By Todd Allen
Having now had a little time to digest it, DC’s secondary relaunch (wave two, line expansion — pick your favorite term) looks like it might have a little more resonance for me, percentage-wise, than the initial relaunch. Whether this is a specific attempt to appeal to traditional fandom or happenstance, I can’t tell you. I do have a few observations, though.
The big reveals, at least to me, are the Golden Age redux and the comics debut of China Miéville.
It’s been an open secret that James Robinson and Nicola Scott were working on a Justice Society comic. The big surprise is that the book won’t be called “Justice Society,” but rather, Earth 2. In fact, Earth 2 looks to be going back to the old parallel worlds structure started back in the 1960s, undone by Crisis on Infinite Earths, returned and unexplored by both Hypertime and that whole Infinite Crisis/52 morass of a few years back.
The really exciting thing about Earth 2 is the possibility of James Robinson let loose on the Golden Age characters without a metric ton of editorial direction and coordination/dibs-calling / in-fighting between various other titles and editors. Want to see what Robinson can do with these characters? Go check out his Golden Age mini-series from the start of his career. Or Starman, though that’s a legacy outgrowth of the Earth 2 characters. If the title was changed to Earth 2 because Robinson’s doing some world building, that’s something that gets my hopes up. Possibly related, I see there a DC Showcase reprint of the All-Star Squadron, the WWII-set Earth-2/Justice Society-ish title that Crisis on Infinite Earths screwed up royally.
Spinning off from Earth 2 is World’s Finest. I’ll give some points for sense of humor, here. As noted, instead of Superman and Batman, it will be (the Earth 2) Superman’s cousin Power Girl and (the Earth 2) Batman’s daughter Huntress. Except they’re stuck on… have we established if the main DCU is being called “Earth 1” again? Anyway, that’s where they’re marooned. Written by Paul Levitz with George Perez and Kevin Maguire tagging off as rotating artists. If you read comics in the 80s and early 90s, you’re going to at least give that creative line-up a look. And, realistically, The Huntress character works a LOT better when she’s the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. The was always the whole point of the character and one of the small list of things (basically Hawkman and Earth-2) that Crisis on Infinite Earths screwed up.
Supposedly, World’s Finest is set up by events in Earth 2. And herein lies quandary – just how separate will Earth 2 be from Event Fever? In fairness, part of the fun of the Justice Society, pre-crisis, was the annual team-up with the Justice League. We’re likely not talking about an “Ultimate” universe arrangement where it’s a distinct line and if there’s cross-over, it’s rare and unique (like the Zombies from Marvel’s ultimate titles). If we were, Power Girl and Huntress wouldn’t be on Earth 1.
Is this a run-up to Grant Morrison’s Multiversity mini-series? Multiversity has been mentioned, on and off for two or three years and it hasn’t been scheduled. Multiversity is supposed to be all about multiple earths, originally exploring the 52 worlds concept that may or may not still be in place. Is this something that will upset the apple cart? Hard to say if it’s even still happening at this point.
Then you have the marketing issues. The original graphic novel line is called “Earth One.” Is calling a comic “Earth Two” going to cause some branding issues with that? If the OGNs are “Earth One” and the Robinson/Justice Society dimension is “Earth Two,” is the standard DCU “Earth 1A?” I can see World’s Finest existing to give a marketing tether between Earth 2 and the “normal” DCU, but it could just as easily muddy the waters. And let’s not forget JLA: Earth 2.
The good news for DC, I’m intrigued enough to find out.
Then you have Dial H For Hero by China Miéville. Miéville wrote a Swamp Thing arc that got scrapped a while back because DC thought it was too political. Miéville is being touted as a huge comics fan. I can’t vouch for his level of fandom, but he definitely was a guest at C2E2 and I did see him hanging around the hotel bar afterwards, so it’s not like he popped in for a panel and bolted. If you haven’t read Miéville, I highly recommend his novel, The City & The City. Read that and you’ll understand why it’s interesting when he wants to examine the psychological aspects of having bizarre superpowers and body transformations. I’m also curious if Miéville generates a large number of digital sales from prose fans who can’t be bothered to track down a shop. Miéville is a real genre bender of a writer, but he usually gets shelved with science fiction and science fiction ebooks sell well, relative to the market.
Going down the line, Batman, Incorporated is returning with Morrison and Chris Burnham. This is one of the titles, like Green Lantern, that isn’t really a relaunch/reboot. I’m in the minority opinion that if you’re going to let Morrison play with the toys, you might was well make them Elseworlds or give him his own world to play with (like they’re theoretically doing with Robinson and Earth Two). I’m hit or miss with Morrison and his Batman has been a miss for me.
Then you’ve got the much… *ahem* anticipated return of Howard Mackie on Ravengers, a Superboy/Teen Titans spin-off of some sort that will tie him in with fellow Harras-era Marvel veteran Scott Lobdell. Mackie is joined by artist Ian Churchill. While not a Marvel mainstay, Churchill did do some work for during the Harras administration.
OK, let’s revise the list of next 90s Marvel creator to potentially pop up at DC.
- Terry Kavanagh is apparently busy in the dotcom world.
- M.C. Wyman
- Kevin Hopgood
- Paul Ryan
- Ron Garney
- Len Kaminsky
I’m still waiting for Harras to write something, himself. I seem to remember being very fond of Nick Fury Vs. SHIELD
And finally, we have GI Combat. If the lead feature is “The War That Time Forgot” aka soldiers vs. dinosaurs, I have a very simple, but honest question: what age group are you targeting this comic to. I’m not saying a dinosaur comic can’t be good or well done, but that might be more of a younger reader high concept. Ditto, the Haunted Tank. Either way, I don’t initially see the Unknown Soldier fitting in with the other two concepts. We’ll see, I suppose.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.