a behind-the-scenes look at all aspects of DC Comics and Entertainment.

The panel itself featured Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, Lee Bermerjo, Kyle Higgins, and Scott Snyder. A smaller panel than Marvel’s Amazing X-Men and the Marvel Universe, each panelist had more time to focus on their individual projects instead of rushing through a list of announcements (I assume that happened more on the DC: The New 52 panel), which was a treat for fans of the panelists.

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The first focus the panel took was digital first comics, specifically Li’l Gotham by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs. Fridolfs and Nguyen were both very grateful for being able to do the project, and remarked that the storytelling breakdowns were very different due to the digital first nature of the comic. Each digital “page” (basically half of a printed page) has to end with a bit of a cliff hanger, to keep the reader engaged and interested. Li’l Gotham has now, in fact, gone beyond being “just a holiday book,” with 24 chapters (12 printed issues) slated to occur. Nguyen and Fridolfs seem like they have a lot of fun working together on Li’l Gotham, and I hope that their partnership doesn’t end with the last chapter of the series, which is set to release online in February 2014.

Next, Scott Snyder took the mic to talk about Batman: Year Zero. A huge undertaking after DC confirmed to Snyder that Batman: Year One is no long relevant, Year Zero will be an 11 issue origin story of Batman, with a number of Bat-family tie-ins. The aim of the series is to start with a clean slate and look at Batman in a “modern context.” Snyder said he was “most proud of it.”

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With art by Greg Capullo, the year-long arc is designed specifically to be colorful. Instead of focusing on a muted color pallet that is common in Batman comics, Snyder stated he wanted to to focus on the color of Gotham, especially in the sky (reds and yellows were prominent in some of the panels they revealed). Snyder commented that Capullo was an amazing artist to work with, despite the fact that they initially “didn’t quite get along.” Their relationship has now transformed into a collaborative one, Snyder describing Capullo’s art as “badass and modern.”

Many parts of the Batman mythos will change, including the fact that Jim Gordon will be somehow involved in the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents. Snyder also teased that a classic Batman villain from the original comics would appear soon. Overall, the main villain of the story seems to be the Riddler, who, in an attempt to make Gotham “smarter,” will set deadly puzzles for the citizens and, ultimately, Batman.

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Initially uninterested in tie-ins, Snyder now says they’re “great” and a solid addition to the storyline. Ranging from Nightwing to Catwoman to Batgirl, tie in issues will begin this November.

Snyder also commented that he altered scripts for the trade of Death of the Family. While published in comic format first, the scripts were always intended to be collected and read in a trade format, and the alterations reflect that. The first printing of the book will also feature a special acetate cover, which reflects the first printing covers of the comics, and will be on the first printing edition only.

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The Nightwing series was briefly commented on, saying that the new villain, the Prankster, has a story that parallels Dick Grayson’s; how each character handles similar situations will show the audience what makes a hero versus what makes a villain.

Batman Beyond Universe, the new direction of the Batman Beyond comic, was called “a blast” to work on, and has a flexible direction due to the digital nature of it.

In terms of Vertigo, the other major focus of the panel, Wake #5, another title by Scott Snyder, wraps up the first major arc, and Snyder described it as a “very experimental comic.” Snyder will also be returning to American Vampire with American Vampire: Second Cycle.

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Lee Bermejo is working on a new Vertigo title called Suiciders. Coming in 2014, the comic will feature a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles which has succeeded from the Union and split into to factions. The comic will feature a dark look at the two factions, with a focus on two futuristic boxers, one who is the champion and the other who is fighting (and killing) his way to the top.

At the end of the panel,they took some questions. While I didn’t stick around very long, I did want to wait to see what a Stephanie Brown cosplayer who stood up might ask. Unfortunately, the guy in front of her actually beat her to the Steph punch, asking if Stephanie Brown would return, and commenting that he would love to see Li’l Gotham in its original colors. The panel remained tight-lipped and simply said “we love Steph.” When the cosplayer came to the mic, she continued to rib the panel, “if you love her so much, why don’t you use her?”

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Oh boy, little did she know…

Other new titles announced by DC include:Batman: Eternal, which will feature the return of Stephanie Brown, is a weekly Bat-fam book that will introduce a number of new characters and “take Batman into 2015.” Kevin Smith and Walt Flanagan will be working on a Batman mini-series. Considering the Widening Gyre, I don’t know if this is good news… The Vampire Dairies will get its own digital comic come Halloween. Awwww yeah, Tiny Titans returns!

Up next: Women of Marvel; because girls don’t read comics!

This report was originally published as a part of Ellie’s “Herione Addict” Column on the Modern Myths website.

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Ellie Hillis

Ellie Hillis is a Heroine Addict…which is to say she loves super heroines. A comic historian and an aspiring author, Ellie wrote her thesis on the endurance of superheroines in comics, and has been published in Capes, Cowls & Villains Foul and the Gallery of Evil, both published by Spectrum Games. When she’s not reading, writing, or drawing comics, she’s probably watching television comedies, making costumes, listening to nerdcore, or analyzing popular culture.