This weekend DC held one of its occasional RRP (Retailer Roundtable Program) meetings, an invite-only forum for retailers to see what’s coming up from DC in the year ahead. The last one was held in 2005 , so this is definitely the first one of the post-52/Dan Didio era. And it couldn’t come at a more interesting time, as the future of DC’s heavily event based publishing program is the subject of much chatter, both public and private. Newsarama has some news points coming out of the meeting, including official announcement of the next weekly series, Trinity, (left) which will feature 12-page front stories focused on the Big Three of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley, with back up features written by Busiek and Fabian Nicieza:
The series will follow Countdown, but, as with Countdown and 52 which came before it, will be unrelated to the previous weekly series. That said, Trinity will be “apart,” that is, occurring in the DC Universe, but not tied to other events happening in the DCU.
Didio gives notes on the bigger picture:
DD: One of the things that we’re really focusing on this year at DC is how we’re driving the different storylines through 2008. There will be a storyline that features Superman prominently in the Superman titles through 2008, there will be a storyline that features Batman prominently throughout his titles in 2008, and Wonder Woman will have her own strong storyline in her series. Final Crisis will be contained to the primary series and a couple of spin-off series and a couple of one shots, but doesn’t crossover throughout the rest of the line. And Trinity will be its own story amid all of that, because it explores not just the history of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, but their impact on the DCU in the past years and for the future.
Johanna and her commenters have some fun with this quote, but we’ll circle back to this in a bit.
Some other titles were also formally announced, including two more tie-in mini series, Holy War by JIm Starlin, Ron Lim and Rob Hunter, and Reign in Hell by Keith Giffen and Matthew Clark:
DD: With Holy War, we’ve decided to add another dimension to the animosity between Rann and Thanagar: the concept of religion. Lady Styx has based her religion around Rann, and the demon from the Mystery in Space storyline has worked his religion into Thanagar. What you’re going to find out is that this creates a heightened tension there, and a reason for the conflict between the two words to escalate. How it affects all our heroes in the area will be seen.
…[Reign in Hell] As we see it, Neron is the “Satan” character in the DC Universe. It’s something that we’ve alluded to, but never really explored deeply. It was explored somewhat when he was introduced in Underworld Unleashed, but I don’t think we ever realized his full potential. We caught glimpses of it in 52, but even with that, you could tell there was more.
So we’ve crafted this series built around the concept of what happened when Neron was trapped in Fate’s tower at the end of 52. What happens to Hell when its master is gone? This is the series that spins out from that concept, touches upon so many of our mystic characters, and brings characters into the fold that you might be surprised to see in this environment. There are a lot of fun reveals along the way.
The final announcement is another tie-in, this time a bridging tale between Countdown and Final Crisis called… DC Universe #0
Originally, we were going to do Countdown to Final Crisis #0 – that’s what Countdown has been counting down to: 51 to 0 – 52 issues in total, a year’s worth of work. Ultimately though, what happened was that when we were looking at how #0 was being created, we realized that in collecting Countdown to Final Crisis, it would be hard to collect the #0 issue, because it would leave us on a cliffhanger at the end of the book. We felt that probably wasn’t the best way to end a book, so we decided to end all the Countdown stories with #1, and therefore make the #0 issue separate. That’s when it became Final Crisis #0. Then, Grant was involved in the writing of Final Crisis #0 of course, and Grant wanted Geoff to co-write it with him. But as we were building the book, we realized that the story wasn’t contained to the stories that were flowing into Final Crisis, involving New Gods and Monitors, but really touched upon so many major events going on throughout the DCU including: more hints to the Black Lanterns story, what’s coming up in the Batman storylines, Superman’s upcoming stories and Wonder Woman as well. Because it started to expand outside of Final Crisis, we repositioned the book one more time, and now it’s called DC Universe #0.
DC enthusiasts who have been following the last few years of crises probably did not nod off during that explanation. Otherwise, we feel safe in saying…not really our cuppa, but, you know, that’s okay.
We’ll save our detailed reading between the lines on all of this until we’ve heard more scuttlebutt from the ground at the RRP. Certainly, DC’s last two years of skipped shipping schedules, creative shuffles and diminished returns for “event spin-offs” meant that this is a critical time to answer the question “What comes after Final Crisis?” We’re not sure any of this answers any of that, although Didio does promise, “My feeling is to tell the best stories possible right now.”
Over at CBR, Busiek offers some reassurances that you won’t need a bachelor’s degree in DCU-ology to follow Trinity:
“Clearly, Superman is the father, Wonder Woman is son and Batman is the Holy Ghost,” laughed Busiek. “Yes, first we will start with the ‘Song of Solomon’ but it will be the ‘Sound of Solomon Grundy.’
“No, ‘Death of the New Gods’ is one of the series that is leading into ‘Final Crisis.’ ‘Trinity’ is not ‘Final Crisis’ related. It is a relatively self-contained story that follows its own track. It’s part of the DC Universe, but it’s not one thread in the giant plot structure that is a big event. It is its own story. It has a beginning, a middle and an ending. There will be repercussions, yes. It has new characters that are introduced that I sure hope will spin off into their own mini-series or series or things like that, but it’s not leading to ‘Final Crisis 2: This Time It’s Personal.’
The big question remains whether there is any profit to be made from DC becoming more new reader friendly. Overall sale have definitely gone during the “mega-crossover” era, but more standalone stories like Sinestro Corp have been the recent hits. While we can’t fault Geoff Johns skill and enthusiasm, stuff like this still don’t tempt a non-grad student:
Just because Hal Jordan’s in it doesn’t mean Green Lantern’s a “Silver Age book,” and just because Kyle’s in Green Lantern Corps doesn’t mean it’s some “new edgy” book either. We’re not just including Kyle Rayner in it because he was the prominent Green Lantern in the ‘90s. He’s a good character. He has a certain goal and a specific niche to fill. The same goes for Guy Gardner, John Stewart and our lead, Hal Jordan. There are elements from every aspect of the DC Universe, every period, that are worth caring for. Damage is a great character to have in the Justice Society, for example, not because he was prominent in the ‘90s, but because of his connection with Al Pratt and what he suffered through in Infinite Crisis, and why he wears that mask, and the attitude that he carries.
Of course, we’re just showing our ignorance, but if you don’t know who Al Pratt is (the Golden Age Atom), you’re still not going to care much about Damage. But like we said, we’re not the target audience for all this.
We’ll leave Didio with the final word: “The DCU is back in spades.”
BONUS: Valerie’s commentary.