Robot 6

What’s new with the New New New 52 books?

On Friday, DC Comics announced four titles will launch in September, at which point the New 52 DCU (or New52U) will be one year old, and every title will get a special zero issue (you remember; you were there).

At this point, it’s unclear whether DC will be canceling four existing books to make room for this third wave of new titles — remember when the publisher announced a half-dozen new books in May, it was to replace a half-dozen canceled ones — but given the amount of work that went into making “The New 52″ a thing, it seems likely that four books will be canceled shortly to keep the number consistent.

Of course, DC doesn’t always do what seems most likely, does it? For example, when rebooting and relaunching the entire line of comics in an attempt to increase readership by seeking out new audiences, it mostly just rearranged their creative teams, so the “new” DC Comics were being made by the same people who made the “old”  DC Comics, which is a little like a losing baseball team deciding to have all the players trade positions and see if that helps.

But what about these new titles? Who is making them, and what chance do they have in today’s market? Better than Hawk and Dove and OMAC? What chance do they have of growing today’s market or, at the very least, growing DC’s readership?

Let’s take a closer look at the books, and judge them by the judge-able information DC has released:

 Talon

DC seems pretty confident that people won’t be sick of this “Court of Owls” business come September, at which point Batman writer Scott Snyder’s story concerning a shadowy group of assassins in Gotham City will have been running roughly a year, including a two-month, 14-issue crossover story involving every title tangentially related to Batman (up to and including All-Star Western).

Snyder will co-write this new series with James Tynion IV, and former Catwoman artist  Guillem March will draw it. It seems to spin pretty directly out of Snyder’s owl stuff.

“Meet Calvin Rose,” DC’s PR copy reads, “the only Talon to ever escape the grasp of the Court of Owls. This former assassin of the Court is trying to live a normal life … but that’s impossible when he’s being hunted by his former masters!” I immediately thought of Azrael, a book that followed a man who escaped from a shadowy group of assassins to star in a huge, multi-book Batman line crossover story before ultimately getting his own title. Of course, that may just be because I am old.

It is perhaps worth noting that “Talon” is a name that exists in other contexts already in DC Comics, having been the name of an Earth-3 Owlman’s version of Robin, a character who, at this point, has logged in many more appearances in Art Baltazar and Franco’s Tiny Titans than in any other comic. And anyway,  if Talon’s leaving the Court of Owls, shouldn’t he change his superhero codename? Maybe they should go with .. .let’s see … Oh, how about Nite Owl …?

I really like March’s work, although I wish DC would use him better (i.e. assign him to a book I want to read), and I get the feeling he’s not quite as popular outside of my apartment as he is within it (at the very least, he’s not an artist whose name alone can carry a book) .

I imagine, then, that how well this does will be up to how much affection folks continue to have for Snyder, one of the “new” DC writers (who actually wrote for the Vertigo imprint for a while before getting a DCU book, prior to the reboot/relaunch) who has gained the most traction among fans.

If DC doesn’t decide to cancel any other Batman-related books (Catwoman, for example, is losing its artist), then this will push the number to … Batman, Detective Comics, Batman and Robin, Batman: The Dark Knight, Batman Incorporated, Batgirl, Batwoman, Nightwing, Batwing, Catwoman, Birds of Prey and Red Hood and The Outlaws … a baker’s dozen, by my count.

Sword of Sorcery

So named because titling it “Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld” might inadvertently result in a girl reading it, and we wouldn’t want that! This apparently will be a revival/reboot of Amethyst, the early ’80s fantasy series by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and Ernie Colon aimed at younger, female readers.

And it will be written by Jem creator Christy Marx, an honest-to-goodness female lady (thereby doubling the number of female writers DC recruited to refocus its line to attract the attention of a newer, wider audience with their “New 52″ initiative), whose previous credits include about 30 years’ worth of writing for animated and live-action television. As someone who wasn’t already writing comics for DC in early 2011, she definitely counts as new blood.

The artist on the Amethyst feature, however, will be Aaron Lopresti, who is a fine superhero artist, but whose work has recently been seen in such DC comics as the just-canceled Justice League International and pre-New 52 books Justice League: Generation Lost, Wonder Woman and the “Garbage Man” feature in anthology books Weird Worlds and My Greatest Adventure. So don’t expect this book to look any different than the bulk of DC’s line; it certainly shouldn’t look anything like the “DC Nation” animated short.

To justify not calling the book Amethyst, there will be a back-up feature. This will be by regular DC contributors Tony Bedard and Jesus Saiz, set in “a post-apocalyptic wasteland” and feature the characters Beowulf and Grendel, last seen (in DC comics) in the pages of  Wonder Woman comics drawn by Aaron Lopresti.

In the plus column, this book may just be different enough from the rest of the line to stand out and attract readers who aren’t interested in the rest of the DCU (and/or DC readers who want something different than they get in the other 51-55 books), and since it does take a chance on a new writer instead of someone from the same old talent pool, who knows what will happen?

On the other hand, Lopresti and Saiz art guarantee it will look like so many other DC Comics of the past few years, and the back-up should make this a more-expensive book than most DC ones, costing $1 more than what they charge for the “Johnny DC” titles aimed at younger, non-adult readers.

The Phantom Stranger

DC Comics’ Co-Publisher Dan DiDio has assigned this book to writer Dan DiDio, who has previously proven himself sales poison with the canceled New 52 book OMAC and the canceled pre-New 52 book The Outsiders (the rest of his comics writing being constrained to stories or issues in anthologies, and a Blackest Night-related one-shot). He’ll be joined by artist Brent Anderson (an experienced superhero comics artist who is nevertheless an outside-the-box choice for a new DC book in that he wasn’t regularly drawing any DC books between 2005 and 2011).

Their leading man is the the mysterious caped, gloved and hatted figure who first appeared in the ’50s in a story by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, but whose mysterious supernatural nature has kept him hanging around the DCU pretty much ever since, generally as a prophetic of deus ex machina-type figure. He’s never carried a solo title too terribly long, with his 1969 series lasting the longest with 41 issues.

He did appear in a back-up story in the massively popular Justice League reboot, and he also played a prominent role in DC’s Free Comic Book Day offering. DC is promising this series will have something to do with the nature of the “New 52″ multiverse/continuity rejiggering — “Spinning out of his recent appearances in JUSTICE LEAGUE and DC’s Free Comic Book Day story, learn more about the true origin of The Phantom Stranger and his connection to the mysterious Pandora,” says the PR — so perhaps that will help overcome the significant sales drags of DiDio’s writing credit and The Stranger’s always-a-bridesmaid status.

Team Seven

Here’s the latest attempt in trying to force DC readers to care about an element of DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee’s WildStorm imprint, importing another concept from the old WildStorm Universe (whose books were dying on the vine before DC finally folded it), fortifying it with DC Universe connections and hoping it takes (see also Voodoo, Grifter, StormWatch and, to a lesser extent, Superboy and The Ravagers).

Originally Team Seven was a paramilitary, guys-with-guns team in the WildStorm Universe, the creation of writer Chuck Dixon and artist Aron Wiesenfeld in a 1994 series by the same name. This title will be written by Strange Talent of Luthor Strode‘s James Jordan (new to DC) and drawn by Jesus Merino (old to DC), and will include a mix of WildStorm and DC characters.

These are Dinah Lance (Black Canary), Amanda Waller (of Suicide Squad), Steve Trevor (Wonder Woman’s old-school love interest, who now appears in Justice League), John Lynch (from WildStorm’s Gen 13 and Sleeper), Alex Fairchild (Father of Gen 13‘s Caitlin and Roxy, the former of which has been appearing in Superboy and The Ravagers), Cole Cash (Grifter) and Slade Wilson (Deathstroke, The Terminator).

The PR copy for this one notes that it is “set in the early days of DC COMICS-THE NEW 52″ (so, last September?) and promises that, “… threads of the entire DC Universe collide … As Superman emerges, so does the world’s counter measures against him and his kind … their story will change everything you know about DC COMICS-THE NEW 52.”

Which is fine with me; I know so little about it now.

The set-up of army guys in a world of emerging superheroes sounds awfully similar to that of Men of War (canceled) and Blackhawks (also canceled), but given the connections to so many other DC titles, from Justice League on down to Birds of Prey and ther recently Rob Liefed-ed Grifter and Deathstroke, this could pull in enough interest to keep it going for a good long time. That said, it is set five years in the past, and most of those characters will have to go on to become different characters elsewhere, so it can’t go on too long, can it …?

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Comments

28 Comments

RegularSyzedMike

June 11, 2012 at 9:36 am

ugh…

Well with Captain Atom’s announcement of #0 being the last issue, we’ve got half of the books the new ones are replacing found out.

And while yes calling the book Amethyst would be better overall, the fact that the book exists is the bigger deal. Since, as you said, they want the backups to be rotating, it makes more sense to give it the more generic Sword & Sorcery title.

Its up to DC to let the girls know the book exists in general, not just because of the title.

i continue to not care about this new 52 crap. yes, there are a few good books going on (batman, batman inc, batman and robin, aquaman, animal man) but overall, this new 52 stuff is really lame…

oh well. maybe they’ll actually unveil it all as a very long elseworlds experiment. one can hope, right?

Agree with Evan 100%, which is to say, I don’t expect the book to last more than 8 issues tops.

“What chance do they have of growing today’s market or, at the very least, growing DC’s readership?”

Slim to none.

Well done, J. Caleb Mozzocco, very well done. If I were wearing my hat, I would take it off right now.

Reading this post was like watching a brilliant, surgical dissection of the tangle of idiocies which passes for strategy at DC. The humor inevitable in examining this stuff was, here, so dry that it made Korbel Brut seem like Kool-Aid.

Masterful, sir.

As much as I do not care for the never-ending soap opera that drives Marvel books, Marvel has had a leg up on DC for this entire millennium when it comes to taking chances and going out of the box with artists (and to a lesser extent good new writers).

As long as The Didio(t) is in charge over at DC, expect more of the same dressed up as more of the new.

Got I hate him.

Until the New 52 came along I didn’t buy any DC books, now I’m picking up about 5 a month. I’d consider that a win for DC. I’ll probably give Phantom Stranger, Team 7, and Amethyst a shot.

DC has released some more of their solicitations for Sept. Voodoo is getting the axe as well, apparently the last of the four series getting cancelled is either in the Young Justice group or the Superman group…

What is the fixation with the number 52?!? I would rather that DC devote their time to publishing half as many ongoing titles that are twice as good. And it is NOT a good thing when approximately ten percent of their entire line is made up of Batman-related series.

SerpentineZero

June 11, 2012 at 11:00 am

I don’t see how they’re not using March that well. He was on Catwoman, and now he’s doing a Batman spinoff with Scott Snyder.

@David I wouldn’t agree. I think people like Foreman, Paquette and Neves have proven that they were being held back when they were in Marvel. I mean they seem to have gotten the freedom to utilize their real styles in DC. Of course,

DC doesn’t have much of the awesome grit that people like Maleev, Lark and Guice use these days. And of course is everything not perfect with art teams in DC either (Liefeld for example). Also i could never see Marvel ever do something like Wednesday Comics.

Btw, Sword of Sorcery is suppose to be similar to titles like All-Star Western and G.I. Combat. Which mean that Amethyst might not even be the main feature after say 10 issues.

Talon is just Cassandra Cain with a penis.

Andrew Collins

June 11, 2012 at 11:09 am

According to Bleeding Cool, Resurrection Man is the other upcoming cancellation from DC…

Little annoyed I couldn’t like Brandon’s comment haha

Wow, I’m so glad I started reading comics. My absolute favorite comic (Catwoman) and the reason I got into the New 52 is losing a fantastic artist who does fantastic work on the series to write what sounds like a cheap spin off like Talon and Voodoo’s been canceled. Why the hell can’t Guillem March draw two comics? Artists can’t draw two comics at once? He started with Catwoman, now he’s just dumping it? Unbelievable. Well here’s to hoping Talon gets canceled soon so Guillem will go back to Catwoman. LOL

I’m not too surprised about Talon. Night of the Owls is kicking A$$ in terms of popularity and recption, so it’s no surprise their expanding on it. I might pick it up if Snyder manages to separate it from Batman and have it stand on it’s own, which is doubtful but I’ll give it that chance.

Phantom Stranger is gonna fold, since no one probably cares about the character and Didio’s behind it, and he’s built up quite a bit of ill will over the years. Sword and Sorcery looks interesting, but I won’t be buying it, and Team 7 has a great writer (Luther Strode was awesome) yet looks so lame… inconvenient, over sized guns wielded by a group of soldiers plus Black Canary, for some reason? Alright then…

I’m willing to say that none of these books will make it to issue #12 which I’m going to be honest and say is a shame. They actually look diverse, different and cool at least from each other. Talon just seems cool, Sword and Sorcery looks diverse (though it should have been Amethyst Princess of Gemworld) Phantom Stranger could be really interesting and Team 7 could simply be a good solid action book.

It’s weird but they remind me of when Boom tried out superheroes, they were good to but no one cared enough to read them.

I think you mean that Team 7 is being written by JUSTIN Jordan, not James.

They have no chance in this market. Its New 52 Dc-Wildstorm now. The think by slowly pushing out Wildstorm titles people will care but the comic buying public clearly does not.

Nope. DC editorial has gotten smarter. Make the Green Lantern carry a freaking pistol. Yep. Bad-ass and sure to bring in new readers for an issue or two.

Snyder has said repeatedly on Twitter that he will NOT be co-writing Talon. He will (or already has) assist(ed) James Tynion IV, one of his students, with the plot but the entire script is JT IV.

Bizzaro am LOL at “Sword of Sorcery” in “Dark” line.

Didio with yet another ego trip.

Can’t Jim Lee, as his co-publisher, go to him and say: “look, Dan, we’re friends and all but… you just aren’t any good….”

I guess Scott Lobdell has too many books to write and Lee can’t get Brandon Choi to come on board. Hahaha!

What really gets me is that the Phantom Stranger is a character that I’ve always liked. Why not have someone like Jeff Lemire or Paul Cornell write him… or how about Matt Wagner? His Madame Xanadu series was underrated.

@ Roldan: I can’t agree that Pacquette was held back at Marvel.

His work on Wolverine alongside Jason Aaron was one of the best Wolverine arcs in years — and was just as good as his work on Batman Inc.

I think what really happened with Pacquette was that he got the offer to work with Grant Morrison on a higher profile book and that sealed the deal. Marvel has some of the most diverse styles out there — you’ve got your Coipels and Leinil Yu’s alongside guys like Marcos Martin and Marco Chechetto. Marvel doesn’t have a house style anymore — Joe Quesada’s own style is so distinctive that I doubt he’d force anyone to hew to a style guide.

If anyone’s doing any forcing of styles, it’s DC: look at Ian Churchill — here’s a guy who said in a CBR interview that working on the Hulk allowed him to use another style opposed to his Bob Harras-induced Image-copy style, which he’s now reverted to in order to draw The Ravagers. I see more classic Wildstorm-style art now than I’ve seen in years.

For many years, my whole thing as a comics collector was that I was a Phantom Stranger completist. Put up a fan site back in the stone ages of the web, , could tell you the complete history of Tannarak retcons included, could explain why, yes, dr. 13 can make perfectly good sense in the DCU, and bought every damn book he appeared in, no matter how small the cameo or how terrible the book.

The Blackest Night “revived” issue made me say, “Maybe I’m getting too old for this.”
The terrible Pandora/ Judas backup in JLA made me say, “No, I guess it’s that the books are getting too terrible. But look at me with free will: I’m putting the issue back on the shelf, and continuing to just basically not buy DCnU.”
The promise of Dan Didio expanding on that Pandora/ Judas stuff at least makes it easy for me.

I can understand that DC needs a business model that doesn’t depend on forty-year old continuity hounds. But I hope they actually are managing to hook two thirteen-year olds for every one of us they lose. I don’t see them in the comics shop, but maybe they’re buying digitally.

@Jacob T. Levy: Holy $#!+, I remember your site! It actually really helped me get into the Stranger and Doctor Thirteen when I started branching out from the strictly ‘superhero’ side of DC.

I think nearly every Phantom Stranger fan is in agreement that moving towards nailing down a ‘true origin’ for the character is just a terrible idea for how at odds it is with the very concept. It jibes with the weird ’90s revival feel that permeates the New 52 in being a classic “everything you know is wrong!” shock-revision, made more odious than usual by being applied to a character whose entire M.O. is that no one knows anything about him. Even the Moore story that nearly everyone glommed onto was probably a mistake in retrospect, but that at least was presented as a ‘maybe’ origin, and one that still left questions open for large swathes of his history, motives, and abilities. It’s probably my general pessimism about the current direction at DC, but what’s been shown or hinted at in the Stranger’s appearances in the New 52 (that is such terrible branding) so far is really pointing towards a clear delineation of all that, with a definite ‘A to B’ path from his beginnings to his place in the modern DCU. Which in the context of the character is like revealing Bruce Wayne killed his parents and then constructed a false memory for himself, or that Superman has been surreptitiously executing war criminals for years.

Wow I had no idea it bugged me so much until I started writing that.

While I honestly see nothing that appeals to me, does anyone have any suggestions as to what/who would sell/bring in new readers? There’s alot of snark out there about what is being produced, there’s not a whole lot of commentary on what would be successful.

These are pretty bad ideas for new books. i love phantom stranger and if the make it an old school ‘dark shadows’ type book like his old series id tune in.
So far in the new 52 the stories for the most part havent really stood out other then starting over on a clean slate. adding yet more “meeting again for the first time” characters is the best DC can come up with? how about an anthology book like 5 star spectacular where you have total creative freedom and maybe even set things in the (OMG), pre-new 52 universe, people once loved instead of meeting another hard nut version of a much loved character.

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