DC Comics' "Rebirth" Character Designs for Batman, Wonder Woman and More
Geoff Johns has revealed finished art from the long-awaited second volume of Batman: Earth One by Gary Frank, Jon Sibal and Brad Anderson.
The original graphic novel is scheduled to arrive on May 6, nearly three years after the debut of the first volume. They’re part of the Earth One line that retells the earliest adventures of some of DC Comics’ superheroes, free of current continuity. Teen Titans: Earth One was released in November, with Superman: Earth One Vol. 3 scheduled to hit shelves in February.
DC unveiled the covers for the new volumes of Superman: Earth One and Batman: Earth One in August.
While I don’t think there have been any official announcements about it, word is trickling out that Grant Morrison’s “putting the sex back into Wonder Woman” project is going to be Wonder Woman: Earth One. Bleeding Cool poses it as a question, but on the most recent 3 Chicks Review Comics podcast, Greg Rucka confirms it. He also says the gig was originally going to be his.
“I, at one point, was supposed to write Wonder Woman: Earth One,” he says. ” J.H. [Williams] was going to draw it.” Unfortunately, “I was told I was not going to do it. Dan DiDio called me and told me he was giving it to someone else. And I said if you take that away from me I can no longer work for you because I have taken many a job for you, sir, on the promise of doing this and now you’re taking it away and I can no longer accept your promises any more. He had his reasons for doing it; this is not me throwing stones. This is just the way things shook out.”
More than two years have passed DC Comics first announced that Geoff Johns and Gary Frank were working on an “Earth One” graphic novel starring Batman, one that Johns said would allow the duo to “break the restraints of any continuity and focus on two things: character and story.”
A lot has happened in that time; DC Comics went and did a whole line-wide reboot, tossing out histories of various characters and starting from scratch, allowing “makers” to “break the restraints of continuity” on all of DC’s characters. Does that negate the need for an Earth One graphic novel line, then? The most base answer would be no–the first Superman:Earth One graphic seemed to do pretty well for DC, sales-wise. Plus Batman’s always been a popular enough character to warrant multiple books, out-of-continuity digital stories and countless Elseworlds tales back when DC was regularly publishing them. If the market can support Batman Incorporated, Batman & Robin and even Batman: Death by Design, why not Batman: Earth One? Besides, he has a new movie coming out later this month.
So putting aside the question of whether we need another Batman graphic novel, much less another take on the origin story, how does this one stack up? Tom gave his review on Thursday, and here are a few more opinions from around the web for your consideration:
Admittedly, it’s harder to get Superman right — that is, it’s easier to craft a satisfying Batman story than it is to tackle the Man of Steel. On top of that, the creative team of Batman Earth One is the well-oiled combination of writer Geoff Johns and penciler Gary Frank, who proved fairly effective on (yes) a series of Superman stories a few years back — not like the first-time teaming of J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis on Superman: Earth One.
Therefore, I had higher expectations for Batman: Earth One, because Johns and Frank (with inker Jonathan Sibal and colorist Brad Anderson) had the wind at their backs. In fact, that tailwind helped them craft a satisfying standalone introduction. Batman: Earth One takes full advantage of the graphic-novel format, mixing bits of the Darknight Detective’s history with a few new wrinkles to make a distinctive, cohesive whole that rises above its various high concepts. The worst thing I can say is that all the references reminded me superficially — and only superficially — of Johns’ fan-serving Justice Society episode of Smallville. Still, even if BME1 were just a TV pilot, I’d be pretty excited for the series.
SPOILERS FOLLOW, of course:
Tomorrow DC Comics releases the second of the new reader-friendly “Earth One” graphic novels, Batman: Earth One. Originally announced in 2009, this second graphic novel is just hours away from release, and people are already looking toward the line, and this title’s, future. DC has already announced that J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis have a sequel to Superman: Earth One due out Nov. 6, and Geoff Johns let slip that he was already writing a Batman: Earth One sequel in an interview posted on Entertainment Weekly‘s website. With those two balls in the air, and DC actively looking to expand their roster of mainstream-friendly characters, I thought I’d give some unsolicited advice on what they should consider next for the “Earth One” line.
So, is this a tradition? I have to come up with a better subtitle…
For the past couple of years, I’ve picked out twenty random DC topics, of various levels of importance, for a paragraph’s worth of analysis each. No guarantees as to accuracy, of course — this site is for entertainment purposes only. Regardless, even a blind pig finds a truffle now and then.
With last year’s list in mind, let’s get right to it–!
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1. DC at 75. My first impulse — which is not necessarily the correct one — is to say that DC had a relatively low-key anniversary, because there was no single celebratory event unifying the superhero line, like there was in 1985 with Crisis On Infinite Earths. I think that’s unfair, though, considering that the superhero books did have some commemorative covers, and there was a big coffee-table book. That’s about right, I guess.
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“…Straczynski basically indicates that the future is stand-alone works and short runs, which strikes me as a terrible vote of no-confidence in terms of such a company’s — an industry’s! — bread and butter. If JMS doesn’t want to write continuing series, doesn’t that suggest that fans might want to reconsider reading them?”
–The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon, analyzing the ramifications of J. Michael Straczynski’s decision to depart his runs on Superman and Wonder Woman for the original graphic novel series Superman: Earth One and similarly formatted projects. “I think that’s where the business is going,” JMS said in his statement; will it go there faster now that one of its most high-profile writers has made the switch?
“For those who’ve been asking, yes, JMS is finishing The Twelve. #9 & 10 are done, and Chris [Weston] is waiting on script from JMS this week.”
–Marvel Senior VP – Executive Editor Tom Brevoort on the other book J. Michael Straczynski departed mid-stream, the long-delayed Marvel maxi-series The Twelve with artist Chris Weston. Perhaps this is one of the “high-visibility mini series…with a beginning, middle and end” to which JMS was referring in his statement about leaving Superman and Wonder Woman to focus on non-monthly comics. (The “and end” part’s the kicker.)
“I think we call that ‘Pulling a Palin.'”
–Writer, editor, and long-suffering Superman superfan Mark Waid, presumably comparing writer J. Michael Straczynski’s abrupt mid-storyline departure from his controversial Superman and Wonder Woman revamps to focus on the (previously announced) second volume in the Superman: Earth One series with former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s departure from office to do…whatever it is Sarah Palin does now. I say “presumably” because as far as I know, Superman hasn’t yet walked far enough across America to be able to see Russia from his house.
Throughout the character’s history, Superman has been introduced and reintroduced to various audiences through various media. There have been Supermen on radio and film, on television and in prose, and of course in comics. The new Megamind apparently leans heavily on a Superman pastiche, and the newest “proper” Superman movie is being guided by producer Christopher Nolan.
And yet, the goal of Superman Earth One — written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencilled by Shane Davis, and inked by Sandra Hope — seems different from many of the Man of Steel’s other origins. Earth One has Krypton, the Kents, Lois, “Jim” Olsen, the Daily Planet, and of course the familiar red-and-blue costume; but it is most concerned with redefining Clark Kent and his mighty alter-ego. Aside from the “Earth One” brand itself (about which more later), there are very few Easter eggs for longtime fans. This is not a distillation of seventy-plus years’ worth of Superman stories into some platonic ideal (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Instead, it’s almost as if Straczynski and Davis are making a concerted effort to avoid such references.
Regardless, Superman Earth One (there is no colon in the title) clearly seeks to redefine and reintroduce the original superhero to a new audience. As a reintroduction, and more specifically as the first of what is presumably an ongoing series of graphic novels, it’s not a bad beginning — but it doesn’t quite feel like Superman yet.
SPOILERS FOLLOW, of course.
To OGN or not to OGN, that is the question that’s been raised by panel reports from San Diego that suggest DC may have changed their plans for their Earth One graphic novel series — something that DC said isn’t the case.
Back in December, DC announced a new series of Earth One original graphic novels featuring Superman and Batman set “on a new earth with an all-new continuity.” During the Superman: The Man of Tomorrow panel at Comic-Con International last month, someone asked J. Michael Straczynski about the future of these graphic novels. Straczynski is the writer of the first one being released this November, which features the story of a young Superman.
“The last question went to Straczynski,” CBR’s panel report by Kevin Mahadeo reads. “The fan asked whether the writer plans on continuing the ‘Earth One’ stories. The writer revealed that the hardcover release will be followed up with single issues, which will later be collected.”
Although panel reports on both Comic Book Resources and Newsarama were published during the show, it wasn’t until this past Sunday that people really started to take notice of that sentence — Kevin Huxford, Johanna Draper Carlson, Heidi MacDonald and Augie De Blieck Jr. have all posted about it this week.