By Karama Horne
One of the highlights of the comic book announcements coming out of NYCC this week was the The Return of the Dakota Universe and the Launch of Earth M, (a.k.a. – “The Milestone Panel”). Two of the founding members, Derek Dingle and Denys Cowan and former Milestone creators Reginald Hudlin and Kyle Baker took to the stage to announce the imprint’s real (no really) return, but they also had a few new faces on the panel that many were excited to see including Ken Lashley, Greg Pak, the legendary Jim Lee and award-winning author Alice Randall. Skybound Entertainment and The Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman even made a special appearance.
Many Milestone fans were excited when the company announced it’s return to comics in 2015 and eagerly awaited announcements of new stories from their favorite characters like Rocket, Icon, Static Shock and Hardware but news of founder disagreements and a subsequent lawsuit revealed that the reboot may be short lived. But on Thursday, the Milestone crew returned with more details of their upcoming relaunch as well as tentative drop dates.
Instead of making Milestone’s characters retrofit back into the DC Universe as a whole, the creators decided that all characters would exist in a universe called Earth M.
Inspired by Geoff Johns extended DC Universe and DC Films, the idea is to create a shared universe with rules of its own that all characters could live in.
“We felt the characters worked best in their own universe and not have to worry about broader continuity inside of the DCU.” – Reginald Hudlin
The first comic that will drop in spring of 2018 is Milestone #1 and features Milestone cornerstone characters Rocket and Icon. Written by Hudlin and Cowan with art by Ken Lashley, however the characters will be updated a bit and readers won’t have to read the previous comics to understand the new series and story arcs.
Static Shock #1
The second book dropping in the spring will be fan favorite Static Shock. Written by Hudlin and Cowan and drawn by Baker. When the new Static cover art was revealed cheers went up all over the room and the creators promised that this new iteration of Virgil Hawkins will leave them just as happy.
Duo drawn by Jim Lee
One of the most interesting announcements in this panel was the updating of the Xombi imprint. Industry veterans Jim Lee and Greg Pak will be working on this one with Pak writing and Lee on cover art, and interior artist has not been announced. Duo stars an Asian-American husband and wife team of biotech scientists who accidentally set off a deadly chain reaction that is only halted when the wife sacrifices herself and allows a series of sentient nanobots take over her body. In an attempt to save her human form, her husband inadvertently fuses their consciousness and she turns into a separate conscious entity inside of her husband’s head. (So they’re like Firestorm but their married).
Earth M is not only the name of the new Milestone Universe but it’s also the name of a new character that will exist outside of the city of Dakota in its own world. Written by Hudlin and Alice Randall, Covers will be drawn by the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz with interiors by Cowan and colors by Felix Serrano.
Love Army and Amber are the only female led series that were offered. Love Army, also written by Hudlin features a strike “team of kick-ass women” from all over the world. While Amber is a comic with an interesting past. “Usually in a black neighborhood, there’s that white family who can’t afford to move out. Amber is like ‘what if one of them were a superhero?’” Hudlin says. The team for that comic has yet to be named, but I do hope that the company will hire more women at Milestone to be involved with the creation of these characters.
“With what’s going on in the world, is the time for these books…It’s a time for heroes.” -Denys Cowan
The panel concluded with a surprise appearance from Robert Kirkman whose upcoming AMC documentary series The Secret History of Comics features Milestone’s origin story. A portion of the Milestone documentary segment was screened after a short speech from Kirkman lauding Milestone’s creators and the new launch. The Secret History of Comics premieres Sunday, November 12 at 11 pm/10 Central on AMC Networks.
Karama Horne is the creator of theblerdgurl.com where she provides commentary, reviews and interviews on comics, sci-fi and geekdom from a “black nerd girl” perspective. She lives on coffee, comics, Netflix and gets mail on twitter.