DC Promises Rebirth and Zombie Lanterns

After a 2008 chock full of weirdness, DC Comics wants to get back to basics with more grounded stories... by putting front and center one of their biggest, most cosmic stories ever. Which stars zombies.

The talk – or, more accurately, the refusal to talk – of all the DC panels was Geoff Johns's upcoming Blackest Night, where Lanterns of every color and persuasion will throw down in a universe-spanning brawl that may or may not feature every single dead character in DC history rising up as a Black Lantern, ready to eat brains and kick butt (my money's on the Earth-2 Superman and Abin Sur). At least two characters have avoided that particular fate, however, as the various Final Crisis books have resurrected Flashes Bart and Barry Allen in preparation for Johns's other massive storyline, April's Flash: Rebirth.

The Man of Tomorrow is also facing his fair share of upheaval, as he'll be leaving Earth and, with it, both Superman and Action Comics to take a starring role in the new Superman: World of New Krypton series. James Robinson and Greg Rucka are cowriting the new book, with Robinson chronicling the many heroes who try to fill the void left in Metropolis in Superman while Rucka follows the adventures of newcomers Nightwing and Flamebird in Action Comics. At the DC Universe panel, James Robinson stressed that the fourth book, Sterling Gates's Supergirl, will no longer be just the fourth book, as her struggle to choose between Earth and new Krypton will have huge consequences throughout the Superman books. Also, because otherwise he would have to sleep, Geoff Johns is working with illustrator Gary Frank on Superman: Secret Origins. Finally, Robinson revealed that all of Superman's adventures dating back to last year are leading up to a huge event in 2010.

Final Crisis lives on in the form of Final Crisis: Aftermath, four books that senior story editor Ian Sattler promises will feature one moment in every issue so wrong that readers won't believe DC actually did it. In keeping with the central premise of Final Crisis – the day that evil won – the four books will take a look at the vilest and sleaziest parts of the DC universe. Run will follow the Human Flame, who is fleeing heroes and villains alike in a miniseries that will explore how you cope as a villain in the DCU if you're also a total idiot. Escape, pitched as a mix of The Prisoner and Saw – which are two things I never really thought needed mixing – follows Nemesis as he attempts to escape the Global Protection Agency. Ink looks at Tattoo Man, who emerged Final Crisis as a reluctant hero, as he fumblingly tries to give up his addiction to evil and do the right thing. Finally, Ian Sattler's favorite title, Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance, follows the Super Young Team as they try to balance being heroes with being celebrities, which Sattler promises will be very, very sleazy.

Elsewhere in the DC universe, fan favorite (and Dan Didio unfavorite) Keith Giffen will start work on Doom Patrol, which he promises will disappoint old school and Grant Morrison fans alike. The Teen Titans will soon finish putting together an eight-member team, although they will be immediately tested by Jericho, who has been driven insane by years of jumping inside the bodies of horrible people. They also have high hopes for Wonder Woman, as she takes on the Olympian in a story that Dan Didio hopes will allow them to build a larger presence for her in the DCU.

Perhaps the most jealously guarded secret is how the disappearance of Bruce Wayne's Batman will affect Superman/Batman. All Ian Sattler is willing to reveal is that it will still be a comic book with a combination of words and art telling stories in sequence. Frankly, I'm surprised they admitted that much.