It was just three years ago that DC announced the biggest shakeup in the company’s history (not counting the DC Implosion of 1978) with the relaunching of the entire DC Comics line with no ties to the previous continuity. They launched the line on August 11th 2011 and with a lot of fanfare and huge sales on the titles. But with all things new the novelty wore off and over time there were only a few titles left from the original launch. This June DC Comics enters its next phase with a revamping of the line keeping 25 current titles:
Action Comics — W: Greg Pak, A: Aaron Kuder
Aquaman — W: Cullen Bunn, A: Trevor McCarthy
Batgirl — W: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher, A: Babs Tarr
Detective Comics — W; Brian Buccelato & Francis Manapul, A: Francis Manapul
Batman/Superman — W: Greg Pak, A: Ardian Syaf
Catwoman — W: Genevieve Valentine, A: David Messina
Deathstroke — W: Tony S. Daniel, A: Tony S. Daniel
The Flash — W: Robert Venditti & Van Jensen, A: Brett Booth
Gotham Academy — W: Becky Cloonan & Brenden Fletcher, A: Karl Kerschl
Grayson — W: Tom King & Tim Seeley, A: Mikel Janin
Green Arrow — W: Ben Percy, A: Patrick Zircher
Green Lantern — W: Robert Venditti, A: Billy Tan
Harley Quinn — W: Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner, A: Chad Hardin
Justice League — W: Geoff Johns, A: Jason Fabok
Justice League United — W/A: Stay tuned for creative team info!
Lobo — W: Cullen Bunn, A: Cliff Richards
Secret Six — W: Gail Simone, A: Dale Eaglesham
Sinestro — W: Cullen Bunn, A: Bradley Walker
New Suicide Squad — W: Sean Ryan, A: Carlos D’Anda
Superman — W: Gene Luen Yang, A: John Romita, Jr.
Superman/Wonder Woman — W: Peter J. Tomasi, A: Doug Mahnke
Teen Titans — W: Will Pfeifer, A: Kenneth Rocafort
Wonder Woman — W: Meredith Finch, A: David Finch
They will be adding 24 new titles that are a mix of ongoing series and mini series:
Batman Beyond — W: Dan Jurgens, A: Bernard Chang
Bat-Mite — W: Dan Jurgens, A: Corin Howell (6 issue series)
Dark Universe — W: James Tynion IV, A: Ming Doyle
Green Lantern: Lost Army — W: Cullen Bunn, A: Jesus Saiz & Javi Pina
Doomed — W: Scott Lobdell, A: Javier Fernandez
Earth 2: Society — W: Daniel Wilson, A: Jorge Jimenez
Dr. Fate — W: Paul Levitz, A: Sonny Liew
Harley Quinn/Power Girl — W: Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner, A: Stephane Roux (6 issue series)
Justice League of America — W: Bryan Hitch, A: Bryan Hitch
Justice League 3001 — W: Keith Giffen, A: Howard Porter
Martian Manhunter — W: Rob Williams, A: Ben Oliver
Midnighter — W: Steve Orlando, A: ACO
Mystic U — W: Alisa Kwitney, A: Stay tuned for artist info!
Omega Men — W: Tom King, A: Alec Morgan
Prez — W: Mark Russell, A: Ben Caldwell
Red Hood/Arsenal — W: Scott Lobdell, A: Denis Medri
Robin, Son of Batman — W: Patrick Gleason, A: Patrick Gleason
Section Eight — W: Garth Ennis, A: John McCrea (6 issue series)
Starfire — W: Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner, A: Emanuela Lupacchino
The big reason for the change is that honestly sales and quality of the vast majority of DC Comics is weak. I am a huge DC fan and have had a hard time justifying buying more than a handful of regular DC books. The other reason is what is being called “Batgirling” of DC Comics. The new creative team on Batgirl has really been a hugely fresh approach to the superhero genre. It’s hip and timely and most of all a fun book that has been sorely lacking at DC lately. With Mark Doyle taking over the Batman family titles he really shook things up with the relaunch of Batgirl and Catwoman with a new creative teams. New titles Gotham Academy, Gotham By Midnight, and Grayson were really outside the box type books and have attracted sales and new readers. They also have had a huge impact on the social media scene. One of the strongest selling New 52 books was Harley Quinn by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner that broke the dark and depressing New 52 mantra and created a fun book that also had done in one stories that could give new readers a jumping on point for any issue. It’s also no secret that Marvel has had strong success with Ms. Marvel that is a very outside the box comic that has been a huge hit for them and has a very large female readership.
One of DC (and Marvel) problems is that they have concentrated too much on superhero books that cater to the limited number of current readers. They keep rehashing the same idea and in terms of quality there is very little of it. The reason that Batgirl has become a hit is that not only done well in sales but has attracted new readers and the very important female audience that is very elusive in comics today. While the average comic reader is very content with the by the numbers flood of comics from both DC and Marvel they are getting a lot of pressure from independent publishers. Image Comics has really become a major player in the comics industry and is publishing a very diverse range of comics that is appealing to an audience that is not severed by the big two.
There is some really interesting creative teams that are going to be doing some of the new books that are outside the normal “comic book” creators. There are also so really wild and bold characters that will be in their own book. There is sadly still a lack of diversity on the creative side with the noticeable lack of female creators. Co-publisher Dan DiDio said “In this new era of storytelling, story will trump continuity as we continue to empower creators to tell the best stories in the industry”.
The ultimate question remains, will the creative teams of writers and artist be allowed a more free rein to do these books. One of the big complaints from creators of the New 52 titles was the interference of the editorial staff that has been rumored and got ugly in public with the Batwoman creators W. Haden Blackman and artist and co-writer JH Williams III left the book before there storyline ended because of the mandate that there are no married superheroes at DC Comics. This is going to be a real key to the success of the new books or their failure. I hope that DC can pull this off and get the company back on track to do exciting outside the box superhero comics. I like superhero comics I just demand that they are good quality.