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article imageDC, Marvel give the lowdown on new comics at Fan Expo Canada Special

By Michael Thomas     Aug 30, 2014 in Entertainment
Toronto - Fan Expo Canada is a celebration of all things geek, but there's no doubt that comic books are front and centre. Two panels on Saturday gave a taste of what fans can expect from current DC and Marvel comics.
The first panel, "DC Comics: Champions of Justice" featured writers Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire and Greg Pak, alongside artist David Finch. The panel updated fans first and foremost on the "Big Three," mostly Superman and Wonder Woman.
Brian Azzarello will soon be finishing his run of the current Wonder Woman comic with artist Cliff Chiang. He said that he was happy to have told the story he wanted to tell over the last three years, and that Wonder Woman as a character, more than any other, is one that "demands respect." From the panels previewed, it seems like the end of Azzarello's run will be a dark one, as more and more characters are dying and Diana must now deal with her status as the god of war. With her attention divided between Themyscira, the gods and the Justice League, Diana will find the balancing act difficult, and when Meredith Finch and David Finch pick up the reins, you can bet she'll be stretched thin.
As Wonder Woman is in a dark place, so too is Superman. He's currently the focus of Greg Pak's Doomed storyline as a new Doomsday, unlike any other version in comics history, descends on Earth. This Doomsday is actually a virus, and it infects Superman. Because the virus is lethal to most people, Superman may become responsible for the death of many innocents. It's also revealed that the evil Brainiac is behind the virus, though it's as yet unknown what his plans are.
On a (comparatively) lighter scale, Pak is also behind a new storyline in Batman/Superman, in which the two heroes lose their memories and end up in unfamiliar situations. Batman comes to grips with the fact that he's a billionaire with a slew of gadgets and finds himself teaming up with Lois Lane. Meanwhile, Superman teams up with Catwoman, so the potential for absurdity is high.
Azzarello and Jeff Lemire also spoke of the weekly series The New 52: Futures End, which they are writing with Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens. The series, set five years into the current continuity's future, looks pretty grim as well, with a masked version of Superman roaming around. Lemire described issue 17 as a "turning point," as John Constantine finds the real Superman, Kal-El, hiding in Africa.
Finally, Lemire went over his own Justice League United comic, which features a line-up including Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Animal Man, Stargirl, Supergirl, Hawkman and Adam Strange and Alanna. Most notably, it features a new superhero named Equinox, also known as 16-year-old Miiyahbin Marten, a Cree girl from Moose Factory, Ontario. Lemire revealed that after the "Justice League Canada" arc, the Legion of Superheroes will be involved and Alanna will turn out to be the swashbuckling space hero rather than Adam Strange, who gets stuck on the planet Rann.
After the panel, Digital Journal spoke with Miyopin Cheechoo, a Maškēkowak (Swampy Cree) girl from Moosonee, Ontario who inspired the Miiiyahbin character.
Last November, Lemire visited the community of Moose Factory after the principal of Delores D. Echum Composite School (Cheechoo's father) got in touch with him. Lemire spent a few days there and toured the community among droves of snow (you can see a lot of that snow in the first few issues of Justice League United).
Cheechoo is thrilled with how Justice League United has turned out so far.
"I'm really, really happy with it. I'm really proud of Jeff — I'm really enjoying everything he's doing with Equinox and all the other characters."
She's especially proud of his portrayal of Aboriginals.
"I'm really amazed of how he's respecting it," she said. "Most superheroes who are Native, they have fringe and hide and feathers all over them. I like how it's a modern, sleek take."
And now, to Marvel
Over on the Marvel side of the universe was the panel "Marvel: All Access." With less of a focus on updates and more on fan questions, the panel featured talent scouts Jeanine Schaefer and C.B. Cebulski, writers Charles Soule and Greg Pak and artists Ryan Stegman, Mahmud Asrar and Adam Kubert.
After giving an update on their various projects, like Inhumans, Storm, and a graphic novel based on the songs of Jonathan Coulton, the early conversation focused on Marvel's increasing ability to be inclusive with its superhero roster.
Schaefer said that comics are finally starting to come around in regards to its depictions of women — costumes re-designs are emphasizing functionality as opposed to sexual appeal, and Marvel currently has eight or nine series headlined by a female superhero. They owe this in no small part to the success of the new run of Ms. Marvel by Sana Admat, G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. The title is Marvel's best-selling digital comic outside of North America, according to Cebulski.
She-Hulk is another highly successful superhero, and Soule revealed that a future issue, She-Hulk will be facing Daredevil in court, with the client being none other than Captain America. Soule also spoke a bit about Death of Wolverine, a four-issue miniseries that will be released through September. As the name implies, the series will kill of Wolverine, aka Logan, a hero with a healing factor that has allowed him to cheat death time and time again. Soule emphasized that while Wolverine may be brought back someday, the idea isn't "to bring him back in two weeks." The series Weapon X Project and The Logan Legacy will explore a world without Logan.
Cebulski also spoke a little bit about Marvel editorial behaviour. For example, before Guardians of the Galaxy premiered, Marvel anticipated Rocket Raccoon would be the most popular character and so began a Rocket solo series. As it turned out, all the characters in the movie were popular, so Marvel is now considering who else should get a series. Marvel is also making more attempts for artistic diversity, hiring beyond just "comic book artists" to look at cartoonists and other artists. Kubert, who runs an art school, also encourages his students to draw as they want, not to try and emulate successful artists of the past.
If you're a fan of either DC or Marvel, you'll have a lot to look forward in the next few months.
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