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‘The New 52 and You,’ and the dreaded R-word

Action Comics #1

If there are any lingering concerns that DC Comics’ sweeping September relaunch — re-branded this week as “The New 52″ — is actually a reboot, the publisher is working doggedly to stomp them out, tackling the issue head on this morning in an email to retailers.

Titled “The New 52 and You,” the message from Senior Vice President-Sales Bob Wayne wades into the thorny issues of continuity, devoting three of the email’s 10 “general” questions specifically to why the initiative isn’t the dreaded R-word. It’s familiar territory for Wayne, who insisted to those same retailers in early June what the New DCU is not. “It is not a ‘reboot,’” he wrote at the time. “I think you will soon discover why that is.”

Why that is, Wayne now explains, is that “a reboot is typically a restart of the story or character that jettisons away everything that happened previously.” That probably amounts to hair-splitting, if not a convenient redefinition of the term, but okay.

“This is a new beginning which builds off the best of the past,” he continues. “For the stories launching as new #1s in September, we have carefully hand-selected the most powerful and pertinent moments in these characters’ lives and stories to remain in the mythology and lore. And then we’ve asked the best creators in the industry to modernize, update and enhance the books with new and exciting tales. The result is that we retained the good stuff, and then make it better.”

The same argument probably could have been put forward in 1986, with the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which restarted characters like Superman and Wonder Woman, wiped others out of existence and left still others relatively untouched (but caused many, many problems down the road; see Wonder Girl, Justice League and Justice Society history and the All-Star Squadron, for starters). Similarly, 1994′s Zero Hour scrapped Legion of Super-Heroes continuity, monkeyed with the various Hawkman characters, and changed aspects of Batman’s and Catwoman’s origins while leaving the most powerful and pertinent moments in these characters’ lives.

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Joker breaks out the crowbar (again) in Detective Comics #881

A sequence from Detective Comics #881, by Jock

Last night Jock offered a sneak peek at “some Joker business” from August’s Detective Comics #881, the conclusion of his well-regarded run on the series with writer Scott Snyder, and the final issue before DC Comics’ big line-wide relaunch. It’s “the issue everyone will be talking about,” the publisher promises. That may be hyperbole, of course. But it also may be because Jock’s snapshot of a crowbar-wielding Joker harks back to a 22-year-old scene from Batman #427 that didn’t turn out so well for the character on the receiving end. Oh, sure, Jason Todd got better; it just took him 15 years.

Check out the original sequence after the break. Detective Comics #881 hits shelves on Aug. 10.

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DC relaunch scorecard: DCnU or DC No?

Green Lantern #1, by Dave Johnson

Although it seems like DC’s big relaunch announcement came out an eternity ago, it actually took the publisher less than two weeks to roll out the 52 titles and their creative teams for the big relaunch/reboot/overhaul coming in September. Now that the cats are out of their respective bags, I thought I’d see where various creators and characters will land after the reboot.

So I went back through DC’s August solicitations to see who was writing or drawing what, and tried to map everyone to their post-relaunch project — if they had one. However, looking at DC’s August solicitations, there seem to be several fill-in issues, so where appropriate I tried to map the most recent ongoing creative teams to their new projects (for instance, I consider Gail Simone and Jesus Saiz the regular creative team for Birds of Prey, even if they aren’t doing the last two issues before September hits). Keep in mind that I just went through the ongoing series and skipped over all the miniseries … of which there are a lot, what with Flashpoint winding up in August.

It’s also worth noting that although several creators didn’t appear in the “big 52″ announcements, that doesn’t mean their tenure with DC is necessarily over — some, like Frazer Irving, have said they have future projects that haven’t been announced. So I tried to note where creators have talked publicly about their post-relaunch plans with DC (or lack thereof, as the case may be). The same could probably be said for some of DC’s characters as well. Or, as Gail Simone said on Twitter: “Again, September is NOT THE END. There’s still plans for characters that we haven’t seen yet.”

So let’s get to it ….

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DC reveals details about the relaunched Batman line

Ceçi n'est pas un Batman

Ceçi n'est pas un Batman

DC spent the day rolling out announcements about the Batman books in anticipation of its line-wide September relaunch…with one conspicuous absence until the very end.

So, Bruce Wayne is reclaiming sole possession of the mantle of the Bat, while Batman and Detective Comics are swapping creators: Batman writer/artist Tony Daniel will be taking over Detective Comics, while ‘Tec writer Scott Snyder is taking over Batman with artist Greg Capullo of Spawn fame. Both books will star Bruce Wayne rather than his protege and stand-in Dick Grayson beneath the cape and cowl.

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Will Archie relaunch their classic characters as well?

The big news of the week is that DC is planning a massive relaunch of its characters. Is something similar in the works at Archie Comics?

Before you scoff, take a look at Archie & Friends Night at the Comic Shop, which came out in trade paperback form last month. (There’s a short preview at the link.) The plot is simplicity itself: A meteor hits Pep Comics, the local comics shop, and somehow this causes a ton of vintage comics characters to come to life, escape from their pages, and wreak havoc all over Riverdale. If this were one or two characters, it might work, but with about 30 or so, it just ends up as a jumble, with the regular cast interacting with a different character in every panel.

What is interesting about this book, however, is that all the characters once appeared in actual comics published by MLJ Comics, which later became Archie Comics, in the 1940s and 1950s. The back of the book includes a guide to the “MLJ Universe,” and what a universe it is! The Archie brass have already reached into their IP vault and brushed the cobwebs off some of their old characters: They relaunched Li’l Jinx as the teenaged Jinx, they plan to give hard-boiled detective Sam Hill his own graphic novel line, and they occasionally sneak Cosmo the Merry Martian into a cover. Could more be on the way?

The difference between MLJ and DC, of course, is that the MLJ characters have been out of the public eye for a while, and some of them look their age. Still, here are a few of the characters I’d like to see come back to life, along with suggestions about how to do it.

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Jock unveils Joker pin-up for upcoming Detective Comics cover

With DC riding high on the news cycle given their plans to relaunch their superhero universe come September, leave it to none other than superstar artist Jock to show there’s still some great comics to look forward to between now and then.

Over on his always active twitter feed, Jock premiered a Joker cover presumed to be for an upcoming issue of his current series Detective Comics. What do you think?

Within 9 minutes Jock obtained over 25 retweets of this image, leading the artist to remark that he’s “NEVER had a response like that before. hit a nerve? maybe a funny bone….”

What Are You Reading?


Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week’s guest is Alex Segura, executive director of publicity and marketing at Archie Comics. But we’ll always know him as the guy who founded The Great Curve, the blog that would one day morph into Robot 6.

To see what Alex and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below …

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Francisco Francavilla’s 1930s-era Batman

Artist Francisco Francavilla has been tearing up the comics scene as of late. He’s balancing two ongoing gigs on the Big Two’s dark super-heroes — Batman in Detective Comics for DC and Black Panther: The Man Without Fear at Marvel — and still keeps up a healthy sideline of pin-ups, cover work and some great art online.

The above piece of art is concept art for a pitch Francavilla says he’s been working on some time. At this point it’s speculative as to if this will ever see the lite of day in a published comic, but we can all dream … can’t we?

Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.


Graeme McMillan

It’s a weird week for new releases, with everyone but Marvel taking it easy and pulling back on massive hauls in order to give our wallets a nice holiday break (unless you’re a Marvel completest, in which case, yowza. Look out). That said, if I had $15, I’d put it towards the special 200th issue of What If? ($4.99), the first issue of event tie-in Chaos War: X-Men ($3.99) because I’m curious how Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson handle Marvel’s version of Blackest Night, and the second issue of Scott Snyder and Jock’s Detective Comics run (#872, $3.99), because I was really happily surprised by how much I enjoyed the first.

If I had $30, I’d put Chaos War and What If? back on the shelf, and get Emitown ($24.99) instead. I’ve heard really great things about this print collection of Emi Lenox’s autobio webcomic, and I like the idea of seeing 2011 in by discovering a new cartoonist to love.

Splurging, I’d go back to Marvel, with the brand new Ka-Zar collection by Mark Waid and Andy Kubert ($19.99). I missed out on this series back in the 1990s, but as a fan of both fish-out-of-water stories and Mark Waid stories, something tells me that this might be right up my street.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1

Welcome to another installment of “Food or Comics?” Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comes home and what stays on the shelves. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad money” to splurge with.

Check out Diamond’s full release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Michael May

If I had $15:

I’d pick up Salimba ($9.99), because it’s Paul Chadwick drawing a jungle girl who fights pirates. Then I’d add Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1 ($3.99) to that pile. I’m a huge Alpha Flight fan and can’t wait to read about the original team’s new adventure, even if they are dead.

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Snyder on Detective and the fate of the Jim Gordon co-feature

Detective #871

Scott Snyder, who writes the awesome Vertigo title American Vampire, is set to make his debut on Detective Comics next week. Over on DC’s the Source blog, he talks about his upcoming run on the book with artist Jock.

“On the surface, the run will constitute a kind of back-to-basics approach, with Dick Grayson, as the newly anointed Batman of Gotham, solving brutal crimes around the city with new, high-tech CSI toys,” Snyder said. “But the run will also be about the dark and mysterious relationship the city has with Bat. Because for Bruce, Gotham has produced the Joker, Two-Face and all the great villains we know and love as dark and twisted reflections of Bruce himself. And now, with Dick in the cowl, the city seems to be changing, becoming meaner, more vicious. Which makes him wonder – what if being Batman in Gotham means having to face your worst childhood fears come to life, in the flesh? What if Gotham is like a black funhouse mirror to whoever wears the cowl?”

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes


Crime | A St. Louis retailer was subdued Thursday night after a nearly four-hour standoff with police, who had attempted to arrest him on rape and weapons charges. Officers reportedly arrived at Legends Comics & Sports Cards late Thursday afternoon to serve warrants Kenneth McClure when the 57-year-old store owner drew a gun. The officers took cover inside the store and radioed for assistance, and by 9 p.m. McClure was taken into custody. He had been charged in the first-degree statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl, third-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon.  McClure is being held on a $75,000 bond. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Riverfront Times]

Graphic novels | Jeff Lemire’s Essex County and Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki Skim are among the CBC’s prestigious Canada Reads program’s Top 40 Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade. Voting continues online through Nov. 7 for the final Top 10. [Canada Reads, via Top Shelf]

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Brightest Day #7 (August's top-selling comic)

Retailing | Laura Hudson surveys a handful of retailers about what part higher cover prices may have played in August’s plummeting comics sales. “This summer has underperformed, and I think [the $3.99 price point] is a big part of it,” says Chris Rosa of Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, “but also I think the lack of an event and the fact that the big books at both [companies] are extended denouements to events. There’s nothing really inspiring people to run out to the stores. People are tired of buying four Avengers titles at $3.99 a pop.” [Comics Alliance]

Publishing | Tom Mason looks at the return of Atlas Comics: “If you were 13 years-old in 1975 when the original books were out, you’d be 48 today. In other words, the age of the average direct market fanboy. But in order for these new books to succeed, they’d have to appeal beyond nostalgia because with most Marvel and DC comics at $4.00 a pop, you’ve got to have something special and excellent to lure some of those buyers into your own circus tent.” [Comix 411]

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A first look at Jock’s cover for Detective Comics #872

From Detective Comics #872, by Jock

Jock’s website has been a treasure trove of sneak peeks lately, from his covers for Tron: Betrayal to unused concept art for a Dune film to his cover for Daredevil: Reborn #1 (okay, the last one debuted first on Twitter, but still). Now comes a first look at the cover for Detective Comics #872, the second issue of his upcoming (ongoing) run on the series with American Vampire writer Scott Snyder.

It’s the second installment of “The Black Mirror” arc, in which “a series of brutal murders pushes Batman’s detective skills to the limit and forces him to confront one of Gotham City’s oldest evils.” Detective Comics #872 is due in stores in December. See the full cover after the break.

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Snyder, Francavilla team for ‘Commissioner Gordon’ back-up feature in Detective Comics

Commissioner Gordon

Commissioner Gordon

DC Comics announced on Friday that Scott Snyder, who takes over the writing chores on Detective Comics in November, is also writing a back-up feature for the book starring Commissioner Gordon. Snyder will be joined by artist Francesco Francavilla on the feature.

“I’m a huge fan of Francesco’s work and have been for quite some time,” Snyder told DC’s The Source blog. “His style is dark and daring with a good amount of noir to it, but there’s also a striking physicality to his art – his characters always look very real, very vulnerable and human. Which is why I always thought he’d be perfect for the job; because this story is dark and dramatic with some big revelations, but it’s also about Jim Gordon, the man, coming to terms with some very tough skeletons from his past… Or rather, one skeleton in particular – someone who has just now returned to Gotham, too… So I simply could not be more excited about Francesco’s involvement. With Jock on feature, Francesco on back-up, this is exactly the team I’d hoped for! (Huge giant-penny-sized thanks to our editor Mike Marts for the creative freedom and support.) Can’t wait to see what you think of the book, DC Nation!”

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