Why is it that the biggest news always happens right after a holiday weekend? 18 months ago, it was Disney buying Marvel after Labor Day; this time, it’s the biggest editorial readjustment at a superhero comics company EVER: DC’s just announced plan to launch 52 new #1 issues in September, with changed or adjusted characters, costumes and and origins. Here’s what you need to know, the confirmed and the speculation.
First, what we know: The whole new lineup will be announced on Monday, June 13th, when the Previews for that month is released. Until then, expect to see breaking news in national news outlets and on The Source.
As far as official word goes, USA Today has released another story, this one delving a bit more into why this is happening>. Dan DiDio: “If we can convince the people here [inside DC] we’re doing something brand-new and fresh, we have a good chance to really get the people outside on board.” The story is accompanied by the above photo of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, the new JLA team, in a fisheye photo that makes them look like they have giant heads and little bandy legs. Not the most flattering look.
Anyway, moving on, the scope of change is hinted at:
In the rollout of the revamped DC Universe, some titles will return, a lot of titles won’t, and DC will have a wider range of books starting in September, DiDio says. In addition, three-quarters of the creative teams will be shuffled around — series that are successful and writer/artist combinations that work well together won’t be tweaked too much, he says.
DC’s recent tone-deafness to diversity seems to have been a fake-out just to make the new DC all the more vibrant:
The recent emphasis on diverse characters such as lesbian superheroine Batwoman, Hispanic hero Blue Beetle and African-American adventurer Cyborg (who will be a core member of Johns and Lee’s new Justice League) also will continue.
“He’s a character I really see as the modern-day, 21st-century superhero,” Johns says of Cyborg. “He represents all of us in a lot of ways. If we have a cellphone and we’re texting on it, we are a cyborg — that’s what a cyborg is, using technology as an extension of ourselves.”
There will also be a lot of diversity in the products as well, DiDio promises. “It’s not just about straight superhero characters and stories. We’re going to use war comics, we have stories set in mystery and horror, we’ve got Westerns.”
While Lee allows that this kind of wholesale change is risky for DC, it’s far more perilous to play it safe and not periodically examine these characters and how they relate to the readership.
War stories? Mystery? That’s a lot better than One Year Later. We’ll have our own analysis of this move in the VERY NEXT POST, but here’s the scuttlebutt.
Kiel Phegley has done an impressive job of getting some secret stuff from shadowy figures. Here’s what they are saying will happen:
• A new title starring Superman written by Grant Morrison.
• Birds of Prey #1 – This new ongoing series will not feature the work of longtime “BoP” writer Gail Simone. In fact, many tried and true approaches to books will be getting a second look at DC in September.
• Teen Titans #1 – The new start for the teen team will be written by “Red Robin” scribe Fabian Nicieza.
• Justice Society of America #1 – Only one of a number of current titles that will welcome a creative team shift, the future of the original superhero team will apparently not involve current writer Marc Guggenheim.
• Wonder Woman #1 – Don’t expect the recent changes from writer J. Michael Straczynski to stick when the Amazing Amazon sees another new #1 hit.
• Green Lantern￼ #1 – Even with a new #1, Green Lantern remains in Johns’ hands, and readers can expect the effects of major crossovers like “Blackest Night” to stay in place moving forward.
• Hawkman #1 – While fans have known a “Hawkman” series by James Robinson has been in the works since the writer mentioned it on a panel at New York Comic Con, Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston has been reporting the rumor that the book will be drawn by “Batman & Robin” and “Outsiders” artist Philip Tan.
• Aquaman #1 – No surprises here. The already announced series featuring the sea king by Johns and Ivan Reis will be part of the relaunch wave.
And here’s what Rich Johnston is reporting:
• Adventures Comics #1 starring Deadman; possibly by Ryan Sook
• Superman #1 possibly by Rags Morales.
• A new Green Lantern book with lanterns of many colors.
• Legion Lost, the Legion of Superheroes reboot
• OMAC, perhaps by Scott Kolins.
• Something called “Edge” and something called “Dark.” We’re calling it now: other books called “Blood,” “Dragon” one called “Girl and one called “Stacey.”
Okay. Now the fun part: THE INTERNET COMMENTARY. And dear lord there was a lot. And there will be more. AND MORE.
§ IGN, normally not the trendiest news site, although one of the biggest, offers 8 Questions About the DCU Reboot which are all pretty good, like: “Is There Still a Point to Earth One?” — the J Michael Straczynski-penned new, younger Superman original graphic novel was a shock bestseller, but does the whole “new alternate origins” series have a place in this new world?
They also ran a poll! And here’s how it looked last night at about midnight:
§ Michael Doran at Newsarama has MANY MORE QUESTIONS. 13 to be exact. but they are more concerned with the internal continuity along the lines of “Did Identity Crisis happen?” The other questions asked give you some idea of why this is a total headache for the newcomer:
Wally West still wears a modified Flash costume and bears the name because he assumed the Flash legacy in tribute to Barry Allen when he died in the original Crisis . If Barry never died, wouldn’t it be logical that Wally would have assumed a new identity ala Dick Grayson/Nightwing?
Will a new DCU still have four native Earthbound Green Lanterns, as John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and Kyle Rayner all gained their rings via “continuity events”?
And how about the whole two Batmen can of worms?
Again, Dick Grayson became Batman because Bruce Wayne seemingly perished in Final Crisis, a line-wide shared continuity event.
If Bruce never was displaced in time by Darkseid, does Dick ever put on the cowl? The current crop of Batman titles are some of DC’s best-selling. How much is DC going to mess with something that’s currently working?
§ Tom Spurgeon didn’t like it, no sir, partially over suspicions that DC has recently not executed their plans very crisply.
Overall, this sounds to me like that time when the older, dependable brother in a respected family gets sick of always being the source of stability and flips the fuck out and does something slightly nuts, with the knowledge that ultimately the family money takes care of him even if his crappy decisions goof up a few sets of lives tied into his own.
§ Don MacPherson gives it all some historical perspective:
Rebooting, restarting or retooling beloved super-hero genre characters doesn’t revise history for the reader, only the fictitious, two-dimensional figures in the comics themselves. The Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Young Justice cartoons are seen by a much wider audience than the readership of DC’s various super-hero titles. Does that make the incarnations and interpretations of DC’s characters in those TV the “real” versions? Does that render the comic-book continuity moot? Of course not. These are stories… fictional stories about men and women wearing spandex, capes and implausibly gaudy jewelry. While the approach to this promised reboot is different and more aggressive than what we’ve seen in the past, the actual practice is just business as usual, especially for DC Comics.
§ Finally John Jackson Miller looks at what matters most to the bottom line: historical sales trends on these kinds of reboots
The numbers historically tend to suggest that renumbering alone, for its own sake, doesn’t do an awful lot beyond the first-issue effect sales boost unless associated with other elements, such as new creative teams, a new over-arching storyline, or other enhancements that impact a series across time. Kevin Smith’s Daredevil received a new #1 in 1998 and had major sales benefits that stuck for years; others tailed off more quickly. Amazing Spider-Man had preorders in the 60,000s up until its cancellation and replacement with Vol. 2, #1 in late 1998; sales indeed spiked, but even with Byrne, were back to the 60,000s within a year. The 1999 Incredible Hulk numbering restart, again with Byrne added, returned to the 40,000s where it had been by #6.
As you can see from the above, almost everyone is most het up about the reboot, with very little conversation about the whole simultaneous digital release — how it will effect retailers and so on. That will come, that will come.
Meanwhile it’s a lot to soak in. Maybe that Bible guy was right about the Rapture. Only he didn’t know it was just going to be the end of the DCU as we knew it!
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.