The writers behind some of DC’s biggest comic books gathered on Saturday morning to discuss what to expect as the imprint-wide Rebirth event moves into its next phase. Moderated by Larry Ganem, the panel featured Harley Quinn co-writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps‘s Robert Venditti, Wonder Woman‘s Greg Rucka, Flash‘s Joshua Williamson, Deathstroke‘s Christopher Priest and Green Arrow‘s Benjamin Percy and Juan Ferreyra (writer and artist, respectively).
Palmiotti kicked things off with a joke at Rebirth‘s expense (a quiet theme of the panel), saying that the best thing about it is that each issue gets “57 [variant] covers.” Conner quickly jumped in and explained that it was actually that they didn’t have to change the story much from what they were doing with the character for New 52. However, the same can’t be said for the future, as Harley and her Coney Island crew will be going undercover as a punk rock band in what Palmiotti calls his and Conner’s “Point Break.” “I got to write song lyrics,” Conner said before joking,” not good song lyrics.”
Next up, were Percy and Ferreyra, who–despite haging done five issues together–only met for the first time at the con. When asked what made the Green Arrow a great character, Percy pointed to his signature goatee and, more seriously, his frequent partner and paramour, Black Canary. “It works best for him to play off of people,” Percy explained and added he’s using Ollie and Dinah’s “odd couple” dynamic to explore the former’s privilege. He also teased that the next arc will find the pair–along with partner John Diggle–escaping the island thanks to the Queen Industries’ Trans-Pacific Railroad in a sequence he promises will, “raise your pulse.”
Percy also talked about his other DC project, Teen Titans. “This first arc belongs to Damian Wayne,” he said and then jokingly called the character a, “little tyrant,” for the way he brings the team together. He also teased that Damian’s leadership skills (or lac thereof) would as the Titans and a “sixth, secret member” to come take on Ra’s al Ghul’s school of assassins, the Hand of the Demon.
Rucka then spoke–long and passionately–about Wonder Woman, who he admitted was his favorite character to write. “I never left Diana,” he explained, “she sticks with you.” He was also drawn to taking back the character during her 75th year—especially with the movie coming out next year. “This is a chance for her to finally break out in a way that the character has been poised to do for a long time,” he explained. “The whole purpose of this run is to show everyone who didn’t know why she’s one of the greatest characters ever.”
Executing that plan meant writing two arcs simultaneously, alternating between them with each issue. While he admits that part of that was to ensure the artists didn’t get overwhelmed by the bi-monthly release schedule, he also wanted to explore how the characters we know and love became that way—particularly Cheetah a.k.a. Barbara Ann Minerva. He teased that next week’s issue would flashback to the character’s pre-Cheetah days when she was like, “Indiana Jones meets Laura Croft.” He also emphasized Cheetah’s importance to the story he’s trying to tell with Wonder Woman, saying, “Cheetah should be to Diana as Two Face is to Batman.” He went on to say that the characters, “are tied in a very elegant and tragic way,” because, as we’ll see in the issue, Cheetah’s fall from grace is directly linked to her meeting Diana.
On a much lighter note, Venditti said that he draws inspiration for the different Green Lanterns in Hal Jordan from his childhood friends—all of whom just happen to share the characters’ names. However, the real life versions aren’t exactly like their namesakes and Venditti said he considered himself the John of the group because he was the responsible one when they were younger. Still, despite his connection to the character, he said he was especially enjoying writing Guy. “He was the most surprising to me,” he explained and teased that we’ll get to see some of the character’s family history in upcoming issues.
Williamson spoke next, explaining that he came to write Flash after a conversations with former Batman writer, Scott Snyder. He told Williamson he should try writing the character and Williamson became so obsessed with the idea, that he eventually pitched it to DC. In his mind, being a “teacher” is essential to who Barry Allen is and he wanted to explore, “how he created a family for people who have lost theirs.” “He’s a surrogate father to a lot of people,” he explained. However, the book’s latest villain, Godspeed will further test Barry’s ability to protect his pseudo-children in upcoming issues and Williamson said he thinks of the character as “reverse Barry.”
Finally, Priest–who had to rush because the panel was running late–briefly talked about readers’ reactions to the first few issues. “He’s a villain,” he said matter-of-factly in response to the character’s unlikability. Priest insisted that Wade Wilson wouldn’t stop being “a complete bastard” anytime soon and that he wanted to take the character in a more serious direction. “He’s not as chatty,” he noted and explained that if the character is talking to someone a lot, he’s probably setting them up for something.