This past weekend was Boston Comic Con. After being delayed due to the horrible Boston bombings, the event was eventually rescheduled for August 3rd and 4th. Moved from its traditional location at Hynes Convention Center to the (much larger) Seaport World Trade Center, the con garnered more attendees than I’ve seen before at a Boston Comic Con. Experiencing a lot of growing pains, the con struggled with organization, but I believe most of that can be attributed to the sudden rescheduling and venue change. Overall, I believe Boston Comic Con is going in the right direction; expanding its audience, while still maintaining comic books as its focus.
While conventions like New York Comic Con, Connecticon, and Anime Boston are all very exciting, they have all definitely become what I like to call “catch all” conventions–which is to say, conventions that cater to every fandom. I love catch all conventions, and have been attending a number of them since I was a wee lass (Katsucon and Otakon have become some very recognizable catch alls, both born as anime conventions, but evolving based on fan interest). While Boston certainly had its fair share of Sherlock, Hobbit, and Doctor Who cosplayers, it was pretty clear that the primary audience was comic book enthusiasts. So often, comics get pushed to the wayside in favor of comic book movies and tv shows. It’s nice to see that Boston Comic Con is trying to stay true to its origins.
So, aside from costumes, the highlight of the convention (and almost all conventions) for me were the comic panels. Although Boston once again had a small selection of panels, they worked hard to get notable guests to come (with a number of last minute changes). The first panel I went to was the DC Comics panel.
It’s become a habit for me to grit my teeth when entering a DC Comics panel. DC is host to a set of amazing and iconic characters, but the direction of the New 52 is one I am obviously displeased with. While DC has made some significant improvements (many herald Gail Simone’s The Movement as the most inclusive super team in existence; DC still has a higher ratio than Marvel in terms of female solo titles), I still struggle with their decisions. Decisions like the pairing of Wonder Woman and Superman, and the subsequent, upcoming book, and the minutia of the depictions of female friendship and “strong female characters.” I find most news coming out of DC to be not just unexciting, but also groan worthy.
This panel, much different from last year, also had some official “big names” of DC on it: Dan Didio, Aaron Lopresti, Scott Snyder, Tony Daniel, and Brian Azzerello (sporting a broken collarbone, apparently). Compared to Marvel (which was a great panel of artists–something you rarely see at cons), it was pretty clear that either through harmonious coincidence or intention, DC had brought their big guns.
Last year’s DC panel was kind of a pleasure to witness, but it certainly was not a place to air thoughts or grievances about the New 52–it was primarily artists and people working solely on mini series. This year, however, with Didio, Snyder, and Azzerello, the panel promised at least some potential spoilers and industry insider information.
Almost at the end of year 2 of the New 52, Didio expressed excitement over what was in store. There were in jokes about he and Lopresti competing for most canceled series, Jim Lee being an “amazing, magical elf,” and questions about what Marvel character they would most want to work with (winning answer would have to be Azzerello, with “Stan Lee.”), but there was also a lot of information and news.
And honestly, in my opinion, not necessarily “good” news, but I’ll try to present it in as non-biased a fashion as I can.
They kicked off the panel by talking about the upcoming Villains’ Month, which starts releasing in September. “Grim” and “gritty” were the buzzwords, especially when Lopresti spoke of the Solomon Grundy one shot (and for clarification: the only Grundy is Earth-2 Grundy) he is working on with Matt Kindt. This book is full of violence and throat slashing, to a level that Lopresti expressed he was uncomfortable with.
There was also lots of Batman news (big surprise there). Snyder mentioned that, sadly, Batman Year One was really no longer relevant in the New 52 (although it was initially), and that the upcoming Batman Year Zero would be redefining a lot of characters and relationships that were also in Year One. Year Zero will be updating Batman and will include a new Joker origin story, young Poison Ivy, and a new Batman costume, among other things. They were overall very hush hush about any actual details beyond the fact that the Riddler will feature prominently.
In Superman news, Snyder talked about working on Superman Unchained. He teased that the next issue would feature Lois Lane being a “bad ass,” and pretty frankly saying “Superman has better things to do, I’m here to help you.” While the Lois news is great, it sounds like Superman once again gets called out for being a “mass murdered” by the villain du jour of the title. Lex Luthor is also said to essentially come on the Jimmy Olsen, telling him “you’ve been Superman’s pal for a long time, why not try being mine?”
Then Tony Daniel stepped up to the Super-plate to talk about the upcoming Superman/Wonder Woman (or, as I like to call it, Wonder Woman/Superman) book. Daniel said it promised to be his “best work artistically,” and would be “explosive, big, hot, sexy,” with the duo fighting Doomsday, Zod, and Faora in the first five issues.
Azzerello had to be the gem of this panel, whether he intended to be or not. His curt, monosyllabic answers had the whole crowd laughing, albeit sometimes very awkwardly. When asked if he was concerned about people disliking his interpretation of Wonder Woman, he said “no.” When asked about teasers for the next issue, he said “it’s pretty good.”
Azzerello did expand on the Wonder Woman Villains’ Month issue saying, unlike many of the others, it was not a standalone or a one shot. Finally, when asked about the relationship between Wonder Woman and Superman and Wonder Woman and Orion, he simply said “I see it radically differently than DC does.”
When the question and answer portion of the panel opened, you had your (by now) classic Stephanie Brown (Wally West, Donna Troy, et al) question. Didio handled it gracefully, responding, “we just haven’t introduced them yet. Our goal with the New 52 was for a fresh start, with only characters that had long term potential.” Summing it up with “we’re waiting for the right story,” I’m pretty doubtful we’ll see Steph, Cass, or Ted anytime soon, but the brush off was at least not a harsh one.
Another audience member asked, “why not make a new earth instead of destroying all the continuity you had.” There were definitely some nods of approval in the crowd, but the response was about the same as the Steph one, “we wanted it to be more accessible to newcomers.”
A little boy got up and asked about Damien Wayne and if he would be put in the Lazarus pit. Before anyone else answered, Azzerello asked “do you really think he’s dead?” Snyder later summed it up with “we don’t want to spoil anything, but something’s coming.”
Other Batman questions included: who’s your favorite Robin (everyone said Dick except for Azzerello), web comics and digital comics (Batman 66 was specifically referenced), a question about the Joker (who, as it turns out, was tweaked to be darker in the trades), the future of Batman Inc (some characters will be seen, but the book itself is done), and someone expressing their love of Frank Miller Batman.
A woman in the audience commended DC for making an effort with characters of different races and sexualities. “The hardest thing to do is to create a new character and make people care about them…but we’re better served creating entirely new things like the Movement” was the response (excepting that a few of the Movement’s roster are pre-existing DC or Wildstorm characters).
Our own Mike G asked about the creation of an Elseworlds title, which seems a distinct possibility, though again they said “we’re waiting for the right story.”
Another audience member asked about the high rate of writer and artist turnover. The panel ignored the question (many of them have been on their titles since the beginning of the New 52), simply stating “we’re happy with who we are working with.”
The real piece de resistance was when a Harley Quinn cosplayer stood up and asked a question in character. While she was bring up some extremely valid points (the state of women in DC Comics, including the sexualization and demeaning of almost every female character, in costume, representation, and writing), she was screaming in a high pitched, hard to understand character voice. The panel brushed her off with comments like “you’re just mad you have to make a new Harley Quinn costume” and “this is why you never pick someone dressed as Harley Quinn.”
The panel ended with Didio plugging the upcoming Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti Harley Quinn title, but that’s a post of another time.