DC Comics' NEW LINE - Out of the Box Impressions

New DC June 2015 titles
Justice League of America
Credit: DC Comics

The announcement on Friday morning that DC Entertainment would replace about half its comics line with new #1s wasn't a huge surprise — after all, they already canceled a significant part of the line come March, before Convergence, so it would make sense that they would replace it.

Yet among the titles announced are some interesting changes in direction for the company and for the characters who occupy the DC Universe.

Some first-glance thoughts:

Justice League #40
Justice League #40
Credit: DC Comics

- In the "Darkseid War" cover image from June's Justice League #40, both the Anti-Monitor and Darkseid are shown. But between them is Metron, one of DC's New Gods characters. Could Metron be the "unseen sidekick" who was egging on the Anti-Monitor in Forever Evil #7? Or is he a new addition to the battle between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor? At the very least, news of his involvement reveals an even more cosmic scope to "Darkseid War" than what was already assumed to be another Geoff Johns epic.

- Is that Hal Jordan starring in Bryan Hitch's Justice League of America? And while we're at it, is Hitch's Justice League of America going to star the same heroes as Geoff Johns' Justice League? Doing different stuff, in different places, but at the same time? Continuity be damned!

And speaking of which….

- Batman Beyond lives beyond The New 52: Futures End! But the question is, does he live five years from now? Or 35 years from now? Is he back in the main continuity? Or will his title be like Justice League 3000's future — just another "possible" universe that isn't connected to other books?

DC Comics: Divergence Free Comic Book Day issue
DC Comics: Divergence Free Comic Book Day issue
Credit: DC Comics

- DC is calling its Free Comic Book Day release, "Divergence." No, that's not a reference to the hit sci-fi book series and movie franchise Divergent — we know you were wondering. But it's more likely that it's a reference to the DC Universe expanding and separating, perhaps into different continuities or corners of the DCU. With Justice League 3000 already proving — continuity be damned! — that DC doesn't make every single comic line up with each other, it's possible even more of these new titles will end up existing somewhere outside or on the fringe of the Old 52. (And yes, we just called it the Old 52.)

DC’s one mention of continuity in their announcement spoke volumes – “story will trump continuity.” But if their ambition is to still sell comic books in the Direct Market, they may find it difficult to avoid the issue in the coming months.

There’s still a sizable enough sect of old school comic book readers (who’s numbers include retailers) who are going to want to know what fits together how and what still “counts”.

Signaling to readers whether the new Justice League of America coexists with the Justice League, or if it does not coexist, or their position is the question doesn’t matter will produce three different responses from these parts of fandom.

DC may be wise to pull a Geraldine Ferraro (look it up) and pick a day to answer every and any continuity question from the comics press until there are no questions left, if they truly want to put the issue in the background.

- Continuing on that note, that story "trumps" continuity, and the announcements that creators are being "empowered" to tell stories, should please readers who complain about editorial interference in the creative process. It may also indicate that DC is noticing (of course they are) the rising profile of Image Comics, where creators are given freedom to innovate. Even long-time DC creators are going to Image for that freedom — Scott Snyder's racking up strong sales numbers with his Image title Wytches, and Jeff Lemire already sold the movie rights to his upcoming Image series Descender.

DC will likely say they’re blazing their own, unique new path (you would too), but gun-to-head, would you say DC is looking to compete more in Image’s neck of the woods or Marvel’s?

- And finally, on the continuity note. Some readers still don't know what to make of the upcoming Convergence event. Is it the opening of the door to DC’s pre-New 52 past? Co-publisher Dan DiDio used those exact words a few weeks ago when he told us Convergence would "leaving every door open."

Or is it, as others theorized, a chance to say goodbye? One final last hurrah for the post-Crisis DCU? While DC’s announcement didn’t address those questions definitively, there’s also little indication of anyone walking through the door.

We can’t think of a single new title in this post-New 52 announcement (albeit just named by title) that clearly suggests anything pre-New 52.

Maybe Convergence should be renamed Closure?

Starfire
Starfire
Credit: DC Comics

- Moving on, the cover to Starfire features the character wearing a costume with significantly more cloth than the character's costume in the New 52. All those passionate comics readers who lodged complaints about the half-naked and sex-craved Starfire who showed up in Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 in September 2011 should be pleased by this turn of events. And if we know some of those bloggers — and we do — we're anticipating shouts of victory. (Well-deserved shouts, that is.)

- Is Prez a girl? The promo image features a pony-tailed teen, whom we can only assume is the lead character.

- Who is the Power Girl that will co-star in Harley Quinn/Power Girl? Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner has, in the past, been quite the fan of the blond, Earth 2 Power Girl, even doing her solo comic for awhile. But as it stands now, that Power Girl is on Earth 2, and someone new has taken up the mantle on the main DCU earth — a young, genius-intellect hero named Tanya Spears who just joined the Teen Titans. Our bet? It's Earth 2 Power Girl. After all, Harley has never let continuity hold her back before.

Prez
Prez
Credit: DC Comics

- Let's see now… Batgirl, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Starfire, and Harley Quinn/Power Girl. If Prez is indeed female, that makes eight titles with solo or duo women in the title. And if we go ahead and admit that Gotham Academy is also a female-helmed title, and that Superman/Wonder Woman comes close enough to count, then that's quite a lady-rich line-up for the summer.

Cyborg
Cyborg
Credit: DC Comics

- Cyborg, DC's black teen hero who's getting his own movie from Warner Bros. in 2020, is finally getting his own comic in the rebooted DCU. Industry watchers have been calling for (and expecting) that move for a long time. IGN is reporting that the comic's new scribe, David L. Walker, is a black writer — maybe DC was just waiting for the right writer with the right story to launch the title.

- The turn toward diversity in the line is echoed in the creators who are putting the new comics together. The racial and gender make-up of DC's creators appears to be, at first glance, far more diverse than when it launched its New 52 line.

- There's also a sense of diversity in the art styles, continuing a recent trend we saw in the Batman line with the look of Batgirl and Gotham Academy. When the New 52 launched in 2011, there were a lot of industry-watchers wondering why DC's books almost all featured art that was reminiscent of a gritty, 1990's style — a move that seemed questionable if the company was trying to attract new readers. Well, that's not the case with the June launch, which has several titles that lean more toward an animation style than the gritty comics of the past.

- And as long as we're talking about the end of gritty art, color us shocked by the new commitment to humor comics. OK, there are some mini-series in the list, so it's hardly a long-term commitment, but the unexpected success of Harley Quinn finally got the attention of the folks at DC. "Fun" isn't a dirty word anymore, and isn't that Bat-Mite adorable?

Bat-Mite
Bat-Mite
Credit: DC Comics
We Are Robin
We Are Robin
Credit: DC Comics

- We love that Robin is getting his own comic, and Damian Wayne fans should be thrilled that Pat Gleason's drawing it. Good for him that he's getting a chance to write. However… that addition of We Are Robin seems a bit… let’s go with interesting? And more importantly, it makes us ask — no new titles starring Bruce Wayne Batman? Instead, a Robin title and a Batman Beyond book? If it wasn't for that Justice League of America image that shows Batman alive and well, we'd probably be worried. After all, Scott Snyder keeps telling us there's some crazy change coming in the world of Batman. Oh wait… Hitch's title might not be in continuity…

- What, no weeklies? Not even the already confirmed return of Batman Eternal? DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio told Newsarama in January that he still liked weeklies and thought there was a place for them. Perhaps the readership needs a break. Or more likely, the DC's just-moved editorial office needs a break from the grind of publishing a weekly.

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