Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A new beginning for the DC Universe

The internet was split in half yesterday, then shattered into tiny pieces, and then all the bits were ground into dust, scattered into a black hole, and came out the other side all bewildered, wide eyed and curious as DC Comics confirmed long-running rumours that all of their superhero universe titles would be relaunched in September.

Something like this needed to be done. Many of DC's comics had become new reader unfriendly due to all the baggage of continuity, crossovers and drawn out story arcs. The changes will come as a result of the current Flashpoint event running across the DC universe at present.

Have no doubt about it, this is a major relaunch. Every DC title will end this summer and restart with a new No.1 in September, and many characters will be redesigned and some will face a new status quo. (Rumour has it the Clark Kent/Lois Lane marriage will cease to exist.) As can be seen in the image at the top (promoting the new Justice League No.1) costumes have been tweaked (for better or worse), Superman appears younger (if that is indeed Kal-El), Wonder Woman's gained some muscle, and Green Lantern looks really excited about the whole thing in a Freudian way.

Here's the brief details: in September DC Comics will release 52 all-new No.1 issues, approximately 13 issues each week. (Assuming all the superstar creators can meet their deadlines.) On the same day as each comic is released a digital version will also be available for download. This is the first time a major comics publisher has gone day-and-date digtial across their line.

From our perspective, how will this affect international editions? Titan Magazines currently have the licence to produce DC comics in the UK. Their Batman Legends comic has had fluctuating frequency recently (monthly, then every 6 weeks, then monthly again) and the ailing Superman Legends was replaced by DC Universe Presents last year but that's gone to six-weekly now. A Justice League Legends title didn't fare too well a few years ago and was soon canceled. Will this give Titan the incentive and opportunity to try a few new UK DC titles, confident that the comics will be free of the burden of previous continuity? Or do the previous failures indicate that the UK newsstand readership isn't interested in DC characters other than Batman?

Will this bold move by DC actually work? I'm sure we remember things turned out when Marvel tried a similar thing with Heroes Reborn years ago. (The old continuity was restored a year later.) Will most titles stand alone so that new readers (and older readers returning to the fold) can understand (and afford) the storylines? Or will they make the same mistake of bringing in huge crossovers and confusing anyone who starts reading them later?

Time will tell, but if they really are dumping all the old continuity wouldn't that make their vast range of trade paperbacks redundant? Wouldn't it confuse new readers if, for example, they jump on board with Superman No.1, enjoy what they see, and then they pick up a Superman trade which features a completely different setup to the new comics?

This item just scratches the surface of the story. For more information keep your eyes on the regularly updated news sites such as these:

and of course of DC's own official website:

(Updated 6/6/2011 with new cover images.)


Mike said...

Ooh I might just have to take a punt on Superman No.1, he is the original superhero! Mind you I might live on the other side of the world by then so it might not be easy to come by.

Anonymous said...

But I still remember the last reboot.... (Crisis on Infinite Earths).

Fewer comics but better produced might be a better solution.

Lew Stringer said...

I'm sure the production values will still be high. I doubt all the changes will be permanent though. For one thing DC have the Superman 'S' trademarked so they're unlikely to consign that to history.

James Spiring said...

Yeah, I bet after a year or so, Action Comics and Detective Comics (the two longest running titles) will go back to their original numbering.

Tony Howson said...

I'm hoping they're going to offer a bit more diversity like the DC of the 1960's and 1970's rather than just starting multiple books for Superman, Batman and anyone who ever had a JLA/JSA connection. A few war, western, sci-fi or humour titles among the endless superheroes would be welcome.

But with 52 new series starting, the odds are pretty good I'll find one or two titles that interest me. For the most part it's the quality of the creative teams rather than the featured characters that will make the choice for me - although I'm really, really hoping that the Jonah Hex title survives this.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the great talent involved, or rather wasted in them,i still find superhero comics to be incredibly BORING :P

Davy Francis said...

Why don't they reaaaalllyyy go mad and have humour artists and writers doing the new DC comics.
All the comic characters nowadays are getting very dark,they all seemed to have been killed off then spend a year being resurrected. Who's next to come back from the dead-Aquaman? I think once a character has been killed off, it really kills supension of disbelief.On the other hand, they are only comcis,and therefore not real.I saw Batman sticking a knife into another character's head the other day, and thought, what happened to Batman's code against killing? I know a lot of characters have killed in the comics, but I always thought Batman was above all that.
That's all I have to say.

Davy Francis

Lew Stringer said...

ah but that wasn't the real Batman Davy. It was his Dad. So that makes it alright then.

Davy Francis said...

His dad? Is that Thomas Wayne? I thought he was dead?!! I don't follow the regular DC comics , I just get the graphic novel collections if the art is really good, like some of the Doug Mahnke
Batmans, and of course, Frank Quitely.Who's your favorite 'serious' artists, Lew?

Lew Stringer said...

Was that scene you saw in Batman: Knight of Vengeance? It's part of the FlashPoint story where the universe has been changed. Thomas Wayne is Batman and Bruce Wayne was shot as a boy. It'll lead into the new DC comics with some timey-wimey multi-wultiverse stuff no doubt when they bring Bruce Wayne back in September.

Don't really have a "favourite" artist. I like loads equally, including Mike Noble, Kev O'Neill, Jack Kirby, Dave Gibbons, Eduardo Risso... all sorts.

Davy Francis said...

I love all the old Valiant artists, like Mike Western, whoever did 'Tough of the Track'-brilliant brushwork, Eric Bradbury, another fantatsic brush artist, and Jesus Blasco, who did 'Steel Claw', but I love Garry Leach's work, John McCrea of course,and your old cohort Mick McMahon, who I had the pleasure of
meeting recently at the brilliant
2D comic festival in Derry/Londonderry, or Stroke City, as it's known here.Do you remember the comic 'Jet'? It was brilliant, it had all the old masters, but it never really took off, I think it was amalgamated with Valiant before it had time to shine.Ah, heady days in the sixties, the smell of newsprint and bubble gum from a first issue(with free bubble gum, or x-shaped boomerang that got stuck in a tree first time you used it.).Anyway, better go before this turns into my blog instead of yours.Sorry!

davy francis said...

By the way, it was Killer Croc Batman was sticking a knife into.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the survey results at CBR? It looks like we're heading for another DC IMPLOSION!!

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