Saturday's "Secrets of Rebirth" panel didn't offer much about DC's latest publishing initiative that fans haven't already heard, save perhaps for moderator (and DC Co-Publisher) Dan DiDio's closing remarks. He shared an experience he and fellow Co-Publisher Jim Lee had at a NY panel a short time ago. When that panel's Q&A portion began, he recounted, half the audience walked out, and those who remained asked questions that were "inconsequential" to what was going on in DC's books at the time. According to DiDio, that was when he realized that "a connection was lost" between DC and its readers. It is that connection that "Rebirth" was designed to forge anew.
Earlier in the panel, DC Chief Creative Officer and "Rebirth" architect Geoff Johns talked about DiDio coming to his office with the idea to end all of the previous series at #52 and relaunch under the "Rebirth" banner. Johns said that the "Rebirth" name had special meaning to him after Green Lantern: Rebirth and Flash: Rebirth, and he wanted to do the same thing now that he did then: "take everything great from the past and the present and move forward."
The next step in his process was to list everything he missed from the DC Universe, particularly "the sense of history and legacy" and "the emotional relationships between the characters." Speaking of the reintroduction of the original Wally West in Rebirth #1, Johns called him "the personification of everything that had been missing" and said he teared up while writing Wally's reunion with Barry Allen.
Johns cited "heart, humor, and heroes" as the three prongs of this new era of DC. Not much was offered in the way of teases, though he did tell the audience to "pay attention to Detective Comics" and that "there is one thousand percent a plan for the Justice Society."
Before he cut out of the panel early to catch a flight to London (where Justice League is currently filming), Johns expressed his gratitude for the response to Rebirth #1, his "love letter to the DCU" and his last comic book for the time being while he focuses on DC's film side. "I've never been nervous about a comic book coming out before," he said, "except for this one."
After Johns' exit, DiDio spoke with the rest of the panel: Lee, artists Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, Wonder Woman artist Liam Sharp, Batgirl artist Rafael Albuquerque, Deathstroke writer Christopher Priest, and Batgirl & the Birds of Prey duo Julie and Shawna Benson. Johns has worked closely with all of them (and the rest of DC's current creators) in a writers' room-type setting to identify what the they love about they characters they are working on.
Lee said it was easier this time around to design the characters' looks, as "New 52" was shrouded on in much greater secrecy, with only a few artists working on designs.
The Bensons, who come from a television background, revealed their frames of reference for the Birds of Prey. Julie called herself a "huge comic book nerd and BoP fan," while Shawna knew the characters from the short-lived WB television series, which she called "ahead of its time."
Albuquerque teased the new Batgirl, which "follows the previous series but puts Barbara on a new path" as she travels to Asia to further hone her skills.
Sharp talked returning to comics after a long absence and texting Lee samples of Wonder Woman art.
Reis and Prado discussed drawing double-page spreads with many characters. "It takes a few minutes to write, but a week to draw,"" Reis said.
Priest revealed how he decided to take the Deathstroke gig. "Is he black?" Priest asked. "No? Okay." Joking aside, Priest said the book will explore "the consequences of violence instead of glorifying it."
During the audience Q&A, one fan commended DC for embracing a more hopeful and heroic tone in the comics, but he asked why the movies are not following suit. Lee encouraged him to watch the just-released Justice League trailer, which prompted a complaint from the fan about the color of Aquaman's hair. "I don't think his hair color has anything to do with his morality," Lee responded, eliciting applause from the audience.
The MVP of the Q&A was a boy who recapped some of Rebirth #1's key events and asked if Green Lantern will help Batman solve the Watchmen and Joker mysteries. When DiDio responded that Batman and Flash will be working together, the fan replied, "Okay, but doesn't Green Lantern have to help too?" because Bruce told Hal about the three Jokers. DiDio promised he'd tell his writers to get on that.