NYCC 2019: What’s Coming Down The Line In DC Meet The Publishers Panel

by James Ferguson

After a brief introduction where Dan Didio asked the audience who was subscribing to DC Universe, the panel began with the Walmart comics. Didio explained that these are entry points for new readers, made with a lot of love and care. They started with some key characters and now they’re branching out to others. Jim Lee joked that when he goes into Walmart, he moves the books around, also to put them in front of the competitors. Didio said they’re selling well and they’ll be coming to the direct market.

A DC War Giant is on the way, paying homage to the past. Lee is doing a story with Brad Meltzer in it. Meltzer was particularly moved by this story. It’s an 8-pager focusing on Batman, based on a real hero who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. He’s the most recent living recipient of this award since the Vietnam era. It might look like a story about Batman about his war against crime, but it’s really about this real life war hero.

Lee had just done a USO tour as part of Batman’s 80th anniversary. He said it was one of the most meaningful things he’s done in his career. He was joined by Tom King and some actors from The Flash and Black Lightning in Kuwait to meet with the service men and women. Lee said they put on padded suits to show how the trained dogs take down assailants. He made sure they went after his left arm which is his non-drawing side.

The conversation turned to Year of the Villain. Didio said they go through something like this every few years, taking a close look at the bad guys and how they affect the DC Universe. Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen deals with the transformation of Lex Luthor (aka Apex Lex) who will come head-to-head with the Batman Who Laughs and only one will make it out. They’re also doing an award show for Best Villain of the Year, hosted by Harley Quinn planned. Fans will get to vote on this somewhere, but they don’t know where yet.

Didio is writing a 12-issue maxi-series for Metal Men, illustrated by Shane Davis, beginning on October 16th. These are his favorite characters in the DC Universe. There’s a Westworld vibe to the book, playing with what’s alive and what’s not. The Nth Metal Man is a new character, inspired by Dark Nights: Metal that aims to change how we see these characters.

Lee spoke about the sunset of Vertigo and how Hill House Comics, a pop-up imprint led by Joe Hill came about. They’re still doing creator-owned comics like this. It’s designed to run as long as the creators want to stick with it. Basketful of Heads is the first book, debuting on October 30th. You can probably figure out what it’s about based on the title. The Dollhouse Family is the second book coming from Hill House Comics, followed by The Low, Low Woods. There are connections between all of the stories from this line even though they take place in different eras.
A fan asked if DC Black Label books would appear in the DC Universe app. Didio said they probably won’t. They’re really separate. This is in line with how Marvel treats the Max titles.

Didio asked the audience how many times they’ve asked about the Legion of Super Heroes and how many times they had to dance around this or avoid the question. They’re back now and we’re all to thank. A fan in the audience stood up and everyone clapped. Thanks Mike. Didio said they needed to find the right story and the right talent and they feel they have that now.

Didio teased Friday’s DC Nation panel which Lee will now be a part of. The history of the DC Universe will be discussed including the re-introduction of the Justice Society of America, the end of Doomsday Clock, and how everything will be reshaped going into the future. A new Legion series begins on November 6th. Writer Brian Michael Bendis explores how the future of the DC Universe unfolds.
Mad Magazine came up and Didio addressed it, saying that there are some premature obituaries being written for it. The magazine has been pulled from newsstands as it’s a very difficult marketplace. It is going to bi-monthly subscriptions through the direct market. It will have some more classic or reprint material and some new material. He stressed that it’s not gone.

Lee touched upon the DC Kids books, previously known as DC Zoom and DC Ink. The intention is to grow the next generation of readers. How do they get their content into the hands of kids? It presented a lot of different takes on some of the core DC characters. They’re different interpretations. The Raven graphic novel has really taken off.
DC is also doing some $1 comics and some facsimile editions. These are all in an effort to attract new readers. It’s refreshing to hear about these new takes. Didio spoke passionately about them and there’s clearly a lot of backing behind all of these titles, particularly the young adult ones.
A fan asked about a possible return of Kamandi. Didio pointed out he’s in the Justice League right now. There are big plans for him down the line.
Another asked about the negativity in the real world and how it might influence the DC Universe. Didio said they’ve done things like Year of the Villain before, but in different forms. Comics tend to deal with real world scenarios to tell great stories.
A fan asked with James Tynion IV taking over Batman, would he leave Justice League Dark. Didio said there will be announcements in the new year about some new creative teams.
Another asked about the possibility of characters aging in the comics. Lee danced around this and said that’s an interesting idea.
Under the guise of asking a question about Batman, a fan dressed as the Red Hood sauntered up to the stage to ask Jim Lee to sign a comic. Lee told him to come up so they can get a selfie.
The final question was about Nightwing. Didio jokingly asked if there were Nightwing fans in the audience which was met with huge applause. Lee said he’ll protect Nightwing and Didio added that there are big plans in the works that will affect the character. Then the panel ended and a swarm of people rushed the stage to get books signed.

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