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Saturday, November 22, 2003

WIZARD WORLD TEXAS: DC COMICS PANEL

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Although it was its final convention panel of the year, DC Comics still had a few announcements left for Wizard World Texas on Friday.

Following is a rundown of highlights from Friday's panel. Click on thumbnails for larger versions of the art.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

* JLA/Avengers artist George Perez, who has a hand injury, said that the fourth and final issue won't be out in time to meet its originally solicited Dec. 31 release.

"It'll probably be out two or three weeks after that," Perez said. "Do not blame Marvel or DC or Kurt (Busiek, the writer) or anybody else. Blame me. I am the sole person to blame."

* DC released the first image from the JLA arc reuniting Chris Claremont and John Byrne.

"The Tenth Circle" begins with JLA #94 as the book ships bi-weekly for the six-part arc. The story finds the JLA investigating a rash of child disappearances -- only to start disappearing themselves.

Jerry Ordway is inking.

* Paul Dini said that he and Alex Ross are taking a year's break from their treasury-sized specials after JLA: Liberty and Justice, but have been talking about a project the following year.

BATMAN

* Chuck Dixon is back, reuning with Nightwing collaborator Scott McDaniel on Richard Dragon, the tale of the rise of a martial arts legend -- the man who learned to fight alongside Lady Shiva, who was trained by the Bronze Tiger -- and who now finds himself in Bludhaven, battling for his life.

* Jim Lee reiterated that he plans to return to Batman with Jeph Loeb in the future. Lee also said that Dustin Nguyen, who is drawing a Batman arc written by Judd Winick, will return to Wildcats after the arc.

* Lee said he is working with Brian Azzarello on a short Batman story for an upcoming project.

* In Gotham Central, The Joker's shooting spree continues to make live hell for the cops of -- and the repercussions of the city's losses will be felt for months to come. Bob Wayne said there will be a Gotham Central trade paperback next year.

* Paul Dini said that the Batman: Harley & Ivy mini-series drawn by Bruce Timm will launch in April, displaying the first issue to show the long-in-the-making book is ready.

"The other two issues are done as well," Dini said. "Bruce is painting the cover now and you can see it says 'No. 1, finally.'"

* Bob Wayne would not officially confirm that Frank Miller was working on a Batman project, but said Miller is recuperating from his fractured elbow. "He's already drawing this project that we're not talking about again," Wayne said.

TEEN TITANS

George Perez reunites with Marv Wolfman to complete The New Teen Titans graphic novel Games, begun in 1989.

"I had to figure out what I was going to do follow JLA/Avengers," Perez said. "I was very, very fortuate because of the success of that book that if I chose not to work in 2004, I didn't have to. Financially, I was in a comfortable position. But not drawing for a year is not something I wanted to do.

"My art agent, Spencer Beck, had told me about Mike Lovitz, who owns all the pages from the graphic novel. It's all in one place and he was willing to give it back me to do, inking the pages that were not inked. That means he has 73 pages that I already had done. So, it seemed like the logical book to do. I've got a head start!

"Unlike JLA/Avengers, it wasn't a book that was killed because of politics or disagreement. But because I was stupid and never said no to any other project they were giving me. I became inundated with work, and that work became more back burner and more back burner until it finally disappeared."

Perez said he and Wolfman are working on a framing sequence, to explain the time differences.

"There was a scene involving the World Trade Center, putting it in historical perspective," Perez said. "And emotionally, I didn't want to erase the scenes with the World Trade Center. I think retro-history would not be proper respect to those that died there.

"So we're treating it as an untold tale that has repercussions to the modern versions of the character."

Perez said that the final graphic novel will be about 160 pages.

SUPERMAN

Before the Superman titles get new creative teams, "Godfall," a storyline weaving through Action Comics, Superman, and Adventures of Superman, brings the creators of Aspen Studios to DC. The six-issue crossover story is written by Michael Turner and Joe Kelly, with the art by Talent Caldwell and Jason Gorder and covers by Turner.

The story begins in February's Action Comics #812, as Kal-El finds himself back on his homeworld. But how and why has he returned? In Adventures of Superman #625, Kal-El finds new powers emerging -- but will they be any use against a new threat that has appeared on Krypton? Now a fugitive, in Superman #202 he has his back against the wall.

"We're having a blast with it," Turner said. "It's kind of a different story because we're taking Superman out of his element and putting him in this whole other different world. I don't want to give anything away, but we're going to see Superman riding this speed bike and doing different kind of stuff. It's not the Superman you know, but then he realizes things aren't like they seem."

* Jim Lee talked about working on Superman, written by Brian Azzarello.

"You don't really understand how iconic this character is until you actually put pencil to paper," Lee said. "I've laid out the first issue, and there's a lot of really cool stuff you've never seen in Superman before. I think people are going to be very pleasantly surprised with Brian's take on the character. It's very character driven, and there's also a lot of Super-action, and I think it's shaping up very well."

* Ed McGuinness will return to draw Superman/Batman after arcs drawn by Turner and Carlos Pacheco.

* The Question, Vigilante and Lex Luthor: Man of Steel will all be six-issue mini-series.

"We'll look at what it's like to be a super-hero in Metropolis where there's this character that is all powerful," Lee said. "Also, with the Vigilante and The Question, we'll explore what it's like to be a super-villain in Metropolis where there's this guy who can see through walls and hear things from a mile away."

THE FLASH

Former JLA artist Howard Porter takes over as the new series penciller with February's The Flash #207. In the 6-part story "Flashback," in the new Kid Flash and Jay Garrick are determined to confront the Flash and find out who he really is.

Michael Turner said he is providing five covers for the series.

"They're all done, and they're all different," Turner said. "The first one (Flash #207) is like the movie poster. Another one is old school and another is darker with the bad guys."

DC FOCUS

DC provided updated synopses and cover images from its new imprint, first announced last summer. "These are stories about people with all the super powers and none of the responsibilties," DC's Dan DiDio said.

* Hard Time, the inaugural book in the DC Focus line, is written by Steve Gerber with art by Brian Hurtt. The series focuses on Ethan Chiles, a 15-year old whose role in a high-school shooting has landed him in prison. Something powerful has been growing within Ethan, and on the day of his sentencing, it escapes... but will it be a source of massive power, a chance at redemption, or the cruelest of curses?

Hard Time kicks off in February with a 56-page debut issue for just $2.50, featuring previews of the other three DC Focus titles.

"It's vintage Gerber," DiDio said. "It's some of the best black comedy I've seen in a while." * Fraction, written by David Tischman with art by Timothy Green, premieres in March.

The series revolves around four high-school pals who reunite years later and pull off a petty theft for old time's sake. But what they end up stealing is a power-suit with incredible abilities and may be the thing that tears them apart,

* Kinetic, written by Kelley Puckett with art by Warren Pleece, premieres in April.

The series is the story of a sickly young man who leads a sheltered life, watched closely by an overprotective mother. But when he's struck by a car, he miraculously survives, leaving the car destroyed. It seems the frail high school student can absorb energy, but how will he use that ability?

* Touch also premieres in April, written by John Francis Moore with art by Wesley Craig.

In the series, a Vegas huckster makes a living finding people with super-human abilities and becoming their agent. But what dark secret is he hiding from them?

WILDSTORM

* An ongoing Wetworks series -- by Mike Carey and Whilce Portacio -- will spin out of February's Coup D'Etat event. "That event will effect all of the WildStorm Universe," Jim Lee said. "It also really highlights the books' writers."

The new Wetworks series kicks off when a rip in the Bleed allows an evil -- and hungry -- invasion force to reach Earth!

* Lee said that there will be "interesting choices" for upcoming writers of Tom Strong.

ACTION FIGURES

* The first set of Hush action figures -- based on the Batman arc by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee and Scott Williams -- will be released in June.

Lee, who worked in the creation of the figures, said there will be a second line that will include Robin, Nightwing, Riddler, Catwoman and Superman. No release date has been set.

* DC also released a new image from its upcoming First Appearance set, featuring Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman and Shazam.

BRIEFLY

* Andy Diggle is writing the first six issues of the new Swamp Thing book, and will be followed by Will Pfeifer.

* Boy Wayne said sales of Wonder Woman have been steadily growing.

* Wayne said the writer of Green Lantern after Ron Marz's stint will be announced next year.

* Outsiders artist Tom Raney: "There will be quite a few people coming through the door and staying a while."

* Look for even more news from the DC panel soon here in the Continuum



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