Thursday, 12 January 2012

52 - 6 +6 = The Newer 52

We all saw it coming and here it is - the first cull of titles which debuted as part of September 2011's revamp of the DC Comics line. After their eighth issues, the following series will be no more: Men of War, Mr Terrific, Static Shock, Blackhawks, Hawk & Dove and OMAC.

I can't say I'll be shedding any tears for the first four of these, having disliked them sufficiently not to bother after their first or second issues. Hawk and Dove I stuck with until this month's #5, which seemed like quite enough. OMAC, though, I've been enjoying hugely, as Dan DiDio, Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish produced a monthly love letter to Jack Kirby. Perhaps we'll get the occasional special - there has to be some perk to being a pet project of DC's co-publisher, DiDio.

Determined to keep that New 52 momentum going, though, DC have immediately announced replacements: Earth 2, World's Finest, GI Combat, Dial H, The Ravagers and Batman Incorporated. Here's what we know, in italics, courtesy of DC's The Source blog, with my comments immediately after each entry.

  • BATMAN INCORPORATED – Writer: Grant Morrison. Artist: Chris Burnham. The acclaimed ongoing writer of ACTION COMICS, Grant Morrison, presents a fresh take on BATMAN INCORPORATED, in which the Batman brand is franchised globally in preparation for a major international threat.
  • How odd to describe Morrison in terms of Action Comics when he's already the 'acclaimed ongoing writer' of Batman Inc. While it seems there will be tweaks, this isn't especially new, it's the return of one of the best Batman series for years. Most issues have had thoroughly enjoyable scripts by Morrison (acclaimed non-ongoing writer of Aztek!), while recent collaborator Chris Burnham is a huge new talent. I'm looking forward to seeing how things go now we know Talia is behind evil organisation Leviathan.
  • EARTH 2 – Writer: James Robinson. Artist: Nicola Scott. The greatest heroes on a parallel Earth, the Justice Society combats threats that will set them on a collision course with other worlds.
  •  This is the series we thought would be called JSA, but it seems the scope will be larger that 'just' the finest heroes of a generation. It sounds as if we're getting a series of stories akin to the old annual JLA/JSA/Obscure Team summer blockbusters of the Seventies and Eighties. I'd have been happy with a simple JSA series in which they're the greatest heroes of their world, whether set today or in the Second World War. As well as that, we're getting a gimmick, one which could provide a lot of fun for Robinson, who just adores little-known characters. And it's about time Nicola Scott, one of the best and most reliable pencillers around, received a spotlight project.
  • WORLDS’ FINEST – Writer: Paul Levitz. Artists: George Perez and Kevin Maguire. Stranded on our world from a parallel reality, Huntress and Power Girl struggle to find their way back to Earth 2. Perez and Maguire will be the artists on alternating story arcs.
  • Now this is a nice surprise. The current Huntress mini-series has been showing that the heroine has an affinity for cats, hinting that this is Helena Wayne, daughter of Batman and Catwoman, rather than Helena Bertinelli. And it looks like writer Paul Levitz hasn't been toying with us, as he helms a book teaming this original-style Huntress with her old best friend, Power Girl. Peege has been much missed since the New 52 began, although a pale shadow of her other identity, Karen Starr, has appeared in (bye bye) Mr Terrific. With luck, this will be the confident, warm, funny heroine who starred in her own book in recent years, who knew she began life on another Earth. And with George Perez and Kevin Maguire on board, we're guaranteed a beautiful-looking comic.
  • DIAL H – Writer: China Miéville. Artist: Mateus Santoluoco. The first ongoing series from acclaimed novelist China Miéville, this is a bold new take on a cult classic concept about the psychological effects on an everyman who accidentally gains powers to become a hero.
  • I've read only one comic book story by China Miéville, in Hellblazer #250, and it was ruddy good, so I'm excited to see what he does with Dial H for Hero, one of those Silver Age DC concepts that keeps coming back. Well, a dial that bestows super-powers is pretty much every reader's wet dream. I'm good with a darker take, just so long as we readers are invited to design the odd settee or tank top. I don't know Mateus Santoluoco but a Google image search has me optimistic that he'll produce work worth looking at.
  • G.I. COMBAT – Writer: J.T. Krul. Artist: Ariel Olivetti. Featuring the return of a classic DC Comics series, THE WAR THAT TIME FORGOT, along with rotating back-up stories and creative teams – including THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, with writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Dan Panosian; and THE HAUNTED TANK, with writer John Arcudi and artist Scott Kolins.
  • Oh, this sounds right up my street, some classic DC strips in there, to be handled by favourite creators. The best thing they could do would be to stay as faithful as possible to the original concepts, the ones that worked, while not trying too hard to be retro. The Blackhawks, and Sgt Rock in Men of War, it could be argued, show that a familiar name isn't enough - you need to find that original magic, and ladle on originality of your own. Gray and Palmiotti know this, at least; it's what they've been doing in All-Star Western.
  • THE RAVAGERS – Writer: Howard Mackie. Artist: Ian Churchill. Spinning off from TEEN TITANS and SUPERBOY, this series finds four superpowered teens on the run and fighting against the organization that wants to turn them into supervillains.
  • Oh dear. I've pretty much had enough of teens on the run in the current Teen Titans book, I like things nice and settled. And then blown up. Still it's years since I've read a Howard Mackie comic, I'm intrigued to see how he's developed while he's been wherever. And Ian Churchill is a popular artist, though he never sees to stay on books very long.

The six new series will replace BLACKHAWKS, HAWK AND DOVE, MEN OF WAR, MISTER TERRIFIC, O.M.A.C. and STATIC SHOCK, all of which will conclude with their eighth issues in April. Many of the characters from our canceled books will appear in DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 titles, and in some very surprising ways,” said Harras. “We’re developing stories that reach from cultures around the globe to parallel worlds. We’re just getting started.”

So there you have it. Six out, six in - I rather like the idea of a wave of fresh titles wiping away a bunch of ones deemed not to be working. Obviously, most of us will lose the odd favourite - ever Men of War has its fans, over at Bleeding Cool - but new favourites should emerge too. And there's also the likelihood OMAC and a few other outgoing characters will return (aha, confirmation comes in Vaneta Rogers' excellent interview with Bob Harras at Newsarama).

The only real disappointment is the lack of genre expansion. Still no romance title, no out-and-out humour book, no cop comic ... does everything have to fit into one of the 'family' lines (Superman, Batman, JLA, Young Justice, Dark, Edge, if memory serves)?

So, come April and DC are guaranteed another big round of mainstream publicity, and fans have some new titles to, hopefully, enjoy. But enough of me - what do you think of today's news?

House of Mystery cover borrowed from the Grand Comics Database, thanks guys!

34 comments:

  1. More good than bad, from my point of view. I'll only really miss OMAC (and not THAT much), but look forward to all but the Ravagers. Net gain.

    But with three books about non-white heroes gone, that claim to diversity is in trouble.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't be surprised if the leads of Dial H and a few Ravagers (that name is just awful, but if it means we get some Rose Wilson it's not all bad) fit into that catch-all 'diverse' category. It would make sense, and be good to see.

      Delete
  2. Dial H sounds interesting and World's Finest has Power Girl & Huntress in it. I am totally in for these titles.

    Shame that Blackhawks and OMAC are out, but I will pick up both trades when they hit stores since they sound like fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And who knows, if trade sales are good, the characters may get another chance sooner rather than later.

      Delete
  3. I'll miss OMAC, and, to a lesser extent, Men of War -- but Earth 2 & World's Finest sound like a blast, and Batman Inc has already proven itself. I'll probably at least check out GI Combat, and might give Dial H a look, too. I'll steer far clear of Ravagers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a little more on Ravagers at the Bob Harras interview I linked to. I doubt it'll change your mind, though!

      Delete
  4. I'll be getting the OMAC trade and wouldn't be too surprised to find him turning up in Frankenstein over the coming months, but I'm really happy about Worlds' Finest!

    New Power Girl ongoing! Woo yay!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And indeed, rah! I do hope Helena gets to be a lawyer again, alongside Dick Grayson. We may even see the likes of earthworm again.

      Delete
  5. Still not reading...

    However, I will pick up the OMAC trade -- assuming there is one!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yep... Ravagers is linked to two books I don't read, and has Ian Churchill art. Neither's a selling point. Apparently there's a tangential link to Legion Lost, too; I hope that's not too strong.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm delighted to have a Huntress/Power Girl ongoing series. I loved Amanda Conner's work on Power Girl so much. Speaking of Conner, I would love it if she could draw a Legion of Superpets mini-series featuring Krypto, Streaky, Beppo, Comet, Proty, and Rex the Wonder Dog. That would be the greatest thing ever!

    I agree with Mart that genre expansion is needed. I would love to see a teen-centric humor/romance title; a Lois Lane miniseries (she's my favorite part of the George Perez reboot); and most of all, one of my biggest favorites from the 1980s, Amythest, Princess of Gemworld. (But I do think she needs to be in a separate continuity like in her first maxi-series, rather than constantly mixing in with super-heroes, as happened a few years later.) Sorry for the rambling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, love that Super-Pets idea. I love all your suggestions, actually. The upcoming Night Force mini is a step in the right direction.

      Delete
  8. I'm in for Batman Inc, Earth 2, and World's Finest.

    I won't miss the cancelled titles. I was only collecting Hawk and Dove and Sterling Gates' departure made it unlikely I'd continue buying that too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And the creative changes get weirder as it's announced that as well as writing Deathstroke, Rob Liefeld will be plotting Grifter and Savage Hawkman.

      Delete
  9. This is always my favorite comics blog and this post is a reason why: important and current news with excellent insights and critiques of the efforts.

    I'm happy to see Powergirl being featured. Having her as a background character in Mr. Terrific's book was a terrible move, akin to having a Doctor Midnite title with Huntress as a background character. I realize DC was making a laudable effort at developing more diversity in their titles but it was just not a good move. DC doesn't seem to have an "iconic" African-American character like Marvel's Black Panther and Luke Cage have become so their best bet is in developing new ones. Though he's sadly derivative, Batwing seems perhaps on the right track (though I'll note being derivative hasn't stopped Batgirl, when handled properly, from becoming an iconic female lead).

    It's a shame Blackhawks didn't pan out. I would have liked to see a DC Shield or even Team Achilles, with "regular" humans handling super-powered threats (something enobling about that theme imo) but having read the mag I have to say it just wasn't working for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was so disappointed by the Mr Teriffic comic, having enjoyed his previous solo outings in JSA. I can see DC turning to the tried and tested - if not massively successful - Black Lightning next time they try a Black character in a new book. Maybe a father and daughter book with Thunder and, er, the other one. Lightning?

      And Blackhawks would have been a lot better had DC actually produced a recognisable Blackhawks book. I'm sure Zinda Blake could have organised. And Brian Bolland would have loved drawing her on every cover.

      Delete
  10. i'm just glad to see we'll have more of the Suicide Squad in it's own title for a little while longer at least.
    i know Mr. Terrific from the Checkmate series and also a little bit from the JLI cartoon both of which i liked. and although i like the character i was a bit dubious about him being popular enough to carry his own title.
    the only thing i know the whole Omac thing from is the Checkmate Maxwell Lord Infinite Crisis story line but this was another title i was surprised to see in the 52 line up.
    Hawk & Dove as a concept i've always liked over the years but i was somewhat surprised they would be part of the 52 line up as well. i've always seen them more as supporting characters.
    i've only seen snippets of the Static Shock cartoon on Youtube and that was enough to not make me interested in this book. a friend of mine from work loaned me number one so i figured what the Hell i'd give it a look. after about half way through the book realized i was just wasting my time and returned it promptly. not at all sorry to see this one go.
    i've never really been into war books so i can't say anything about Men of War.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well done on tossing Static Shock aside ... I only continued because I thought it had to get better. Didn't, though.

      Delete
  11. Yay, the Legion survived! I'm hoping we'd get L.E.G.I.O.N. or R.E.B.E.L.S soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LEGION please. Call Waid and Kitson.

      Delete
  12. I thought this was a good call on DC's end. The cancellations were all slow selling and mediocre runs at best, and I can't wait to see what they whip out next. I'm especially looking forward to the "Earth-2" release.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still cannot believe Marvel hasn't come up with big announcements in response to the New 52. Seven months they've had and it's still all Avengers and crossovers, all the time.

      Delete
  13. I don't understand why we have to have an Earth-2 at all. And now we have Earth 2 heroes stuck in the nDCU? Why can't we just have everything nice and neat and in the same universe. Idiotic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cos Earth 2 is fun, with lovely Golden Age heroes and villains and their kids.

      At least I hope so!

      Delete
    2. Meh, the nDCU was supposed to make things simple for new fans and as a new start. There's absolutely no reason that they can't have Huntress, Power Girl, Captain Marvel, or whoever else in the current DCU where they belong.

      Delete
    3. And there are plenty of entry points for new readers, but why not have a few goodies which longtime readers can salivate over? The entire line doesn't have to appeal to just the one readership.

      Delete
    4. But why can't they take place in the current DCU? Why have Power Girl and Huntress (who aren't golden age characters BTW) not just be current DCU characters instead of the unnecessary plot device of being from another universe?

      Delete
    5. I did say 'and their kids' ...and I know Karen isn't Superman's daughter, but she is next generation.

      You're right, all the JSA types could be on the same Earth as the rest of the New 52, but I always preferred them off on their own planet, where they're the most vital heroes.

      Loving the discussion!

      Delete
    6. I guess it's really more about Huntress. I like Helena Bertinelli. Helena Wayne seems pointless. It's more that I can't figure out why Huntress, Captain Marvel, Wally West, maybe a few others are absent from the nDCU. And very cool to discuss it.

      Delete
  14. Sad news about OMAC the only 52 title I regularly read and enjoy lets hope that gets a back up and/or at least Giffen gets more work at DC - saying that I love the idea of some of the new titles in particular EARTH 2 (though why not just JSA -) and Worlds Finest sounds excellent ( only one Im not interested in is the Ravagers Zzzzzzz) a pity the the kids titles Tiny Titans and Batman Brave and Bold are also going /gone - McScotty

    ReplyDelete
  15. Im sure now more than ever that DC have planned this all along; I did say a while ago that after six issues DC would consider pulling the plug on low sellers but no-one listened...!!!!!
    Wonder if this will be a regular thing with them? And DC do themselves no favours no favours - nor us poor readers apparently - with the enticing news that Liefeld is now working on THREE books. Just shoot me now and have done with it, tho it will be amusing seeing how in all these books he will try any tricks he can in order to avoid drawing feet[!].
    Anyway, enough of this, I have far more important things to attend to...where are these nude pictures of Darren McMullan youre tweeting about?

    ReplyDelete
  16. I believe, Anon, that Giffen is teaming with Jurgens on Superman, a notion which has me very interested.

    Karl, as for Darren M, I'm more tweeted to than tweeting.

    ReplyDelete