DC Comics’ New 52 Reboot: Score Card For New Creators
September approaches and with it comes DC Comics’ semi-reboot of all their titles. I say semi-reboot because even though they’re starting everything over with #1 issues, some of the titles like Green Lantern and Batman aren’t actually rebooting.
Confusing? Well, it gets worse.
Looking at the sales charts, the odds are if you’re reading this, you’ve probably dropped a few DC titles in the last couple years. While they’re re-starting a lot of the titles, editorial staffing hasn’t changed significantly and the majority of the creative teams involved with the new books were already doing work with DC. Yes, there’s a good amount of shuffling chairs on the deck going on. If you’ve read any DC comics in the last few years, I’m going to assume you already know if you want to buy more work from, say, J.T. Krul, Paul Cornell, Tony Daniels or Grant Morrison. They should be known quantities to you. What I’m doing here is highlighting some of the actual changes. Most of this breaks down into two categories: poaching from Vertigo and going completely outside.
If you’re lucky, you’re living near a store like Chicago Comics that will let you return any comics you don’t like. If you don’t, hopefully this will help you get up to speed.
Poaching from Vertigo
You’ve heard Vertigo was shrinking. That’s not to say DC Entertainment is telling all their Vertigo creators to go jump in a lake. A significant number of them are doing some work for the DCU in the reboot (and Brian Wood hasn’t exactly refuted the rumors he was originally supposed to be doing Supergirl). Some of these new assignments look Vertigo-tinged superhero titles. Some are a bit more mainstream for the DCU.
However, if you’re a Vertigo fan, I feel obligated to temper your expectations with some Tweets from Bill Willingham who’s been drafted for DCU books in the past and is noticeably absent from the first couple rounds of announcements. (Any reprints are likely stuck in a Miracleman-esque legal snakepit, but Willingham did a very influential superhero comic called “The Elementals” in the mid-to-late 80s. The first dozen or so issues are especially worth your time if you come across them in the back issue bins.) There is a difference between working on your own series and dealing with an interconnected universe.
“To answer your question, no, I am not done with superhero comics. I surely love me those heroes. But the next thing will take a little time. Past superhero series I’ve been involved with had too many captains trying to pilot one boat. Characters taken from me mid-story. Plots imposed from above, and then changed arbitrarily. That’s no way to tell any story well. So the next project will be one I create from the ground up and control fully. No more begging permission from distracted gatekeepers.
It wasn’t just a matter of characters taken away for big crossovers and such. I had one character, Liberty Belle, taken from my JSA……to join the JLA — but no one told me. I learned far after the fact from @matt_sturges who read a script of mine and wondered why I was still using her in the JSA. Call from editor? Nope. Call from fellows who took her for the JLA? Nope. Silly way to run a circus.
Yeah, Shadowpact was another example of abrupt changes made constantly to stories that had been approved for months…… starting with 1st page of 1st issue, and never letting up. Too bad. I had hopes for the series too.
Don’t get me wrong. I think work for hire is a reasonably fair system, provided you know what you’re getting into. But to hire a fellow to write a series, approve the stories, but then do everything possible to disrupt and derail those stories seems odd.
No editorial hasn’t increased over the years, they’ve gotten (at least in one house) more chaotic. Today’s idea supplants yesterday’s idea! Now, everyone implement the changes on the fly! Hold on! We just had a new set of ideas at lunch! Everyone get ready for new changes! No I will not list all of the changes required for any series, only because it would be too long a list. But to say changes were called for on every page of every issue wouldn’t be an exaggeration.”
WONDER WOMAN #1
Written by BRIAN AZZARELLO
Art and cover by CLIFF CHIANG
Azzarello will periodically pop into the DCU, but this is his first ongoing title, to the best of my recollection. Perhaps more interestingly, he’s describing his take on Wonder Woman as a horror comic, not a superhero(ine) comic. Never mind we’re still constantly taunted with threats of Grant Morrison’s plans to take Wonder Woman back to her original sexual subtexts. The Azzarello/Chiang Wonder Woman is probably the biggest curve ball of the first round of announcements and nobody is quite sure what to expect.
RED LANTERNS #1
Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art and cover by ED BENES and ROB HUNTER
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1
Written by PETER MILLIGAN
Art by MIKEL JANIN
Milligan is a Vertigo guy who occasionally does superhero comics. Most famously, the surrealist X-Force/X-Statix, though also did the most recent take on Infinity, Inc. and even some Batman. The Justice League Dark assignment makes some sense and is a lot like when they put Willingham on Shadowpact, a few years back. What direction Red Lanterns takes is anyone’s guess (though you figure Geoff Johns likely laid out a road map for it). Mikel Janin is by far the newest artist in this whole bunch.
SWAMP THING #1
Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art and cover by YANICK PAQUETTE
Snyder’s been doing Batman for awhile and gets the honor of taking the original Vertigo flagship title back to the DCU.
ANIMAL MAN #1
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by TRAVEL FOREMAN and DAN GREEN
FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #1
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by ALBERTO PONTICELLI
Like Snyder, Lemire’s been playing in the DCU for awhile now, having been given the Superboy title and Atom back-up in Adventure Comics. Now he’s doing two of the Vertigo-esque DCU titles, in addition to Sweet Tooth. Animal Man was one of the Vertigo flagship titles at launch, so you can sort of see where they’re going with this.
New to DC in General
DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #1
Written by PAUL JENKINS
Art by BERNARD CHANG
Jenkins’ major work at DC was in Vertigo on Hellblazer in the mid-90s. It’s been roughly 10 years since he did any DC work, with most of his time spent at Marvel. Appropriately for the “pulling Vertigo into the DCU” vibe, he’s doing a 5-part Deadman serial.
BIRDS OF PREY #1
Written by DUANE SWIERCZYNSKI
Art and cover by JESUS SAIZ
Swierczynski is perhaps best known for writing crime novels and is one of an increasing number of mystery writers who have been working for Marvel in recent years.
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #1
Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art and cover by KENNETH ROCAFORT
TEEN TITANS #1
Written by SCOTT LOBDELL
Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
Scott Lobdell is a controversial writer to say the least. While he sold a lot of X-Men comics in the mid-90s, his work on the title wasn’t exactly beloved. On the other hand, his short run on Generation X, a series he created (and seemed like a much more personal work) was well regarded. Most likely this was Executive Editor Bob Harris pulling in an old employee, although Lobdell has done a small amount of work for Jim Lee’s old Wildstorm imprint. Lobdell’s never done anything in the DCU to the best of my knowledge and he’d fallen out of comics in recent years, so it’s hard to say what you’re going to get.
I, VAMPIRE #1
Written by JOSHUA HALE FIALKOV
Art by ANDREA SORRENTINO
Fialkov, technically, had a dry run closing out the last three issues of Superman / Batman, but he’s functionally a new voice. Probably best known for his excellent Elk’s Run (seek it out – it might even be at your local library), Fialkov gives this a real chance to NOT be a crass attempt to cash in on the popularity of Twilight and TV/film vampires. If ever there was a book that needed an extended preview to demonstrate what it is and isn’t, this is probably the one and is a potential sleeper.
Written by NATHAN EDMONDSON
Art by CAFU
Edmondson is best known for the “Who is Jake Ellis?” comic at Image. The Grifter character occasionally has espionage touches to him and if this incarnation skews that way, he could be a good fit for the title. Another one that’s probably a little under the radar.
SUICIDE SQUAD #1
Written by ADAM GLASS
Art by MARCO RUDY
Glass slid in with some work on a JLA 80-page Giant and some Flashpoint spin-offs, but he’s functionally pretty new. Glass also did a little work on Deadpool at Marvel, but he’s best known as a TV writer for Supernatural.
Written by MIKE COSTA
Art and cover by KEN LASHLEY
Mike Costa did a small amount of work for Wildstorm, roughly 3 years ago. Mostly he’s known for writing GI Joe and Transformers at IDW. Ken Lashley has spent most of his time in video games, but don’t expect him to stay with the book. Watching DC try and secure an artist for Blackhawk is a highly entertaining comedy of errors.
Written by RON MARZ
Art and cover by SAMI BASRI
Ron Marz has been over at Top Cow for awhile, but he’s spent time at both DC and Marvel. He’s probably best known for ushering in Kyle Raynor as Green Lantern. Which is to say he falls into a category similar to Scott Lobdell: he’s got a lot of detractors to go along with his fans.
And there you have it. I’m counting 15 out of 52 titles as having some new creators. If you don’t want to count the Vertigo poaching, it’s 9 of 52 titles. For an event that’s supposed to be re-setting a universe that’s been hit pretty hard by falling sales, that isn’t much of an infusion of new blood. However, if new blood is what you’re looking for, now you have a better idea where to look for it.
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