DC’s Special Edition: NYC Panel: Surprisingly Awesome

This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics

This past weekend at Special Edition: NYC, I did something I’ve never done before: I attended the DC panel.

In the decade or so I’ve been attending comic cons, I’ve tended to shy away from the big publisher-organized panels. I’ve read too many write-ups of panels that amount to creators and editors reading press releases out loud; I’ve heard too many stories of fans being treated badly by panelists, especially fans asking for increased diversity on the page or behind the scenes. Why waste my time at a con sitting on an uncomfortable chair and getting angry when I could be snapping pics of cosplayers, or combing through quarter bins for back issues of Guy Gardner: Warrior? (Don’t judge me.)

But I’ve been growing more and more curious about DC’s new direction, which they’ve branded “DC You.” Behind the kitschy name and somewhat vague PR-speak I’ve been seeing glimpses of a genuinely exciting, diverse slate of titles that builds on some of the best things coming out of DC prior to Convergence. It’s been hard to get a real sense of what to expect, though, thanks to said vague PR-speak, so I bit the bullet and went to the panel.

And it was great.

The panelists were a Who’s Who of “DC You creators whose work has been getting a huge amount of positive buzz”: Ming Doyle (Constantine), Annie Wu (Black Canary), Steve Orlando (Midnighter), Becky Cloonan (Gotham Academy), Greg Pak (Action Comics), and moderator Brenden Fletcher (Batgirl, Gotham Academy, and Black Canary). Just looking up at that table brought me joy, after so many years of reading about panels consisting entirely of straight white dudes, panels where female creators were somehow mysteriously overlooked. (Just last month, Denver Comic Con somehow managed an all-male Women in Comics panel. It’s a problem.) Talent aside – and there is talent a-plenty in that lineup – it was great to see an NYC panel that looked like, you know, NYC.

The panel itself was less about DC’s overall direction – fair enough, as none of the panelists were from the editorial side of things – and more about the specific books the panelists were working on. Each creator gave the elevator pitch for their book and talked a bit about their approach or inspiration or what to look for in upcoming issues. I’m not going to recap it all here, since you’ll get a better sense of what to expect from these books by reading interviews – or the previews! – than from my patchy memory, but I will say I walked into that panel already planning on reading four of the six books represented, and I left planning on a full six out of six.

Aside from the fun tidbits about the books themselves, though (Midnighter punching corporations in the face! Damian Wayne essentially acting as Maps’s sidekick! Fabulous footwear for everyone in Black Canary!), the thing that got me most stoked for DCYou was the apparent green light that’s been given to the creators. In the years since the reboot we’ve heard over and over again about creators being hamstrung by rigid and often contradictory editorial guidelines. Now DC genuinely seems to be making good on its promise to put new, exciting creative visions ahead of any particular house style or ironclad continuity. After years of “no,” it seems like creators are hearing “yes.” Can I reveal Superman’s secret identity? Yes. Can I use this character in that book? Yes. Can I take this hero in a totally new direction? Yes.

Is Jess going to read the heck out of all of these books? YES.

Look, DC and I have been doing this dance for a long time, and I’m sure they’re going to release books and statements that will make me see red. But right now? Overall? I’m thrilled with their current approach. They have a creative slate that looks like the real world, putting out great books that also look like the real world. (Uh, if the real world had, like, ghosts and giant robot gorillas and things. Get on that, real world!) They’re hiring brilliant people and giving them creative freedom. And they’re spotlighting all of that, which makes me feel listened to as a fan for the first time in a decade plus.

So thanks, DC, and I can’t wait to see what you’ve got coming in the next few months. DCYou? DC Yes!

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