DC is revamping its Big Two with new origins and new “Jump on in!” continuities. Again. But the twist this time? It’s in GRAPHIC NOVEL FORMAT, a marked shift away from the Wednesday crowd in a search to get new readers and a move towards DC’s long-rumored “Ultimization” of their core books.
Announced this morning on The Source blog, SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE and BATMAN: EARTH ONE kick off an ongoing series of original graphic novels featuring “their first years and earliest moments retold in a standalone, original graphic novel format, on a new earth with an all-new continuity.”
SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE will be written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by Shane Davis.
BATMAN: EARTH ONE ‘s creative team is Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, the current Superman team. The first interview from the duo appears at Aintitcoolnews.com, which as we write, has conveniently crashed (at least on our computer) so here’s some quotes from JMS:
“What I’m trying to do is to dig in to the character and look at him through modern eyes. If you were to create the Superman story today, for the first time, but keep intact all that works, what would it look like?”
“It is monumental for us as comic readers to see Superman birthed for the first time,” Davis said. “It’s a privilege to realize that you’re the artist that gets to draw it, better yet having the luxury to do it in an original graphic novel. This is going to be epic!”
“BATMAN: EARTH ONE allows Gary and I to break the restraints of any continuity and focus on two things: character and story. Add to that the idea of working on a line of graphic novels instead of being limited to twenty-two pages, it’s a challenge and I love a challenge.”
Observations: As a line of jump-in out of continuity books, this is pretty much the same thing DC tried a few years ago with the All-Star line, except that the all-star creative line-ups seems to have a lot of scheduling problems. That experiment was mostly a failure — only two of the rumored books have ever appeared, and Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman etc. is controversial, to say the least. The shining triumph was Morrison & Quitely’s All-Star Superman, a much loved neo-classic.
The big — some might even say SHOCKING — twist this time is that the books are coming out as OGNs …not pamphlets. It’s either a huge vote of confidence for Random House’s sales team (RH is DC’s distributor to the book trade) or a tacit admission that the pamphlet is no longer a way to grow the audience, as the current generation of readers greys up and moves on.
If the new line is a bid to reach out to potential readers who might know Batman and Superman from the movies/TV shows/video games but not want to invest in the monthly habit, AICN is an interesting choice for the rollout. It certainly isn’t a civilian site, but it does reach the general fanboy nation in large numbers.
Also, Earth One…isn’t there already an Earth One? Or is that Earth 1? Will the target audience for this really care about that kind of thing?