5 All-New, All-Different Marvel Titles We're Most Excited to Read
In the 75 years since he was introduced as the original Robin, Dick Grayson has inspired a legacy and numerous imitators, battled a staggering array of criminals, led the Teen Titans, graduated to the identity of Nightwing, and even assumed the mantle of Batman, for a while. But his greatest achievement very well may be surviving the past decade of DC Comics.
DC Entertainment Co-Publisher has gone on the record time and again that he wanted Nightwing as the “big death” in 2005’s Infinite Crisis, which was underscored in January when he uncovered the original whiteboard pages for the event’s timeline (Jason Todd then would’ve assumed Nighting’s identity, only to be rejected by the Bat-Family). However, it turns out that plans for Dick Grayson’s downfall predate even that.
We’re in the second week of what I suppose I should call “Divergence,” because “Not the New 52″ sounds a little too cute. Last week was the first proper look at the new Superman status quo, and this week features the first full issue of the new Batman. For the most part, the new directions and relaunches I’ve seen have been pretty intriguing. However, underlying them is the age-old issue of maintaining a character’s core attributes.
I’ve talked about this before in the context of honoring a character’s creators. William Moulton Marston wanted Wonder Woman to have a very specific social-justice viewpoint, and to a certain extent Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had a similar goal for Superman. Nevertheless, the two characters ended up developing in different ways.
Marston’s creative voice was never really duplicated, so Wonder Woman became just a bit more generic. Meanwhile, Superman’s multimedia success resulted in a number of new influences, which eventually helped transform Siegel and Shuster’s creation into an Establishment figure. Of course, subsequent shifts in society generally and comics particularly would push back, as with the Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories and Jack Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen in the ‘70s to the more socially conscious Wonder Woman stories in the ‘80s, ‘90s, and ‘00s.
After more than three years as the New 52 brand, DC Comics is retiring the branding and undergoing a status quo shakeup following the events of “Convergence.” The new initiative will not have a unifying name and will be comprised of 25 continuing series and 24 all-new ones, some featuring creators and concepts that are completely new to the publisher.
To get as many people as possible excited about these new offerings, DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio revealed during a discussion with members of the press that the company plans on releasing a number of original eight-page stories highlighting these fresh starts for free via the DC website, comiXology and other platforms.
“If you get yourself into a grind with event after event, sooner or later, you’re going to be only artificially propping up the sales of your books, and your line itself. Only the event is what’s driving people, not the individual characters, and you’re being forced to add more and more things in just to attract attention. The bigger win for us is to be able to rotate the crops a little bit. Replant the land, grow strong characters, and that way, when we build something else out of it, we have a much stronger base from which all these other stories can be told. And if you look back in DC’s history, and even comics history, most of these characters that exist today, that are all now traveling in a group setting, in every event, from one event to the next — they travel as a traveling sideshow, almost — that wasn’t the case when they were introduced. Every character existed and breathed in its own right, and when they crossed over, it was special. What we want to do is make those individual things special again.”
– DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, talking with Comic Book Resources about the company’s post-“Convergence” plans
If DC Comics’ announced overhaul of its publishing line in the aftermath of Convergence took you back nine years to Infinite Crisis and “One Year Later,” you’re definitely not alone.
“To me, the similarities between the two are quite prevalent,” DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio wrote over the weekend on his Facebook page. “In terms of expectations and challenges, the lessons learned in the ‘One Year Later jump’ were applied to insure our June series (hopefully) don’t experience some of the same pitfalls (you can draw your own parallels after reading).”
Launching in March 2006, the “One Year Later” storyline pushed the narratives of all of the DC Universe titles one year after the events of Infinite Crisis, allowing creators to explore the ramifications of the crossover’s continuity changes (there were also numerous series cancellations, launches, relaunches and renamings). That time gap was then filled in with the weekly series 52.
The 2005-2006 DC Comics crossover Infinite Crisis may be best remembered for Superboy-Prime’s “continuity punch,” and for a staggeringly high body count. However, it turns out that figure could’ve been a little higher, and perhaps even more controversial.
While cleaning his basement, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio uncovered the original whiteboard pages laying out the event’s timeline, as well as a “hit list’ (below), which is exactly what it sounds like — a rundown of characters marked for death.
“Always fun to see where we started now that we know where it ended up,” DiDio wrote on his Facebook page.
Publishing | DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talk about the state of the comics market, DC’s upcoming move from New York City to Burbank, the growing female audience and more. “There’s also a diversification within the audience itself the past couple of years,” Lee observed. “You’ve seen more women, more female readers, in general. When we launched Batgirl and Gotham Academy, those books struck a different note, different tonality, and that was in large part due to editor Mark Doyle bringing these projects together with different kinds of creators. It was our way of broadening the base of the Batman family of books but doing it in a different way to attract a different audience. I think it speaks well to the future that we’re not just going to strike the same note looking for the same customer. […] You can’t necessarily rely on the same continuity, the same core hardcore comics-driven material; you have to diversify, broaden your net and bring in different voices to the company.” [ICv2]
Maybe it’s the exhaustion talking, but I can’t stop watching this GIF of Jim Lee, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Dan DiDio, John Romita Jr. and Scott Snyder from the Entertainment Weekly Social Media booth at Comic-Con International. It may be my favorite thing today, at least until I find the next thing …
“Two centuries. I would love to see what kind of foil or hologram Dan DiDio could put on a book in the year 2214.”
— Superman writer Geoff Johns, responding to a question in his Reddit AMA thread about how long, in an ideal world, would his run on the series be. Other highlights from the Q&A can be found at Comic Book Resources.
As with many Jack Kirby creations, we could spend a long time on the Forever People. I’m not a Kirby scholar, although naturally I’ve tried to learn more about what the King wanted his characters to be. In that respect, the end of the original Forever People series was somewhat ironic: Kirby closed out Forever People Vol. 1 #11 (October-November 1972) with the group stranded on the distant planet Adon, far away both from Earth and from the ongoing conflict between New Genesis and Apokolips. Indeed, “stranded on Adon” was still their status when the big Who’s Who encyclopedia came out in 1985-86.
Not surprisingly, since then DC has revived the Peeps (if I may call them that) a handful of times. The latest is this week’s Infinity Man and the Forever People, which switches things up a little by giving top billing to the mysterious being who can trade places with his young allies. When DC announced that Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen were writing and drawing, I was skeptical, but willing to give it a chance.
In fact, it’s not a bad first issue. It introduces most of the cast (except for one headliner), it lays out a good bit of the New 52’s New Genesis setup, and while it occasionally seems a bit “edgy for its own sake,” generally it keeps to the spirit of the original. One character even says “without [Kirby], none of this would be possible.” That’s pretty on the nose, but appreciated.
Regardless, the new Forever People has a lot to live up to.
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Aw yeah! In my household, the best news from DC’s June solicitations is the six-issue Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse miniseries. I showed the cover to my 5-year-old and she was crestfallen to learn it didn’t come out for another three months. At least she can fill the time reading the other paperbacks (and Superman Family Adventures) and watching Frozen on an endless loop.
I may also have to get the Li’l Gotham figures, although at $13 a pop they are pretty pricey. Perhaps just Batman and Robin.
Oh, there’s more? What could it be …?
LET’S GO PLACES
The solicitation for Futures End #6 — advertising Ray Palmer, Frankenstein and Amethyst’s trip into the Phantom Zone — makes me irrationally optimistic about the series generally. I think the New 52 needs this series (or something like it) to present a coherent shared universe, because for the past two and a half years it’s been a clash of disparate styles and an array of changes without much to pull it all together. If Futures End can manage a good-sized, eclectic cast, and convince readers they’re all able to function in the same basic environment, that’ll go a long way towards giving the superhero books common ground.
“When you think of Superman in the 1950s, only a handful of artists come to mind – and Al Plastino’s one of them. Along with the likes of Wayne Boring and Curt Swan, Plastino brought a level of humanity to Superman that had never been seen before. This amazing, super-human being now had a smile like you or me. He brought out the human side of a modern myth. It was nuanced but game changing. We can’t thank him enough for his work at DC, and we’re thinking of all those close to him during this difficult time.”
– DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, discussing the work of prolific Superman artist Al Plastino, who passed away at age 91
Dan DiDio informed his Facebook followers Thursday that he was set to appear on today’s episode of tje daytime talk show The View, and the DC Entertainment co-publisher did appear — not as an in-studio guest, but as one of several industry dignitaries who interacted with co-host Whoopi Goldberg at New York Comic Con.
Goldberg explained at the beginning of the segment that she attended the convention seeking advice on how to get her comic book idea published. In addition to DiDio, Goldberg — already a part of geek culture due to her role as Guinan on Star Trek: The Next Generation — sought the counsel of Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Kevin Smith, Seth Green, Clare Grant, Ronald D. Moore, Diana Gabaldon, True Blood‘s Kristin Bauer van Straten and more, in a comedic montage segment.
“The greatest thing I discovered is it’s really family oriented,” Goldberg said of the event. “People come dressed with their families. … They’re happy to be there.” Watch the segment below.
The unexpected connection between comic books and The View is set to continue Friday morning, with DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio booked to appear on the daytime talk show. The guest spot stems from The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg’s attendance at last weekend’s New York Comic Con, where the EGOT winner reportedly shopped around a graphic novel idea.
“Tomorrow on The View, I get to appear with Whoopi Goldberg and listen to her comic series pitch,” DiDio wrote Thursday on his Facebook page. “I only hope she brought samples of her work!”
According to the World Entertainment News Network, Goldberg was at NYCC participating in the the time-honored tradition of trying to break into the comic book business. “I was pitching a comic book that I’m hoping to do… I’ve been a comic book kid all of my life,” the actress/host/comedian is quoted as saying. “One of those things you don’t see is … comic book heroes, female, with any hips, you don’t see them over 12 years old, maybe something sagging a little, nothing is ever moving. So I’m working on something that will alleviate that … It will be me (as a superhero) … I do look like a comic book hero and I love that.”
DiDio showed a sense of humor about his convention encounter with Goldberg, saying in the comments section of his Facebook post, “Whoopi was sweet, humble and gracious, you never would have known she was a comic fan.”
Last year, The View announced Marvel’s same-sex marriage between Northstar and his boyfriend Kyle in the pages of Astonishing X-Men; The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman appeared on the show in 2011. Whether the View panel will ask DiDio any Wally West questions remains to be seen.
Longtime collaborators Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani have been on a roll recently, partnering their Aw Yeah Comics store with Alter Ego Comics, tackling Itty Bitty Hellboy at Dark Horse, which will also collect their Aw Yeah Comics series, and bringing the “Li’l” treatment to several Dynamite Entertainment titles.
However, they’re not finished yet: Aureliani announced over the weekend on Twitter, “Big news out of DC comics and @dandidio1 says so: can you say: Tiny Titans?,” followed by, “Yes! It’s true! New Tiny Titans coming soon!” Although there’s been no official announcement, DC Comics Co-Published Dan DiDio re-tweeted the second message.
The Eisner Award-winning all-ages series, which ran for 50 issues from April 2008 to May 2012, depicts the lighthearted adventures of child versions of DC heroes (primarily the Teen Titans) at Sidekick City Elementary, where Deathstroke is principal and Darkseid is the lunch lady.
There’s no word yet on when, or in what format, fans should expect the return of Tiny Titans.