Old and new creators and reboots. That’s what the “Next Four” of the DCU will present . Here’s the creative lineup:
TALON – Co-Writers: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV. Artist: Guillem March.
Meet Calvin Rose, the only Talon to ever escape the grasp of the Court of Owls. This former assassin of the Court is trying to live a normal life … but that’s impossible when he’s being hunted by his former masters!
SWORD OF SORCERY – Writer: Christy Marx. Artist: Aaron Lopresti.
Featuring the return of Amethyst, Amy Winston leads a strange life on the road with her mother and resents it. She’s about to learn it’s all been necessary when she discovers she’s the lost princess of Gemworld—and she’s being hunted by her murderous aunt. With a back-up story written by Tony Bedard with art by Jesus Saiz, set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the monstrous warrior Beowulf is charged with finding and defeating the evil Grendel.
THE PHANTOM STRANGER – Writer: Dan DiDio. Artist: Brent Anderson.
Spinning out of his recent appearances in JUSTICE LEAGUE and DC’s Free Comic Book Day story, learn more about the true origin of The Phantom Stranger and his connection to the mysterious Pandora.
TEAM SEVEN – Writer: Justin Jordan. Artist: Jesus Merino.
Set in the early days of DC COMICS-THE NEW 52, threads of the entire DC Universe collide. As Superman emerges, so does the world’s counter measures against him and his kind. Team 7 is comprised of Dinah Lance, Amanda Waller, Steve Trevor, John Lynch, Alex Fairchild, Cole Cash and Slade Wilson — and their story will change everything you know about DC COMICS-THE NEW 52.
Aaaaand the individual stories. For Amethyst, DC went back to Christy Marx, a long-time animation writer who created Jem and the Holograms. So…she’s qualified. She also worked with DC’s Dan DiDio in his animation days, so the pick makes sense from every direction. As a long-time Amethyst fan this raised warning bells:
CM: This will be a complete reboot. The first thing I wanted to do — based on the tonal guidance Dan gave me — was age her up a bit. She’s just turning 17 rather than being 13. She has a very different family background, but the same basic things are there. She grew up on Earth with a strange childhood and ends up back in her homeworld which she’s never seen before.
Hm. Older. But not “legal”. And she’s wearing pants. So…promising.
With TEAM SEVEN, DC raided the Image bench and picked a new writer, Justin Jordan, creator of The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, which has been creating a bit of buzz lately. Jordan explains the premise:
Jordan: Basically, in the New DCU after Flash, Green Lantern, Batman, and Superman all become public knowledge, the government is concerned about the run of superhuman threats and develop Team Seven to help deal with them. They’re kind of a “first contact/do something about the problem” team. The basic concept is that the government has taken an interest in trying to get ahead of any kind of superhuman threat before it becomes an issue, so they assemble a fairly covert team to deal with it. That’s not necessarily deal with it in the “we’re gonna shoot ‘em” way, but also to figure out what’s happening and come up with a solution for it.
And switching from creator-owned to editorially-driven comics:
Jordan: Well, I’ll tell you, the creator-owned thing, especially with Image, is that Image doesn’t get into any editorial stuff on the book. The only suggestion that Image made to us when we were initially pitching the project was that we should get a different letterer, which turned out to be an excellent choice. But at the same time, that means that all of the creative pressure is on me. There’s nobody else but us making decisions about whether something works or doesn’t; you’re all inside your own heads. You have to take a lot on faith because of that; you don’t really have other eyes looking at what you’re doing. Whereas with DC, I’m working with Eddie Berganza, so I get to bounce things off him and it’s been to the benefit of the book. I have come to appreciate that editing really can add to a book, which not that I didn’t appreciate that before, but coming from a creator-owned background, I just don’t have the experience with it. So there are pros and cons to both in that regard. I mean, at the same time, I am working within the DC Universe so there’s just stuff that I can’t do. I can’t blow up Superman’s head, you know what I mean?
Note: We miss fat Amanda Waller, but guess you gotta be fit to fight.
USA Today has the Talon reveal despite their insistence on running only partial art—rookie error, people. The massively blowing up, soon to be all-media king Snyder explains:
"A lot of people say it's great to see new blood and young writers given a chance, and this book is that," says Snyder, a former writing teacher of Tynion's at Sarah Lawrence College. DC asked Snyder if there were a character from the Court of Owls or a Talon who would make for a good spinoff. There are plenty to go around: In the current "Night of the Owls" story line, the Owls have sent their whole, mostly undead army of Talons, a vicious lot who are decades and even centuries old, to blitz Gotham City and Batman like no other villains have. Snyder didn't think it was possible at first, but Tynion came up with the winning idea: introduce a man who was supposed to have been a Talon but basically is made of sterner stuff than the Court expected.
The Phantom Stranger talk centers on the whole Pandora lady in pink thing that’s been running through the reboot:
MTV Geek: Phantom Stranger kicks off with a #0 issue… What can you tell us about that? Dan Didio: A lot about that – but not too much. In the Zero issue, we’re actually picking up and filling in some scenes before and after the character’s first appearance… Which was in the Free Comic Book Day book back in May. What we’re doing is showing a little bit about how he got to that location, and what happens to him after he meets the Council of Wizards… Where he’s sent off to. Then, we’re going to get back into more current times with The Phantom Stranger, and actually give a sense of what his purpose is on Earth, and what his motivations for all his actions have been as he moves through mankind.
The PHANTOM STRANGER cover doesn’t seem to have been released yet. Oh here you go:
Observation: As opposed to the haste with which the original new 52 was put together, these books seem to be taking their time with setup a bit more, which is probably a healthy development.
DC also released the new BATMAN INC cover.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.