Thursday, January 12, 2012

DC's Second Wave

So according to the today's news from DC Comics:

In May of 2012, DC Comics will release a “Second Wave” of titles as part of its historic DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 initiative. Six new, ongoing series will build on the shared universe and bold concepts introduced in September 2011 with the renumbering of DC Comics’ entire line of comic books.

Featuring a variety of different genres and storytelling sensibilities, the titles in the “Second Wave” will be helmed by some of the most legendary writers and artists in the comic book industry, and will also feature the first ongoing comic book series written by acclaimed novelist China Miéville.

“The excitement of the initial launch of DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 was in seeing the re-imagining of these classic characters and concepts,” said Bob Harras, DC Entertainment Editor-in-Chief. “The ‘Second Wave’ is all about world-building.”

DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 “Second Wave” includes:

  • BATMAN INCORPORATED – Writer: Grant Morrison. Artist: Chris Burnham. The acclaimed ongoing writer of ACTION COMICS, Grant Morrison, presents a fresh take on BATMAN INCORPORATED, in which the Batman brand is franchised globally in preparation for a major international threat.
  • EARTH 2 – Writer: James Robinson. Artist: Nicola Scott. The greatest heroes on a parallel Earth, the Justice Society combats threats that will set them on a collision course with other worlds.
  • WORLDS’ FINEST – Writer: Paul Levitz. Artists: George Perez and Kevin Maguire. Stranded on our world from a parallel reality, Huntress and Power Girl struggle to find their way back to Earth 2. Perez and Maguire will be the artists on alternating story arcs.
  • DIAL H – Writer: China Miéville. Artist: Mateus Santoluoco. The first ongoing series from acclaimed novelist China Miéville, this is a bold new take on a cult classic concept about the psychological effects on an everyman who accidentally gains powers to become a hero.
  • G.I. COMBAT – Writer: J.T. Krul. Artist: Ariel Olivetti. Featuring the return of a classic DC Comics series, THE WAR THAT TIME FORGOT, along with rotating back-up stories and creative teams – including THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, with writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Dan Panosian; and THE HAUNTED TANK, with writer John Arcudi and artist Scott Kolins.
  • THE RAVAGERS – Writer: Howard Mackie. Artist: Ian Churchill. Spinning off from TEEN TITANS and SUPERBOY, this series finds four superpowered teens on the run and fighting against the organization that wants to turn them into supervillains.

The six new series will replace BLACKHAWKS, HAWK AND DOVE, MEN OF WAR, MISTER TERRIFIC, O.M.A.C. and STATIC SHOCK, all of which will conclude with their eighth issues in April.

“Many of the characters from our canceled books will appear in DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 titles, and in some very surprising ways,” said Harras. “We’re developing stories that reach from cultures around the globe to parallel worlds. We’re just getting started.”

Setting the specifics of the changes aside for a moment, I am delighted that, simply put, DC had a PLAN. They didn't simply assume that all the books in the New 52 would do well enough to continue and had books ready to replace them with. Just as with its decision to revamp/reboot all its lines and to go same-day digital, DC is clearly doing more forward-thinking than they used to. I mean, maybe it's possible they are doing this on the fly, but I don't think so; it must take a while to scheme and staff new series, so I assume they must have had all these series saddled in the stable and ready to run. Good thinking, DC! Who said we learned nothing from the DC Implosion?

I haven't been reading BLACKHAWKS, HAWK AND DOVE, MEN OF WAR, MISTER TERRIFIC, O.M.A.C., or STATIC SHOCK, but apparently not many have been. I did give Mister Terrific and Static Shock a try, because I like those characters. But one of my New Year's resolutions was not to continue reading comics that aren't good just because I'm fond of the characters within them; and so, I dropped those titles pretty darned quickly.

It's sad; they are two characters who could definitely "rise up the ranks" (unlike, say, GEO-FORCE). Mister Terrific has a Golden Age legacy and a good modern background in the JSA titles; he's got interesting "powers" and, frankly, looks hot. Static Shock has youth appeal and is essentially the only "electricky" hero in the present-day DCU (at least, assuming that there is no Black Lightning in the new universe). I certainly find them more interesting than 'Cyborg', Marv Wolfman's unimaginative offspring, who's been elevated to take the Martian Manhunter's place as 'the founding member of the JLA whose publishing history doesn't merit his inclusion'.

The failure of their series is sad not only because I like them and because they are good characters with great potential, but because they were two of the pillars of DC's effort for greater ethnic diversity among its more visible heroes. Sure, the characters aren't going away, and may even be repurposed (I wouldn't be surprised to see Mister Terrific move to Earth-2 or Static join the Teen Titans); that's not the issue. But there's no question that, without titles of their own, they will be much less visible. I'd rather see them replace Batman and Guy Gardner in the Justice League International title.

O.M.A.C.? Well, it's crazy and that's not necessary bad; but it's Kirby-crazy, and that's never been a good fit with the DCU, in my opinion. So, OMAC, don't let the Boom Tube hit you on the way out.

As for HAWK AND DOVE, well, I'm not sure it's a concept that has ever worked all that well. They were meant to represent a cogent political and philosophical conflict during the era they were created. Attempts to re-cast them as agents of "chaos and order" or infuse a romantic conflict failed, and as plain old super-heroes, they just don't seem to cut it. Frankly, they seem as though they'd be more comfortable on some other Earth.

I crow on and on about 'liking war comics', but the reality is, I like the IDEA of war comics, I like the existence of war comics. That doesn't mean I gravitate toward reading them, and, in fact, I haven't been reading either Blackhawks or Men of War, so I'd be lying if I said I'd notice their absence. That said, I'm glad DC is following up with G.I.Combat. Sounds like it's going to be mostly "weird war" (which was always DC's strength in war comic), and that's what's most likely to get people like me to read it.

As for the Runaways-er, I mean 'the Ravagers'-- well, a spin-off of the current Teen Titans and Superboy inspires me little. I mean-- aren't you supposed to create spin-offs from things people LIKE....?

Batman Inc, well, that's in the big box o' Morrison, so there's no help for it. If it were going to be fun, using 'Batmen' in other countries to show cultural differences and to tell stories a bit more light-hearted -- or even just different -- than would work well in the current version of Gotham City, that would be great. But it's Morrison, so instead it will be cryptic, elliptic, and apocalyptic; for now, count me out.

Earth-2; now, there's the stuff. That's the other shoe we've all been waiting for. The revitalization of the JSA and their legacy characters was one of the great success stories of the previous age of comics. And now that the JSA no longer needs to fit in around the edges of the JLA, it can, and I'm guessing will, expand to become a JLU style organization for its Earth. I'm hoping it includes VIBE; I'm sure you are, too. That's the kind of wackiness Earth-2 will enable, much like a World's Finest starring Power Girl and Huntress, the 'breakout' characters from Earth-2 who suffered most from the effects of deracination when they became Earth-1-ified.

And speaking of wackiness: DIAL H. Really, it don't get no more wacky than that, and I am definitely on board for an issue or two just see how they play with the concept.

P.S. Read the Ray. I've been waiting years for a comic book about a permanently naked, hot Asian lifeguard and I don't want to see it cancelled. Besides: giant flying mutant jellyfish and the attack of "the Purple Rose of Cairo"? We need more of that sort of thing.


CobraMisfit said...

Maybe, just maybe, Earth-2 and Batman: Incorp can intermingle by having Ted Kord as that Earth's B:I point of contact.

Scipio said...

Actually, I'd rather just see Earth-2 have a "Blue Beetle Inc".

Matt said...

Did you not know that the Ray was only a six (or four?) issue mini? Well, sadly, it is, and i doubt it has the sales to get an ongoing started

Gary said...

Mr Terrific's the only one of the cancelled books that I get and I'll be sad to see it go but am not surprised. As much as I like the character, this time round it just didn't gel for me.

Earth-2 and Worlds' Finest? I will definitely be up for those.

Nathan Hall said...

Wasn't the Hawk and Dove reboot drawn by Rob Liefeld? That alone is enough of a reason not to read it.

SallyP said...

The whole Earth 2 idea is lovely, and I'm looking forward to it. Plus I love Nicola Scott, and the thought of having Kevin Maguire draw is making me drool.

I like Mister Terrific very much...but I sure didn't like his book. I liked the IDEA of the Blackhawks, but mainly because I like Zinda. Liefeld just makes me queasy.

I'm just going to ignore your suggestion to take Guy out of the JLI. Although I wouldn't mind replaceing bats with J'onn.

Bryan L said...

I'll actually miss OMAC. It was a LOT better than I thought it would be, and I wish it had hung around longer. And yes, I know DiDio's name is on it. No one is more shocked than me. Hawk and Dove is utterly wretched. Their last series years ago was pretty darn good, and I wish this one had lived up to that.

Chad Walters said...

Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but since the premise of Worlds' Finest is that they're trying to get back to Earth 2, I feel like at least once they'll end up on Earth 12 or something. And maybe eventually become the Sliders of the DCnU.

Imitorar said...

I actually think the "Agents of Order and Chaos" modification to Hawk & Dove was a perfect way to make the original hook of the concept more abstract and cosmic and less rooted in the politics of Vietnam. The series by Karl and Barbara Kesel was quite good, but had the misfortune to be put out in an inhospitable era, and to be the lamb sacrificed in an attempt to salvage Armageddon 2001. I wanted the new series to succeed a lot. Unfortunately, Sterling Gates couldn't get it together, despite the great work he did on Supergirl. And then there was Rob Liefeld. If they'd only given it to Gail Simone and a better artist, who knows what it might have been. Apparently they're to be moved to another book, though I've no clue which it might be. Certainly not the Teen Titans, though that used to be their haven.

I'm interested to see what becomes of World's Finest, given everything Power Girl and Huntress have been through since the Crisis on Infinite Earths. With their history and such a classic creative team, their having a book feels odd, for some reason.

And Dial H. By China Mieville. That sounds brilliantly wacky, and I really hope it works out.

Anonymous said...

I miss Earth-2. I miss the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. When I was a kid, I bought "Wonder Woman" just for the "Huntress" backup stories.

But there is a big downside to Earth-2: since everything Earth-2-oriented happens on an alternate earth, those are the titles that will always take a back seat, and sales will skew a little lower. That's certainly how it worked in the day; the entire JSA was lucky if it could keep a place in "Adventure Comics". (I think "The Challengers of the Unknown" took over the JSA's place last time in Adventure.)

Another downside: since Earth-2 is a mere alternate earth, a writer can screw with Earth-2 more, for better or often for worse. Wanna kill off the Earth-2 Selina Kyle? Go right ahead; hell, kill off the Earth-2 Bruce Wayne if you like. It's not like he's the "real" Batman anyway.

TotalToyz said...

Call me a pessimist, but I don't hold high hopes for the "new 52" take on the JSA. I fully expect something like their genesis event to be, not World War Two, but Operation: Desert Storm, to handle that nasty aging problem; and the original lineup to now be Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Starman, Martian Manhunter, and Blue Devil.

I hope I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

If I weren't boycotting Time-Warner over SOPA, EARTH 2 and WORLDS' FINEST would be titles I'd be all over. Of course, I was the person buying BLACKHAWKS and MEN OF WAR, as well as STATIC SHOCK.

Next on the chopping block: THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN, GRIFTER, and DEATHSTROKE. Rob Liefeld's apparently "joining" those creative teams in May.

-- Jack of Spades

Chris said...

So...The Ray #1 features a comic book remake of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.


(My captcha was fookse, Just sayin'.)

Accursed Interloper said...

"I'm hoping it includes VIBE; I'm sure you are, too."

Ah, er, um, that is ... let me get back to you on that.

Sally: "Although I wouldn't mind replaceing bats with J'onn."

You know, for all we really know, really REALLY know, the Batman appearing in JLI could BE J'onn, doing some kind of long-term impersonation.
Or... you know, not.

Anon: "I bought "Wonder Woman" just for the "Huntress" backup stories."

Me too. It SURE wasn't the Conway / Rosenberger crap that clogged up the front half.

Total: "I hope I'm wrong."

I too hope you're wrong.

Dan said...

I easily passed on the canceled titles, and will easily pass on their replacements.

Except for Earth-2. I'm all over that one--IF it's essentially the Golden Age characters and continuity.

If it's a mix like the last JSA series--where there were only three Golden Age characters and a bunch of junk "legacy" characters--I'll end up passing on this one too.

Dan said...

Why I didn't buy the canceled series:

Blackhawks = The only thing interesting about this book was its Big Jim Wolf P.A.C.K. look. The art was decent enough.

Hawk and Dove = Liefeld + lame characters = gag. Nuff said.

Men of War = Felt like it was supposed to be Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but had really bad art. Looked like art from an 80s b/w independent.

Mister Terrific = Seemed like a stiff in JSA. Never liked any incarnation of "Mister Terrific."

O.M.A.C. = I wanted to like this. I had just read the Kirby reprint hardback. just felt weird. They tried to hard for retro. Shoulda taken a more foreward approach like Byrne did.

Static Shock = I read the original and liked it. But I've grown tired of "street level" superheroes. I don't feel like they go anywhere. Look at poor Daredevil. Every time I check in DD for a few issues he's stuck in the same old situations. I prefer more exotic heroes/situations like Green Lantern, Aquaman, etc. They excite my sense of wonder. Street heroes don't.