NYCC ’17: DC’s Metal Panel With All The Rock Stars

by Noah Sharma

At New York Comic Con’s DC Metal Panel, Dan DiDio introduced our panelists Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Josh Williamson, James Tynion IV, Steve Orlando, Justin Jordan, Robert Venditti, and Frank Tieri.

DiDio presented “Metal” and Rebirth as building upon the strengths of Snyder and Capullo’s “Court of Owls”. Talking, with characteristic gratitude, about the genesis of “Metal”, Snyder explained that Capullo only needed to hear the name of the story to be 100% on board. For Snyder, “Metal” was a chance to explore the kind of “bonkers, Kirby-esque” storytelling that he loves. And despite all of the crazy ideas we’ve seen so far, Snyder promises that we haven’t seen anything yet. Issue #4 will give us glimpses at wild parts of the DC Universe like the Rock of Eternity, Skartaris, The Dreaming, and the original Thanagar. Subsequent issues will even take us on tours of the multiverse alongside Detective Chimp, or “DETECTIVE! CHIMP!” as Greg Capullo put it.

Didio threw things over to James Tynion, the unsung hero of “Metal”. Tynion stressed the desire at DC to make sure that every metal tie-in felt necessary and exhilarating. This desire to “create an entire ecosystem of kickass comics” came from Tynion’s time as a fan, reading Infinite Crisis and all of the myriad lead-ins and tie-ins.

The major theme of the panel was that Rebirth offered DC a chance to retreat back to what was comfortable and safe and Metal was an active refutation of that. This was the chance to capitalize on that good will to take risks and do something to reward fans who want something new.

Snyder loves that the Dark Knights are not ‘just’ evil Batman, but real explorations of the character. Each of them is an extension of one of Batman’s deepest fears. The Devastator examines Bruce’s fear that he’s letting himself get too soft, that he wouldn’t be able to bring down Superman if the need arose. Likewise the Batman Who Laughs looks at Batman’s dual fears that there would be no coming back if he killed the Joker and that it’s immoral that he hasn’t. In this case he does it and discovers that both were unfounded, he’s ok and he’s going to be ok. Until he discovers that the Joker’s blood contains a poison that is turning him into his worst enemy.

Bats Out of Hell is the next step for the Dark Knights, as they capture their Justice League counterparts and trap them in twisted, personalized Bat-Caves. The story will be something that feels important and significant in the lives of the characters, Williamson promised. Pressed to give an example by the panel and allowed by DiDio, Williamson revealed that this event will see Cyborg plugging into the Multiverse like a computer. The results will stick with him and result in a major upgrade.

But “Metal” is not only an event, the panel reminded us, it’s a jumping off point for the DCU and there will be ramifications for other books as well. “Let’s see who’s the best Flash,” Williamson said, revealing the cover to Flash Annual #1, the beginning of “Flash War“. “Flash War” will finally settle the debate between Barry Allen and Wally West. The story will begin in Flash #39 and roll onwards through the series.

The Immortal Men #1 Triple-Fold Cover

Looking at the New Age of Heroes, Dan Didio introduced The Immortal Men #1 by James Tynion IV and Jim Lee and its triple-fold vertical cover, something each of the new New Age of Heroes titles will launch with. Tynion calls it the secret history of the DC Universe. These, he told us, are the descendants of the original tribes of man. Five immortal siblings lead warring houses subscribing to differing philosophies of what is best for humanity.

Perhaps the most central is the House of Action (a cute little DC reference?), a group of “secret superheroes” who encourage and protect humanity’s best and boldest actions. Tynion rattled off a list of members, each based on a type and era of superheroes. Ghostfist is pulpy Golden Age type, Timber is a folk hero, Mercenary represents the heroes of the 80s and 90s, and Reload is a hero from the dawn of the twenty-first century, inspired by Japan, switching between traditional manga heroes and the Junji Ito monsters. They are opposed by the House of Conquest who believe that humanity only evolves through conflict.

Tynion felt that when he entered the comics industry the time where writers introduced new concepts and new characters was over and that really saddened him. As such, the New Age of Heroes is a hugely exciting prospect for him, giving him that chance he thought he’d never get.

Tynion then admitted that The Batman Who Laughs will be part of The Immortal Men. Aware of them from adventures in his universe, The Batman Who Laughs is an agent of chaos who opposes the balance that has existed between the different houses.

Damage by Robert Venditti and Tony Daniel looks at a man trying to make his mark in a world where Superheroes overshadow humanity. As a result he joins a top secret military program that gives him incredible strength and power for a single hour. The trick is dealing with the fallout for the other twenty-three.

Venditti also spoke about how he’s really deferring to his artists on what to include, creating a new version of Task Force X to appease Daniel. Task Force XL, as it will be called, contains Parasite, Grundy, and Giganta, all of whom will fight Damage. Wonder Woman is also in the first arc and the second arc, drawn by Cary Nord, is also tied to the artist’s strengths and will feature Poison Ivy and Gorilla Grodd.

Silencer by Dan Abnett, John Romita Jr., and Sandra Hope looks at the world’s greatest assassin, now retired, being called back into action by Talia al Ghul to take down Leviathan, an organization that DiDio promises is about to take its place in the DC Universe.

Sideways, co-written by Dan DiDio and Justin Jordan with art from Kenneth Rocafort, is deeply tied to “Metal”, with rifts in reality opening up and catching a young boy inside. He quickly discovers that the experience has given him the ability to open rifts of his own. That gives him incredible power, but the cost is high as those rifts cause immense damage of their own. As a child of the current generation, our hero tries to become both a YouTube star and a superhero, based on his own ideas of what heroes are. The series will really be exploring the Dark Multiverse and, as announced yesterday, Grant Morrison will be co-writting part of Sideways. DiDio confirmed that these chapters will deal with the Dark Multiverse and, none to subtly, revealed that we might find the Seven Soldiers of Victory out among the void.

The Terrifics by Jeff Lemire, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado is an attempt to explore the universe and the science of the DCU. There is so much of our Universe that we don’t know about and Terrifics will see how much of the DC Multiverse we don’t know. Early issues will take us to the reality of Tom Strong. Exploration and Super Science are the words of the day, making clear that DC is walking the walk on its attempt to do Marvel’s first family better than Marvel.

The Curse of Brimstone #1 Triple-Fold Cover

Justin Jordan announced The Curse of Brimstone, a brand new horror comic about what happens in a universe like DC’s in the rural, forgotten parts of America. Watching a town and its hope die all his life, our hero encounters The Salesman who offers him a deal. “I will give you the power to make your town great again and make it special and all you have to do is be my agent.” He accepts and gains the power to become Brimstone, an incredibly powerful being with smoke and heat based powers. But, as the title suggests, Brimstone is something of a monkey’s paw, often making things worse than whatever he is called upon to stop. The book will really look at the horror side of the DCU, with venerated mentions of Swamp Thing and Sandman’s origins and will be drawn by Phillip Tan, whose concept sketches are apparently rapidly becoming canonical parts of the book.

Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt is, to Dan Didio’s surprise, brand new and springs out of Metal #6. Set between issues #5 and 6 and exploring the characters that don’t get their full due in the main series, Wild Hunt sees Detective Chimp, Cyborg, and more trying to escape the Dark Knights.

Sideways #1 Triple-Fold Cover

The Immortal Men and Damage will launch in December, January will bring us Sideways and Silencer, and we’ll see The Curse of Brimstone and The Terrifics in February.

But at this point DiDio wondered why is Steve Orlando on this panel if he’s been so quiet. Well, we soon found out that The Unexpected will launch next March from Steve Orlando and Ryan Sook. Orlando called the book The Dark Tower meets Seven Samurai, as a group of penitant metas from strange corners of the DCU come together, convinved that they hate eachother just a little less than what’s going on around them. The team will include four characters.

The first is Neon the Unknown, a magician who tries to glimpse the Fire of Inspiration and loses both his sight and the lives of his followers. Orlando described his aesthetic as a strange1960s mod look and briefly mentioned how interesting it is writing for a character who can only create, not destroy.

The second member is Ascendant, described as “the king of the world but no one knows”. The leader of a race of “Jack Kirby Super-Science orcs” from before the dawn of man, he’s kind of the Jane Goodall of orcs, interested by this strange primative species called humanity. However, after being banished for fraternizing with humans, his people invented a time machine and end up erasing themselves from history, leaving Ascendant as the last of his race and his timeline.

Firebrand is the third member, a first responder who was injured during the “Metal” event and experimented upon. Her heart is replaced with the Conflict Engine, a machine that requires conflict to continue pumping blood, thrusting someone who wants to live peacefully and save lives into an existence of random brawls just to survive.

Viking Judge is the continuation of Viking Prince and Viking Commando, two obscure DC characters. A Lawman from viking times that committed such a horrific execution that she is eternally shamed, Viking Judge uses a mystic axe to determine sin and inhabit her modern descendant, Agnes Allen.

Orlando described Allen as someone who reminds him of several people he knows, a young woman funemployed in Williamsburg. He also gave a marvelous pitch for the character, describing her as if Lena Dunam was possessed by Brianne of Tarth.

Each of these four feels they are unforgivable but compelled to try anyway. Opposing them is a villain that Orlando calls the Randall Flagg of the DC Universe, a man obsessed with seeing the Fires of Destruction, the opposite of Neon’s Fires of Inspiration. Apparently he may already go by other names in the DCU.

Snyder ended the panel by trying to give fans even more, hinting that things would only get crazier after “Metal”. He excitedly hinted that Starro, Sinestro, and Superman would all team up against a new villain in some series and began to mention some new story lines before being repeatedly cut off. All he was able to say was “Justice-” and “Seven Sins of”.