... let's hope it's more successful than the last one. In the Seventies, DC Comics published a slew of new titles, with more pages, over several months in a bid to gain back ground from Marvel. But early sales weren't great, wobbly executives cancelled many of the new titles and a few old ones, and the period of retrenchment became known as the DC Implosion.
This summer, DC are going one better. Here's today's announcement from the company.
This year, change is in the air at DC Comics.
On Wednesday, August 31st, DC Comics will launch a historic renumbering of the entire DC Universe line of comic books with 52 first issues, including the release of JUSTICE LEAGUE by NEW YORK TIMES bestselling writer and DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and bestselling artist and DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee. The publication of JUSTICE LEAGUE issue 1 will launch day-and-date digital publishing for all these ongoing titles, making DC Comics the first of the two major American publishers to release all of its superhero comic book titles digitally the same day as in print.
DC Comics will only publish two comic books on August 31st: the final issue of this summer’s comic book mini-series FLASHPOINT and the first issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE by Johns and Lee, two of the most distinguished and popular contemporary comic book creators, who will be collaborating for the first time. Together they will offer a contemporary take on the origin of the comic book industry’s premier superhero team.
In the hours, days and weeks to come, we’ll have more news about the other titles. Tomorrow, we’ll hear from Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee about this momentous occasion. Keep checking THE SOURCE for updates about the other first issues.
This year, make history with us.
52 new number 1s? Yes, 52 is the number of worlds in DC's current multiverse, but do they have to fetishise the number to the extent of making it the foundation of a publishing plan? Relaunching the entire line is a bold move, but more than four dozen titles competing for our DC spend?
The optimist in me, though, looks at the number and sees it as a sign that DC will diversify, moving away from a line bloated with superhero books to one embracing the genres of its past. Currently, Jonah Hex represents the once hugely popular Western line; perhaps he won't be lonely much longer. I'd be delighted to see other non-superhero books show up. Fantasy comics such as Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld. Horror titles like Night Force. Sgt Rock heading up a war line. Sugar & Spike bringing back kid humour. Cop book Gotham Central, And so on. I don't doubt that superheroes will form the backbone of the imprint, but surely DC isn't going to give us 52 of them?
I can't say I'm enthusiastic about longstanding titles such as Wonder Woman, Superman and Flash going back to number one, again. And the sentimentalist in me is appalled at the prospect of such never-rebooted comics as Action (just passed #900), Detective and Batman having their serial numbers wiped back to #1. I don't believe for a minute it'll last - it'll be the usual pattern of short-term blip followed by falling sales and a return to 'legacy' numbers. Five years, tops. But before that, seriously impressive numbers will have been thrown away.
And I don't relish the prospect of seeing seasoned heroes reintroduced as naive tyros, their old continuities slowly returning, as happened with Superman and Wonder Woman after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. I'd far rather the top creative teams we're expecting (Geoff Johns and Jim Lee on Justice League a cert, Grant Morrison and Phil Jimenez on Wonder Woman, rumoured) were told to institute whatever new approach they wish, within the confines of existing continuities. If creators prefer to present heroes as a tad younger - as the singular unimpressive promotional art DC presented with today's announcement, posted above, indicates - fine, just don't throw out the baby and take a decade to replace the bathwater. I don't care what great new angle Writer A may have on Mr Mxyzptlk, I can't see it needing a whole new continuity to work in.
The idea of yet another Legion of Super-Heroes restart has me pulling a face Chameleon Boy could never match. It's been stopped and started about four times in the last few decades but with the great Paul Levitz at the writing helm, joined by a slew of fine young artists, the current book's the best Legion we've had in years. With luck it'll get a new number #1 but be left in its own continuity - the 31st century is a long way from the new DC Earth promised after the current Flashpoint crossover concludes, let's keep it that way.
I am pleased to hear that DC is diving into the area of day-and-date digital publishing. A lot of people have been asking for this, and it can only help sales. So long as the physical books remain, I'll be happy. And while I'm no fan of reading comics on screen - I work at a computer all day and my eyes need a break when I get home - I can see myself dipping into things I know I'd like to read, but not necessarily store.
There's no denying I'm intrigued and look forward to hearing more details of what DC has up its sleeve. It could be that come September, I'll be treating post-Flashpoint DC as a perfect jumping-off point ... DC obviously wants younger readers, hence the line-wide Botox Explosion, and it could be the books will be so hip it hurts. But there's a chance that the invigorated DC Universe will thrill me, especially if the creators are energised and the variety of material increases.
One thing's for certain - with today's announcement, DC has staked a claim to be the most forward-looking comics company, the one looking to the future.There's a confidence that may translate to excitement among fans, better long-term sales and a healthier market.
Just leave my Legion alone!