DC Comics: The New 52
If you were just thinking your summer wouldn’t be complete without some New 52-inspired beach and camping accessories or garden tools, well, you’re in luck: Target has partnered with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Entertainment to introduce an exclusive summer collection of Justice League merchandise.
Debuting Sunday, the line features more than 50 products, sand toys designed to form cities like Gotham and Metropolis, Wonder Woman melamime dinnerware, a Batman snack cup and apron, a Wonder Woman kids’ camp chair, and Batman, Wonder Woman and The Flash beach towels that double as capes.
In addition to the the summer collection, the partnership will see the introduction of a wide range of Justice League merchandise, ranging from $1 Justice League temporary tattoos to the $59.99 Justice League rocking chair. There will also be a line of Justice League Halloween costumes later in the year.
“DC Comics’ Justice League characters are a powerful assemblage of the most recognizable Super Heroes in the history of comic books,” Brad Globe, president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, said in a statement. “We are incredibly excited to offer fans of all ages a unique collection and collaboration that pairs the heroics of the Justice League characters with the product design and marketing super powers of Target.”
Shortly after Comic Book Resources announced DC Comics will no longer participate in a monthly Q&A feature, the publisher has launched “What’s New in The New 52″ on its own press blog.
CBR’s four-month-old “B&B” column featured Editor-In-Chief Bob Harras and Editorial Director Bobbie Chase answering questions from Staff Writer Josie Campbell and readers about series launches and cancellations, story developments and, occasionally, controversial decisions. But in an editor’s note appended to today’s installment, CBR wrote, “the DC team has made it clear to CBR that discussing some of the more controversial debates surrounding the company and the comics community is not something they feel comfortable doing in this format, and ultimately they decided to no longer participate in this feature.”
The inaugural installment of DC’s weekly “What’s New New in The New 52″ is devoted to Harras’ brief discussion of changes in character designs between a preview for Constantine #1 and the release of the issue, and a first look at Papa Midnight.
“The title pretty much says it all – this is where we get to play show and tell,” he wrote by way of introduction. “New looks, new designs, new villains, new heroes … See the trend? The New 52 is about trumping expectations and keeping readers on their toes. Every week, you’ll get a glimpse of that here.
However, why the feature appears on the DC blog intended for press rather than the one dedicated to fans isn’t explained.
Gather ‘round, kiddos, because we begin with another tale of Gen-X adolescence!
From 1977 through 1986, I grew from a snot-nosed third-grade punk into a snot-nosed (I had allergies) high-school senior, accompanied along the way by at least one big-budget sci-fi/fantasy movie milestone.* Specifically, right in the middle of the run were three sequels by which every self-respecting fan swears: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Superman II (released in the United States in 1981) and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Each built on its predecessor using darker elements and/or more “mature” themes, because each had the sequel’s luxury of an established setting.
For Young Tom, though, the cumulative effect of these three movies was mind-expanding, if not mind-blowing. I’m not talking about Empire’s Big Reveal (echoed coincidentally in Khan) or the unsettling sight of a powerless Clark Kent. Instead, each catapulted the fevered suppositions of a junior-high imagination to higher levels of awareness. I went into the theater each time wondering will this be as good? and came out giddy at how much better each one was.
So what’s this have to do with comics? Read on …
Zatanna is making the move from Justice League Dark to Justice League with July’s Issue 22, and she’ll bring with her a new costume.
Writer Geoff Johns made the announcement last night on Twitter with “the worldwide debut” of the character’s new look, which combines elements of her Satellite Era/Detroit Era costume — the cape, thigh-high boots and the design on the unitard — with the fishnet of her better-known stage-magician ensemble. Yes, gone are the bustier and leather pants of Justice League Dark.
With Zatanna joining Aquaman in Justice League, Vibe and Martian Manhunter in Justice League of America, and Gypsy and Dale Gunn reintroduced in Justice League of America’s Vibe, can a new Justice League Detroit series be far behind? The answer’s likely a firm “no,” but if Elongated Man makes a surprise appearance somewhere in the New 52, all bets are off!
Apparently we misunderstood: The New 52 doesn’t refer to the number of titles DC Comics publishes each month but rather the number of times each title changes creative hands. That’s what it seems like sometimes, what with firings by email, quitting on Twitter, rehirings and more. The general impression from behind-the-scenes tales is that the New 52 is in chaos. However, the end product might suggest DC is actually somewhat holding it together.
Creative changes are nothing new; turnover is inevitable. The key is how that turnover is managed. The ideal is to have a long and satisfying run by a cohesive team smoothly transitioning to a new team. Lord knows that doesn’t always happen, and we’ve certainly been hearing about it not happening recently.
With all of the news of creators coming and going, or going before they even get there, it’s easy to get distracted from the results of the finished product. So, I decided to take a look at a sampling of DC’s New 52, from its launch in late summer 2011 to today, and see how the stability of various titles was affected by creative changes. For my survey, I looked at the Justice League family of books, which includes the flagship Justice League, as well as Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Arrow and others generally associated with the JLA that haven’t had a big Hollywood movie.
“I want to remind readers of this column that all the Marvel NOW! launches are going strong — none have been canceled or RE-relaunched in a whole new direction after 3 or 4 issues — which is a testament to the talent and coordinated effort of our writers, artists and editors,” Marvel’s Axel Alonso said in last week’s Axel-in-Charge column. Yeah, it’s another trademark swipe by Marvel at its competition, but he isn’t wrong. Putting aside the snarkiness, there’s something to be said for a.) making a plan and sticking with it, b.) having faith in the choices you made, and c.) not undermining your creators and your fans with sudden shifts in creative teams.
I of course have no insight into how things are really being run at DC. But from an outsider’s perspective, it feels like its editorial strategy is inspired by the likes of The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. Every man for himself, blink once and they’re gone, blink twice and their replacement is gone. On the day DC announced the new new writers for the Green Lantern books, I remember seeing a tweet that said something like, “Oh, I figured they wouldn’t announce the new writers until [next weekend's] WonderCon.” My first thought? Just wait — maybe they will.
“Yes, many have heard, Andy Diggle left Action Comics after the first issue. I can only say I feel bad he made that decision. I think it was the wrong one, but that was his choice to make. For the remainder of the arc I’ll be working off his plots to finish out this first arc. So essentially, I become ‘scripter’ in the credits w/Andy as ‘plotter.’ As for myself, I end my short run after I complete this first arc, which ends with issue 21. This was preplanned since last fall as there is another project I’ll be taking on, and assisting with, a massive project with DC. I still think people will like this arc and I’m staying as true as I can be to Andy’s plans for this story. In the end I hope he’ll find it somewhat recognizable as something he took part in.”
– Tony S. Daniel, commenting on his Facebook page about the abrupt departure of writer Andy Diggle from Action Comics after just one issue. Daniel, who was initially announced as penciler of the DC Comics series, previously had stints writing Batman, Detective Comics and The Savage Hawkman.
“… I got back into comics because of stereotypes. I think there was some big controversy in some convention — I wasn’t in the industry because I was off doing other things — about how there were no women in comics, and then I got a call, ‘We need women in comics.’ So if I got back into the industry because I’m a token female, I say great! I’m all in! [...] They put me on Green Arrow, and I have to admit, I just didn’t get Green Arrow. I struggled with him. He was a rich playboy in an armored suit who was young. I liked the old Green Arrow, the wise guy who was stealthy and a social crusader — Denny O’Neil’s Green Arrow. This was a different Green Arrow and I didn’t connect with him. Now, doing Katana and Catwoman, I have no idea if there was a meeting where someone said, ‘Let’s give the girl writer the girl books,’ but I instantly related to those characters! It’s fun to write girls.”
– veteran writer and editor Ann Nocenti, discussing her recent return to comics in a fascinating conversation with Louise Simonson at Comic Book Resources that touches up their careers at Marvel, creations like Longshot and Power Pack, attitudes toward female creators in the ’80s, and much more
Publishing | This wrap-up of the third annual India Comic Con, which drew an estimated 50,000 attendees (up from 15,000 last year), doubles as a snapshot of that country’s $22 million comics industry. The growth of the market is attributed in large part to the rise of graphic novels, which are luring young-adult readers. [The Times of India]
Comics | Writing for The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky weighs in on the backlash over DC Comics hiring Orson Scott Card in an article titled “The Real Reason to Fear a Homophobe Writing a Superman Comic”: “It’s disturbing to have Orson Scott Card writing Superman, then, in part because Superman is supergood, and the supergood shouldn’t hate gay people. But it’s also disturbing, perhaps, because Superman is a violent vigilante — and because violent vigilantism in the name of good is often directed not against injustice, but against the powerless.” [The Atlantic]
Publishing | Todd Allen analyzes the sales of DC Comics’ New 52 titles from their September 2011 launch to the past month. Sales of any series tend to drop off from one issue to the next — Allen compares it to radioactive decay — and when the numbers drop below 18,000 for a couple of titles, DC tends to cancel them in batches and start up new titles to replace them. That plus crossovers and strong sales of some flagship titles has kept the line fairly stable until recently, but as Allen notes, the replacement titles tend to crash and burn pretty quickly, and overall sales have dipped a bit. [Publishers Weekly]
History | David Brothers has a great column for Black History Month, featuring Krazy Kat, All-Negro Comics and other titles by black creators. [Comics Alliance]
Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors has announced it will return to Chicago April 24-26 for its annual Diamond Retailer Summit, held in conjunction with the April 26-28 Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo . The three-day event includes presentations from sponsoring publishers, focus groups, and retailer workshops and roundtables. [Diamond Summits]
Awards | Johanna Draper Carlson has resigned as a judge for the 2012 Glyph Comics Awards following a disagreement over which works are eligible for the annual honors. Carlson believed judges should be able to nominate comics (as is the case with the Eisners), but the organizers limited the pool to comics that were submitted to them, which resulted in a smaller group of nominees. [Comics Worth Reading]
Comics | A Columbus, Ohio, entertainment weekly lays out a case for the city — home of Jeff Smith, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum and the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo — becoming, like Portland, Oregon, a hub for comic books. “Comics in Columbus is a weird underground, sort of hip-hop thing,” indie publisher Victor Dandridge Jr. says. “We’re like hip-hop in the Bronx in ’79, just on the corner doing our thing.” [Columbus Alive]
Conventions | Bart Beaty files a final report on this year’s Angouleme International Comics Festival, and his verdict is … meh. “There was a consensus all around that the show was flat. People would throw around adjectives like “fine,” “good,” and “okay.” It wasn’t a disaster (as were some of the shows disrupted by construction), but it also wasn’t that memorable either” [The Comics Reporter]
On the heels of Thursday’s wave of cancellations, DC Comics has announced two new politically themed series from creators Gail Simone and Freddie Williams II, and Art Baltazar, Franco and Ig Guara.
Debuting in May, the companion titles The Movement and The Green Team bring into the DC Universe the economic issues that propelled the Occupy movement and dominated much of the 2012 presidential election. In short, they’re a look at the 1 percent and the 99 percent — the haves and the have nots – in a world populated by superheroes.
“The Movement is an idea I’ve had for some time,” Simone tells The Huffington Post. “It’s a book about power — who owns it, who uses it, who suffers from its abuse. As we increasingly move to an age where information is currency, you get these situations where a single viral video can cost a previously unassailable corporation billions, or can upset the power balance of entire governments. And because the sources of that information are so dispersed and nameless, it’s nearly impossible to shut it all down. [...] The previous generations of superheroes were not created to address this, it’s a legitimately new frontier, both for the real world and for storytellers. ”
When I talked about DC Comics’ April solicitations a few weeks back they hadn’t yet been “WTF-Certified.” (Caleb has an excellent roundup of the WTF specifics, and I am unlikely to improve on his observations.) That phrase suggests strongly either that DC is no longer interested in anyone young enough to use “Why The Face” in casual conversation; or, conversely, that polite society now freely tolerates even an abbreviated F-bomb.
Whatever the reasoning, DC wants its April fold-out covers to be SO! SHOCKING! that even the casual browser cannot refuse them. This is not a bad goal in and of itself. Indeed, we might quibble about which quick exclamation best captures such a “must-read” impulse — OMG! would be too Bieber-feverish, and “wait, what?” is taken — but as far as real WTF covers go, these are a bit tame.
See, back in the olden days, when print publications actually sold well, a comic’s cover absolutely had to command the consumer’s attention, and thereby encourage him or her to spend a few hard-earned coins (ask your parents, kids) on the new DC titles. The late Julius Schwartz is supposed to have said that a book would sell well if its cover boasted a gorilla, a motorcycle, the color purple and/or a question posed to the reader. (During Mark Waid’s editorship of the 1980s Secret Origins, its 40th issue got all four.) As there was no Internet providing potential readers with constant updates — and therefore requiring a steady stream of update-friendly factoids — the cover had to do all the heavy-lifting.
DC Comics this afternoon announced the May cancellations of six more series, a mix of first-, second- and third-wave New 52 titles: Deathstroke, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man, The Ravagers, The Savage Hawkman, Sword of Sorcery and Team 7.
They follow DC Universe Presents, I, Vampire, Saucer Country and Superman Family Adventures, which end with with their April issues.
“There’s a variety of reasons for when we unfortunately have to cancel a book,” DC Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras told Comic Book Resources. “The main focus on this, and this is the big picture, is we try to take a look at it as, these characters will not go away. Even though, yes, Savage Hawkman is being canceled, you’ll be seeing a lot of him in Justice League of America. We have also plans for Deathstroke going forward. So even though, as I said, the monthly title is going away, the characters are still going to be very important to the ongoing storyline of the New 52.”