DC Comics Editors Answer Questions About Round Robin, JLQ, More

A few days ago, DC Comics posted 16 pitches for potential upcoming comic books and gave DC fans the chance to vote on them on Twitter and Instagram, tournament-style, with the winning entry getting turned into a series. Basically, a DC Comics Hunger Games. Lots of people have been commenting and voting, with the JLQ Vs Robins getting the most attention, with Robins in the lead. The DC team has chosen to conduct a Q&A through the DC Universe page. Not available to those outside the US, Bleeding Cool has reproduced a few of these questions and answers for easy access. There is some repetition, sometimes the same questions are asked multiple times, but the answers evolve with the asking. The headlines are that the winning series will get a six-issue greenlight, series that don't get voted in may well see publication anyway and, yes, they they have noted the clamour for JLQ.  Here are a selection of questions and answers so far:

AM: Hey hey, my name is Andrew Marino, and I'm an associate editor here at DC! I'm the editor on Robins, Blue Beetle: Graduation Day, Jesse Quick: Control, and Lobo/Animal Man: Scorched Earth. Outside of work, I love rock climbing and competing in ninja warrior competitions, and at work, I'm the Bad Boy of Comics.

KK: YO! My name is Katie Kubert and I'm the editor in charge of DC's Global Publishing Innovation group (we've brought you/will bring the wonders of DC's Round Robin, Let them Live: Unpublished Tales of the DC Vault, Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point, Batman '89, Superman '78 and additional goodies). I'm the proud shepherd of The Brave and the Bug, Paws off the Justice League, Asteria: The Last Amazon, and Nightrunner: Love in Paris. I am a super nerd for dinosaurs and horror movies.

MMc: Hi, all! I'm Michael McCalister. I'm the editor for Green Lanterns: Underworld on Fire, Suicide Squad Seven, Son of The Creeper and JLQ! Outside of work I'm a big theatre nerd with a love for all things Aquaman!

LE: Liz is too cool for intros. Hey everybody! I'm Liz Erickson, associate editor. I'm the editor on Etta Candy, Holliday Hero Inc., Superman & Lois: Ignition, Swamp Thing: A House of Secrets, and Zatanna and the King of Nightmares. I also love Broadway, and apparently everyone knows I have a lot of stories about bears.

HubCityQuestion: There is one part of this selection process which has already stirred some controversy though, and I was hoping we could address it – and that's the inclusion of Justice League Queer in this competition. While it's regarded among us already as one of the most highly anticipated pitches, queer communities have been marginalized within these spaces for so long that it feels disheartening that they have to rally votes for their own representation – especially against the likes of ever-popular concepts such as the Batfamily in Robins, as they are in this first round. Asking us to vote on an ambitious, queer title such as this one can feel regressive, harkening back to the days not so long ago when queer rights were considered an issue to be left "to the voters" (and sadly, in many cases, still are). So why was it decided to pit Justice League Queer for survival against these 15 other titles?

AM & MM: We're thrilled with the fan response, and thanks for voicing these important questions. We didn't anticipate that some fans would see JLQ's inclusion in DC Round Robin as controversial, nor was it our intention to ask fans to rally votes for queer representation in comics. DC currently publishes LGBTQIA+ characters and storylines In comics like BATMAN, HARLEY QUINN, SUICIDE SQUAD, FAR SECTOR, WONDER WOMAN, ACTION COMICS, and more. For JLQ specifically, the volume of votes and the personal notes that have been shared online all send a great message that fans want to see a pitch like JLQ succeed, so stay tuned for news about where you might see JLQ appear in the future! We're listening! We'll continue to keep pushing for positive representation across all of our projects.

KK: Andrew and Michael could not have said it better. I did want to mention how important representation is on the page as it is behind it – engaging LGBTQIA+ creators was a big goal for us as well across many of these pitches, and while can't reveal the teams until next round, we're excited to welcome talent both new and old to DC's ROUND ROBIN.

Jay_Kay: To be clear, are these titles we're voting for all meant to be on-going series, or are they mini-series? If they're mini-series, are they all the standard six-issue minis or will there be a variance in the amount of issues?

AM: The winning Round Robin title will become a standard six-issue miniseries.

darkstarz: Was there ever any title that you have regretted not greenlighting?

AM: I think for, there have always been titles I've wanted to do. What Round Robin has allowed me on an editorial side, is go out and get pitches for projects and characters I've always wanted to do create. There's so many incredible characters in our stable with great stories still to be told. and I want to help show them off to the world

LE: Marie Javins once accidentally pitched an excellent series called BOOSTER GOLD'S GARAGE SALE. It never went anywhere because it was a joke, had no plot, and I was the only one who wanted to read it, and I think about it daily.

KK: Oh man, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find an editor who doesn't have their WHITE WHALE…their passion project that's been simmering in the back of their skull for the last x number of years that will SOMEHOW, SOME WAY see the light of day (this is how LET THEM LIVE: UNPUBLISHED TALES FROM THE DC VAULT came about!). Luckily we're a pretty passionate group of people who don't let go of things very easily, so I will get my [REDACTED: SEE JULY '21 SOLICITS] someday.

RexRebel: Just out of curiosity why include the Big 3 in the choices as votes for them, I assume will take away from some of the lesser-known heroes?

AM: We tried to cast all of the pitches to touch on every corner of the DCU. Leaving out someone from the Super-Family, Bat-Family, or Wonder-Family would've left off some incredible characters, so we tried to give you characters adjacent to the Big 3 or tell stories with pairings you haven't seen before! There's a variety of pitches here, many of which were created with this competition in mind. But my Blue Beetle pitch is with a team I've wanted to tell this specific story with for a long time. Blue Beetle rules!

RexRebel: Were these actual pitches for regular stories for the supporting characters and main characters in their respective lines, or were these specially created for this competition?

KK: One of the trickiest parts of crafting the pitches for this series was taking into consideration the things that were in development in the main DCU line but have just not been announced yet. So all those Harley/Ivy stans, just be patient (and look to the Bat group!!).

RexRebel:  Were these actual pitches for regular stories for the supporting characters and main characters in their respective lines, or were these specially created for this competition?

KK: Most of the pitches were created specifically for this competition as a way for us to highlight characters we as editors just really plain loved. Or wanted to see more of. Or wanted to see a specific creator's take on. Some had been percolating in an editor's brain for a bit. Some we thought would honestly just be awesome.

RexRebel: What happens to the losing pitches, do they go to the Vault for future Tales from Ambush Bug, I hope.

KK: We've got so many good ideas with what to do with the pitches that don't advance rounds…these were all labors of love from both the editors and, more importantly, from the creators…and so we're working to figure out the best way to showcase all the hard work everyone did to create this competition, and how best to give the fans what they want!

LE: We really wanted to make sure there was something for everybody–new twists on stories with familiar characters, and spotlighting characters we think are AMAZING and deserving of more attention. And we should totally do Ambush Bug presents Ambush Bug! We could see how meta Elliott Kalan can get before our brains explode.

RexRebel: Being a bit older than most of the folks here, I do remember a time when queer was used as a derogatory term(And still is by some), was any thought given to using another term instead, like Pride or something else which is descriptive of the community you are trying to depict?

MMc: Rex, I also remember a time when the word queer was seen as a derogatory term. Fortunately, in the past two decades, this has turned around to be something more positive in our community. It is a great example of taking ownership and spinning it in a positive fashion.

[BC Rich adds: RexRebel, why not check out The Pride by former Bleeding Cool reporter, Joe Glass? It's a decade-long comic about just that, about to be collected in Omnibus form by Dark Horse. But also, what are the odds that JLQ is a pitch from another former BC-writer Andrew Wheeler?]

NYJt3: My question is why did you decide to do a fan bracket battle for new release? What lead to this idea?

KK: Honestly, this was something that originally came out of Marie Javins' brain, then Jim Lee added the bracket component, and Team GPI built it into what you see today. I wish I could have stacked the deck so ALL OF THEIR PITCHES LOSE, but hey, I'm a benevolent and fair leader.

Row.Harper: Some of these pitches include lesser-known/used characters like Nightrunner, Etta Candy, Jesse Quick, and Ambush Bug. Is there any chance that, even if they don't win this competition, that we will see these characters in another place in the DCU? If not their own series, at least in someone else's series?

MMc: You never know when a character will pop up in the DCU. If we were to tell you that they were going to show up soon, that would give away plot points for the other books in the DCU. You wouldn't want us to spoil things now, would you?

KK: Yeah, this is "DC'S ROUND ROBIN" not "HEY WE'RE HERE TO SPOIL EVERYTHING AND TAKE THE FUN OUT OF IT." In all honesty, though, we do have plans for all the pitches that don't advance to the next round, we just want to make sure that what we ultimately decide to publish is in the best interest of the pitches themselves, the creative teams behind them, and the fans. Don't say we never gave you anything! (Also, have you read LET THEM LIVE! UNPUBLISHED TALES FROM THE DC VAULT yet? AB is buggin' out with his usual witty banter in that series, and it's coming out RIGHT NOW!)

Quadpen: Would there be a possibility that the non-winning comics would be released or are they going to be shoved aside never to see the light of day again

AM: Personally, I want to make all of my pitches come true haha. I want to tell all these stories if I can.

LE: I want all of the pitches I worked on to exist! And also all of the others! These really are some fantastic ideas and I hope we can make them all happen, one way or another.

KK: I've mentioned this before in a few other answers, but first of all, thank you for loving this weirdo idea from Team GPI. We definitely want to figure out a way to showcase all the pitches and ideas that don't advance rounds – we just want to make sure that what we ultimately decide to publish is in the best interest of the pitches themselves, the creative teams behind them, and the fans.

KookieSuperApe: How were the first-round match-ups determined? How was it decided which pitches would face off against each other in the first round? Were these existing pitches that you decided to turn into a tournament, or were the pitches created specifically for the tournament? That is, did the pitch ideas come first, or did the tournament idea come first and then you asked for pitches?

MMc: This is like the chicken and the egg, isn't it? I believe that all of the pitches were created just for this competition.

LE: The four I worked on were brand-spanking new! Which makes it even more impressive that all of these creative teams absolutely blew me away. I've been so excited to share all the cool ■■■■ we're making with you, the internet!

KK: Honestly, when you get obsessed with certain characters (or creators!), you always want to find a way to get a book of theirs to greenlight, come hell or high water. So while many of these pitches were crafted specifically for this event, our desire to create books showcasing characters like NIGHTRUNNER, ASTERIA, ETTA CANDY, ZATANNA, JESSE QUICK…honestly ALL OF THEM really just lives in our brains all the time. So as we figured out what a bracket-voting style event would look like, we figured fans ALSO had their passion projects and characters, as did some of the fantastic creators we roped into this insanity, and something like DC's ROUND ROBIN was a great way to get everything we love in one place.

First-round matchups were created randomly – before we launched we played it internally, trying to guess what would move forward, and we have been pleasantly surprised at how some of the matchups have played out so far (did NOT see some of these upsets coming!)

Jurisdiction: What inspired you to hold Round Robin? Did you come up with the storylines we choose from? Out of the options given, which storyline would you vote for?

AM: I'll leave what inspired us to, Katie. She's got a great answer for that. For my pitches, I came up with a kernel of an idea for them. Like I've always wanted to work on a Jesse Quick book, so I then went out to a team I thought would do a great job! But everything after that point is what the creators came up with after I said "what do you think about Blue Beetle?"

Out of all the options given, I'm biased that I want one of mine to win haha. But out of my four (Blue Beetle, Jesse Quick, Robins, and Lobo/Animal Man), I genuinely can't choose. I want to tell all of those stories with the teams behind them. These are titles I've wanted to do for a long time, so I wish all four could win!

KK: Oh man, the pressure. But yes, I do have a great answer – Team GPI's main goal is to create new content for fans in ways they weren't expecting. So Marie Javins had an idea about engaging readers by producing potential series, and Jim Lee doubled down on the idea by suggesting a bracket-voting competition. So we took those prompts and created DC's ROUND ROBIN – a totally new endeavor for DC and one we were hoping would really give readers the opportunity to weigh in on what new title they'd want to see from DC in a super direct way.

And like Andrew said – these ideas were all passion projects that lived in our heads, characters we truly loved and wanted to give more attention to, or creators we really wanted to tap and let loose on THEIR passion projects. So choosing between one or another is like choosing your favorite child! So we're glad we left that decision to you all, our readers.

Mae: Also, are the number of votes being considered, such as the JLQ/Robins pairing garnering twice the amount of votes than any other pair? To me, that signals that DC fans are really clamoring for a groundbreaking and history-making ongoing queer series.

KK: I've mentioned before, but we definitely want to figure out the best way to give life to all of these amazing concepts – it's just figuring out the best way to do that that honors the concepts, the creators, and the fans. As for the number of votes counting towards voting – if we were holding a regular 'VOTE FOR THE NEXT SERIES' then sure, that's how that would work, but we here in GPI are a competitive bunch, so the bracket structure gives us a chance to add stress to everyone's life each week (or with each new round of voting). Because it's all about the DRAMA! But we do love seeing the fan reactions and listening to what people are truly clamoring for…that's one of the reasons we did this in the first place!

AM: I love the pitch for JLQ! I would love to see it come to life.

Bruhd-Lee: I will reiterate what others have asked: how were the first-round matchups decided, and can you confirm whether only one single pitch will be eventually greenlit?

KK: The first-round bracket was created randomly, as we love each and every single one of these ideas (and honestly, it's too tough for us to pick!) And while there will only be one winner of DC's ROUND ROBIN, we're currently figuring out how to give a home to all of these wonderful ideas.

VengeanceNightBatman: I have a question for the staff: why was this poll posted exclusively on Twitter? Not all of us have Twitter accounts, and we would still very much like to have a say in this as DC fans.

(Though I'd still have to choose between JLQ and Robins, so that would create its own problems.)

Applejack: I can help with this one as I am part of the team who organized the structure of the competition. DC Community and DCUI are only available in the U.S. It's so sad for our international fans when we run campaigns in the Community, for example, naming Nightwing's doggo, which was only in our forums. While we will be having the final vote in Community, we wanted to ensure that the platforms that were available to our fans all over the world could have a say in this particular bracket campaign for the first few rounds. We are looking forward to expanding internationally in the near future, but at this time, the proportion of fans with social media accounts against community accounts made that the fair decision in the first few rounds.

More as they come… here are the comics up for contention.

  1. Green Lanterns: Underworld On Fire A deadly outfit of space outlaws are razing the intergalactic underworld sector by sector under the command of a disruptive new kingpin, in search of an ancient payday worth becoming the target of every power player in the galaxy—including Sinestro! Green Lanterns Kyle Rayner and Kilowog are put on the case, but will Kyle be able to do this one by the book when he finds out who's behind it all?
  2. Etta Candy: Holliday Hero, Inc. On summer break from Holliday College, an accident grants Etta Candy her very own superpowers! Taking on the new superhero mantle of Candy Stripe, Etta joins forces with Wonder Woman, Amanda Waller, and her Beeta Lambda sorority sisters to create Holliday Hero Inc.—an all-girls agency sworn to protect and assist anyone in need. WOO WOO!
  3. The Brave and the Bug: Crisis on Infinite Ambush Ambush Bug must team up with some of DC's greatest heroes to survive an attack by revenge-seeking Ambush Bugs from across the MULTIVERSE who never got to exist thanks to AB's refusal to be rebooted.
  4. Zatanna and the King of Nightmares Something is terribly wrong with Zatanna's powers, but before she can heal herself, she is forced to confront her worst fears in a strange new spiritual realm ruled by the terrifying otherworldly foe known as the King of Nightmares.
  5. Lobo / Animal Man: Scorched Earth Lobo. The name makes entire alien races collectively wet themselves with fear. The Main Man is proudly hyper-violent, arrogant, loud, stubborn, impatient, and ill-tempered. The best thing about him is that after he completes his contract, he leaves. Until now…
  6. Son of the Creeper An awkward teenager's life is turned upside down when he inherits his dad's chaotic powers. With his family in danger, Kieran Millar must save a father he doesn't know from the monster he's become.
  7. Justice League Queer Eight young queer heroes investigate a series of monstrous manifestations around the world and discover that something much more terrifying is coming.
  8. Robins In the Blüdhaven apartment of Dick Grayson, a group of young people meets for coffee, doughnuts, and kvetching (between long, awkward silences.) The only thing they have in common? All were once Kid Wonders. Sidekicks to Batman. Robins.
  9. Paws Off the Justice League When the Justice League disappears, Jimmy Olsen and the Super Pets must save the world from certain doom by posing as the missing League.
  10. Jesse Quick: Control When Jesse Quick uses her speed to access an alien artifact from a long-dead civilization, she finds herself imbued with the ability to harness and control the elements around her as her former super-speed is drained. But, when the power begins to corrupt Jesse, she must decide to give up these gifts or risk becoming, quite literally, her own worst enemy.
  11. Blue Beetle: Graduation Day Trapped between heroics and his future, Jaime Reyes is directionless. When the Reach interrupt Jaime's high school graduation, things only get worse. Starfire becomes a new mentor to Blue Beetle, but is it Jaime or the Scarab that's really in the driver's seat? And why hasn't Jaime applied to any colleges?
  12. Nightrunner: Love in Paris All of Paris is obsessed with an intoxicating virtual songstress, whose holographic stage shows are lighting up the City of Love. But when the "vocaloid" ingenue's fans start to disappear, Nightrunner must track down the infamous developer behind the eerily realistic celebrity AI.
  13. Swamp Thing: A House of Secrets When love will not die, the dead must rise from the grave to kill it.
    Louisiana, 1905: Caught in an eternal triangle of love and living death, the monstrous Alex Olsen; his widow, Linda; and his undead rival, Damian, vie for control of the cursed swamp where life, death, the past, and the future spiral into one never-ending nightmare.
  14. Suicide Squad Seven Harley Quinn leads a team of criminals—a millionaire adventurer, a stage magician, a sugar-obsessed serial killer, a delusional former superhero, a drunk assassin, a mute metahuman, and a child who becomes a monster—to stop the centuries-old Church of Blood from trying to destroy all of humankind.
  15. Asteria: The Last Amazon An immortal Amazonian champion returns to Man's World to discover her and the Amazons' sacrifice now forgotten; a new breed of hero seeking power, glory, and dominance; and the secret family she left behind offering one last chance at redemption.
  16. Superman & Lois: Ignition Our solar system is a machine—and its purpose is to trap and kill Superman! The sun is darkening, Mars's orbit is changing, and a mysterious citadel in Jupiter's Great Red Eye has awoken; it is time for Kal-El to stand against the very end of his world. But he won't be doing it alone: Lois Lane is suited up and blasting off to get the biggest story in human history…and to watch Clark's back as he faces his greatest challenge yet. Facing ancient aliens and planet-sized machines, trickster asteroids and the gigakrakens of Neptune, Superman and Lois will fight across all nine planets to prevent Earth's dark destiny and save our future!

Here's the tournament map of the DC Comics Hunger Games 2021.

DC Comics Will Let Readers Vote To Publish Justice League Queer
DC Comics Will Let Readers Vote To Publish Justice League Queer

You can make your first votes here.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.