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DC Rebirth is an ‘Ongoing Mission’ to Get Back to the Essence of DC Comics

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Today, DC Comics revealed the first details on the “Rebirth” that creative heads Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Dan DiDio had been teasing for the past few weeks. During the annual retailer convention ComicsPRO, DC pulled back the curtain on its plans for the future of its publishing line, including restoring the “legacy” of heroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the DCU. Johns, who helmed previous “rebirths” for Green Lantern and the Flash, claimed the linewide switch in creative direction will be a back-to-basics approach, and we’ll even see books like Action Comics and Detective Comics return to their original numbering.

Rebirth will be the third rebirth of the DC Universe after Crisis on Infinite Earths and Flashpoint, with the Flash serving once again as the impetus for change. In an exclusive interview with Comic Book Resources, Johns explained the Flash was always at the forefront of change in the DCU, and that would continue in the upcoming 80-page one-shot, DC Universe Rebirth #1 this May. “It’s not just an event,” Johns said. “It’s an ongoing mission for us.” That much is true as Rebirth will slowly roll out starting this June and continuing to launch new books this fall.

All but two continuing DC titles will relaunch with new issue #1s, the exceptions being DC’s veteran ongoing titles Action Comics and Detective Comics, starring Superman and Batman respectively. Those titles will return to their original numbering, making them the longest running titles on stands, albeit with a huge asterisk over both numbers. Action Comics will pick up at issue #957, while Detective will pick up at #934. (Without renumbering, the honor of longest-running title goes to Archie Comics’ Sonic The Hedgehog series.)

One of the most important elements of the relaunch is that all DC titles will now retail at $2.99. That sounds like good news, since at present several titles retail at $3.99, and that price point seriously limits readers’ ability to discover new books and enjoy a range of titles. The bad news is that ten DC titles will shift to a twice-monthly schedule, so it will cost readers $5.98 a month to keep up with them. Those books are Action Comics, Detective Comics, Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps, Justice League, Cyborg, Deathstroke, Harley Quinn, Justice League America, Suicide Squad and Nightwing. The number of story pages in these double-shipping titles has not been confirmed.

Johns explained to CBR in an interview that he viewed Rebirth as “an echo of the past, but looking to the future.” He drew parallels to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and how it was able to build on the classic archetypes of the original trilogy, but spin new characters and threats into the mix to create something fresh. While that’s all well and good, Star Wars also offered a new jumping point for people who maybe hadn’t been as familiar with the 30 year history and expanded universe. Some of Johns’ other comments make it appear as if it won’t be exactly as easy to enjoy this new, old DCU.

If you have, like me, long boxes of DC Comics, you will be very happy. If you’ve never read a DC comic before, you won’t be too lost,” Johns said. “This is definitely for comic book readers more than it is for casual readers… but that doesn’t mean it’s exclusive of them.”

It’s good that DC isn’t completely forgetting the fans that have stuck with them for decades, but going back to his Star Wars comparison, there are also only six movies you need to see to get the whole picture, not dozens of longboxes of individual stories.

Readers fearful that Rebirth would mean an end to DC’s attempts to diversify its line, most notably in the previous relaunch initiative, DC You, may take solace from some of the titles announced. Batgirl is sticking around in her own title, but also heading up a relaunched Birds of Prey in Batgirl & The Birds of Prey. Supergirl is finally getting her own ongoing title again, and there’s also going to be a Superwoman ongoing, starring who-knows-who (but fingers crossed it’s an attention-grabbing title for a Lois Lane: Ace Reporter book). The Superman line also includes ongoing series titled The Super-Man and Super Sons, and a Trinity title that presumably unites Superman with his buddies Iceman and Firestar. (Or Batman and Wonder Woman.)

Gotham Academy stays with us in the newly titled Gotham Academy: Next Semester, and Hellblazer, Cyborg, and (least surprisingly) Harley Quinn are all getting new #1s. Midnighter is sadly MIA, and there’s no sign of another title he might end up in. His frenemy Dick Grayson appears to have given up the anonymity of butt-centric spy work in Grayson to return to his old identity/butt in Nightwing #1.

With no creative teams announced at this time, we’ve no way of knowing what the diversity behind the scenes will look like. The new Supergirl, Superwoman, and Birds of Prey books are the only visible efforts to add more titles with leading women to the roster, though Starfire, Black Canary, Catwoman, and the Harley Quinn spin-offs are no longer with us.

There’s no obvious increase in titles with queer leads or people of color. The queer-inclusive Secret Six, the diverse We Are Robin, and the new Egyptian-American Doctor Fate, are all gone. A new Blue Beetle title is coming, but we don’t know which Blue Beetle.

You can get a better look at the planned slate of releases below.

June:

Rebirth Specials:

  • AQUAMAN REBIRTH #1
  • BATMAN REBIRTH #1
  • THE FLASH REBIRTH #1
  • GREEN ARROW REBIRTH #1
  • GREEN LANTERNS REBIRTH #1
  • SUPERMAN REBIRTH #1
  • TITANS REBIRTH #1
  • WONDER WOMAN REBIRTH #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping twice monthly):

  • AQUAMAN #1
  • BATMAN #1
  • THE FLASH #1
  • GREEN ARROW #1
  • GREEN LANTERNS #1
  • SUPERMAN #1
  • WONDER WOMAN #1

New Issues (Shipping twice monthly):

  • ACTION COMICS #957
  • DETECTIVE COMICS #934

July

Rebirth Specials:

  • BATGIRL & THE BIRDS OF PREY REBIRTH #1
  • HAL JORDAN & THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS REBIRTH #1
  • THE HELLBLAZER REBIRTH #1
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE REBIRTH #1
  • NIGHTWING REBIRTH #1
  • RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS REBIRTH #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping twice monthly):

  • HAL JORDAN & THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE #1
  • NIGHTWING #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping monthly):

  • BATGIRL #1
  • BATGIRL & THE BIRDS OF PREY #1
  • THE HELLBLAZER #1
  • RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS #1
  • THE SUPER-MAN #1
  • TITANS #1

Fall

Rebirth Specials:

  • BATMAN BEYOND REBIRTH #1
  • BLUE BEETLE REBIRTH #1
  • CYBORG REBIRTH #1
  • DEATHSTROKE REBIRTH #1
  • EARTH 2 REBIRTH #1
  • SUICIDE SQUAD REBIRTH #1
  • SUPERGIRL REBIRTH #1
  • TEEN TITANS REBIRTH #1
  • TRINITY REBIRTH #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping twice monthly):

  • CYBORG #1
  • DEATHSTROKE #1
  • HARLEY QUINN #1
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA #1
  • SUICIDE SQUAD #1

New #1 Issues (Shipping monthly):

  • BATMAN BEYOND #1
  • BLUE BEETLE #1
  • EARTH 2 #1
  • GOTHAM ACADEMY: NEXT SEMESTER #1
  • SUPERGIRL #1
  • SUPERWOMAN #1
  • SUPER SONS #1
  • TEEN TITANS #1
  • TRINITY #1

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