In the cryptic numerology that rules the DC Universe, there is no number more significant than 52. It's been at the center of crossovers, titles, the otherwise inexplicable number of not-so-infinite Earths, and more, so naturally, when the books of the "New 52" Universe actually hit #52 this May, it's not going to go by without comment.
To that end, the 52nd issues of the surviving titles from the relaunch --- Action Comics, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Catwoman, Detective Comics, Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Superman and Wonder Woman --- will hit shelves with variant covers that homage the first issues from back in 2011. Check 'em out below, along with the original covers that inspired them!
Last week there was a rumor going around that DC might pull the plug on its new 'DCYou' initiative before it had even had a chance to take root. DCYou aims to provide more diversity in content, characters, and creators, in an effort to reach new readers in a shifting market. The initiative stands in sharp contrast with the homogeneity of DC's last major relaunch, the traditional and conservative New 52, targeted squarely at long-time readers.
Of course, the New 52 performed very well for the publisher, and in some months it even pushed DC ahead of industry leader Marvel. The relaunch never achieved its major objective of permanently toppling Marvel, but it did provide strong numbers in direct market comic store sales. Compare those numbers to the sales for DCYou, and one can see a clear argument for going back to the old model. But that argument is grounded in a narrow understanding of the industry.
If you're the kind of person who does a lot of digging through Comixology sales and digital dollar boxes waiting for a good deal to roll around, then you probably noticed that DC spent last month putting a whole slew of back issues on sale every week to support the stories used as source material for Convergence. This month, Convergence is over, but it looks like the sales are going to keep going --- DC launched what it's touting as its biggest digital sale ever to promote its new roster of "DC You" titles.
Changing the racial identity of characters has become a contentious issue amongst fans of superhero comics and their adaptations in other media. The awful practices of casting white actors to play people of color, or of turning previously non-white characters into white characters, is all too common in movie adaptations of books, cartoons, TV shows, or even real life stories -- but rather surprisingly, superhero comics and their adaptations have mostly avoided this problem.
In comics, the controversy takes a different direction. Several white characters have become non-white, mostly in movies, and sometimes in reboots. Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm in the new Fantastic Four; Helena Bertinelli aka the Huntress in the New 52; Nick Fury in the Ultimate Comics line and on screen. These are changes that agitate some readers -- but realistically, the changes don't go far enough. Superhero comics have a cultural bias towards white characters that has everything to do with their institutional history and nothing to do with what makes sense to the stories.
DC Comics announced via its August solicitations the cancellation of six of its lowest-selling New 52 titles: All-Star Western, Batwing, Birds of Prey, Superboy, Trinity of Sin: Pandora, and Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger. The books' final issues ship in August, one month shy of the third anniversary of the New 52 initiative which rebooted the entire DC superhero line with fifty-two new or relaunched series.
The total number of New 52 titles cancelled or discontinued in that three year period now stands at 47, which means just five more cancellations will tip the company over into a new New 52; fifty-two books that didn't work out. Is that level of turnover unusual, and if so, what does it tell us about DC's strategy?
That didn't last long. Though Scott Lobdell and Tyler Kirkham's Teen Titans run will conclude this month with issue #30 on April 23 and in the Teen Titans Annual #3 on April 30, DC will relaunch the title in July. Helming the relaunch is writer Will Pfeifer with Teen Titans Annual #3 artist Kenneth Rocafort, which should bridge the storylines, to an extent, with some visual continuity.
While October's trailer for Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment's upcoming Justice League: War animated movie seemed to show that the adaptation of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's debut New 52 Justice League arc may take some liberties with the original story, the just-released first clip of the movie appears to indicate it will stick pretty close to it.
See that clip, which features Green Lantern meeting with Batman for the first time after fighting a Parademon, after the jump.
Relaunches. They're the worst. A sign of desperation from an industry obsessed with gimmicks and stunts. A transparent attempt to drive up sales with no respect for the audience, no regard for the author, no consideration for the history of the title.
Or, they're the opposite of that. New #1s might actually be the smartest way to tell ongoing stories, and the best way forward for the genre comic industry. More relaunches and more #1s could be exactly what comics needs.
Toymaker Tonner has been crafting high-end DC Comics fashion dolls for awhile now, but this December fans will be able to find versions of Supergirl, Wonderwoman and Mera sporting their Jim Lee-designed New 52 costumes.
It's a rough time to be a fan of DC's comics. The publisher has made so many problematic moves in the past couple of years that the brand is now as strongly associated with disgruntled talent and unhappy readers as it is with iconic characters like Superman and Batman.
In the wake of the inauspicious departure of the Batwoman creative team of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, I intended to write something about DC's editorial troubles. I got as far into the opening paragraph as noting, "I have to write quickly because there'll be another fiasco along any minute," before another fiasco came along - the Harley Quinn try-out controversy.
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