In the 1956, the superhero comic book landscape was reshaped and revamped with the arrival of the Flash… a character first introduced in 1940. The decision was to make the character more dynamic, more of a sci-fi/fantasy hero appealing to a new young audience. It worked and Green Lantern was released (who was also first introduced by Martin Nodell in 1940), Hawkman (created by Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville in 1940), the Atom (created by Ben Flinton and Bill O’Connor in 1940)… you can see where I’m going here.
Everything old was new again. In some cases, very little was retained and the new characters bearing the classic heroic names were brand new. The Silver Age (as it became known) made the superhero comic book a major success again and it has been moving steadily along ever since. However, DC Comics realized that they were losing to their competitor Marvel Comics, so in 1985 they launched an epic story that collapsed all of the various colorful worlds into one more accessible to a new young audience.
Since 1985, DC has been in the habit of collapsing and relaunching their iconic heroes in either a new or ‘back to basics’ look in order to increase sales and their readership. The problem here is one of consistency and continuity. Most comic book fans are devoted readers, stopping by every Wednesday to pick up their stack of comics. They are involved and engaged online and in person (at conventions, in fanzines or at the comic shop talking about their shared obsession). The storylines that are presented as important by the publisher are regarded as continuity which is the life blood of many a fan. Their knowledge is a valuable currency.
So when something like the Crisis of 1985 comes along and says ‘that never happened,’ it angers fans. Sure, the Man of Steel by John Byrne, Batman Year One by Miller and Mazzuchelli, Wonder Woman by Perez and Justice League by Giffen/DeMetteis and Maguire attracted a new excited group of readers but it also drove off readers who had stuck by their monthly books for years (and the fans of the 1985 line would similarly be pushed away in good time when their comic book reality was dissolved).
In 2011, DC Comics relaunched all of their titles with their New 52. In most cases it was chance to revamp old characters, ‘fix’ others and alienate or attract the fabled fickle new readers.
Titles were launched and cancelled in a quick fire fashion. It has been a mixed affair and the few successes have gone sour (Wonder Woman) while others were cancelled far too early (OMAC, Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE, Dial H).
This June, DC Comics will once more be relaunching their comic book line, introducing many characters who are already familiar with a new or ‘back to basics’ look.
There are some things on here that are very appealing such as the Bizarro book, a new Dr. Fate (created by Gardner Fox in 1940) book and the revamped Black Canary (created by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Carmine Infantino in 1947) by Brenden Fletcher of recent Batgirl fame. While others already look like misfires especially since fans have asked for more diverse comics and scantily clad buxom females abound in these previews (not that I’m complaining, but I’m also not buying). And after killing off Robin so many times, it’s downright bizarre to launch a book called ‘We Are Robin.’
Also, after the aforementioned skewering of Robin, the faceless Joker and ‘pot-scented’ Harley Quinn issue… why is DC now moving toward an ‘all-ages’ approach? Why divorce yourself from that demographic for several years only to try and win it over?
So, after my grumpy old fan rant, I have to ask… will you be giving the new new (old) DC a try? Or are you annoyed that your investment is possibly nullified in an attempt to retain or regain readership?
Beginning June 3rd, the DC Comics line of comic books will consist of 24 brand-new series that will begin at issue number one, as well as 25 on-going, bestselling fan favorite series that will continue without a break in the issue numbering. The total number of periodicals in the DCU will be 49, with additional new titles debuting throughout the year.
“This heralds in a new era for the DC Universe which will allow us to publish something for everyone, be more expansive and modern in our approach and tell stories that better reflect the society around us,” said DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio. “Whether you’ve been a DC fan your whole life, or whether you are new to comics – there will be a book for you beginning in June.”
DC Comics will be keenly focused on going back-to-basics with its legendary characters, like BATMAN, SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN, while also reinventing key characters, such as BLACK CANARY, BIZARRO, CYBORG and STARFIRE, with a new contemporary tonality to ensure a diverse offering of titles. Top writers and artists, as well as emerging fresh voices, are on board to help create an expansive lineup of comics that appeals to a broad audience of fans.
Depicting some of these iconic characters in a more contemporary light include National Book Award finalist Gene Luen Yang who will join artist John Romita Jr. in the ongoing adventures of SUPERMAN. Comic superstar artist Bryan Hitch will write and draw new tales of the world’s greatest heroes in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. The pitch perfect team of Garth Ennis and John McCrea returns to DC Comics for a limited series called SECTION EIGHT featuring characters from their popular Hitman comic. VERTIGO creator Ming Doyle will be lending her talents to DC Comics, penning CONSTANTINE: THE HELLBLAZER along with newcomer artist Riley Rossmo.
“More than ever before, DC Comics fans are being exposed to our rich portfolio of characters through multiple sources, including an unprecedented number of highly successful TV shows, video games and upcoming major motion pictures,” said Co-Publisher Jim Lee. “We are looking to extend that experience within publishing to ensure there is a comic book for everyone. For example, fans of the ARROW television show may want more stories about BLACK CANARY. Now they can find modern, fresh takes on the character in the pages of her standalone series both in stores and digitally.”
Breakout star, Brenden Fletcher, co-writer behind the all new, highly successful BATGIRL book will also be writing the new BLACK CANARY series launching in June. Fan favorites Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti will be the creative team on new titles STARFIRE and HARLEY QUINN/POWER GIRL and will continue to helm the perennially bestselling HARLEY QUINN.
“Beyond character and creators, the June slate will showcase different styles and approaches to storytelling as we add offbeat, irreverently funny titles such as BIZARRO, BAT-MITE and PREZ,” said Lee. “Truly there will be something for everybody as we simultaneously celebrate our rich legacy while embracing new voices and concepts.”
A first look at upcoming storylines will be the focus of DC Entertainment’s Free Comic Book Day issue – DC COMICS: DIVERGENCE – available Saturday, May 2, featuring three 8-page previews for the June releases of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s BATMAN, as well as Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s launch of the Darkseid War within JUSTICE LEAGUE featuring the biggest villains in the DCU – Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor, and Gene Luen Yang’s DC Comics debut with celebrated artist John Romita, Jr on SUPERMAN. More than half-a million free issues of the DC Entertainment sampler will be given away at comic book retailers globally.