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The Still-New, Pretty Different IGW: Great Expectations!

Written by Christian Hoffer on Tuesday, August 30 2011 and posted in Columns

IGW returns to sum up what's riding on the line for DC as well as give a brief Idiot's Guide to the DC Relaunch.  Plus reviews, news and more!

The News Reel

DC confirmed that James Robinson and Nicola Scott are working on a new Justice Society of America title which will take place on the alternate world of Earth-2. JSA will be presumably be set during WWII, a time when the economy was booming, everyone knew who their enemies were, and entire comic lines didn't need to be rebooted due to rapidly dwindling sales because there wasn't a direct market distributor around to screw the comic book market up so badly. Good times.  

The lineup for Uncanny X-Men was leaked on the Outhouse and Bleeding Cool last week. The team will feature Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik, Magneto, Collosonaut and the Danger Room.   In addition, Cyclops may or may not be sporting a prosthetic arm. Meanwhile, it's popularly believed that the Wolverine and the X-Men lineup will feature Pixie, Armor, Shadowcat, Edie, Hope, Wolfsbane, Surge, X-23 and Dust and will feature Wolverine killing his own children repeatedly while reminding his harem of underage girls that killing is morally reprehensible.

Marvel announced that the Alpha Flight miniseries has been extended into an ongoing series. After the series finishes up its tie-in to Fear Itself, the Canadian superhero team will then turn to deal with a hidden collection of heroes called the Commonwealth. When that arc is finished, the series will then crossover to New Avengers in an arc called "The Death of Alpha Flight...Again." Brian Bendis was quoted as saying "I look forward to finishing the job I started five years ago. No worries, though, we'll replace those characters with a more ethnically diverse cast that better reflects Canada's population of French Canadians and mooses."

Great Expectations

Last week, Jim Shooter detailed how Marvel almost began to publish DC Comics in the 1980s.  According to Shooter's always entertaining blog, only an anti-trust lawsuit prevented Marvel from getting the rights to publish characters such as Batman, Superman and Green Lantern.  When the deal between Marvel and Warner Bros., DC's parent company, fell through, DC instead decided to streamline their continuity and reboot their universe with Crisis on Infinite Earths, an event that reset their universe to where it is today.

Thirty years or so later, DC has decided to reboot their universe once again, this time to focus on de-aged, continuity-lite versions of their iconic characters. To show that they're serious, DC cancelled their entire line in August and replaced them with fifty-two "new" series, including new volumes of Action Comics and Detective Comics, two books which have never been subjected to rejiggered numbering before.  DC is heralding the changes as a gamechanger for the comic book industry and believes that the moves will finally propel them to the top spot in comic book sales.

For DC, the stakes have never been higher. On the line is not only the chance to finally overtake Marvel in sales, but also revitalize the industry and reach out to the throngs of disenfranchised readers with the relaunch. At the same time, DC faces the distinct possibility that they could lose even more of their dwindling fanbase and see Warner Bros., who had been rumored to be disappointed with their comic publishing arm, take a more active role in the management of their publishing subsidiary.  For all intents and purposes, Dan Didio and Jim Lee, DC's co-publishers, have gone all in and have made the New 52 the last stand for the current era of DC Comics.  Should the Relaunch fail spectacularly, chances are that DC Comics will be subjected to a high amount of scrutiny and turnover as Warner Bros begins to examine whether comic book publishing is still profitable in its current format. 

To say there's been a lot of mixed reaction over the relaunch would be an understatement. DC hasn't had the best track record over the last seven years and many see the relaunch as a way to wipe the slate clean. Some fans question DC's ability to make lasting change in their approach to publishing comics, especially as the same people responsible for many of DC's missteps are still in charge of the company. A recent article by Newsarama listed ten DC stories most in need of a reboot. Seven of the ten stories listed were published under the current editorial staff's reign. Much rides on Dan DiDio, Jim Lee and Geoff Johns' ability to promote quality storytelling that doesn't rely on crossovers, events or the other cheap gimmicks which has steadily caused readership to dip and fans to become dissatisfied with the publisher's tactics to squeeze more money out of their fanbase.

At the same time, DC has managed to perk the interest of much of the industry with their moves. Marvel employees have admitted that the rival publisher is closely watching the results of DC's moves.   Many fans are also curious to see if DC's new "Same Day" digital plan could finally push the industry into an era where digital comics are seen as more than just a curiosity.  Many retailers have stated that interest in DC's books is higher than it has in years and hope that DC's promised ad campaign and media push could finally draw new readers into shops. 

The next few months could be gamechangers for the entire industry. They could be a giant letdown as sales slowly dip down from exaggerating highs back to the current distressing figures that plague the industry today. Most likely, it'll be a mix of both and will neither help nor hurt the industry in the long run. Whatever the consequence of DC's Relaunch, one thing's for certain: as of 12 AM EST, the DC Universe that fans have been reading about for the last twenty-six years is gone. Hopefully, the NuDCU will last a little longer.

An Idiot's Guide to the DC Relaunch

To help along those readers who have been stuck in a cave without Internet over the last two months, here's a few things to watch for come this September.

Book to Watch: Batman. Scott Snyder is the hottest writer in the industry right now. In the eyes of many readers, the man can do no wrong. DC wisely chose to promote him to write the main Batman series, which likely will follow up on threads from his recent Detective Comics run as well as the Gates of Gotham miniseries he co-wrote with Kyle Higgins. In all likelihood, Batman will be the critical darling of the New 52 and one of its top sellers. 

Character to Watch: Superman. He's young, he's single, he wears jeans and no underwear and his cape is now his baby blanket. No character has been changed more than the Last Son of Krypton in the new Relaunch, in part due to the boring direction the character has gone in the last three years. DC is banking that Grant Morrison and George Perez can return Nuperman (see, we can make up words using Nu too!) to his rightful spot on top of the DC food chain.

Creator With Most to Prove: Scott Lobdell. Lobdell emerged from the DC Relaunch announcement as one of the big creators in the DCU. He's writing more books than anyone else despite having not worked for a major publisher since writing a fill-in issue of Gotham City Sirens in 2009. DC is banking that Lobdell still has the writing chops that made him Wizard Magazine's Favorite Creator in 1997.

Most Scrutinized Book: Batgirl. Many fans lit their Barbara Gordon sex dolls on fire when they discovered that the "original" Batgirl was putting the costume back on after being in a wheelchair for the last three decades. Between Oracle fans upset that the character would begin walking again to Stephanie Brown fans upset that DC had seemingly erased their character, there's been a lot of vitriol directed at DC and Batgirl writer Gail Simone. Although Simone has done her best to win fans over with promises that the other Batgirls would not be forgotten in her book, expect this book to be one of the most polarizing out of the New 52.

Sleeper Hit: DC's Horror Line. While DC may have made a lot of questionable moves when bringing on talent for their relaunch, they did manage to put one corner of their universe in good hands. Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, Paul Cornell and Josh Fialkov are some of the best writers in the industry today and will be taking point on a group of horror themed comics such as Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Frankenstein, I, Vampire and Demon Knights. Chances are that at least a few of these books will be in contention for an Eisner next year.

Most WTF? Part of the New 52: Sinestro Starring in Green Lantern. More than anything else, this represents DC's biggest failure. Instead of rebooting the entire DC Universe, DC decided to appease Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison, the company's two most popular creators, and largely maintain the Green Lantern and Batman's status quo. When new readers pick up the new Green Lantern #1 next month, they'll simply be reading the latest chapter in Geoff Johns' Green Lantern saga, which now features Sinestro, Hal Jordan's most prolific villain, as the lead character in the book.  That's sure to make sense to new readers. 

Creators to Watch: Kyle Higgins, Nathan Edmonson, Josh Fialkov, and Paul Cornell are all writers that should shine in the coming months with books that should largely be free of editorial interference. DC has long had a talent gap in comparison to Marvel and have finally secured some up and coming writers that could give them a solid creative core to draw upon in the coming years.

Final Thoughts: The most thing that's exciting for me is the bevy of new books hitting the stands.  Outside of the usual superhero books, there are books that are designed to appeal to just about everyone.  If you're looking to read a good comic book, chances are you'll have the best luck in the more obscure books, many of which have rising talent attached and little editorial mandate to follow. 

New and Improved Comics (There Be Spoilers Here)

The Top Spot: Coming as absolutely no surprise, American Vampire continues to be one of the top books in the industry today. Scott Snyder finishes off his WWII arc with a death that no one saw coming. Who would have thought that Skinner Sweet would have met his demise on a Pacific island at the hand of Pearl Jones? With one of the two main characters now gone, Snyder has closed the first chapter of his vampire saga and set up a new world in which Pearl has to deal with her own vampiric creations instead of dealing with being a creation of Skinner Sweet's.

The Runner-Up: Mystery Men #4 wins the runner-up spot in a very tight race between a few books, including TMNT, FF and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors. In my eyes, David Liss is one of the premier character writers in the industry. He excels in fleshing out characters in a short time period and has fleshed out his cast of Mystery Men more than other writers have in four times as many issues.

Dissenting Opinion: Ultimates #1 is not a good comic. Mediocre art, mediocre writing and mediocre characters combine for a book that's simply not worth the $3.99 selling price. For a book that's supposed to introduce readers to the new Ultimate Universe, the book succeeds only in spouting out the same broken metababble that Jonathan Hickman excels in writing. What disappointed me the most about the book, though, was how quickly I read through it. I've found that the longer it takes me to read a Hickman comic, the better it is. This, on the other hand, was the quickest I've ever gotten through a Hickman book.

On the Flip Side: FF#8, meanwhile, is one of the stronger offerings from Marvel this week. Reed, Doom, Nathaniel, Sue and Valeria all have great moments as FF continues to build towards a strong climax. FF is a good fit for Hickman as it gives him a chance to spout his metababble in an appropriate setting and also allows him to get away with some of the kookier plot points that don't work in a book not focused on science.

How Many Internets Are There?: What is it about Batman comics and new versions of the Internet? Red Robin visited a villainous Unternet a few months back and now Batman Incorporated #8 visits Grant Morrison's Internet 3.0. In addition to dealing with Grant Morrison dropping more computer lingo than an episode of Reboot, he also reveals one of the hidden masterminds behind Leviathan. Jezebel Jet, Bruce Wayne's villainous ex-fiancee is back and will probably be a thorn in Batman's side when Batman Incorporated returns next year.

Indie Comic of the Week: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not only the top Indie Comic of the Week, it's also one of the best books of the month. It's great to see the Turtles back in print again, even if we have to put up with a revised origin and an unclear plot. I'm looking forward to seeing what Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz do next!

Death Comes For Us All: I'd be more upset about Alan Scott's death in Justice Society of America #54 if not for the fact that it a) gets him out of the terrible costume that he's been wearing for the last few months and b) he'll almost definitely be back in James Robinson and Nicola Scott's new Justice Society title next winter.

What Happens in Vegas: Over the summer, two different companies destroyed Las Vegas. Image wiped out Las Vegas in Invincible, while Marvel wrecked the city this week in Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt

Fun Fact: Sean McKeever, writer of Youth in Revolt, competed in a World Series of Poker tournament in June.  

Read It For the Art...Or the Story: Captain America and Bucky #621 is a gorgeous, albeit superfluous, story that fleshes out Bucky Barnes' backstory and fills in some of his history with Captain America. Chris Samnee's art is gorgeous as always and works perfectly with Ed Brubaker's period piece. The only thing that would make this book better is if it focused on a character that hadn't just died last month.

Last But Not Least: By procuring his own ride to the International Space Station, Batman proved that he was better equipped than NASA in Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #13.


Thank you to the 1100 or so people who read the column last week. I have no idea how the column got so many hits, but it was great to see. Last week's column officially beat my Idiot's Guide to Aquaman as the most read IGW ever. Thanks!

I'd like to take a minute to give a shout out to JT Krul. Last night, I made a joke about Krul's Rise of Arsenal miniseries shortly after he learned about the miniseries' inclusion on Newsarama's list of DC Stories that Need to Be Retconned. Instead of being an ass about it, Krul instead gently corrected me about a comment I had made and proceeded to be a good sport about the whole situation. While I may not be the biggest fan of J.T. Krul, he seems to be a stand up dude and I'm looking forward to giving both Captain Atom and Green Arrow a shot this fall.

Be sure to sign up for 52apolooza. The entry window closes tonight. Cool prizes, fun game, why the hell not?

Yes, Pull List Death Match was delayed another week. My bad.

Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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