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DC Comics on Wednesday afternoon staged a telephone press conference regarding its upcoming World War III series spinning out of 52.

Answering questions were editors Peter Tomasi and Michael Siglain and writer Keith Champagne.

Below is an edited transcription.

Question: What spurred the need for these one-shots?

Siglain: Basically, World War III comes in 52 Week 50, which is April 18th for everyone. It's a very big story, obviously. It takes up an entire week of 52. But the story was actually too big for 52. Because, aside from World War III, what we wanted to do is to tell what happened with all the One Year Later stories, which we hint at along the way. But World War III really effects all the characters in a simlar sense; it causes the One Year Later stories, which is why we wouldn't give that away ahead of time.

Because of that and because there was only 22 pages in 52, we are doing these four one-shots that fill in the gaps.

Question: Keith, what can you say about the two that you're writing?

Champagne: Lots of stuff happens. It's a big continuity-changing event for a lot of characters. It fills in a lot of gaps between the end of Infinite Crisis and the missing year of One Year Later for a lot of different characters. It's a pretty kick-ass book. The art looks great so far. I don't know what else to say about it without giving away any major plot points.

Siglain: Unfortunately, we can't give too much away because it does tie in so closely to 52 Week 50. Basically, we've gotten hints at it before. That first page of Justice Society of America #1 is a good hint that the JSA are involved.

But pretty much everyone is involved between the JSA, Aquaman, Batgirl, Firestorm...

Tomasi: All the major characters you were hoping that had some answers to in 52, we make sure we flesh all of that out. After 52 and after World War III, you can that every question has been feasibly answered to definitely bring you up to speed at the DCU at that point, so you're not going to need to wonder about anybody. Now, a new page has been turned and we've got a lot of kick-ass stuff heading your way from that point on.

I guess one thing about World War III, you can say there is a major, longstanding DCU character who plays a major part in the story and has a very major life-altering, changing event.

Question: How long-ranging effects wil they be?

Siglain: Well, we've kind of seen the effects.

Tomasi: We've seen the teams around. It's answering the reverberations that existed in One Year Later and now it's just fleshing those out and bringing those in the present day.

Question: Keith, can you talk about the challenges of weaving the 52 stuff into One Year Later? Was that tricky?

Champagne: Tricky in the sense that there were a lot of different characters that I had to get up to speed on really quick. Because I don't read every book that DC puts out. I';; kind of half-read a lot of them to keep myself abreast. There are so many good books, but there are only so many hours in a day.

Once I was up to speed, I felt we had a pretty good framework we had built for this. It was probably the easiest writing gig I've had yet. It flowed out pretty fast.

Tomasi: In terms of the backstory of just how it happened, too, we've had it sort of percolation for a while. We knew that One Year Later had a lot of questions to answer. Yet at the same time, seeing how much great work the guys were doing on 52 and a lot of stuff in terms of momentum started taking them in some other directions here and there, early on we started taking to say, you know what, there's going to be certain holes, certain chapters, that we need to fill in for the fans to really feel a completion, a kind of full story to bring them up to speed.

We had a really great, long-ass lunch. We brought in Keith, John (Ostrander), me and Mike and our assistant Liz, and we hammered out a ton of stuff. And we gave John and Keith a massive amount of info and a template to work from. And we said, "Look, here's what you need to do. You've got to hit these marks." And make sure the fans come away from this really feeling that even One Year Later has a reason for being.

Siglain: Right. It answers all of your questions and it's also a nice companion piece to 52 Week 50, where the majority of the war is seen there. And now this is seen through different people's eyes as the war effects all these characters -- and what does it to them?

Question: And the war basically leads up to the billing? It's something that encompasses the entire planet?

Tomasi: Oh, yeah. Think of World War III as the multi-angle button on your DVD player. Now with this book, you'll be able to see it from a bunch of different spots and get a lot more from it. Because, like Mike said before, there's just so much you can do in 22 pages and move on, because they have to get to the rest of that story in 52. And this was basically a really, really good way to give the fans a ton of character stuff, and at the same time a ton of action. And they can get the sense that this thing was widespread and had massive repurcussions in the DCU.

Siglain: Yeah, it's pretty brutal.

Question: Can we talk about the other creators involved?

Siglain: Keith Champagne and John Ostrander both have been doing a phenomenal job of coming in and working together. And lacing everything together in such a way that you look at it and go, "Man, this is great. Everything works. It clicks from start to finish."

We've got great artists on the books, too. We've got two of the 52 guys doing double-duty, Pat Olliffe, who's doing Week 46 for us right now. He'll be doing the first issue of World War III. And we have Andy Smith doing an issue, and their art looks phenomenal so far.

Tom Derenick, who also did some 52 stuff is coming on board for the third issue. And Jack Jadson, who has been a primarily an inker doing a fantastic job over Joe Bennett, has done some outstanding work on the fourth issue.

Tomasi: And Ethan Van Sciver is doing the covers, really great sort of rack place to kind of pull people's attention when they see those covers -- the template for the covers, especially. I think it will make a really nice package for people and give them a sense they're really getting a bang for their buck.

Question: One of the interior pages that was sent out spotlights a specific scene in the first issue involving Deathstroke and Batgirl. I think we've seen some inklings of that with Titans East. Do you want to talk about that?

Siglain: Basically, with the One Year Later in the Robin book you see that Batgirl has gone to the dark side. But again, that was something that was never touched upon in 52. You see some of that here. When the war breaks out, there's rioting across the world. There are fights, and everyone just kind of goes nuts. It literally is a world war.

One of the effects of that is Batgirl turning to the dark side. You can see the moment she turns in this book.

Champagne: With Batgirl, I was kind of teetering. I was liking her for a while. With the war, Deathstroke kind of got into her head.

Siglain: This is the perfect opportunity. He's basically, "All right, I've been biding my time. This is what's going to happen now."

Tomasi: And even in World War III, the Batgirl/Deathstroke, let's say complications, have some massive repurcussions even later, after World War III that will be revealed pretty soon, too. Hint, hint.

Question: What kind of templates were the writers given?

Tomasi: There was a lot of latitude, but at the same time, because One Year Later was already established, there were certain things we had to sort of seed and have happen -- touchstones that had to happen in WW III that would allow it to come to fruition in One Year Later. They were given certain bullet points of things that need to be touched upon and made certain that they were tied up. That stuff was given out to both the guys, and they've delivered admirably.

Champange: At the same time, John and I had an amazing amount of latitude to answer those questions with the characters and a surprising amount of independent creative thought in terms of solving certain problems and getting the characters were they needed to be. It wasn't just connect-the-dots comics. We actually got to really...

Tomasi: In the end you will see this isn't just a jigsaw puzzle slap-dashed together. We ended up really coming together and finding a true story and a through-line to hang all this on and to make it worthwhile and have a lot of meat to it.

Question: What did Keith come up with that surprised you?

Tomasi: That he could actually spell. (laughs) I think in terms of Keith's work, it really was nice, because I've just worked with him on Green Lantern Corps and he's doing some Batman stuff for me and he's doing other assorted things. Keith's dialogue is great. Keith's sense of clean story-telling and building momentum where it needs to be built. And a real nice sense of the characters, but giving them almost fresh feel in a way. I

It was nice to see when we started getting those scripts pages that Keith got all the beats we talked about, and still was able to embellish enough to surprise us at certain turns, by specific acts of action that really just wowed us -- some of the stuff Black Adam is going to do and some of the other DCU characters.

Siglain: Sadly, we can't go into to much detail because it would give away 52 Week 50. But Keith got it, he got it very quickly and he turned it around and it was better than we could have imagined.

Question: The direction of the DCU seems one event story after another. Is there a danger of things being too event driven and losing the characters?

Tomasi: No. But I think that's the one thing we found ourselves really enjoying about this series. World War III ended up becoming about character. There is plenty of action, but, I've got to say, the more we talked about it and the more beats kept coming in from the writers, it ended up being more character-driven in the end. And that's the true through line of this piece is it that it hinges on character, and that made us happy about the way it's all coming the way it is right now.

Siglain: It's not just looked at as just an event -- Oh, it's World War III -- and then we move on to the next thing. It's really something that's critical to the whole DCU. But like Pete said, it's about character.

Champagne: If 52 Week 50 had come out and World War III were just that one 22-page comic book, you would have felt ripped off.

Question: Are we going see the ramifications of WW III show up throughout the DCU because we've only really seen it in Justice Society of America?

Siglain: The reason why we really couldn't show a lot of the ramifications is we would have tipped our hand at 52 a little bit too much. We were really stuck behind the curtain because the minute we peer behind the curtain, it's like, "Great, here's our whole hand," and we're sunk. We do have to keep some surprises in 52.

We were only able to hint at it in JSA and Titans here and there .You will really see it more in 52 and the other books. The other books have the OYL where you already have that "holy crap!" moment where you go, "This character is doing that?"

Question: Are you surprised at the retail success of 52? Does it demand spin-offs because of that?

Siglain: They didn't look at this and say "Wow, 52 is great! Get something else out there that is 52-related." That 52 is doing great is a separate issue entirely. It was, here we have this story and we want to finish up the story of One Year Later and expand on the story of World War III, and we can't do that in 52. You need something else.

Tomasi: World War III is there to serve the story, the tapestry that was already being woven. Yeah, we're are hoping it makes great numbers. Who's going to lie and say we don't? 52 has been doing amazing for us but at the same time, it was really a question of how we flesh this stuff out and make this a better story and add even more elements to it to make it even grander than it is right now. World War III, I think, does that.

Question: Any nod to what's been going on with Aquaman in WW III?

Tomasi:Yes. There will be answers given regarding good ol' Aquaman. I was editing Aquaman before it went into the Kurt Busiek run with John Arcudi and Pat Gleason. When we were talking about World War III, Aquaman is a key guy and we have to explain that One Year Later story because it's been taking a long time at this point. We felt now was the perfect opportunity to get that story out there and flesh it out.

Question: Have you guys learned anything from the process with 52 and handling all these characters that has directly contributed to how you're editorially conducting WW III?

Tomasi: Not really. I've been doing this for so long, it's all a blur. It's just a question now of just making sure a book we all have a lot of faith in and we feel helps the whole story of 52, honestly that we put it out on time and it looks good for the fans.

For $2.50, all the color looks great, the covers look great and the art looks great. And that's our main job. We all get the characters at this point. It's just a question now that we hit our delivery dates, so you can pick up 52 Week 50 and then - boom! -- you finish that story up with World War III.

Champagne:I wish I had some horror stories to tell, but it's been a really easy job. I'm a relatively new writer but I've been in comics for 14 or 15 years now. I've seen it all at this point.

Question: Recently throughout the DCU the Monitors have made a rereappearance. Will this tie in at all to World War III?

Siglain: The Monitors aren''t connected to World War III. That does not mean they won't pop around the DCU.

Question: Is this where we see Batman and Wonder Woman re-enter?

Siglain: No, that's going to be saved for 52. They are not a direct part of the war ... or are they?

Question: If this does stupendously well, are we looking at a World War IV?

Tomasi: I would say probably not. Like I said, this was a question of serving the story and after what happens in World War III, it would be a complete milking it say we're going to a World War IV just to do a World War IV. If for some reason in five years down the road if the DCU goes through some other climatic massive events -- which I'm sure it will -- whether they'll would be labeled World War IV, I can't imagine they would at this point. But never say never.

Question: Are we going to continue to see some deaths with any of the regular 52 main cast kicking the bucket?

Tomasi: Lots of people kick the bucket, but we can't say who.

Question: Keith, how is writing different than inking?

Champagen: I have to think when I'm writing. With inking, have done it for 10 years, I don't really think that much. It's a different set of creative muscles. Inking focused on just serving the art. Writing is a more creative outlet and chance to focus and flex a different part of my brain. They're both fulfilling, they're both rewarding and I'm lucky to do them both.

Question: Firestorm, does he show up and have any big moments?

Tomasi: Did you see the cover of #1? He's on the cover.

Siglain: As the former editor of Firestorm, he's definitely in there. And he gets some nice screen time.

Tomasi: As the former, former editor of Firestorm, yes, he does get some nice screen time.

Champagne: As the former inker on Firestorm...(laughs)

Question: Blue Beetle?

Siglain: Maybe.

Question: One character who absoultely survives we didn't know already?

Siglain: That's touch. Because if I tell you that, the 52 guys aren't going to be very happy. Pass.

Question: In Teen Titans, Cyborg had been in a coma when we see him One Year Later, yet in 52 he appears to be recovered. Will this be part of World War III?


Siglain: It will be addressed, but it's not the main story.

Tomasi: We sat down and literally said, "What do we need to answer?" What do people need to have answered for them so that when this book comes out they feel fulfilled and satisfied. There was a big list. Even though, it's four issues long and 22 pages each, there is just enough time. We had to pick and choose the amount of screen time for each character.

Question: Is Batwoman in World War III?

Siglain: No. 52.

Question: The Great Ten, are they a part of it?

Siglain: No comment.

Question: Secret Six in it?

Tomasi: No. No Secret Six. That's a definitive answer.

Question: Captain Marvel?

Tomasi: Yes. The Big Red Cheese is there.

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