Over the weekend in Chicago, pop culture rained on the Windy City when this year’s C2E2 (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo) rolled through town. A whole lot of news came pouring out of the expo as well, so I thought I’d share some things that went on over in Chi Town. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend in person this year, but through the wonders of the internet, I can sure make it sound like it.

Here’s part 2 of the interesting bits from C2E2 2012.

DC Comics Talks New 52 Second Wave and ‘Before Watchmen’

Moving on to the big two comic book companies, DC Comics had a lot to say about the New 52’s “Second Wave”. The panel, which featured DC Editor in Chief Bob Harras, Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, Editorial Director Bobbie Chase, Executive Editor Eddie Berganza, Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne, and fan-favorite DC creators Scott Snyder, Chris Burnham, Jimmy Palmiotti, Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, Tony Daniel, and Kyle Higgins, started off with a look at ‘Batman, Inc.’. Burnham, who is working on the book with superstar writer Grant Morrison, said that he’s throwing in some 80s pop art style into the story. The panel moved on to ‘Earth 2’ and ‘World’s Finest’, which Harras said is integral in world building, a goal of the Second Wave. He said, “This is a part of the big plan we have coming up. Kevin Maguire and George Perez are sharing art duties and they’re working very closely with James Robinson who is writing Earth 2.”

After the Second Wave talk wrapped up after discussing ‘Dial H’, ‘G.I. Combat’, and ‘The Ravagers’, Geoff Johns gave a few details about the new Justice League arc titled ‘The Villain’s Journey’, which will feature a radically different team and a villain that showed up in “Justice League: Gods Among Men”.

The last big thing that came out of the New 52 panel was the ‘Night of the Owls’ event that begins in ‘Batman’ this week. Scott Snyder spoke about putting Bruce Wayne through hell and things finally coming to blows with heavy artillery like a new Batmobile and new gadgets, all leading up to ‘Batman Annual’ #1 later this year. On the annual, Snyder said:

“It’s going to be a blast and we hope you like it. The annual is going to play a little bit into it as well. The annual is really about establishing Mr. Freeze in the New 52. We wanted to do something along the lines of hard vice. … There will be some big revelations about him that we’re really excited about and proud of.”

Additionally, the other creators talked about Nightwing, a new arch nemesis for Batgirl named Nightfall, a tie-in to ‘All-Star Western’, and the inclusions of Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, and a brand new female character in ‘Batman’.

The biggest news to come from DC during C2E2 (at least for me) was news regarding ‘Before Watchmen’. A new piece of viral marketing has been released for the prequel series in the form of the newspaper ‘New Frontiersman’. A physical copy of the paper that depicts the 1977 universe of ‘The Watchmen’ was handed out at the convention. It featured articles by Editor Hector Godfrey, writer Seymour Smith and Op-Ed columnist Doug Roth. Additionally, a digital version of the paper was released on NewFrontiersman.net, which contains highlighted words that lead to bonus materials like script fragments, an Instagram-like shot of Rorschach, the Wikipedia entry to “Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes” and a snapshot of a mysterious “Before Watchmen” binder.

At the All-Access panel discussing ‘Before Watchmen’, DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, Vice President Art Direction and Design Mark Chiarello, Senior Editor Will Dennis and creators Brian Azzarello, Lee Bermejo, Amanda Conner, Adam Hughes, Len Wein, and J. Michael Straczynski all took the stage to talk about their experiences working with the characters of the classic ‘Watchmen’ series and how excited they all are for the prequel to hit stands.

While it was great hearing about each creator address their character, J. Michael Straczynski has some interesting words to share about the online criticism of Alan Moore. JMS said:

“Alan Moore is a genius. No question. On the other hand, he’s been using characters like the Invisible Man, Peter Pan, Jekyl and Hyde in what one fan basically called fan fiction — in ways their original creators probably wouldn’t have approved of. … You stand on a slippery slope when you use the moral high ground. Did Alan Moore get a crummy contract? Yes. So has everyone at this table. Worse was Segal and Shuster, worse was a lot of people.”

The writer then went on to credit Dan DiDio for pushing forward with the project, despite the fact that most would not touch it.

A lot of people are very skeptical about this prequel, and some fans are boycotting all together, but I’m going to stay optimistic about it until DC gives me a reason not to be.

Marvel reveals some exciting new titles

Finally, we get to the C2E2 offerings of Marvel.

First, the House of Ideas held an auction with Profiles In History to sell off some Marvel Studios artifacts mostly from ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’. Out of a total of 219 lots, 217 sold. Some of the highlights included the Captain America Hero Costume, which sold for $228,000, and the original full-scale screen-used Mark II “Autopsy” suit from ‘Iron Man 2’ went for $132,000. If I had that kind of money, that shield would be mine. No joke.

At the Amazing Spider-Man panel, Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso and Director Of Communications, Publishing & Digital Media Arune Singh spoke about ‘Spider-Men’, the five-issue crossover between the mainstream continuity Spider-Man, Peter Parker, and the Ultimates Universe Spider-Man, Miles Morales. “You can imagine how mind-bending it would be to encounter a Peter Parker from another universe,” said Alonso. “Ultimate Gwen Stacy does play a role in this story, which adds some nuance to the series,” said Singh.

At Marvel’s Next Big Thing panel, Arune Singh, Talent Manager C.B. Cebulski, Ultimate Editor Sana Amanat and X-Editor Daniel Ketchum as well as writers Dennis Hopeless, Kelly Sue DeConnick, James Asmus, and Cullen Bunn took the stage to discuss the next step for some of Marvel’s most popular heroes.

First, they discussed Carol Danvers’ role as the new Captain Marvel. Kelly Sue DeConnick said that her pitch was to bring Carol Danvers back to her roots in the military. The new Captain Marvel will appear in ‘Avenging Spider-Man’ #9 in July.

James Asmus stepped up and shared that Gambit will be starring in a solo ongoing series starting in August. The suave master thief is a very loved fan favorite, so this news is sure to make many True Believers happy. Asmus says that this book will have Gambit acting apart from the X-Men and stealing exotic items from all over the Marvel mythos. In describing the most important aspects of the character, Asmus said Gambit is “#1 that he’s sexy, and #2 that he’s the preeminent bad ass thief of the Marvel Universe”. He goes on to say that he wanted to make this book accessible to all fans, including those of the 90s cartoon and long time readers. Asmus said, “It lets us refresh and do new things with the crime capers involving our classic bad ass.” He also joked, “We got rid of the head sock”. While that’s a bummer about the head sock, I’m glad that Gambit is front and center in his own series again, especially after this quote form an interview with Asmus from Marvel.com:

“The core of what I love about [Gambit] is that he’s the rare antihero who has fantastic charm and a sense of humor. So many of your morally grey, mysterious [characters] are so brooding and serious that they often lose some of the pure fun that I like in my comics. I want to hopefully deliver a wildly fun comic that has a morally ambiguous character at its center.”

Lastly, Marvel’s master marksman is getting his own series again as well. Aside from taking part in the various Avengers teams, Hawkeye will star in a new ongoing title by writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja. Fraction has done so many great things with Iron Man, Iron Fist, and Uncanny X-Men, so I expect his work with Clint Barton to be just as spectacular. The book will focus on Clint’s life as the Avenger with no powers. The series will also feature the Young Avenger Kate Bishop, who also uses the code name Hawkeye, as a sidekick of sorts or an apprentice. Together, she and Barton search for their purpose in the super-powered world.

Fraction had this to say to CBR about his new series:

“I wanted to find a way to stay interested and engaged and thought these types of adventure stories should feel hard-edged, gritty, human — a little bit beaten-down, a little bit weathered. No sheen like in ‘Avengers Assemble,’ no special effects like in ‘Secret Avengers.’ Hawkeye will be out of costume as much as he’s in costume. This isn’t a book about being a super hero. It’s about being a good guy and, hopefully, a good man. This is what he has to do to tolerate who he is. It’s what he does when he’s not an Avenger. Gifted people helping out because it’s the right thing to do.”

Out of everything that Marvel announced at C2E2, I think I’m most excited for the ‘Hawkeye’ series. Clint Barton and Kate Bishop are great characters, and with a team like Fraction and Aja, they’ll fly off the shelves once it’s released.

That does it for the C2E2 news that I found interesting. For a more complete look at what else happened at this year’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, check out Comic Book Resources’ excellent coverage.