DC has a "surprise" Fandome panel - here's what we think it is

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WarnerMedia is successfully capturing the attention of fans and the press for their inaugural in-house virtual event DC Fandome (check out a schedule for the most anticipated panels here (opens in new tab)), which begins Saturday, August 22. 

Expectations have been raised for new trailers and announcements regarding highly anticipated properties like Matt Reeves' The Batman (opens in new tab), James Gunn's The Suicide Squad (opens in new tab), Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman: 1984 (opens in new tab), and new Suicide Squad (opens in new tab) and Batman games (opens in new tab)

Comic book publisher DC, the namesake of the event and the intellectual property assembly line powering all the film, TV, and gaming franchises, has been a little less forthcoming as to their plans. 

They have panels, of course, but the publisher has been more guarded than their WarnerMedia sisters as to what sort of news DC readers should expect on Saturday. 

We know writer John Ridley's upcoming Batman limited series that will have a "huge impact" (opens in new tab) will be announced in more detail at the Legacy of the Bat panel, but other than that, there has been very little indication as to what's to come. 

Most intriguing, of course, is its 'Surprise DC Comics Panel' scheduled for 4:45 ET Saturday. What's that all about? Well, it's a surprise we don't expect DC to reveal until the panel, but we have some ideas. 

Here's a look at five of our best guesses: 

More digital-first expansion

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Newsarama has been alerting readers to this for most of the year because it's a real thing (opens in new tab). The publisher (in their very specific way) has made it clear digital is a priority and "robust" expansion is on their plans.

DC publisher Jim Lee recently reiterated the importance of the platform to their plans (opens in new tab), particularly given the significant changes the publisher is going through structurally and editorially (opens in new tab).

Sure, they've already launched a few new projects in recent months, including a return to the Injustice franchise, a new Harley Quinn series, and a DCeased spin-off, but that's likely just the tip of the iceberg as to what's ahead. 

The online event DC Fandome seems like an ideal, on-brand venue to take a much larger step forward in that arena, and given Lee's recent interview touting the platform, DC's very deliberate communication style lends credence to the idea a more focused follow-up expansion to Lee's broader messaging is coming. 

The only drawback to that theory is DC prefers to announce new digital-first projects when the first issue or issues are immediately available for sale, and they may not want to launch several new series at the same time. 

Still worth keeping an eye on, however. 

Endless Winter

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DC teased their next big event (which Newsarama believes is Justice League related) that launches in December with their October solicitations catalog. 

Since this event will be fully revealed in about three weeks when its December 2020 solicitations are released online, 'Endless Winter' will almost certainly be addressed some time, somewhere during Fandome. 

The only question is, does the event have a high enough profile to be the star of the surprise panel? 

Either which way check out Newsarama's ideas as to what 'Endless Winter' is right here (opens in new tab).

The return of Generation/5G

It was only a few months ago but now seems like years given the state of DC and the state of the world that this was DC's big, centerpiece project for 2020 and beyond. It was supposed to start with their main Free Comic Book Day offering and culminate in the much-rumored and speculated upon line-wide '5G' initiative, a potential play on words given ... again ... the importance of digital to DC's future. 

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COVID-19 disruptions and the dismissal of co-publisher Dan DiDio earlier this year were likely both factors in the project disappearing from DC's plans (opens in new tab), but the publisher has resisted in definitively confirming the project is dead. 

DC clearly invested a huge amount of resources developing what it originally announced was a universe-redefining event that would be the latest effort to make sense of its often-convoluted timeline/continuity and set the stage for the "future of the DC Universe."

So could a return and/or perhaps a reinvention of the project, maybe as a multiversal/alternative reality digital initiative befitting its '5G' endpoint be a possibility? 

It would certainly rate as a surprise at this point, at least to people not reading this anyway. 

Random possibilities

Newsarama hears Marc Silvestri's Batman/Joker Black Label limited series, Deadly Duo, announced in 2018 at Comic-Con International: San Diego, may be ready to be solicited soon now that it's in accordance with the Black Label rule that states a project has to be completed before it's solicited. 

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Something's up with Aquaman, perhaps big enough that DC seems okay with dangling the uncertain possibility of cancellation (opens in new tab) to build anticipation of an announcement. 

That's worth watching. 

Finally, Scott Snyder has been alternatively saying he has DC comic book projects in the future, but he also seems to be purposely ceding the spotlight for big high profile projects to other creators. "I want to give other people a chance with the big stuff at DC," he told us recently (opens in new tab)

So while a new Snyder-DC project would certainly qualify as big, surprise news given Dark Nights: Death Metal is mid-stream, it seems counter to his intentions to make any new work of his the star of DC's Fandome programming. 

Batman line revamp 

While DC has already shared a couple of months' worth of post-'The Joker War' solicitations and nothing appears radically different, the publisher almost-certainly has some tricks up its sleeve which it's using the solicitations to conceal. DC has also been promising big changes to Gotham City, Batman's relationship to his hometown and how he operates there, and leaving a few random clues as to how those changes will play out. 

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Harley Quinn and Batgirl's ongoing series (opens in new tab) have both recently been cancelled, which seems like a temporary condition at worst, at least for Harley who is becoming more and more integrated into Batman's inner circle. 

We know former WildStorm hero Grifter (as such, with strong ties to DC's publisher Jim Lee) will be setting up shop in Gotham and forging a relationship with Lucius Fox (opens in new tab), making him a decent candidate for a new ongoing. 

It almost seems inevitable that new Joker enforcer Punchline will follow the Harley Quinn path and graduate from specials like her first November one-shot (opens in new tab), but we'll see how quickly DC goes to that well.

Ghost-Maker, another new anti-hero/rival to Batman, debuts in November, and he also seems like a viable candidate for a solo title. 

A new line-up of Batman/Gotham-centric titles (which has taken on even more importance with DC paring down its comic book line) offering readers a clear jumping-on point to start the new year seems almost inevitable and would be our even-money guess to be the star of the surprise panel. 

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.