Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
With the debut of DC Comics’ Arkham Manor just a month away, Eric Canete revealed the process for his spectacular alternate cover for the first issue. Although the images by themselves are informative and impressive, the artist’s accompanying commentary makes for an entertaining read.
Announced in late June alongside Gotham Academy, Arkham Manor finds the world’s most dangerous criminals transplanted to stately Wayne Manor after catastrophe strikes Arkham Asylum.
When DC Comics relaunched its superhero line in 2011 with the New 52, there was an unmistakable sameness to the aesthetic of many of the titles. Sure, there have been some eye-catching exceptions, but for the most part, the Jim Lee-led character redesigns have exerted great influence over the DC Universe for the past three years.
If you’re a fan of Jim Lee, that’s pretty awesome. If you’re a fan of a lot of artists and styles, that’s less awesome and has made the New 52 sometimes frustrating and occasionally baffling. There are more than 75 years’ worth of characters bursting with the imagination of hundreds of creators. Why filter all that down to such a narrow experience for readers? I love Oreo cookies, but can I ever have chocolate chip cookie?
But then, along comes new Batman Group Editor Mark Doyle, who moved from Vertigo in February. Suddenly, there’s a new creative team, a new costume and a new outlook, for Batgirl, followed by announcements of Gotham Academy, Arkham Manor and, just Tuesday, Gotham By Midnight, demonstrating that Batman and his world are a resilient and powerful corner of the DC Universe. It’s one where offering different aesthetics adds a richness to the entire line while (possibly) attracting the eye of those looking for something different in their reading experience.
Essentially, Doyle just installed a snack bar. So let’s go eat!
Even as DC Comics announces another intriguing addition to its Batman line, the horror title Gotham By Midnight, artist Karl Kerschl has unveiled the first look at colored panel from Gotham Academy #1, offering a hint at what readers can expect from the October-debuting series. He has also posted a few black-and-white panels on his blog.
Written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, with art by Kerschl and colorist Romain Gaschet, Gotham Academy is a teen drama set in the city’s most prestigious school (or, as the official description reads, “set in the shadow of Batman and the craziness of Gotham City”).
“Certainly when you relaunch a whole universe, something like the New 52, you’re gonna essentially create a bible that kind of guides and dictates the evolution and growth of the universe. We’re in year three of that, and certainly every story that’s created is done through the collaboration of an editor with the writer and the artist and the rest of the creative team. So I certainly think Mark Doyle coming on and becoming the Batman Group editor was a big part of that. I think it’s also a recognition that our audience has evolved and we wanna make sure that we tell the stories that the audiences are craving. So we identified this need. We’re coming out with these different kinds of storylines, and, frankly, it’s exciting because we have a lot of Batman books, and I think it’s a disservice to the fans and to the character to have everything feel of the same tonality. I’m a big fan of Becky Cloonan, so I’m really looking forward to her work on Gotham Academy. I think it’s healthy for the business, and it’s an exciting time to be a Batman fan.”
— DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee, talking with Entertainment Weekly about the decision to take “the Batman world” in a different direction with the newly announced Arkham Manor and Gotham Academy. (He also mentions Batgirl among the developments he’s looking forward to in the back half of Batman’s 75th anniversary celebration.)