DC's new line: What we know, what we're saying

lee johns DC's new line: What we know, what we're saying
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:

IGN Poll DC's new line: What we know, what we're saying
§ 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?


Head hurts.

§ 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!

201106010256 DC's new line: What we know, what we're saying

Comments

  1. Hal Shipman says:

    The only thing that makes me sad about all of this is possibly losing Levitz’s Legion. I’m hoping that June 13th has some good news on that front, especially since he referred to Flashpoint as a historical event in his first issue.

    Hopefully, they also learned from the original Crisis. We always hear about the messes that Donna Troy and Hawkman become, but really a huge number of the post-Crisis stories were narrative messes. While we got occasional gems like JLA: Year One, there were far, far more jarring, “Wait, what?” moments.

  2. Well, this is seriously depressing. Fifty books starting anew with, presumably, new creative teams, and my husband hasn’t gotten a single call yet. Phooey.

  3. Wesley Smith says:

    I think the most important question to ask at this point is this:

    Is that… Is that AMETHYST behind them?

  4. Sean D. says:

    Well, I know what one of the big topics of discussion will be at Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL will be now. Should be interesting to see what kind of reaction there is to this among that cross section of folks who come to the character from all of the different media Superman has been featured in.

  5. Wally Strong says:

    You know what would make me buy more books? LOWER PRICES.

  6. Charles Knight says:

    The more that comes out the more it seems to be a soft reboot of sorts where they ‘carry over’ the bits they like (Morrison’s Batman, Green Lantern stuff’) and drop the rest.

    I still the bigger news is the digital publishing stuff.

  7. It is the end of the “Modern Age” and the beginning of the “Digital Age”

  8. Ken B. says:

    All of this is really moot to me if they pull a One More Day with Superman. From where I stand, that’s the biggest deal breaker in this whole relaunch.

  9. Torsten Adair says:

    Yes, that is Amethyst making goo-goo eyes at Robin. I believe it was drawn by Ernie Colon.

    CrossGen proved that non-superhero genre fiction comics could sell, if done well. Had DC purchased CG back in 2004, they would have had a robust internet portal to experiment with digital comics, ongoing popular titles of heroic characters with no tights, and some impressive creator-owned titles.

    I wasn’t a big fan of DC when they rebooted in 1985. For those who were there, how successful was the “new DC” from 1985-1990? There’s some impressive backlist from that era …Watchmen, Killing Joke, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing…

    Will we see some inspired storytelling on marginal titles, similar to O’Neil’s Question or Ostrander’s Wasteland?

    Will this be a soft reboot like Zero Hour, or a hard reboot like Crisis? I suspect the former for established titles, but hope DC takes their non-superhero titles into uncharted territory. I want to see DC try new things. Because Marvel doesn’t.

  10. Torsten Adair says:

    (Oh, and I know he’s the CCO of DC, but could Mr. Johns at least wear a jacket for his publicity shots? He looks like an intern.)

  11. “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.”

    Whatever else happens, I’m pumped to learn that I am a cyborg.

  12. Thefreakytiki says:

    I would LOVE if 1 or 2 of the new #1s are honestly NEW titles. I mean brand new character that no one has seen before new titles. How fuckin’ Awesome would that be?

    The Tiki

  13. How appropriate that Johns and Lee are standing ahead of a mural in the DC offices that’s a jam piece that was available as a print in the mid-1980s and included as part of Graphitti Designs’ History of the DC Universe hardcover.

  14. Sphinx Magoo says:

    What Wally Strong said.

    If digital comics released are $.99 instead of $2.99 or $1.99, I’ll buy a whole bunch. I have almost the entire run of Welcome to Tranquility in iPhone format because each issue was at a price I felt comfortable spending. Give me new books at a similar price point and I’ll be glad to try them out.

  15. If they had announced cutting the line to 20 titles at $3.99 I’d have bought them all.

  16. I’d happily take the day off from work and head into the city to the DC offices and take publicity shots for DC. I don’t own a fisheye lens and could still do something interesting without warping people. Jeez, a fish-eye for TWO people? I bet the photographer thought it would look more “comic book”y. IDIOT.

    I guess we should just be happy that he used a rectilinear lens and — ah, nevermind. Now I’m getting my camera nerd on, and this is a forum for comic nerds. ;-)

  17. Torsten, after the world’s youngest billionaire started going to meetings in Rider sandals, it’s all gone to hell.

    I’m going to a meeting with a publisher this afternoon in speedos.

  18. Well, I started seriously readingDC after the reboot in ’85 then stopped when I left the sunny shores of Britland in ’93. I think it was pretty good until about ’91, then began to drop off…with the exception of the Vertigo titles, of course. I can’t help but feel that this is the Corporate Warners trying to skim the fan-buck by sleight of hand, I supposewe should have seen this coming really.

  19. Synsidar says:

    The move might create a sense of editorial disarray.

    JMS’s WONDER WOMAN, for example: I was reading it out of curiosity as to what would be changed by the revamp. He abandoned the series to work on Superman GNs. I read a couple of issues by his replacement, then dropped the series. And now, whatever changes occur in that series are likely to be erased by the latest revamp. And what will happen to the ballyhooed SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE stories?

    It would be reasonable to think that they have no firm plans, that they’re like a breakfast cereal company which produces only a few flavors — Lucky Charms clone, Froot Loops clone, Cocoa Puffs close, etc. — that don’t sell well. They’re desperately trying to come up with new ways to market their cereals better, because changing the flavors is too hard. But if the brands have poor reputations and consumers think that the cereals are bland and uninteresting too, there might not be anything they can do with the existing products. They have to try something new, and succeed or fail with that.

    SRS

  20. Smell the desperation.

    Just don’t fuck with XOMBI – seeing as it’s the only DCU book worth a damn.

  21. “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.”

    Dear Mr. Johns: You are an awesome writer and thinker and comics is a much better place with you here, and I like that you wear t-shirts to work, but please don’t try to tell us that we are cyborgs. Some exec: “Iron Man made a lot of money. So redesign Cyborg with an arc reactor and tell people he’s an iPad.”

  22. 52 titles seems like a lot, but some are probably one shots and minis, so that’s OK. I’m more worried that I’ll see the names of 45 artists that I’ve never heard of, and can’t get to cons to publicize all these new books because it’s too far away or they can’t speak without an interpreter. I’d be happier if DC would use some of the talent from the DC Retrovision titles and get them back on the DCU books!

  23. With all the talk of Superman Earth One, one almost has to wonder if it was that book’s success that pushed DC to hit the reset button on everything. One also has to wonder if Batman Earth One will now become the new Batman ongoing. Considering how much advance work has (supposedly) been done on it, it would certainly make sense.

  24. Naveed says:

    Anybody else tired of reboots every 3rd year. Let’s see if this one sticks or we revert to the the original DCU in 2 years from now. I am unsure if this is exiting or just another revamp gimmick. So much for hisory and all those comics I boxed these past 20 years!

  25. Michael P says:

    Yes, Geoff, using a cell phone is exactly the same as having most of your body replaced with mechanical parts.

  26. For what it’s worth, HEROES REBORN lasted one year.

    This seems like almost exactly the same stunt. And, hey, Jim Lee was involved in that too.

  27. Hey, DC: You want to up your sagging sales figures? Here’s some ideas for you: Streamline the regular DCU titles down to 36 per month. Use cheaper paper and less garish coloring to keep the price at TWO DOLLARS APIECE. Get actual WRITERS to script your books. If their books sell, LEAVE THEM ALONE TO DO THEIR JOB. Hire artists who are not addicted to video games to meet their deadlines. Make them sign contracts to stay on a title for more than four issues & make the penalty for skipping out on that equal to being blackballed from the industry. The first editorial edict should be PRODUCE GOOD STORIES. Every thing beyond that is proofreading & production schedules. NO MORE FUCKING CROSSOVER EVENTS WHERE 42,653 ASSHOLES IN COSTUMES ARE BUMPING INTO EACH OTHER TO FIGHT SOME BIG SCARY ANTI-MONITOR DOOFUS. And by the way, destroying the Multiverse crutch was a GOOD idea: Leave it that way. Let characters change and grow with the passing of time. Nobody stays static forever & the only thing more stale than a character in a rut is one who constantly goes through the ILLUSION of change. Stop patting yourselves on the back for having Black, Hispanic and Gay characters like it is some GREAT LITERARY BREAKTHROUGH and that you’re all noble shining architects of change. You look like complete morons every single time that you do this. Above all: Stop listening to and revolving your business around fanboys who are pushing 60. Because if you continue to do so, when they die, so do you.

  28. Michael says:

    Given DC’s normal output, 52 comics aren’t actually that many when you compare it to their normal output. In the latest Previews, there are 40 books in their main line. If you include the Flashpoint minis, then you get 56 books. Add in the Retroactive titles and it bumps up to 68…

    Marvel’s no better (actually, they’re worse). They hit 47 books in their core line, and once you factor in the Fear Itself, Iron Age and Spider-Island books you get 63. Let’s toss in Ultimate stuff and we bring the total to 66.

    Now, let’s compare the total number of super-hero comics both companies are releasing:

    Marvel = 84
    DC = 73

    (My numbers may be off by a few, but they should be close enough for government work.)

  29. ikaras says:

    I’m not upset about change, but clearly not much of it will stick. Why would I pick up one of the new books when 2/3 of them won’t exist in the new form anymore in a year or two? How many times have Wonder Woman and Hawkman been retconed?

  30. ComicFan says:

    My question is on the digital information, which being a major part of this launch seems to be more than lacking in details.

    Especially considering they can release the digital info and it NOT affect and spoint any comic news.

    Will this be non-DMR, program specific, must keep on their server digital comics, or will fans actually get digital comics, they buy download and control what they do with?
    If it’s the prior, this will flop BAD.

  31. OtisTFirefly says:

    LEGION LOST.

    FIRST TIME in 20 years the Legion has been THE LEGION, and GEEEeeee Wally, guess what the brains at DC do?

    GOAT_FLIP it all to hell. I guess they must have had some sort of token “we’ll give Levitz a year as part of kicking his azz out the door” consolation prize. That would explain the LoSuper Villains one-shot… must have had a page count for him too.

    AAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaarrrrggghhhh!!! 75 years of history? Pssssaaaaaawwww!!! WHO NEEDS IT WHEN WE CAN MAKE A LOT OF MONEY (relatively speaking) FOR 2 MONTHS BEFORE EVERYONE DROPS IT LIKE THE SNAPOLA IT WILL UNDOUBTEDLY BE?

    (the funniest part… Johns/Lee on JLA? a MONTHLY book? Hmmmm… 2 issues out, then a 2 month delay, then another issue, then another 3 month delay, then … All-Star Batman time baby.

  32. Waseem Hussain says:

    super excited, especially if the creative teams are of a high caliber.

    but deeply divided: continue to order books through mailordercomics.com at about 25% off after all the shipping costs or pay full price for same day digital?

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