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SUNDAY, JULY 2, 2006

HEROES CON: DC COMICS' 52 PANEL

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jann Jones, assistant editor of the weekly 52 series, told the crowd at DC Comics' 52 panel at Heroes Con on Saturday that an impressive list of artists has been lined up for back-up features.

Among those contributing will be Eric Powell, Brian Bolland, Adam Hughes, George Perez, Kevin Nowlan and Jones' husband, 52 cover artist J.G. Jones.

As far as interiors go, DC's Dan DiDio said that having Keith Giffen doing breakdowns gives 52 a consistent look, despite whomever is penciling.

"He can take so much information and put it out in a cohesive manner," DiDio said, noting that he didn't want a "jarring" issue-to-issue approach to the book despite the several pencilers.

"I've been watching the art come in and we're not compromising anything to get this out on a weekly basis," Jann Jones added.

Greg Rucka, one of the four 52 writers, noted that several additional artists have inquired about contributing to the project.

"Some of them are quite surprising," Rucka said. "And I'm like, 'You're a big name? Why would you?'"

DiDio said that cover artist Jones attends all the story meetings and sketches during the discussions. One of his sketches, of Detective Chimp, led to a new story angle -- one that DiDio noted conflicted with Shadowpact.

And while DC won't do any 52 collections until the series is over -- nor has it announced any plans -- DiDio suggested that a coffee table book of Jones' story-telling covers with sketches might be a good post-52 project.

In other notes from the panel:

* DiDio broke down what he felt the writers of 52 brought to the table: Rucka, a sense of realism and a look at the DCU from the ground up; Geoff Johns, a sense of moving the characters forward to where they should go; Mark Waid, a sense of history and where characters have been; and Grant Morrison, who "is just way out there."

Rucka added, "Grant has more good ideas in an afternoon than I do all year."

* Rucka said that 52 is like a novel and should have a theme. In this case, he said the primary goal is to see "on the whole, how the DC Universe has changed."

* The Resurrection Cult was not part of the original plan for the story, and Rucka said that it took over from Conner's sacrifice as the religious aspect intended for 52.

* Rucka noted that while the characters' arcs have a beginning, middle and end, not all them will end with the 52nd issue.

* Asked why Batman is such a jerk in All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder, DiDio said: "It was Frank Miller's decision. You don't like it, you call him. I'm not going to make that call."

* DiDio said that the concept developed for Captain Marvel since the 1970s "hasn't worked" and the challenge DC faces is making him contemporary but to true to his character.

* J.G. Jones added that members of the Marvel Family will be key to a 52 story.

* Regarding Batman, DiDio said that he wants to emphasize the Bruce Wayne part of the character more. He also said that Batman's strike team had become "too far-reaching" and that the character works best with Robin, Alfred and Gordon on his side.

* DiDio said the Oracle/Batman relationship became bad for Batman and he's pulling the plug on it. "It was like Batman had OnStar," he said. "He stopped being Batman."

* Rucka said Elongated Man's story in 52 is spiritual. "His story is about the fact that Sue is dead in a world where people come back from the dead with alarming frequency," he said.

* Rucka said the racial aspects of John Henry Irons were going to be part of 52, but that it didn't materialize. "You never tell stories like that if they become Afterschool Specials," he said. "If you can't do it right, it's better not to do it."

* J.G. Jones confirmed that was Isis on a 52 cover. But DiDio noted it wasn't the television version because DC doesn't own the rights.

* Black Adam's death toll in 52? "Massive," DiDio said. But then Rucka noted, "By the end of 52, you're probably going to cry for Black Adam."

* In regards to pacing, Rucka said concessions have to be made in a 22-page story and that stories can't end with cliffhangers. He also noted that some things -- like the effects of Renee Montoya's have to be assumed off-panel. "I'm sure we all know Renee is going, 'Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!'" he said.

Rucka said that it's hard and fast that story beings with Week 1, Day 1 and ends with Week 52, Day 7.

"It's an interesting thing to deal with when you have people who can, say, travel through time," he said.

* DiDio said the back-ups for 52 were to provide supplemental information without overloading readers.

* DiDio said that any similarities between the "Up, Up and Away!" story in the Superman books and Superman Returns were coincidental. He said he did not read the movie script, wanting to the film as a fan.

* DiDio said there will be a Zauriel one-shot early next year.



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