There wouldn’t be as much of an issue — and perhaps none at all — if every character’s history had been allowed to reset. However, stating specifically that the Batman and Green Lantern families both came through the relaunch relatively unchanged, even as Superman, the Flash, the Teen Titans, and the Justice League generally each got new beginnings, was just asking for trouble. Still, the question then becomes how much of Batman and GL backstory has become crucial to the present understanding of those characters?
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We begin with Batman. Pre-relaunch, Batman had built up a small army of proteges and associates over the course of a long career. In fact, said career spans at least ten years, because Damian Wayne was ten years old when he met Bruce Wayne, and his mom (Talia al Ghul) only sought out Bruce because her father had figured out he was Batman. Factoring in Dick Grayson’s age (between 18 and 20, depending on when you think 1987′s Batman: Son of the Demon falls in the timeline), and adding a few years for Dick’s early Robin career and Bruce’s solo debut (accounts vary) gives us a rough idea of how many years Batman’s been operating.
The great strength of DC’s superhero line is its heterogeneity — that is, its history of bringing together different genre-based roots and different storytelling approaches. However, as the shared-universe model came to dominate superhero serials, DC’s various high sheriffs have tried to impose various kinds of order on these disparate perspectives. Starting in the Silver Age, the infinite Multiverse organized characters broadly, for example by generation (Earth-Two), publisher (Earth-X, Earth-S, Earth-Four), or special category (the Crime Syndicate’s Earth-Three, the Zoo Crew’s Earth-C). Crisis On Infinite Earths consolidated a lot of that, The Kingdom’s Hypertime sought unsuccessfully to reincorporate it, and 52 compromised with a scaled-back set of parallel Earths. Today, the New-52 setup still has a Multiverse, but the main DC-Earth has scaled back its superheroic history dramatically.
Details aside, though, each of these cosmological structures is an attempt to bring some deeper meaning to DC’s superhero line. Put simply, for a long time DC’s superhero books weren’t about something, whereas Marvel presented a “world outside your window” in which superpowers came with their own sets of problems. Thus, from the post-Crisis 1980s until the end of Flashpoint last summer, DC was arguably “about” superheroic legacies, and had no small success putting new faces with old names.
And again, those details are not especially germane to today’s post. Instead, I want to talk about the nature of DC’s various traditions, the extent to which those traditions should guide the publisher, and whether DC’s superhero books can, collectively, ever really be “about” anything.
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where we share what comics, books and other good stuff we’ve been checking out lately. This week our special guest is Thomas Hall, writer of the science fiction/fantasy comic Robot 13.
To see what Thomas and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Publishing | Jennifer de Guzman announced that, after 10 years, she has left her position as editor-in-chief of SLG Publishing: “My decade SLG was, I suspect, like no other decade anyone has spent working anywhere. I had great co-workers and got to work with fantastic creators, all of whom I will miss very much. (Though because this is comics and a community like no other, we will always stay in contact.)” [Possible Impossibilities]
Retailing | Chris Powell, current general manager and chief relationship officer for Texas-based comic chain Lone Star Comics, has accepted the newly created position of executive director of business development for Diamond Comic Distributors. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund board member will start his new position in March. [ICv2]
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about what comics, graphic novels, books and what-have-you we’ve been reading lately. This week our special guest is Brian Ralph, creator of Daybreak, Cave-In and Reggie 12.
To see what Brian and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.
Whether by accident or design, this week was dominated by female leads (four, not including Starfire in Red Hood) and Bat-titles (four including RH; five if you count Birds Of Prey). It is tempting to say the woman-led titles ran the gamut of experiences from A to D, but thankfully it is a little more complicated than that. As you might expect, the week produced issues of varying quality, although I found something to like about each one. Sometimes it was harder to find that one thing, though….
Naturally, SPOILERS FOLLOW.
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In theory, the DC Universe Presents anthology has a longer lease on life because its sales can’t be judged fairly on the basis of only one arc. I suppose that, given Deadman’s relationship with one of Hawk & Dove’s headliners, that book’s readers might be interested in this one. By and large, though, the audience for this title is made up either of DC stalwarts waiting for a good Obscure Character X story, or (less likely, I’d say) impulse buyers. Such an approach might have been a great way to introduce a totally new character within the context of the New 52, and piggyback that feature on the rest of the relaunch’s popularity — but I’m not surprised DC chose Deadman, fresh off Brightest Day.
• USA Today talks with Supergirl co-writers Mike Johnson and Michael Green about their approach to the relaunched title, and provides a five-page preview of the first issue, which goes on sale Wednesday. “We’re really excited about the opportunity to hand this book to a female reader who is into things like The Hunger Games,” Johnson says. “This is a strong character with her own point of view.”
• Writer J.T. Krul will be replaced by Keith Giffen and artist Dan Jurgens on Green Arrow with December’s Issue 4. The news comes just days after John Rozum announced he’s leaving Static Shock.
And again, the #52splash hash tag on Twitter remains active, as more artists post more art from DC’s relaunched September titles (and beyond, in some cases). I’ll start with some that came in last night, and add more throughout the day when I get a chance.
The artists behind this September’s “New 52″ have taken to Twitter, thanks once again to David Macho, revealing a whole lot of art from the new books that are due next month. There are a couple of hash tags to follow over on Twitter … #52splash will show you pages of new stuff from Greg Capullo (above), Scott McDaniel and many others. And as Kiel noted last week, #thenewvillains hash tag that kicked off last week slowed down after last week’s push, but a few new posts have popped up today.
And speaking of villains, I don’t think anyone has shared artwork yet for the villain of the new Justice League title — who it turns out is one of DC’s biggest and baddest, Darkseid.
Check out more artwork after the jump, and watch the hash tags for more!
One of the more precarious parts of DC’s New-52 relaunch is this notion that a whole lot of in-story history happened over just five years of comic-book time. So far, this comes primarily from narration in the new Justice League #1, indicating that the team was formed “five years ago,” when “the world didn’t know what a super-hero was.”
Now, this may not be an entirely accurate measurement of the relaunch’s age. Practically by definition, the Justice League consists of heroes with fairly well-established careers, so we have to think that its charter members had been around for a little while before teaming up. Furthermore, in the context of the New 52 specifically, we can infer from what we know about the new Action Comics — which will show him less-powerful and with a more mundane costume — that Superman debuted some time before the events of Justice League #1. (According to Comics Alliance’s account of Friday’s New-52 Comic-Con panel, Action initially takes place just a few months before Justice League.)
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 ….
[Note: This post was written Wednesday night, before the latest round of announcements.]
I was barely into the back yard when the lawn mower exploded.
This mower was far from new. My wife had owned it since a few years before we met, and it may have been old when she got it. It had cut the grass of at least four different addresses in three different states, and had been maintained and serviced fairly faithfully throughout its life. This summer, however, its persistent little engine had been making ominous noises that my amateur care could not entirely mitigate. When it ran over that big limb, which it tried mightily to shred as it had so many others, the stresses proved to be too much. The next thing I knew, there was a puff of smoke, a spray of oil, and a silver-dollar-sized hole in the mower’s side.
I pointed that out to my wife, to drive home the extent of the damage. “See that in the hole? That’s the piston.”
“We’ll take it to Sears in the morning,” was her reply.
Well, needless to say, by this point we were talking about an ex-mower. The most the Sears mechanics could suggest was to order a part that would cost more than a new mower. This was the tipping point for my wife, when practicality superseded sentiment. Indeed, the new mower is remarkably efficient by comparison, atomizing clippings and leaving a uniform green carpet in its wake. It is cool and bloodless, like a Secret Service agent or an athlete in prime condition. With luck, it will serve us as long and as well as its predecessor.
Now, clearly I am not telling you about my lawn mower because this has turned into “Grumpy Old Garden.” Neither am I saying DC had a gaping hole in its superhero line and we readers thought it could be simply patched. There was, and is, no simple solution — not even starting over entirely — to DC’s array of small and large ailments. A few weeks ago I talked about the relationships we readers form with these characters over time, and I can see a couple of ways to roll back whatever Flashpoint facilitates.
Still, after a week’s worth of pondering September’s lineup, I have decided it is time to embrace the new.
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.
This is not necessarily another post about DC’s post-Flashpoint superhero titles. However, since we superhero readers must deal with a climate of perpetual change, I often wonder just how far DC could go in rolling back its big changes.
In a sense, the first big set of changes started in 1956, with Barry Allen’s debut as the new Flash. Barry’s introduction acknowledged explicitly that there had been a previous (albeit “fictional”) Flash, whose name Barry took and whose costume was Barry’s inspiration. You know the rest: new versions of Green Lantern, the Atom, Hawkman, etc., followed; they all teamed up as an updated Justice Society called the “Justice League”; and they were joined by a number of new characters like Adam Strange, the Hawk and the Dove, and the Doom Patrol.
After that, though, DC’s Silver Age of the 1960s was exciting but uneventful, because (outside of a few marriages) its status quo was never really challenged. Accordingly, when the Doom Patrol was murdered (in September 1968′s issue #121) and Dick Grayson left Wayne Manor (in December 1969′s Batman #217), DC’s shared superhero universe moved into a new phase.
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This November, writer Vito Delsante‘s collaboration with artist Rachel Freire, FCHS: Volume 1, will be released by AdHouse (Diamond Order Code: SEP09 0568). As described at the AdHouse site: “Do you remember high school? All the fun and trouble you used to get into? All of the sex, sports and alcohol that was your Senior year? It’s time to go back! Join Hector, Kennedy, Jules and the whole gang at FCHS as they begin their last year of high school. Will they be ready for ‘the real world’ when it’s all over? Will they all make it? Archie meets 90210.” Delsante, who has written for a number of publishers (including DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, and Simon & Schuster), was kind enough to do an email interview with me. In addition to discussing FCHS, we discuss his experience working at Jim Hanley’s Universe, as well as some of his other upcoming projects.
Tim O’Shea: FCHS got its start at the Chemistry Set, how did the publishing arrangement with AdHouse come about?
Vito Delsante: A mini comic. Seriously! Rachel and I attended MoCCA two years ago and at that point, we had about 21 strips on the site that we turned into seven 3-tier pages. We were handing them out to just about anyone who was interested, with the thought that we’d bring some traffic back to Chem Set. Chris [Pitzer, AdHouse Books publisher] got one and a few weeks later, right before Comic Con Intl., he e-mailed us and asked if we were interested in doing a book. I think, in the back of my head, I was hoping to get a few publishers interested in FCHS, but when Chris offered, we jumped at it. Rachel and I are big fans of AdHouse, and to be a member of that family is a very good feeling.