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Dan Didio and company cover the bases in an across-the-board Q&A

By Kiel Phegley

Posted March 17, 2007  5:45 PM

The watchword of DC’s “DCU: March to the Future” panel Saturday at Wizard World Los Angeles was "character." In an hour-long Q&A session, the creators and staff behind the publisher’s superhero line dropped hints about the fates of scores of fan-favorite characters and books. DC Executive Editor Dan Didio once again led the festivities, accompanied by writer Marv Wolfman (Nightwing), writer Bill Willingham (Shadowpact), writer Adam Beechen (Robin, Teen Titans), writer Jimmy Palmiotti (Countdown), artist Amanda Conner (upcoming Terra) and DC VP of Sales Bob Wayne.

To kick off, Didio gave each panelist a chance to tease upcoming info from one of their regular books:

• "321 Days" is the title of the third story arc on Wolfman’s Nightwing run with artist Jamal Igle, which delves deeply into the past of Dick Grayson. “I realized there was a missing year in Dick Grayson’s life,” explained Wolfman of a publishing gap in the character's comics history when the former Robin went off to college and wasn’t seen for some time. The writer said this new story would help explain how Grayson became the man that is Nightwing after the events of those lost 321 days.

“Why had he changed from this guy who spouted puns and was silly to the very serious character who was in the Teen Titans?" asked Wolfman. "What happened that changed his life? What made him grow up? What made him have a screwed-up life with all the girls he’s known? What is it that’s changed him to some degree?”

Wolfman also noted that he’d be bringing back and reinventing a mystery character in the book which he created. Didio said that an upcoming Nightwing annual dealing with the ultimately failed marriage proposal Dick offered to Barbara Gordon before the series’ One Year Later jump.

• Willingham caught fans up on upcoming stories in Shadowpact, including Blue Devil’s promotion to a rhyming class demon much like Etrigan, which will cause some trouble for the team, not to mention the fact that, to balance the Devilish character’s presence out, Willingham would soon be adding Grant Morrison’s JLA angel Zauriel to the team.

When asked what other magical characters he’ll be bringing into the series, Willingham said some of the Robin supporting characters he created that were magically based would appear as well as new characters. When Willingham also noted he had another DC project coming which would possibly fall into the same realm, Didio said, “You really can’t talk about that one” before quickly moving on.
• After the current “Teen Titans East” storyline wraps in Teen Titans, Beechen will be writing a tie-in issue with Will Pfeifer and Pete Woods’ Amazons Attack, focusing on Wondergirl’s roll in the DCU event miniseries.

• The Terra miniseries written by Palmiotti and Justin Gray and drawn by Conner will feature Powergirl and Doctor Midnight, although the main focus will be on introducing readers to the latest version of the character. “She’s the new Terra,” explained Conner. “Nobody in the DC Universe knew much about her at all, but she kept popping up and trying to save the day all by herself.”

Palmiotti also spoke briefly about his work on Countdown, DC’s follow-up to the highly successful weekly comic 52, calling it “a weekly barage of research and phone calls and e-mails and more research.”

Didio then covered announements DC had already made at the con, including the new ongoing Booster Gold and Infinity, Inc. series. At one point, Didio leaned over and asked Wayne “Did we announce the Black Adam miniseries?”

Q&A highlights included:

• When asked for clarification on his statement that the Legion of Superheroes would be tying into current continuity more - specifically whether Mark Waid’s version of the Legion or the classic Silver Age version would leak in - Didio’s respnse was “Maaaaaaaay-be?”

• Asked if Hippolyta, Wonder Woman’s mother, was coming back in Amazons Attack, Didio said, “There is a returning character from Wonder Woman’s past.”

• Asked if Robin's relationships with Wondergirl in Teen Titans and lingering romantic tension between he and Batgirl meant that he was “just a pimp,” Beechen said that yes, he was, before seriously adding that the conflicts in Tim Drake’s romantice life would come to a head in the near future.

• In one of many questions about controversial or fan favorite characters, two female audience members questioned Didio about Spoiler and short-lived Robin Stephanie Brown not getting a tribute in the Batcave. “She was never really a Robin,” responded Didio on the company’s official opinion of the character’s status in the eyes of Batman.

Willingham added that when he was writing Robin, Spoiler’s death in the “War Games” crossover was an editorial mandate. His making her a Robin in the Robin monthly was a result of him asking, “Can we give her one good moment in her life before we crush her like a bug?”

“I thought this was a good idea, and DC went along with it saying, ‘Just make sure she’s out of the Robin costume and back to being Spoiler before [the crossover] because the one thing we don’t want to do to poor Batman is put another dead Robin on his conscience,’” the writer continued. “If it happened too soon, or if it was badly handled, that was one me. I didn’t get the ‘no she didn’t die as Robin’ idea as locked-in as I could’ve. But I just wanted to give her a good moment before the bad moments that were coming.”

• The Spectre will be appearing in a guest-starring role in a miniseries featuring a character he has history with.

• Similar to the Spoiler debate, Leslie Thompkins was brought up at which point Willingham said he never cared for the character, although her willingness to euthanize Spoiler was an editorial dictate. Didio did note that Thompkins will be featured in an upcoming Batman storyline.

• Asked if Kyle Rayner survives his Ion miniseries, Didio said, ”I think he did,” before being jokingly berated by the audience. However, someone did point out that Rayner’s inclusion on the Countdown teaser poster was a pretty clear sign that he’d live. Asking Palmiotti how big a role the former Green Lantern played in the upcoming weekly series on a scale of one to ten, Palmiotti said “Eleven.” Didio also said that Rayner would play a large role in the upcoming Sinestro Corps storyline running in the Green Lantern books later in the summer.

• When asked, “Are there two Mister Miracles in the DCU?” Didio said, “Yes.” When asked “Are both acting as Mister Miracle?” Didio replied, “No.”

• Grant Morrison has more stories planned for his Seven Soldiers characters, but before that, they’ll show up in his upcoming DC books as well as Countdown.

• Aquaman will be appearing in one of the team books by the end of the year.

• DC would love to do something more with Lobo when the right opportunity came around.

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