This year’s installment of Emerald City Comicon is now underway at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, and DC Comics kickstarted its programming on Thursday afternoon with a panel focusing on its ongoing “Rebirth” initiative, consisting of creators Scott Snyder, Marguerite Bennett, Mirka Andolfo, Gene Luen Yang, Marcus To, Stephen Byrne, Shea Fontana and John Timms.
CBR is there live, so keep hitting refresh for the very latest details from the panel.
The panel started with To talking the return of Blockbuster in “Nightwing” #21, saying that the villain is positioned as the “antithesis” of Dick Grayson. Snyder jokingly suggested that the series should have an arc where Dick Grayson is no longer sexy — then told the crowd that while he was the writer of “Batman,” he had something of a cold war with the writing team of “Grayson” (Tom King and Tim Seeley) on who could write sexier scenes for their lead character.
Snyder discussed his current Batman series, “All-Star Batman.” It’s a project I go to so happy every day,” Snyder said to fans specifically praising the work of artist Tula Lotay in the recently released “All-Star Batman” #7.
“This arc that we’re in right now is called ‘Ends of the Earth,’” Snyder said. “It’s Batman going against four villains from his gallery… each issue is kind of a meditation on one of these great villains I love so much.” Snyder said the arc both shows why these villains are “so scary right now” in the current zeitgeist, but also why they’re “wonderful” and “redemptive.”
“This series is really about the art,” Synder continued. “And being able to collaborate with people that inspire me to be a better writer. This arc is one of the favorites I’ve ever done.” Snyder said while it’s not political, this arc is very personal for him, and speaks to anxieties he has in the real world, especially as a father: “You worry about broader and deeper threats.”
Snyder teased that Duke Thomas will “Grow into a role that will be realized into the comics that are coming over the summer.” The writer also announced that his long-time collaborator Jock will take over as artist of April’s “All-Star Batman #9. The artist was originally solicited with art from Afua Richardson, who couldn’t complete the issue due to an injury. Snyder informed the crowd that Richardson will draw a later issue of the series.
Fontana discussed the “Past Times at Super Hero High” story of “DC Super Hero Girls,” in which Harley Quinn comes into possession of a dinosaur egg (which subsequently hatches). Fontana told the crowd that the graphic novel stories allow more room than the animated shorts to get to the “emotional core” of the characters.
“It’s for everyone,” Fontana said of “DC Super Hero Girls.”“We really want to make these fun, exciting stories that parents can enjoy with their kids.”
Byrne, artist of the “Justice League/Power Rangers” miniseries, talked the unconventional crossover. He teased that next week’s issue #3 will include “Giant octopus monsters attacking world landmarks,” as unleashed by Lord Zedd and Brainiac.
Bennett recapped “DC Comics Bombshells” for any fans who may be unfamiliar with the concept, calling it a “massive alternate history.”“It’s very exciting and there’s a lot of smooching,” Bennett said. “There is so much action in these stories, and I’m really happy to work on this,” Andolfo added.
Next up was another Bennett-writtne series: the recently launched new volume of “Batwoman.” Bennett told the crowd that the series sees the creative team “exploring Batwoman out of Gotham.” Bennett said that her “Batwoman” series is “very defiantly queer, and I hope you enjoy, regardless.”
Yang joined the panel to discuss “New Super-Man.”“It was not my idea to do this character, it was brought to me,” Yang told the crowd. “Someone from DC called me up and said, ‘we’re going to do this Chinese Superman, what do you think about that?’ and I said, ‘That sounds terrible.”‘ Then he was called into a meeting with DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee who talked to him about the idea, and he’s had a lot of fun writing it.
“A Chinese Superman is not superfluous to Rebirth,” Yang continued, saying that Rebirth is about connecting DC’s history, and that the very first character on the cover of “Detective Comics” #1 was a “Yellow Peril” character (named Ching Lung). Yang said the story will address the “dehumanizing aspects” of early racial depictions, showing how far not just DC Comics, but American culture, has come.
Yang told the crowd how he wanted to make the Batman of China chubby, because you don’t see chubby Asian characters in American pop culture other than “the kid from ‘Up.’”“I want to bring chubby Asians to the forefront,” Yang said. Snyder pitched “Chubby Chinese Dick Grayson.”
In the fan Q&A, Snyder told a fan that his upcoming story with Greg Capullo will not be in the Batman line, and it’ll “affect a bunch of books in general, but not in a way to force you to read other books to get the story.”
Yang joked with a fan that the New Super-Man’s Asian-specific power was that he was “immune to MSG.” Moving in a more serious direction, he said that Yang will be more influenced by eastern philosophy than western philosophy.
A fan asked if the use of wax lips in “All-Star Batman” was a reference to 1997’s infamous “Batman and Robin” film. “Yeah it was,” Snyder said. “Nothing is off-limits in that book.”
Next person up asked how much creative freedom DC has given Snyder. “They’re great to me,” Snyder said. “The secret is that they were always really great with me. There was never a time that I pitched something that they rejected. We had fights, but ultimately DC has been a place that’s given me tremendous creative latitude, especially now.”
The panel closed with Bennett thanking the fans for supporting her work — which features mostly queer main characters — acknowledging that such a thing wouldn’t have been possible in comics when she was a kid.
- Albert Ching