Some shall stand and some shall fall. Everyone know it was only a matter of time before some adjustments would be made to the New 52 lineup — and the John Rood/Bob Wayne interviews hinted that it was coming soon — and boom — six in and six out.
Heading into the big used comics box in the sky are BLACKHAWKS, HAWK AND DOVE, MEN OF WAR, MISTER TERRIFIC, O.M.A.C. and STATIC SHOCK, which will all end with their eighth issue (Meaning two issues of each will be forever uncollected — see, we told you to go to that back issue bin.)
Adding to the lineup, a variety of new and long-rumored titles — and news of more crossovers and more parallel worlds.
* BATMAN INCORPORATED – Writer: Grant Morrison. Artist: Chris Burnham. The acclaimed ongoing writer of ACTION COMICS, Grant Morrison, presents a fresh take on BATMAN INCORPORATED, in which the Batman brand is franchised globally in preparation for a major international threat.
Comment: Of course, this is a continuation of Morrison’s long running story line, which wrapped up its previous run with BATMAN: LEVIATHAN.
* EARTH 2 – Writer: James Robinson. Artist: Nicola Scott. The greatest heroes on a parallel Earth, the Justice Society combats threats that will set them on a collision course with other worlds.
COMMENT: This had long been announced, probably as a way to keep fans happy that the popular Scott wasn’t without a job. The bigs news, however is…EARTH 2?
* WORLD’S FINEST – Writer: Paul Levitz. Artists: George Perez and Kevin Maguire. Stranded on our world from a parallel reality, Huntress and Power Girl struggle to find their way back to Earth 2. Perez and Maguire will be the artists on alternating story arcs.
COMMENT: So this will be the new OLD Power Girl, not the one that was just a girlfriend in the now-cancelled MISTER TERRIFIC. Also…parallel characters? HEAD EXPLODO.
* DIAL H – Writer: China Miéville. Artist: Mateus Santoluoco. The first ongoing series from acclaimed novelist China Miéville, this is a bold new take on a cult classic concept about the psychological effects on an everyman who accidentally gains powers to become a hero. Covers by Brian Bolland, and edited by Karen Berger
COMMENT: Miéville must really want to write DC comics. The much lauded English SF writer got his Vertigo reboot of SWAMP THING scotched in favor of Swampy’s return to the DCU. Berger’s involvement is a bit more of a surprise. So now at least one of the Vertigo-like books of the New 52 really WILL be a Vertigo book. This is the first time Berger has edited a superhero book in a looooong time. Miéville told USA Today:
Best-selling author China Miéville has long dreamt of doing a new take on one of his favorite comics as a youngster, Dial H for Hero, and he gushes at the thought of taking the reins of Dial H and working with famed British artist Brian Bolland. “I cannot believe that I get to just make up superheroes. It’s what you did as a kid,” Miéville says. “The whole point of Dial is that the roster of capes is changing every single month, often two or three times.” He also promises a darker series with horror, sci-fi and lots of psychological ramifications for its dialing protagonist. “In the original run, he’s turning into a giant spring coil to foil bank robbers, and I’m like, OK, what if you are a 25-year-old guy and you turn into a superpowered spring coil? That’s going to mess with your head.”
* G.I. COMBAT – Writer: J.T. Krul. Artist: Ariel Olivetti. Featuring the return of a classic DC Comics series, THE WAR THAT TIME FORGOT, along with rotating back-up stories and creative teams – including THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, with writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Dan Panosian; and THE HAUNTED TANK, with writer John Arcudi and artist Scott Kolins.
COMMENT: Well the first two war books didn’t work, but they are standing by the genre.
* THE RAVAGERS – Writer: Howard Mackie. Artist: Ian Churchill. Spinning off from TEEN TITANS and SUPERBOY, this series finds four superpowered teens on the run and fighting against the organization that wants to turn them into supervillains.
COMMENT: Okay, everyone who was making Howard Mackie jokes since this whole thing got announced? Here’s your $5. Mackie is an old Marvel hand, whose long run on Spider-Man was once singled out as the main reason why the line had to be totally rebooted with the Ultimates. Obviously DC EIC Bob Harras is a man who stands by his friends, and this is a positive quality. Content-wise this title seems to have created the most speculation. Will it be a Gen13ish thing, or what? GIven the name of the “Ravagers” it sounds like BATTLE ROYALE.
The changed were announced in USA Today, which included a side-bar, Seven things to know about DC Comics’ new wave of books.
Bob Harras showed up at Newsarama.com to explain more:
– While Earth 2 is now confirmed, and DC did talk about “parallel worlds,” DC would not confirm to Newsarama that there are 52 worlds. But the company’s continuing use of the number “52” would suggest they’re sticking with that number in the DCnU, as would the already announced upcoming Morrison mini-series Multiversity.
– The Ravagers is also linked to Legion Lost.
– DC is specifically not announcing what the prices of these new series are, although it’s clear that G.I. Combat will have a page count that DC usually prices at $3.99.
And what about that parallel world? Wasn’t keeping things simple part of the whole plan?
Harras: Earth 2 has been such a part and parcel of DC mythology that we thought this would be a great place to bring it back. And because a lot of story and a lot of characters have been discussed since the beginning, since before the launch of the New 52, we had discussions: What would it mean if there was an Earth 2 out there? What storylines would this bring to us? What drama? What tension? And that’s one of the reasons we went in that direction.
EARTH 2 I JUST CAN’T QUIT YOU.
It did not go unnoticed that two of the canceled titles included minority leads: Static Shock and Mister Terrific. Neither cancellation is much of a surprise: Static Shock was one of the first books to undergo upheaval when writer John Rozum left early on. And Mister Terrific…well, anytime you have the word “terrific” in a title you leave the door open for a lot of jokes. Newsarama’s Vaneta Rogers pressed Harras on this point:
Harras: As I said earlier, I want every book to succeed. Also, those characters that are not going to be in their own titles will be appearing in other books as well. We are definitely dedicated to diversity. That’s not going to stop now. That’s an ongoing part and parcel to what we do.
As I said earlier, those characters are not going away. They will be appearing in other books.
Nrama: Everybody’s seen the sales number. These three titles with people of color weren’t selling well. Without pointing fingers at anyone, is it at least disappointing to see that readers didn’t buy titles that you were hoping would add diversity to the line-up?
Harras: As I said earlier, you want every book to work. You do. And when it doesn’t work, yes, it’s always a disappointment. And you can Monday morning quarterback until the sun comes up. But it just didn’t happen. You just try your best and go to the next bunch of books.
UPDATE: The Harras interview at CBR is up and he talks about marketing lessons learned:
I think somewhat. I don’t think we’re going to launch 52 titles again, not for a long time. I do think there’s something to say we’re putting these books out, we’re proud of them, this is an event that we’re bringing these books out. It’s part of, again, a plan. It may be a smaller launch, but it is all part of a plan as we expand the DC Universe. So, yes. As long as you give people a reason to be excited and give them something to go, “Yes, this was worth it. This was worth the wait, this story was great, this art was great,” I think that’s a bigger win than anything else.
While everyone knew not every New 52 book would succeed, the big question for the Second Wave is now: will these books debut at levels comparable to the original lineup….or at the more typical (but still high) numbers of the newer books?
We get our answers this spring.
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.