I was fortunate enough to be able to attend my top choice for panels at New York Comic Con, DC Rebirth – What’s Next? In attendance were writers behind some of DC’s top books to discuss the state of Rebirth four months in and what’s coming next on the horizon. I was thrilled to see a panel consisting of 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).
Palmiotti started the discussion with a joke at Rebirth’s expense, saying the best part of Rebirth is every issue gets 57 varient covers! Conner was quick to add that the best thing about Rebirth for her and Harley Quinn is nothing really changes. The trajectory for the character is staying the same. When asked what they thought of Harley’s portrayal in DC’s newest film Suicide Squad, both were pleased and praised Margot Robbie’s performance.
The pair also discussed the parallels between the issue #5 story and the cult classic film Point Break (a personal favorite of mine). In an effort to bust a crime ring Harley shaves her head, creates a punk rock band, and becomes lead singer. Palmiotti wanted cosplayers to know Harley’s head was shaved to keep them on their toes–the crowd loved this.
Next up were the team for Green Arrow, writer Benjamin Percy and artist Juan Ferreyra. Funnily enough this duo has done five Green Arrow issues together and just met for the first time yesterday at the start of the con. When asked where his focus was for Green Arrow, Percy was quick to jokingly say “the goatee!”. But made a more serious point that Diana, his partner and lover goes hand-in-hand with writing the character. In Percy’s eyes Oliver and Diana are an odd couple, magnetized but at the same time they repel one another. Oliver wears his heart on his sleeve while Diana is much more guarded and where she really shines is calling Ollie out on his bullshit.
When the pair was asked to tell us something we’re not supposed to know Ferreyra was quick to grab the mic and inform the room “I go to supermarkets and put expensive stuff into other people’s baskets! You should try it! It’s fun!” Myself and the rest of the crowd were applauding and hysterically laughing at this point. On a more serious note Ferreyra added “We’re bringing back the boxing glove, on the arrow”.
In a much less hilarious but still exciting reveal, Percy teased that the next arc on the horizon will get your pulse raised when Oliver and Diana are escaping an island on the Queen Industries’ Trans-Pacific Raildroad system.
Percy also touched on his other DC book, Teen Titans, making note that he looks to the Geoff Johns omnibus as the standard of quality and a place of inspiration from past Teen Titans runs. “The first arc belongs to Damian Wayne, the little Tyrant.” When asked about the state of leadership for the Titans Percy had this to say “Damian Wayne of course, the little s--t, has taken the team by force. He’s bringing the team together in the worst possible way, but with good intentions, to save their lives.” Percy made note that Damian’s first real test as a leader is quickly approaching in the form of Ra’s al Ghul. Ra’s has a team of assassins he’s been training specifically for the Titans, the Demon Fists. “Damian is struggling as a leader, he thinks he’s a leader more than he actually is a leader.” When Percy started to jokingly speak about the sixth secret member of the Teen Titans, he was quickly shushed by the panel speaker.
Greg Rucka is returning to writing Wonder Woman after a long absence from the character. He spoke passionately about the character saying “I didn’t need to be convinced to write the character. I may not have been working for DC until recently, but I’ve never left Diana. She sticks with you.” Rucka touched on his excitement for having the opportunity to help the character break out during her 75th year, as she’s been poised to do for a really long time. “I was asked to make sense of a lot that’s been flying around this character for the last 10-15 years. The whole purpose of this run is to show people why she’s one of the most amazing characters that’s ever been created.”
When asked to tell the room something we’re not supposed to know Rucka jokingly said “No way I can follow the grocery store bit” at which point Ferreyra chimed in “It’s so much fun!”.
Leaving Earth behind the panel moved to the deep dark reaches of space with Robert Venditti and the Green Lantern Corps. We can expect Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps to embrace the wider DC universe, pay tribute to long standing past history and start us off with a classic Green Lantern story, Hal versus Sinestro.
Venditti wants to structure his stories to highlight each lantern and what makes them formidable as an individual. For instance: Hal always trying to take on impossible tasks, such as fighting the entire War World. Guy being tortured by Sinestro and refusing to give in because of his loyalty and ability to take the punches. As we move into the second arc we’ll see the Green Lantern Corps stuck in the Universe’s greatest trap. This is where we’ll see John Stewart shine–he’s the only Lantern with with mind to find all the pieces necessary to create a solution in such a bleak scenario.
When creating these characters Venditti said that draws inspiration from his real life friends. There are a lot of parallels between his close friends and Guy, Hal, John and Kyle. “Wondering which character I am? I’m John, I always was responsible as a kid and made sure no one got in trouble.”. Venditti at times looks at writing Green Lantern as his four friends hanging out – “I have a friend who will tell you ‘I’m not wearing underwear’ just like Guy does with Sinestro”.
Josh Williamson was up next and I have to say I enjoyed his time speaking the most. I went into that panel as someone who isn’t reading The Flash, and the next day I had picked up issue #1. Williamson told a great story that started with a conversation between him and Scott Snyder, in which Snyder suggested that Williamson write Flash and he became obsessed with the idea. When Williamson first went to his editor with the pitch he got shut down. Three months later he tried again and before he had even finished his speaking his editor cut him off, “Stop. I love it.” From there no one actually told him he was officially writing The Flash until he made his way to the infamous white room at DC headquarters with Geoff Johns.
I really enjoyed when Williamson shared a story that illustrated his unique journey with the character “When I sat down with Geoff in the white room, I told him the first time I met him was 16 years ago when I was waiting in line for him to sign my copies of The Flash” Geoff responded “That’s a good story, but now you’re writing Flash. Let’s get to work.”
Williamson expressed his enjoyment in being able to dig into Barry as a surrogate father figure for the family he’s created around himself, with Kid Flash and other heroes.
Godspeed is a unique villain for Barry in that he’s not the Reverse Flash but more of a Reverse Barry Allen. He’s really going to test Barry’s ability to protect not only his family but also his values as a hero and a person.
Writing The Flash has been a challenge for Williamson and yielded some unexpected results. “I’m a very pessimistic person, Barry is not. While working on this book and writing about Barry I’ve changed as a person because of how positive Barry is.” Williamson’s passion for the character is so strong, I don’t think anyone left the panel not wanting to read his run.
Last but certainly not least was Christopher Priest, writer of Deathstroke. Unfortunately due to the panel running late and time constraints Priest didn’t get much time to speak. When asked what he said when he received the call to write Deathstroke, Priest said his first question was “Is he black? Seriously that was the first question I asked.” [crowd is roaring]
On Deathstroke’s likability “[mocking tone] He’s a villian! HE’S A COMPLETE BASTARD! I’m just getting warmed up too! He’s a villian!” Priest’s made note that Deathstroke isn’t chatty (he’s obviously a villain), so if you see him chatting someone up, beware – he’s probably setting them up for something.