Don’t ask me how I remember this, but it was just about twenty years ago that the first previews of Dan Jurgens’ Justice League began appearing. After five years, the “bwah-ha-ha” era was winding down, and Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis were leaving Justice League America. Giffen was also stepping away from plots and breakdowns for Justice League Europe, with JLE’s scripter Gerard Jones taking over as the book’s only writer; and Brian Augustyn replaced Andy Helfer as both books’ editor.
With a number of the New 52 titles changing creative teams before they’re even a year old, it’s too early to start talking about any long-lived, let alone definitive, runs on a particular book. Still, DC clearly hopes these books will be around for a while, even without the folks who launched ‘em. It got me thinking about past changes of the guard, and how they have followed some well-established interpretations.
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Since the end of 2011 is right around the corner, it’s as good a time as any to look forward to what DC may bring us in the next year. The fun part is, the (relatively) eclectic New-52 relaunch has made these sorts of predictions a little less accurate. Nevertheless, I think DC remains a fairly conservative publisher overall, at least in terms of the kinds of comics in its superhero-centric main line, so we can make some educated guesses. The fact that all but one of the New 52 featured well-established characters (and the 52nd was Batwing, buoyed by Batman Incorporated) doesn’t exactly hurt either.
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Accordingly, we start with two of DC’s most prolific titles which haven’t yet been reintroduced in the New-52 context: Adventure Comics and World’s Finest Comics (or, as you might know it, Superman/Batman). Both were on the pre-relaunch roster, but neither appears likely to make a comeback. Pre-relaunch, Adventure had become the second Legion of Super-Heroes title, following a brief run of Geoff Johns/Francis Manapul Superboy stories. The New 52 has since filled both roles, both with Legion Lost and the Legion: Secret Origins miniseries, and with the revamped Superboy. Adventure could come back as an anthology, but the New 52 already has the ongoing DC Universe Presents and the miniseries My Greatest Adventure for spotlights and new-character tryouts. As for Superman/Batman, changes to the Man of Steel’s overall outlook may include this relationship. Put simply, I don’t see the New-52 Superman teaming up with the (same old?) Batman on a regular monthly basis — at least, not right now.
In many ways, for longtime DC superhero readers, this is the first week of the rest of our lives. This is the week the first batch of New-52 second issues come out, and as such, this week the New 52 stops being a September-specific gimmick. We all know the second issue is where the rubber meets the road. Accordingly, in conjunction with a look at December’s titles, here’s where I am after a month of first issues.
Back when the September solicitations came out, I listed 37 books that I was planning at least to try:
Action Comics, All-Star Western, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Batman And Robin, Batwing, Batwoman, Blackhawks, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Catwoman, DC Universe Presents, Demon Knights, Detective Comics, The Flash, Frankenstein: Agent Of SHADE, The Fury Of Firestorm, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Grifter, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Justice League International, Men Of War, Mister Terrific, Nightwing, Red Lanterns, Resurrection Man, Static Shock, Stormwatch, Supergirl, Superman, Swamp Thing, and Wonder Woman
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.
Next month Warner Home Video will release their next DC Universe Original Animated Movie, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Included on the DVD will be a new short in what they’re calling their “DC Showcase” series. This first one features the Spectre. From the press release:
The Spectre focuses on a detective story with an ethereal twist, featuring the otherworldly character originally introduced by DC Comics in 1940. The short is written by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and directed by Joaquim Dos Santos (G.I Joe: Resolute). The voice cast is led by Gary Cole (Entourage) as the title character and Alyssa Milano (Charmed) as Aimee Brenner.
The Spectre will be distributed February 23 by Warner Home Video as part of the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Blu-ray/DVD.
Check out a couple of additional images after the jump.