This year’s DC Comics panel for DC Rebirth at NYCC had a lot of great creators in attendance. The panel included Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn), Juan Ferreyra (Green Arrow), Ben Percy (Green Arrow, Teen Titans), Christopher Priest (Deathstroke), Greg Rucka (Wonder Woman), Rob Venditti (Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps), and Josh Williamson (The Flash). There was no Q&A as they ran out of time, but the audience was treated to some previews of upcoming work.
Ben Percy had a lot to say about his current run on Green Arrow. He wants the run to be a return to the classic elements of the Green Arrow mythos, paying homage to runs of creators like Mike Grell & Dennis O’Neil, but also telling their own new stories instead of retreading old ground. One of the first things they did when planning this run was looking to the elements that made Green Arrow classic. Percy said “Where is the goatee? Where is Black Canary?” He also said the title should be more accurately called “Green Arrow and Black Canary” because it’s not just about Oliver Queen. It’s about Dinah. It’s about Diggle. It’s about Emiko. “It’s really about this family, this team, more than just one character.” The intention is to give Green Arrow his own Sherwood Forest environment and his own band of Merry Men. Percy also joked that Oliver even has a “Little John” Diggle. Artist Juan Ferreyra also promised they will be “bringing back the boxing glove.” Their next six-issue arc will be titled “Emerald Outlaw” and it will focus on Green Arrow’s return to Seattle.
Percy also had things to say about his current run on Teen Titans. His attitude towards building new stories with a firm grounding in the past is similar, with a tip of the hat to Geoff Johns and Marv Wolfman. The biggest obvious change is the shift of focus to a new Robin, and Percy said “This first arc belongs to Damian Wayne.” On Damian’s character, he remarked “He’s got this thick armor, but there’s cracks in it.” He described Damian as a “little tyrant” who will put the team through awful things, but always for the best reasons. Despite this focus, he made it clear that it’s still a team book. There will also apparently be an upcoming spotlight on Starfire. Percy remarked “the only way this group is gonna survive is Starfire. The identity of the sixth “secret” member of the Teen Titans was brought up, and Ferreyra joked that it would be Doctor Manhattan.
Robert Venditti also spoke about his DC Rebirth series “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.” He described it as a ‘dream come true’ to write a Green Lantern book that focused on all four of the major Earth Green Lanterns. He also talked about the difficulty of navigating this dynamic, and not losing focus on any of the individual characters. Instead of trying to include everyone in every story, Venditti plans to make each of his individual stories focus on one of the characters and highlight their strengths. He also teased upcoming appearances of Starro, Xudar, Rot Lop Fan, and the return of Katma Tui.
Joshua Williamson was very excited to talk about his run on The Flash, which he apparently had to repeatedly beg Dan DiDio for. He talked about his love for Barry Allen, and specifically the two things he thought were missing with the Flash in the New 52. Specifically the idea of family, and the concept that Barry Allen is fundamentally a teacher. The mentor relationship between Barry and Wally West has always been extremely important to his character, and Williamson plans to expand Barry’s relationship with the new Kid Flash. On the subject of family, Williamson talked about how Barry is someone without a lot of familial connections so he’s had to make his own. “Barry created this family” that includes many other characters in the Flash legacy. Williamson also discussed his original villain Godspeed, who was born out of a conversation on how to challenge Barry’s morals and ideals. In his words, “Godspeed isn’t a Reverse Flash. He’s a Reverse Barry Allen.” Williamson also teased several things coming up in his run. We can expect classic villain The Shade to make a return sometime soon. There will also be an upcoming story titled “Rogues Reloaded” that shifts their relationship with the Flash. Williamson commented that the Rogues have kind of turned into these anti-heroes who sort of help the Flash, and “Rogues Reloaded” will be taking them back to their roots.
Christopher Priest spoke on his DC Rebirth Deathstroke series, and the already famous phone call when he was asked to write it. The story has already been told, but Priest says he only had one question when they asked him: “Is he black?” Feeling typecast as a black writer who writes black characters, Priest jumped at the chance to write outside of his usual box. Priest also shared that several people have come to him with concerns that Deathstroke isn’t sympathetic enough, asking “Don’t you think Deathstroke is kind of unlikable?” Exasperated, Priest repeated his usual reply, “He’s a villain.” He went on to say “He’s a complete bastard and I’m just getting warmed up.” On the subject of his personal interpretation of Deathstroke, Priest commented that this will not be a chatty Deathstroke. Aside from Wintergreen, Slade Wilson is not a man who likes talking to people. The only reason he talks to someone is if he’s trying to set them up for something bad. In Priest’s words, “If his lips are moving he’s lying.”
The highlight of the panel was getting to hear Greg Rucka talk about his run on Wonder Woman. When asked about why he returned to the character after so many years, Rucka said Diana is one of 3 characters that he will always come back to write if DC asks him. The other two are “Kate and Renee.” Rucka was also asked why he seems to have such a preference for writing female characters, and he gave an interesting response. “If you take a lot of the tropes in drama and flip the genders of the protagonists, you get different stories… if you’re fair to them.” Rucka commented that his run will be an attempt to “make sense of everything that’s been flying around” for the last several years. He talked about the tendency of writers to try and “fix” Wonder Woman by identifying elements that were “wrong” with her and removing them. In his words, “It’s not wrong. It’s lasted 75 years. We’ve just gotta drill down.” On the subject of writing a bi-weekly series, Rucka talked a little about trying hard not to wear his artists out. For this reason, he’s been alternating issues between a “Year One” arc and a present day story so that both of his artists (Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott) can feel like they have a story that’s entirely theirs. Rucka also talked about his love for the villain Cheetah, and his attempts to reinvigorate her character. He described his take on the pre-Cheetah Barbara Ann Minerva as a cross between Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. In Rucka’s words, “Cheetah should be to Diana as Two-Face is to Batman.” There’s this feeling there of “I could almost save you if you’d let me.” He also mentioned that Nicola Scott will be leaving the book after issue #14, and she will be replaced by Bilquis Evely.