ECCC 2018: What’s Next For DC Comics?

by Noah Sharma

Moderator Hank Kanalz opened DC’s first Emerald City Comic Con panel by introducing the panelists: Marguerite Bennett (Batwoman), Justin Jordan (The Curse of Brimstone), Shawna and Julie Benson (Batgirl and the Birds of Prey), Mitch Gerads (Mister Miracle), James Tynion IV (Detective Comics), and Joshua Williamson (The Flash).

The next arc on Batwoman is “Fall of the House of Kane” and it represents a culmination of what Marguerite Bennett has been building towards since the series began. Bennett called the House of Kane, the literal house of the Kane family when it was shattered, corrupt and disgusting. She’s been studying for it, reading books on fungi and infectious disease. Fernando Blanco doing the art and she is so excited about that.

Justin Jordan opened by telling the room that he is from extremely rural Pennsylvania, a town with fewer people in it than the room we were in, and that town has been absolutely hollowed out by the opioid crisis and financial decay. The Curse of Brimstone allowed Jordan to explore those feelings as his protagonist makes a deal with a figure called The Salesman to save just such a town, a hidden corner of the DC Universe that Batman and Superman don’t seem to care about. Jordan said that he’s hoping the book has a Swamp Thing feel while Kanalz pointed out the influence of familiar and familial connections to the book. Jordan spoke about his working relationship with Philip Tan and the way that they bounce ideas off of each other. Look out for the Hungry, a creation of Tan’s. The Hungry is actually another victim of the Salesman, as Joe hunts his devilish patron in an attempt to prevent this from happening again and break the curse. The panel also revealed that Constantine and Swamp Thing will both be appearing in the book.

DC has just announced that Detective Comics 981 will be James Tynion’s last issue of the series. Nevertheless, Tynion doesn’t see a need to mourn. Not only does he have some big things that he can’t quite talk about yet, but the series was always coming to this point, whether he continued on or not. Tynion calls this arc “Batmen Eternal”, a capstone to the trilogy that he began with the two Eternal series. The arc and the run in its entirety are really a look at the dichotomy between Tim Drake and Kate Kane, each representing a view of what Batman can be. Tynion regrets not stealing Javi Fernandez from Nightwing sooner and Kanalz revealed art of Kate Kane and her team of Knights taking on the Court of Owls.

Tynion also spoke about Tim Drake and how his arc evolved. Tynion admitted that killing Tim Drake predated his story, a remnant from a direction that never unfolded. Later Tynion convinced DC to let him have Drake on the condition that the character be killed off, but, as Rebirth evolved, he realized that Tim’s death could be the start of a much bigger story. He and Geoff Johns, a writer whose work with Tim shaped Tynion’s youth, realized that if Tim was going to die, “it needed to hurt” so Tynion set about building Tim back up so that he could be torn down temporarily.

The Flash has just revealed that the Speed Force Storm and all that followed was all part of Gorilla Grodd’s plan. Now Barry’s powers are gone and his secrets are told and he needs to take the Speed Force back from Grodd. In order to do that, he breaks Godspeed out of Iron Hights. “Perfect Storm” will lead directly into “Flash War”.

“Flash War” will be a big event, not only because of the clash between Barry and Wally but because it brings Howard Porter back to the Flash. Hunter Zolomon is back and has been living in the 25th century, somehow unaffected by “Flashpoint” and “Doomsday Clock”. He remembers all of it and he’s determined to get his revenge on Barry and Wally West. Soon we’ll be learning what he whispered at the very beginning of the run.

Carmine Di Giandomenico turned in his last issue recently. Williamson said that it has been very emotional saying goodbye for now, but, as if a parting gift, Di Giandomenico fixed one last page for him, taking a page scripted for Barry and Wally standing and talking and drawing it mid-run.

Mitch Gerads spoke about the origins of Mister Miracle. Gerads has loved Mister Miracle since childhood. Originally he was set to write Batman: The War of Jokes and Riddles as a miniseries, but when it was folded back into the Batman ongoing he was set adrift. Called by Tom King, he admitted that there’s really nothing that excited him as much as Batman, except maybe Mister Miracle. This baffled King, who had been calling to pitch Gerads a top secret Mister Miracle project.

Gerads, who has just had a child, says that issue # 7 is going to be big. 22 Pages in the hospital awaiting the birth of Scott Free and Big Barda’s child. “This is going to be the Eisner issue” said Kanalz.

Issue #8 is also personal, this time particularly for King, who served in military counterintelligence. Gerads pitched it simply, saying that issue #8 is about the question ‘how do you go to war and be a good father at the same time?’

The Bensons promised that the final arc of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, “Full Circle” will live up to the name, bringing everything, particularly the villains, from the entire run together. Each of these villains represent a dark reflection of the Birds.

The Bensons also promised that they would have more to talk about tomorrow…

Turning to Justice League: No Justice, James Tynion said that the fun of it is playing with all the toys in the toybox, even hinting that this element would remain in play in whatever is to follow No Justice. The series sees bizarre new Justice League teams flying into space to protect alien worlds from ‘giant space gods’, but it will also look at what happens to Earth when there is no Justice League.

Brainiac is the mastermind behind these teams, though Williamson did refer to him as the villain, and he put them together based on perfect math. This means that their skills will work together in the optimal way, sometimes ways they don’t even realize about themselves, but he doesn’t consider their emotions, their hearts, their relationships and that will be the difference between success and failure at times. Williamson said that Metal has been very much about music and percussion and that No Justice will continue that, as will the frequently mentioned project spinning out of No Justice.

Asked what book they would want to work on most that they haven’t yet Bennett said she’d love to do a Zatanna and Constantine book. Justin Jordan picked Lobo. Shawna Benson felt similarly to Bennett, calling Zatanna, while her sister preferred Bennett’s current assignment on Batwoman. Gerads wanted The Flash, while Williamson is aching to write Batman/Superman. Finally James Tynion said that he’d love to write for Barbara Gordon.

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