NYCC ’17: The Doomsday Clock And Re-Launch Of Vertigo At DC’s Meet The Publishers Panel

by Noah Sharma

Dan DiDio warmed up the crowd, entering from the back and asking for questions or requests for the panel in advance before introducing the recently arrived Jim Lee. DiDio acknowledged the improved perception of the company, calling fans “uncomfortably content” for the moment.

Talking about Doomsday Clock, Jim Lee hypes Geoff Johns‘ returns to monthly comics. Johns has been highly secretive, seeking to ensure that there is a measure of awe and excitement when the book is in the readers’ hands. That level of attention extends to the production, with Johns and artist Gary Frank going over the book panel by panel for two hours every morning.

DiDio has frequently heard questions about how “Metal” and Doomsday Clock will be run at the same time. Far from a challenge to be answered, DiDio sees that as a feature of DC’s current publishing line. Doomsday Clock is the traditional maxi-series but on a massive scale. Meanwhile the Rebirth initiative continues to get back to the core of DC’s characters and “Metal” and the New Age of Heroes will bring new ideas into DC’s lore. Doomsday Clock, Lee says, is a story that’s an event, while “Metal” is a an event that is a story. The two highlighted the Batman Who Laughs and hinted that some Dark Knights characters will stick around in some form after the event is over.

Discussing DC’s New Age of Heroes initiative, DiDio was clear on his message. This is a project that will reflect and celebrate the best of comic books as a whole and the particular strengths of the DC Universe. Words to pay attention to were diversity and creativity and, as he has since the start of Rebirth, DiDio was quick to point out the accomplishments of other companies.

They eagerly hyped Action Comics #1000, debuting a new logo to celebrate and arguing over whether or not Lee should produce one-thousand variant covers.

Reflecting on the New 52, DiDio referred to what he called “the churn”, a series of four or five books that would lose interest and be canceled only to be replaced by four or five new titles that would face the same problems. In Rebirth, DC sought to avoid this and you can see that, DiDio says, in the company’s commitment to giving titles time to grow and the support to recover. DiDio even directly pointed to two series, Deathstroke and New Superman, that have blossomed under that worldview. The latter is especially interesting in light of an ominous tweet from writer, Gene Yang.

Then, to uprorious applause, Lee and DiDio welcomed Grant Morrison to the stage. Morrison was theoretically there to discuss Wonder Woman: Earth One. He revealed some new artwork and the concept that Wonder Woman, like most women, would never just have one costume. Every scene will put Diana in a new costume.

DiDio then announced that Morrison would be co-writing issues of his new New Age of Heroes series Sideways. Why you may ask. Well, it’s not entirely clear, but DiDio says that he was looking at characters that have gone away or disappeared into a corner. Morrison, ever possessed of an incredible memory and fondness for characters, hinted that those characters that you thought were forgotten are very much not. He said that as incredibly freeing as the lack of continuity was in the New 52, it is very important to honor the history of the characters and that that would be represented in his issues of Sideways.

Morrison’s Batman run, built on the conceit that every Batman story actually happened to one man, was also a point of inspiration for Lee on Immortal Men. What does it mean to live for that long and to have that many experiences?

Wildstorm: Michael Cray is a new take on the classic Wildstorm character, who originally had cancer and was strongly influenced by his mortality. Now he still has something growing inside him, but though he believes it to be cancer, it is in fact an alien organism. This reimagining obviously struck a chord with Lee, and he promises some more. In fact, Cray has found a, potentially dangerous, benefactor in his war against IO. The price? Killing who she says to kill, and first up is a west coast billionaire by the name of Oliver Queen. That may come as a shock to those who have just seen Wildstorm separated from the DC Universe with Rebirth, but Lee was clear that Wildstorm remains its own universe. Some elements of the DCU will be present, but they will not be what you’re expecting. Lee promises takes on classic concepts and characters that only Warren Ellis could bring us.

Turning to other divisions of DC, the pair talked about the origins of Young Animal. The most exciting moment was finally finding out where Cave Carson’s cybernetic eye came from. Despite claims that the information was lost to the sands of time, DiDio says that writer Gerard Way and he eventually found an answer. At least mostly. According to him, the first writer to mention Cave Carson’s cybernetic eye was Dan Abnett. Playing Carson off of a future version of himself, Abnett needed a way to differentiate between the modern and future versions of the character. The result was a cybernetic eye that made it clear that one of the two came from a serious and futuristic world. However, Abnett’s addition was merely practical, meant to make the book easier to read, he had no explanation for the change. And so, the mystery of Cave Carson and his cybernetic eye passed on to Way.

Young Animal was hailed as the bridge between DC and Vertigo. “The commitment to Vertigo is strong”, the panelists told us. There will be announcements of new series at “the next panel”, so keep an eye out for that. They also declared that 8/08/18 is the line in the sand, the moment when DC relaunches the Vertigo brand. There will be three particularly big names attached, one of which has worked for Vertigo before but the other two have not.

Bill Morrison, the new Executive Editor of Mad Magazine joined them to talk about the iconic humor magazine. The new Mad Magazine, now relocated to LA, will relaunch on Alfred E. Newman’s birthday, April 1st. The new magazine will still possess many of the classic trademarks of the magazine, but will be updated to ensure that Mad remains the iconic comedy institution that it was for so many in the past well into the twenty first century.

Asked about some long quiet Aquaman projects, DiDio did his best. “Rise of the Seven Seas” is still something that he can’t talk about but Aquaman: Earth One will be announced shortly.