Misdirection is a common form of deception often used in magic. Nothing up my sleeve, right? What people often forget is that misdirection is also a literary device most commonly used in detective novels. If you don't get my specific meaning there, I'll just go ahead and say that DC Comics is no stranger to misdirection.
Ok, was I being too vague? Of course by detective I'm referring to Batman. There couldn't be more misdirection going on in Batman R.I.P. if they tried. Possibly in an even further move towards that direction, the mysterious identity of the villain actually responsible for what's going on in that book wasn't mentioned once at Saturday's DC panel at Wizard World Philly. That's not to say that other huge story points weren't given away. Spoilers for the current and some of the future projects in the DCU ahead.
"I apologize if I'm gonna take six or seven of your questions. This really is the FINAL CRISIS. Ok? We're really going for it this time," said Senior VP/Executive Editor Dan Didio, "When we come out, we come out with a clear cohesive direction for the DCU." Didio led the DCU: Crisis Now panel that included Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler, Jimmy Palmiotti (Jonah Hex, Powergirl), Jim Calafiore (Gotham Underground, Batgirl mini-series), Tom Derenick (Reign In Hell), Shane Davis (Superman/Batman, Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns), Franco and Art Baltazar (Tiny Titans) and Ethan Van Sciver (Green Lantern, The Blackest Night). Didio gave the readers a guide to the coming crisis, "The official rule of Final Crisis is it doesn't cross off into the monthly series. Anything that takes place that has to deal with the particular story of Final Crisis is all going on in different mini-series and one-shots."
Final Crisis: Superman Beyond is one of the new mini-series and it's going to be a little different from the rest. "This is probably the thing Grant Morrison is most excited about, even more so than anything else, because he's gonna take Superman through the Multiverse and he gets to do it in 3-D," said Didio excitedly. That's right, you're going to be getting a pair of 3-D glasses with this issue. But wait, there's more. "It's not only just 3-D for us but it's also 3-D for Superman. He has his eye colors changed, one eye is blue and one eye is red," revealed Didio.
If you've been following the K story arc in Superman/Batman you've only got one issue left. Artist Shane Davis hopes everyone has been enjoying it and says we're all going to be surprised by the ending. "There's been hints at things in every issue that I haven't really seen anybody pick up on on the message board at all," he said. "You shouldn't be reading those things, you know that right?" scolded Didio.
Conversation did eventually turn to Batman R.I.P. but Didio didn't need to bother telling us about it. Instead he had a fan fill everyone in on what's been going on. This actually happened a few times during the panel, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. A fan also thanked Didio for bringing back Stephanie Brown, a.k.a Spoiler. Didio said you're welcome but continued ominously, "It's nice to bring somebody back in case somebody else goes away." When Stephanie returned in the last issue of Robin it all seemed a bit too easy. "You might have gotten a neat little answer there but there's a lot more intrigue that comes out from this story," Didio explained, "It's not that simple." If you thought you'd start getting your answers in this weeks Robin/Spoiler Special, you were wrong, that was just some alone time for the pair.
Of course Batman is also involved in DC's new weekly series Trinity, along with Superman and Wonder Woman, in stores today. The first half of the book is told by the same creative team every issue, Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley but the second half will change. "We don't even want to call it a back-up anymore," said Didio, "it's really a story that supports what's going on in the front without focusing on the three leads."
Reign in Hell is a new mini-series that will involve most, if not all of the magic characters in the DCU. Keith Giffen is the writer and Tom Derenick is now the artist. "[Keith] has a vision for what the DC Universe's version of Hell should look like and feel like and it's nothing you've ever seen before," Derenick said, "Think H.R. Giger on acid." A fan asked if there was any chance of tying DC's hell into Vertigo's hell. "The easy answer is, no chance in hell," laughed Didio.
The subject of Barry Allen was eventually brought up. A fan talked about him like he was already back to which Didio had to respond, "Did we ever officially say Barry Allen is coming back?" Didio posed the question to Ethan van Sciver who got very scared and didn't want to be asked about it. Ian Sattler didn't want to be asked either so Didio settled on this hypothetical situation, "If Barry Allen ever came back, a perfect place for him to come back is the middle of a major crisis event. Just the same way, but if we did a Final Crisis it should not just be about one Flash, but ALL Flashes." Bart too? "All Flashes," Didio put simply.
As far as a new creative team for the Flash goes Didio was trying to pass the buck, "Um, I don't know, Ethan, what's going on with Flash?" Van Sciver replied emphatically, "Don't ask me!" The games continued later on in the panel after a fan asked Van Sciver about Plastic Man, which he said is shelved for now. "I just have something really big that I'm working on now that I'm NOT GONNA TALK ABOUT," Van Sciver said, raising his voice. Assumptions should not be made, Van Sciver is also rumored to be working on something with Wonder Woman writer Gail Simone.
As usual, there was a lightning round for fans to ask yes or no questions. Here are a few:
Is Damien really Bruce's son? - Met with silence and uncomfortable looking faces.
Will Selina Kyle ever emerge again in Bruce Wayne's life? - Yes (We saw her in todays issue of Detective Comics and she was PISSED.)
Martian Manhunter really dead? - Yes. Sorry.
Barry Allen coming back? - Yes.
Will Barbara Gordon walk again? - No. Never. (Thank you Dan!)
On the less serious side of comics we have the new kid-friendly Tiny Titans series by Art Baltazar and Franco. There seems to be almost no limit on the team members they might be using, not to mention the cuteness level. Blue Beetle apparently has a talking back-pack. "They just think he's a weird kid," said Baltazar. A fan asked if Terra would be making an appearance, Baltazar responded, "She throws rocks." Though Dan Didio had to give the team a call at one point to ask them why the Tiny Titans were going to be in outer-space, "[Baltazar] said, 'Oh, they're flying home to Starfire's house to clean her room,' I'm like, oh ok that makes sense." But will Connor Kent be showing up? "Maybe in their hearts for right now," says Baltazar.
At one point a female fan asked where the long-awaited All-Star Batgirl was. "J.G. got a little busy," said Ian Sattler. That wasn't a good enough answer for her though and she continued to press for answers as to it's completion. "Actually it's fully complete, we all have copies, we're not sharing it with you," joked Didio, "Now that you put it that way, we're NEVER going to share it with you."
Some of the other women from the DCU will be getting some more attention soon. Arist Jim Calafiore will be doing a Batgirl mini-series that he says will address the changes she went through in the One Year Later stories. It will also include a new character who is a relative of hers. While living in Wayne Manor, "She's not supposed to be going out and doing any super-heroing," said Calafiore. But of course she can't help herself. The much talked about, but rarely seen, new Batwoman will apparently be making an appearance in Final Crisis: Revelations fighting Killer Croc.
Jimmy Palmiotti couldn't pull himself away from the innuendoes to tell us much about the new Powergirl series he's working on with Amanda Connor. "Everything about this book is big," he said, "We also have in your face action. I could go on ALL day." He pretty much did, Ian Sattler started to wrestle the mic away from him whenever Powergirl came up.
Magic is also considered an art that entertains. Captain Carrot and the Final Ark was definitely an entertaining little series. Any plans to pick up on it's mysterious ending? Didio hopes so, "Did we ever announce the Zatanna book?" The panel became confused. Did they just slip up? It was said something with Paul Dini and Zatanna was a possibility during the NY Comic Con panel but no, nothing had actually been announced. Didio needed to go hypothetical again, "If Zatanna had her own book, you might see something along those lines somewhere down the road. Just saying if."
Now have you seen through my clever ruse? I used the art of misdirection on you just like any great magician would have. I told you everything that was going on in the DCU just so I'd be able to tell you Zatanna is getting her own book. !ahctoG ;-)