The New DC Universe: ComicsAlliance Staff Picks
The digital dust has finally settled after the virtual whirlwind of DC Comics announcements over the last two weeks. The venerable comic book publisher will relaunch its entire superhero line in September with new #1 issues for all series including Action Comics and Detective Comics, the two longest-running comic books in the United States. While the vast majority of the 52 new series will be created by writers and artists already familiar to regular DC readers, the characters and premises will return decidedly changed -- in some cases, apparently drastically so.
Now that the facts are in with respect to titles, creators and characters (you can find a complete list of the 52 new series with cover art and solicitation text right here), the ComicsAlliance staffers offer their personal thoughts on DC Comics' bold initiative and what titles have piqued their interests (or earned their scorn).Laura Hudson, Editor-in-Chief
I'm going to keep it short and sweet, both because everybody else has a lot to say and because I am a busy career woman attending to the constant demands of running a website such that I would probably be wearing massive shoulderpads if it were the '80s. Even while working at home in my pajamas.
Simply put, I'm down with the reboot, at least as an idea. Change is good, and the absence of change -- the unwillingness to let characters and stories evolve -- is the thing that I believe cripples superhero stories the most. Honestly, I don't care about continuity. I don't. I care about creators telling good stories that matter in and of themselves and don't constantly feel limited by the weight of their own history or the notion that nothing different can really ever Happen. It's why more and more I've often felt myself inclined to indie comics, and while changing a direction of a ship as large as the DC Universe is no easy task, I applaud their decision to try.
How it will actually be executed is another matter; how many mega-crossovers have sounded like good ideas, after all, only to deliver disappointment? In the end, it will stand or fall on the creativity, accessibility, and pleasure of the comics they give us in those 52 new series, not just in the first issues but in all the ones that follow. It could end up being the same sh*t with different numbers, or it could end up being something truly different. Only time will tell.
Personally, I'm excited for Action Comics by Grant Morrison, Batman by Scott Snyder, Batgirl by Gail Simone, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, and yeah, Resurrection Man just sounds crazy enough for me to give it a shot.
Caleb Goellner, Senior Editor
A string of events running from Identity Crisis through The Rise of Arsenal transformed the wider DCU into a world I honestly don't mind seeing relaunched, but considering the number of creators responsible for those problems are at the helm of the new DCU, I'm adopting a wait-and-see attitude to most of the cape titles.
That said, I'm plenty excited about "The Dark" line, where I can sit back and enjoy A-list creative teams on characters with far less baggage than their more mainstream counterparts. Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette on Swamp Thing. Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman on Animal Man. Paul Cornell, Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert on Demon Knights. Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Fernando Dagnino on Resurrection Man. Most of the folks working in "The Dark" are creators I know I can count on for a good story within any parameters, whether its a relaunch, a startup or a 900-issue serial.
Of "The Dark" books, I'm most excited about seeing Resurrection Man's... resurrection. As part of a relaunched universe, I'd like to see Mitch Shelly stand on his own as much as possible, but considering how awesome DNA write team books, I'll geek out if he's tied to suitably awesome characters/continuity down the line. Like I said, I trust these folks.
Andy Khouri, Associate Editor
Although a longtime fan of the DC Comics icons, I've beenbuying fewer and fewer DC periodicals in the last few years (and perhaps contributing to the publisher's market share problems, necessitating this relaunch), preferring the archival material the company has been so excellent at making available. I think it's because my DC habits are so rooted in the classic idioms of these characters that I feel alienated by many of the relaunch premises and redesigns, for they are explicitly intended to seem different from what I know. That's not a condemnation of the relaunch concept, it's just a consequence of it.
Of the brand new material, the Dark line seems particularly well developed and is staffed with some especially talented creators. Longtime DC readers like myself fondly remember the Vertigo-ish adventures of many of these characters -- John Constantine, Zatanna, Etrigan, Swamp Thing and Animal Man -- in titles like Neil Gaiman's Books of Magic and I suspect writers Peter Milligan, Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder and Paul Cornell will produce some similarly cool stories. The return of the 1990s cult book Resurrection Man with its original writers, Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, is intriguing.
The Superman titles are a curious case. Writers Paul Cornell and Chris Roberson have done great work with Action Comics and Superman, respectively, but the character was hopelessly mired by the pretentious "Grounded" storyline devised by J. Michael Straczynski, necessitating the radical Golden Age-inspired approach by Grant Morrison in the Action Comics relaunch and whatever George Pérez will do in Superman. It's a shame that years of work by Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle to redefine Supergirl as a wholesome, plucky heroine and not just a short skirt in the sky seems to have been set aside in favor of a more typically prejudicial Kryptonian character, but Supergirl's momentum was obviously hurt by the quick turnaround in writers from Nick Spencer to James Peaty (to the incoming and then quickly outgoing Kelly Sue DeConnick).
As a member of Generation WildStorm, I find the notion of a Stormwatch that does not feature sensational sexual content, horrifying ultra-violence and other assorted grimness to be pointless in the extreme. Hopefully Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda will deliver the goods (bads?).
Writer Kyle Higgins wrote the excellent origin of Nightrunner, the Muslim Batman of Paris, and as such was involved in one of the biggest ever stories on ComicsAlliance. I'll be looking forward to his work with Dick Grayson on Nightwing. And despite my deeply mixed feelings on the matter, I'm probably most looking forward to the return of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, for it more than anything else is plainly momentous.
Finally, as a fan of Geoff Johns' pattern of synthesizing decades of continuity into a modern versions of characters like Green Lantern, Superman and the Justice Society, I find myself in the unusual position of being curious about an Aquaman comic book.
Chris Sims, Senior Writer
Like everyone else, I'm pretty excited to see Grant Morrison writing Superman on a monthly basis in the pages of Action Comics. I've always thought that the Morrison/Millar/ Waid/Peyer Superman pitch from 2000 was one of the biggest missed opportunities in comics history, and getting even a tiny piece of it now is a step in the right direction.
As for the all-new, all-different titles, as someone who hasn't read any of Jeff Lemire's stuff in the past but who really wants more stories with the Seven Soldiers characters, I'm really interested in Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE, but the only title that I'm genuinely excited about is Demon Knights. Paul Cornell's not only an incredibly talented writer, but as way too few people saw in the pages of Captain Britain and MI-13, he's got a really awesome handle on how magic and mysticism can be used in super-hero stories. Throw in the fact that the Demon is one of my favorite Kirby creations, and you've got yourself a sale.
The wildcard, though, is Wonder Woman. As a lot of people already know, I'm not a big Wonder Woman fan, but I think all that it would take to get me there is a really good story. Cliff Chiang's art is always consistently phenomenal, and while Brian Azzarello can be hit or miss with me, the last time he and Chiang did a book together (Doctor 13), it was absolutely incredible. If nothing else, the combination's got me curious.
Chris Murphy, Blogger
Looking over the very long list of books DC plans on releasing come September, I'm surprised that I'm most excited by Paul Cornell on Demon Knights. Given Cornell's record on books like Captain Britain for Marvel and Knight and Squire for DC, I'm looking forward to him telling medieval fantasy stories featuring Etrigan. Continuing in the magic vein, I'm also anticipating Peter Milligan on Justice League Dark. The name may be a bit odd, but the concept of a magic-focused Justice League and the cast including Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, Shade and Madame Xanadu has me intrigued. Finally, I was thrilled to hear that Cliff Chiang will be doing the art on Wonder Woman. Chiang's recent work on Zatanna showed him to be in the small but noble minority of superhero comics artists who can draw powerful female characters without making them feel like pinup art.
Moving on to the negatives, there's no book I was less pleased to see announced than Suicide Squad. Gail Simone's soon-to-be-concluded Secret Six is my favorite book DC's publishing, and a lot of that has to do with the unique and completely unfiltered voice Simone provides for her ensemble cast. Two-thirds of the new Suicide Squad are former Secret Six members, and the decision to do that is condemning the book to exist in Secret Six's shadow rather than letting the title have its own fresh start. I doubt it'll fare well in that comparison, even if I can ignore the awful costume on Harley Quinn.
Last, there's the overall trend that DC wasn't able to bring in new, eye-catching writers who'd never worked for them before and that could provide the fresh talent that would be ideally timed with a relaunch. The fact that DC was close to bringing in people like Brian Clevinger (Atomic Robo) or Kelly Sue DeConnick (Osborn) but chose not to indicates to me that while the DC Universe is off to a new start, it's doing so with an old mindset. And that's troubling.
Curt Franklin, Contributor
O.M.A.C. - I'll give anything with Kieth Giffen's name on it a chance. He was the glue of 52 and the guy who put together some of the funniest / heart-wrenching Legion stories, so he's earned an immortal pass. Plus, the cover promises some kind of new mohawk technology only hinted at in Kirby's O.M.A.C. work. If you're gonna rank mohawks, it goes something like: Punk Storm > O.M.A.C. > Gladiator >>>>>>>> Nuklon
Men of War - I don't understand the appeal of putting Sgt. Rock in charge of a bunch of defense contractors in light of all the terrible real life stories of private military companies' disregard of civilians and general war profiteering, but I'll try to refrain judgment until this is actually out. Just don't try to make war seem cool, thanks.
Hawk and Dove - COVER: Hawk is jumping out at the reader, like 'YARR' and Dove is right beside him, like stoic but obvs. more peaceful. Because she is like peace, you know? In the background, it's like they're floating heads and Hawk is still like 'YARR' but Dove is putting on like this sexy face because she is sexy peaceful and also next to their heads are actual bird heads, like, to show that Hawk and Dove are based on birds. And make the Hawk look pensively in the sky, like maybe it is thinking about life or thinking about where to poop.
Swamp Thing - The book I'm most excited for. Despite the silly way Swamp Thing returned in Brightest Day, I've got a lot of confidence that Snyder can instill this with the sense of horror he brought to almost every page of American Vampire. Paquette's art seems similarly suited to Swamp Thing, as the cover gives a good contrast between the beautiful and almost terrifying aspects of nature's fecundity.
Animal Man - Like Swamp Thing, another title to be excited about. I haven't followed much of Lemire's mainstream work, but Sweet Tooth and Essex County both provide great looks at life as an outsider, something Buddy Baker can relate to. The best parts of Morrison's Animal Man run had Baker juggling his family, super-hero politics, and the strange nature of his powers. Hoping Cliff Baker still has his mullet.
David Uzumeri, Blogger
Obviously I'm incredibly excited for Grant Morrison and Rags Morales's (I predict) of-the-people Superman in Action Comics, but the rest of the line is fairly intriguing as well. Superman, with script and breakdowns by George Pérez and finished art by Jesus Merino is, in my eyes, a complete unknown since Pérez hasn't solo-written a finished comic since Wonder Woman #62 back in 1992. (He also wrote his creator-owned series Crimson Plague, but it never finished). In terms of hip, young new writers to bring Superman into the 21st century, he's an... idiosyncratic choice. With regards to Superboy, RB Silva's art was excellent on last year's Jimmy Olsen backup/special with Nick Spencer, while its writer -- Scott Lobdell, a name that'll come up a lot -- is almost as unknown a quantity as Pérez, having stayed out of the limelight for the majority of the '00s. Supergirl I'm actually quite looking forward to, since writers Green and Johnson had a very funny, very energetic, very underrated run on Superman/Batman and I've been hoping for more from them ever since.
With Grant Morrison leaving the franchise for at least the next few months, Scott Snyder becomes the de facto linerunner on the Batman books. His take on the Dark Knight has far more in common with Morrison's pre-Incorporated incarnation than post-. While Morrison extended Batman's scope outward in terms of space, leading to a true International Club of Batmen, Snyder is extending Gotham City in terms of time, as started off in the current Gates of Gotham series he's co-writing with future Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins. Ancient conspiracies and buried secrets are a common theme in Snyder's comic book writing, extending from Detective to Gates and definitely to his creator-owned American Vampire, and we're unlikely to see any deviation.
Batman and Robin, started in 2009 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, gets a new #1 with Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, a team that was supposed to take the book over full-time after Morrison's departure before it became a fill-in arc depot. I have to question whether pairing Bruce Wayne and his son Damian is a good idea. In Batman: The Return, Bruce even said his chances of working with Damian on a regular basis were "zero," and taking former Batman Dick Grayson out of the equation seems to leave a partnership that consists of grim and grimmer. I'm curious to see how Tomasi deals with this.
Higgins has been doing a good job working with Scott Snyder on Gates of Gotham and it's nice to see he'll be dealing with Dick's character in Nightwing after he leaves the cape and cowl behind. And make no mistake, he is leaving it behind rather than being rebooted to having never worn it, as the last round of PR for these books shows.
I like Judd Winick and I like Catwoman, in theory, and if you're going to go for the super-sexpot take on any character, you could do it on one far less appropriate than Selina. But still, "addicted to Batman," as she's described in the solicits, sounds more like Chris Sims than Selina Kyle. Actually, you could probably replace all the pronouns in the hype copy and it'd definitely sound like Chris Sims.
Meet Catwoman. She's addicted to the night. Addicted to shiny objects. Addicted to Batman. Most of all, Catwoman is addicted to danger. She can't help herself, and the truth is – she doesn't want to. She's good at being bad, and very bad at being good. Find out more about what makes Catwoman tick in this new series from writer Judd Winick (BATMAN: UNDER THE HOOD) and artist Guillem March (GOTHAM CITY SIRENS)!
Birds of Prey is one of the most interesting DC relaunched since writer Duane Swierczynski hasn't done a big mainstream ongoing since his 24-issue run on Cable, leading up to the "Second Coming" X-Men event. It certainly looks to be a completely new take on the team, and Swierczynski has a good pedigree with noir and female characters. It'll be a completely different Birds of Prey than outgoing writer Gail Simone's, I imagine, but probably also a pretty damn good comic.
As for Stormwatch, it makes sense that they'd call this book Stormwatch and not The Authority, since it would completely break the balance of the DC Universe to have these characters take, well, authority again. The introduction of Martian Manhunter is a particularly inspired idea as well, since he's traditionally the glue of the Justice League. Artist Miguel Sepulveda did a bang-up job on the art to this year's Superman/Batman annual, as well. Those spikes on Midnighter's shoulders look pretty dumb, though.
It's interesting that Peter Milligan is taking over both the Vertigo and DCU incarnations of John Constantine. As for the rest of the Dark line, I'm down for whatever Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire want to do and I'm always interested in reading another issue of a comic where Frankenstein cuts some dude's sob story off halfway and shoots him in the face/cuts off his head/tears out his guts/insert-hilarious-death-here. It's interesting that they're putting Voodoo in this category rather than their "Edge" line. I wonder if the comics will actually have "DC DARK" or "DC EDGE" bullets to indicate the flavor.
Finally, the Justice League reboot is an obvious draw -- Geoff Johns and Jim Lee are a perfect storm of superhero juvenilia -- and I'm very curious to see what Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang do on Wonder Woman. I'm sure there'll be a layer of cynicism -- a negative view of humanity does permeate a lot of Azzarello's work -- but Chiang's art might elevate his style to a more sweeping, entertaining mythological saga.