A Few Thoughts On DC's Secondary Relaunch

By Todd Allen

Having now had a little time to digest it, DC’s secondary relaunch (wave two, line expansion — pick your favorite term) looks like it might have a little more resonance for me, percentage-wise, than the initial relaunch.  Whether this is a specific attempt to appeal to traditional fandom or happenstance, I can’t tell you.  I do have a few observations, though.

The big reveals, at least to me, are the Golden Age redux and the comics debut of China Miéville.

It’s been an open secret that James Robinson and Nicola Scott were working on a Justice Society comic.  The big surprise is that the book won’t be called “Justice Society,” but rather, Earth 2.  In fact, Earth 2 looks to be going back to the old parallel worlds structure started back in the 1960s, undone by Crisis on Infinite Earths, returned and unexplored by both Hypertime and that whole Infinite Crisis/52 morass of a few years back.

The really exciting thing about Earth 2 is the possibility of James Robinson let loose on the Golden Age characters without a metric ton of editorial direction and coordination/dibs-calling / in-fighting between various other titles and editors.  Want to see what Robinson can do with these characters?  Go check out his Golden Age mini-series from the start of his career.  Or Starman, though that’s a legacy outgrowth of the Earth 2 characters.  If the title was changed to Earth 2 because Robinson’s doing some world building, that’s something that gets my hopes up.  Possibly related, I see there a DC Showcase reprint of the All-Star Squadron, the WWII-set Earth-2/Justice Society-ish title that Crisis on Infinite Earths screwed up royally.

Spinning off from Earth 2 is World’s Finest.  I’ll give some points for sense of humor, here.  As noted, instead of Superman and Batman, it will be (the Earth 2) Superman’s cousin Power Girl and (the Earth 2) Batman’s daughter Huntress.  Except they’re stuck on… have we established if the main DCU is being called “Earth 1″ again?  Anyway, that’s where they’re marooned.  Written by Paul Levitz with George Perez and Kevin Maguire tagging off as rotating artists.  If you read comics in the 80s and early 90s, you’re going to at least give that creative line-up a look.  And, realistically, The Huntress character works a LOT better when she’s the daughter of Batman and Catwoman.  The was always the whole point of the character and one of the small list of things (basically Hawkman and Earth-2) that Crisis on Infinite Earths screwed up.

Supposedly, World’s Finest is set up by events in Earth 2.  And herein lies quandary - just how separate will Earth 2 be from Event Fever?  In fairness, part of the fun of the Justice Society, pre-crisis, was the annual team-up with the Justice League.  We’re likely not talking about an “Ultimate” universe arrangement where it’s a distinct line and if there’s cross-over, it’s rare and unique (like the Zombies from Marvel’s ultimate titles).  If we were, Power Girl and Huntress wouldn’t be on Earth 1.

Is this a run-up to Grant Morrison’s Multiversity mini-series?  Multiversity has been mentioned, on and off for two or three years and it hasn’t been scheduled.  Multiversity is supposed to be all about multiple earths, originally exploring the 52 worlds concept that may or may not still be in place.  Is this something that will upset the apple cart?  Hard to say if it’s even still happening at this point.

Then you have the marketing issues.  The original graphic novel line is called “Earth One.”  Is calling a comic “Earth Two” going to cause some branding issues with that?  If the OGNs are “Earth One” and the Robinson/Justice Society dimension is “Earth Two,” is the standard DCU “Earth 1A?”  I can see World’s Finest existing to give a marketing tether between Earth 2 and the “normal” DCU, but it could just as easily muddy the waters.  And let’s not forget JLA: Earth 2.

The good news for DC, I’m intrigued enough to find out.

Then you have Dial H For Hero by China Miéville.  Miéville wrote a Swamp Thing arc that got scrapped a while back because DC thought it was too political.  Miéville is being touted as a huge comics fan.  I can’t vouch for his level of fandom, but he definitely was a guest at C2E2 and I did see him hanging around the hotel bar afterwards, so it’s not like he popped in for a panel and bolted.  If you haven’t read Miéville, I highly recommend his novel, The City & The City.  Read that and you’ll understand why it’s interesting when he wants to examine the psychological aspects of having bizarre superpowers and body transformations.  I’m also curious if Miéville generates a large number of digital sales from prose fans who can’t be bothered to track down a shop.  Miéville is a real genre bender of a writer, but he usually gets shelved with science fiction and science fiction ebooks sell well, relative to the market.

Going down the line, Batman, Incorporated is returning with Morrison and Chris Burnham.  This is one of the titles, like Green Lantern, that isn’t really a relaunch/reboot.  I’m in the minority opinion that if you’re going to let Morrison play with the toys, you might was well make them Elseworlds or give him his own world to play with (like they’re theoretically doing with Robinson and Earth Two).  I’m hit or miss with Morrison and his Batman has been a miss for me.

Then you’ve got the much… *ahem* anticipated return of Howard Mackie on Ravengers, a Superboy/Teen Titans spin-off of some sort that will tie him in with fellow Harras-era Marvel veteran Scott Lobdell.   Mackie is joined by artist Ian Churchill.  While not a Marvel mainstay, Churchill did do some work for during the Harras administration.

OK, let’s revise the list of next 90s Marvel creator to potentially pop up at DC.

  • Terry Kavanagh is apparently busy in the dotcom world.
  • M.C. Wyman
  • Kevin Hopgood
  • Paul Ryan
  • Ron Garney
  • Len Kaminsky

I’m still waiting for Harras to write something, himself.  I seem to remember being very fond of Nick Fury Vs. SHIELD

And finally, we have GI Combat.  If the lead feature is “The War That Time Forgot” aka soldiers vs. dinosaurs, I have a very simple, but honest question: what age group are you targeting this comic to.  I’m not saying a dinosaur comic can’t be good or well done, but that might be more of a younger reader high concept.  Ditto, the Haunted Tank.  Either way, I don’t initially see the Unknown Soldier fitting in with the other two concepts.  We’ll see, I suppose.

Comments

  1. The mainline DC earth was Earth-0 for a while. I like that concept, even if it never happened anymore.

  2. I like the Justice Society. I liked the old Earth-Two. The names “Alan Scott” and “Jay Garrick” and “Carter Hall” bring a smile to my face. The ability to publish stories without them being tied to this shipping-week’s continuity straightjacket warms my heart. But the phrase “world building”… makes that heart sink. If it’s about creating an open stage for new stories to take place, that’s great. But if it’s about tying stories together in some überstory that I’m probably not 12 enough to get excited about… never mind.

  3. If Earth 2 is even half as great as The Golden Age then we’re in for a treat. I’ve always been a JSA fan and the idea of Robinson having the entirety of Earth 2 to play with is brilliant. Loved Nicola’s work on Teen Titans. This should be a helluva book.

  4. DanielT says:

    CORRECTION: The new book is Worlds’ Finest, not World’s Finest.

  5. royd_9 says:

    I’ll be getting all six of the #1s. The only one I’m 100% sure I’ll stick with beyond that is Batman Inc. Earth 2 and Worlds’ Finest are strong possibilities also, at least for an arc. If the All-Star Squadron is back in some form, that’s a big Plus in my book.

    I have relatively low interest in GI Combat and Ravagers. As for Dial H, it’s the wild card. If the writer is indeed a genre bender, maybe this could replace Xombi in my heart, a title that I sincerily miss. Anyway, if one title has the potential to be a surprise hit and generate some buzz, a la Animal Man, it’s Dial H. I guesss we’ll see.

  6. If you would like to know more about UNKNOWN SOLDIER, there is an interview up on Newsarama all about the direction we are taking the book. As I already know, most of the atention will be going to the superhero titles, but I would suggest if you like the war comic genre, science fiction and adventure stories, G.I. COMBAT should be something you might enjoy.

    Yeah, I know this is a shameless plug, but I really believe in what I am doing, and the artowrk by Dan Panosian is beautiful.

    O.K. everyone, back to the earth 2 discussions. lol.

  7. X-fan says:

    Term: DC Comics Mid-Season Replacements.

    If G.I. Combat is as good as All Star Western, I’ll pick it up.
    Earth 2, natch.
    Worlds Finest better be good. Winick was doing great on Power Girl.
    Forgotten the others already. Too much Batman!!!!!!!!

  8. Richard Watson says:

    Wasn’t the whole point of the relaunch to make DC’s output accessible to new readers?

    That didn’t last long, did it?

  9. James says:

    Mr. Palmiotti,

    The stories you’ve been telling lately have been fantastic. I think people would be nuts not to give G.I. Combat a look.

  10. “Written by Paul Levitz with George Perez and Kevin Maguire tagging off as rotating artists. If you read comics in the 80s and early 90s, you’re going to at least give that creative line-up a look.”

    Or, if you’ve read anything that Paul Levitz has written for DC lately (including his terminally boring Legion reboot and Huntress mini), you might not.

  11. X-FAN and JAMES, thanks so much. Will try not to disappoint.

  12. El Tiburon says:

    Why wouldn’t Robinson be editorially shackled? This is the new DC, editorial mandates are how they roll.

  13. Synsidar says:

    I, at least, can’t fathom a way for the Flash or anyone else who isn’t a God equivalent to manipulate parallel universes. The biggest difference between an alternate-timeline Earth and a parallel-universe Earth is that the p-u Earth is in an entirely separate universe, billions of light years wide, having billions of stars, etc., while the a-t Earth is within the “base” universe.

    Treating parallel Earths as though they were alternate timelines to be merged, eliminated, or otherwise manipulated just creates an ungodly mess.

    SRS

  14. Glenn Simpson says:

    @Synsidar

    I don’t see why it would be any difference. The 52 universes are a result of a main universe splitting off into separate universes. If something happens to alter the circumstances that created those universes, those universes could be altered.

  15. Roberto Briceno says:

    Only G.I. Combat and Worlds’ Finest are on my list while Firestorm is cut and holding onto Blackhawks and Men of War until the end.

  16. JReyes says:

    I think that list of 90s Marvel people is a bit mean. So what if Howard Mackie is at DC? We haven’t seen his work in 10 years.

    People change.

    Ron Garney is at Marvel (on Wolverine, I think).

  17. While mean-spirited, the 90′s Marvel people list is not completely out of line. Howard Mackie. Tom DeFalco. Rob Liefeld. Bobbie Chase. Scott Lobdell. It’s true, people who worked with Bob Harris are now working at DC, but this is a common practice in any industry (working with people you worked with in the past).

    And to your point, people change. Read Comic Book Comics #6, which talks about Osamu Tezuka reigniting his career with Blackjack when the rest of the industry thought he was done with. You never know.

  18. Jon_in_Austin says:

    Here’s a crazy thought – is Earth-2 really the pre-Crisis Earth-2?

    Since they’ve rebooted everything anyway, couldn’t it be the pre-52 DCU that they are now calling Earth-2, only flashed-forward some years?

    Because if the main change is re-inserting Helena as the daughter of Bruce and Selina, they could do that just as effectively with the more modern versions of characters, without being bound to WWII. Helena would have to be at least in her 50s by now.

  19. Why does there need to be an in-story rationale for real-world business decisions.

  20. Snikt Snakt says:

    “I think that list of 90s Marvel people is a bit mean. So what if Howard Mackie is at DC? We haven’t seen his work in 10 years.”

    And we’ve all been BETTER for it.

    90′s Marvel = Hack work.

    Do you really want to revisit the quality of that era? Look at Lobdell’s books as a perfect example…

  21. joe.distort says:

    MC WYMAN…wasnt that a pseudonym anyway? or was that actually a real dude? i thought it was like the 90s version of Manny Hands. and no, im not trying to make a sarcastic joke here.

    as far as the books, im bummed that OMAC is cut, but at least INC is comin back

  22. Synsidar says:

    The 52 universes are a result of a main universe splitting off into separate universes.

    Universes don’t split. Someone might write one as being split by some force, but it doesn’t split spontaneously.

    Marvel’s done a much better job of dealing with the multiverse. The Marvel Universe’s Earth is Earth 616, and however many other Earths there might be, they don’t matter much, unless a writer uses them to good effect or bad (Claremont suggesting that Wanda, Jamie Braddock, et al. (?) could threaten the multiverse).

    Perhaps the best reason to abandon the “Earth 2″ model for storytelling is that the multiverse has progressed far past being an idea. The existence of other universes has become a testable theory. When scientists are actively discussing the possible makeups of other universes and looking for them, DC’s “Earth 2″ supposed parallel Earths model looks as antiquated as the idea of space being filled with ether.

    SRS

  23. Jason says:

    Jimmy I will try out GI Combat based on your brief description. I loved the Men of War back-ups since to me they were what war comics were like when I was a kid. The meta-power angle was really pulling away from the main story for me. All-Star Western has been a surprise hit for me so you providing me a brief description has me convencied to try it out.

  24. Since no one else is so moved, I’ll assert(contra Todd) that the Mafia Huntress was an immense improvement over the Bat-Cat daughter.

    The Rucka/Burchett CRY FOR BLOOD comprises a small pond of coolness in the ocean of mediocrity.

  25. Stephen says:

    Synsidar, I don’t understand where you’re coming from. Scientists have been considering the MWI since 1957. That would seem to predate DC’s use of parallel worlds during the silver age. So why would this suddenly make it an idea that shouldn’t be used now?

    Further, DC is not exactly known for its realism. Green Lantern is probably more popular now than it’s ever been, yet it continually shows a willful ignorance towards anything remotely scientific. It wouldn’t surprise me if Geoff Johns thinks a galaxy is bigger than the universe. In any case, it doesn’t seem to be interfering with fans enjoyment of the series. So why should parallel worlds be off the table?

  26. Synsidar says:

    Scientists have been considering the MWI since 1957. That would seem to predate DC’s use of parallel worlds during the silver age. So why would this suddenly make it an idea that shouldn’t be used now?

    There’s a big difference between casually saying, “Existence is a quantum fog. Ain’t that somethin’?!” and experimentally verifying that a quantum fog and other universes actually exist. If people in the real world can deal with the concept of infinity without their worldviews collapsing, then DC Editorial should be able to as well, and to stop pretending that their Crises and manipulations of worlds have any connection to fictional or actual realities.

    SRS

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