Once dead, twelve heroes and villains were resurrected by a white light expelled from deep within the center of the Earth. The reason behind their rebirth remains a mystery. But it will not be a mystery for long. This is the Brightest Day.
So reads the mission statement which began each issue of the year-long, twice-monthly, just-concluded Brightest Day miniseries (written by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi, drawn by various artists). One might therefore be forgiven for thinking that BD would have used this premise to mold those characters into an imperfect ensemble, in order to explore collectively what “life after death” meant in a superhero context.
Instead, BD farmed out almost half its potential cast to other titles, thereby transforming itself (rather quickly) into a multi-headed Rebirth-style rejuvenation. From there it reintroduced readers to Aquaman, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Firestorm, J’Onn J’Onzz, and Deadman, and used them in turn to reintroduce … well, you probably know by now, but let’s wait a while to talk about that.
News of The Flash’s cancellation has led to speculation that the title, whenever it returns, will pick up its original numbering. Considering that Wonder Woman was renumbered last year to reflect the accumulation of all its various incarnations, and Adventure Comics resumed its original numbering as well, Flash might not be the last title DC renumbers.
Today I’ll look at Flash and several other DC titles which could get this treatment in the next several years.
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First, though, let’s consider Wonder Woman. Last year, the 45th issue of WW Vol. 3 was dubbed issue #600, thereby implicitly treating the current series and its predecessor as direct continuations of the original 1942 series. The math was pretty straightforward: Vol. 1 went to issue #329, and vol. 2 went to #226, so that left the 600th issue to vol. 3′s 45th. (329+226+45 = 600.) Volume 2 did have two irregularly-numbered issues, #0 (part of 1994′s “Zero Month,” which the rest of us called August), and #1,000,000 (for DC One Million, naturally).
The first two parts of this little exploration looked at DC’s attempts to launch ongoing series in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when line-wide events became regular occurrences in the superhero line. However, as those surveys made abundantly clear, said events didn’t seem to relate much either to concurrently-launched ongoing series or to the relative success of said series.
Instead, the number of new ongoing series debuting in a particular calendar year looks somewhat cyclical. There were five new ongoings in 1985 (the year of Crisis On Infinite Earths), up to 14 in 1988 and 17 in 1992, then easing down to 15 in 1994, 13 in 1996, and 10 in 1997. In 1998 and 2000, DC launched only four new ongoing series; in 1999, six; and in 2001, seven. At the risk of exciting you too quickly with more numbers, a later year will have sixteen.
For now, though, we pick up in 2002, at the beginning of a quieter time.
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Every March, college basketball fans carefully study the NCAA brackets to see which teams have the best chance of making the Final Four. Every year, certain teams seem like locks, and this year won’t be much different. The high seeds will include perennial powerhouses like Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, and Duke on the men’s side; and Connecticut and Tennessee on the women’s. The lowest seeds are, inevitably, those teams who are satisfied just to be included (fingers crossed for William & Mary — they’re so close!). That leaves the vast middle populated by a number of familiar names: Old Dominion, Winthrop, San Diego State, Siena, et al. You’re never surprised to see them, but they don’t make it every year. However, every now and then one of these teams becomes more of a fixture; and nowadays fans would probably be surprised if Gonzaga or Butler failed to make the tournament.
Naturally, comparing DC’s superhero line to the field of 65 isn’t especially precise; but there is the notion that a title or character can shake off that Cinderella status and become a perennial player in the Big Dance. DC has been working pretty steadily towards making its characters more “familiar” to the general public, and to a certain extent that means putting familiar favorites in its lineup. With that in mind, let’s examine the staying power of some venerable DC books and separate some pretenders from contenders.
Entertainment Weekly has a couple of new shots from the upcoming Smallville episode Absolute Justice, including the one above of Hawkman laying the smackdown on Green Arrow. What, tension between those two?
Click on over to EW’s site to see the other new photo of Dr. Fate and Stargirl, who actually look like the comic versions of Dr. Fate and Stargirl.
Earlier this month Kevin posted about Kyle Baker’s Hawkman story; over at the Pulse, Jennifer Contino talks to Baker about the book and several other projects. Per the interview, the story will appear in some sort of anthology and will feature an alien invasion and Dinosaur Island:
THE PULSE: When you think Hawkman, what ideas immediately came to your mind about what a story featuring this hero HAD to be about?
BAKER: In most of his adventures, Hawkman usually defends Earth from space alien invasion, so that’s what my story’s about. There’s also action on Dinosaur Island, because dinosaurs are always cool. Hawkman carries a mace, so it’s important for a writer to create dilemmas which can be resolved with a mace. A guy with a mace fighting a T-Rex is a good fight to watch.
An official release date for the book has yet to be announced.
I’m not a fan of Hawkman — nothing against the hairy-chested Thanagarian; I just haven’t given him much thought — but glimpses of Kyle Baker’s upcoming DC Comics project have me a little excited.
Announced by Baker in October, the book is being teased as “ultra-realistic and violent.” How violent? Well, there’s a scene in which Aquaman’s giant seahorse is killed by a Tyrannosaurus rex.
On Friday Baker posted a couple of pages from the comic, saying that he should finish the art over the weekend. Maybe we’ll see an official announcement, and release date, during New York Comic Con.