ECCC 2018: The Vertigo Panel With Jody Houser, Ibrahim Moustafa, Joshua Williamson, And Sandman Video

by Noah Sharma

After making sure that this was Emerald City Comic Con, since Vertigo is attending a lot of conventions this year, Executive Editor Mark Doyle introduced the first panel of Vertigo’s 25th anniversary year. Panelists included Jody Houser, Ibrahim Moustafa, and Joshua Williamson.

The panel opened on Imaginary Fiends by Tim Seeley and Stephen Molnar. The series imagines a world where imaginary friends are actually demonic entities from another dimension. Melba, the main character, is one person with such an imaginary fiend and she’s contacted by the FBI to track down the others.

After that the panel quickly moved on to Motherlands by Si Spurrier and Rachel Stott. The series follows a mother/daughter bounty hunter team hunting their son/brother through multiple dimensions.

The next title was Deathbed by Joshua Williamson and Riley Rossmo. Williamson was excited to work with Doyle and his Flash editor Amadeo Turturro again after they both moved to Vertigo. Turturro, who Williamson didn’t know was moving divisions when he pitched him the idea, loved the concept and moved to have it picked up.

Williamson described the book as being about storytelling and legacy. The creators both have daughters that are close in age and that was very influential in how the series came together. During the production, Doyle and Williamson discussed what their last words might be and realized that, in the modern day, it might not even be words, it could be a tweet. Doyle actually quit twitter over that realization.

Williamson was looking to tell a story in a different way from his other work. The book is wild. Issue #3 sees Valentine and Luna taking a journey to the center of the earth. Issue #4 takes place in an underwater pleasure garden where Luna goes back into his own memories by tripping on a unique type of jellyfish toxin. And Issue #5 takes them to a monster island. Issue #2, however, is quite a bit more mundane in setting. It takes place at a funeral and it explores how people’s stories continue even after they leave our lives.

Young Animal just finished their “Milk Wars” crossover, seeing an evil corporation called Retconn that’s trying to repackage and homogenize realities to sell as entertainment to the multiverse. This leads to Mother Panic encountering Bruce Wayne, the child of billionaires who realized his path when a priest crashed through his window and gave him a cool refreshing glass of milk. Now, as Father Bruce, he’s training an entire school of superhero sidekicks in a training center called Gather House…

Eternity Girl is a former superhero and spy who wants to die but can’t. When her archnemesis offers to help kill her if she’ll help her destroy the world first. It’s an existentialist superhero adventure by Mags Visaggio and Sonny Liew.

Cave Carson has also got death on the brain as he encounters an old friend who is dying and needs to be taken to space. The result is Cave Carson Has An Interstellar Eye.

Mother Panic was fascinating for being the proof that Young Animal did take place within the mainline DCU. That’s been thrown out the window as Violet Paige returns from “Milk Wars” only to discover that she’s returned to the wrong universe in Mother Panic: Gotham A.D. Batman is gone, villains are in control, and Violet’s mother is missing. Luckily Mother Panic has brought one of Father Bruce’s sidekick trainees back with her, but she’ll need the help.

Jody Houser loves Joker stories like “Going Sane” and Gotham A.D. allows her to pull a new twist on that. Instead of being dead, Batman has just vanished and Joker doesn’t know what to do, caught between possibilities. He’s given up his life of crime, retreating from the gentrified Gotham that has emerged and spends his days at the Gotham Pier making balloon tommy guns.

Ibrahim Moustafa is thrilled to leave his mark on the denizens of Gotham, giving fans urban jungle, road warrior-esque visions of classic characters. He also went down a rabbit hole researching tiny houses for the book, so…there seems to be a lot of interesting ideas floating around this version of Gotham. The term Houser has coined for the aesthetic is ‘neon noir’.

Talking about Vertigo’s fututure, Doyle revealed that the cryptic 080818 SDCC tease from last year refers to the launch date for Vertigo’s Sandman Universe. Turning to the screen, Doyle turned things over to the man himself to end the panel on a high note.