One Year In, Which NEW 52 Titles Might Be On the Bubble?1 of 12Of the 52 series that DC introduced in their "New 52" relaunch a year ago this month, 42 are still being published.
In January, the publisher announced that Men of War, Mister Terrific, O.M.A.C., Hawk and Dove, Blackhawks and Static Shock; more recently, Justice League International, Resurrection Man, Voodoo and Captain Atom all met their end.
Through it all, the company has kept to a solid 52 monthly ongoing DC Universe titles, and 10 new books have joined the lineup. Now that we're more than a year into the New 52 era, and with several more new series including Geoff Johns and David Finch's already-announced Justice League of America surely still to come, we've taken a look at what titles might be next to go, based primarily on August 2012 direct market sales numbers.
To be perfectly clear, this list is not intended to root for a demise of a series or asses their quality in any form; it's a way of projecting what might be in the near future of the industry, and note titles that could benefit from some attention.
BATWING2 of 12There are a lot of Bat titles. Batwing is certainly unique in that it stars an African man and largely takes place on said continent, but as the lowest selling Bat-book, it is also the one most in the need of a sales bump.
The fact that David Zavimbe's other title, Justice League International, was recently canceled could actually be a good thing for Batwing, though, giving him only one outlet for his adventures. The other big warning sign, however, is David's exclusion so far in the "Death of the Family" solicitations. Basically every other Bat-title (Batman Incorporated excluded) is tied in starting in November, leaving Batwing further in the air.
And then there's that other little matter of Judd Winick, the writer of the title since issue #1, leaving it soon. His exact departure is still unknown, and as recently as July he talked about a story "through the end of the year," but it could be that this bubble title, when it loses its writer, loses its publishing status, too.
DEATHSTROKE3 of 12Multiple creative teams? Check. Consistently bottom 10 seller? Check. Public fallout with most recent writer? Check.
A book about a villain is a tough seller, no matter what. Now that you also have Deathstroke in the new Team 7 book, there doesn't seem to be much of a reason to have a struggling solo title continue to struggle. Couple that with the fact that Rob Liefeld, the most recent series writer and artist, has not had an announced replacement despite publicly leaving the title (Liefeld indicated that Scott Clark would be taking on art duties, but no word on writer), and you have Deathstroke hearing a death knell.
All is not lost for fans of Slade however, as he'll be in the aforementioned team book, and with no solo adventures, the chances of him sliding his way into other book doing what he does best seemingly increase.
LEGION LOST4 of 12Legion Lost has seen a writer change (from Fabian Nicieza to Tom DeFalco) and closer ties to fellow teen books Superboy, Teen Titans and Ravagers, but it's still among the lower-selling books in The New 52.
What can it do to be saved? Well, the hook of being lost in time apparently isn't quite enough sales-wise. Crossing more tightly into The New 52 should help it, and thus far it's been able to stave off cancellation despite predictions, leaving it and Legion of Super-Heroes both carrying on the 31st century legacy.
Though two Legion ongoing series appeared unlikely given that DC hasn't always been able to support one in the recent past, they've both made it for more than a year at this point, an achievement itself given the current industry environment.
I, VAMPIRE5 of 12I, Vampire has been one of the most warmly received series of The New 52 by critics and dedicated fans, but in August, it was still among the lowest-selling titles of the line.
Appearances from Batman and a crossover with Justice League Dark helped to boost the profile of I, Vampire, but the unfortunate, frustrating reality of the comic book industry is that there have been many great titles that never found the audience they deserved.
Making things especially hard is the fact that I, Vampire, like a few other titles on this list, isn't a typical superhero book, which is always an uphill battle in the current direct market.
Time will tell if the buzz around this book will translate to a higher chart performance, and if DC will continue to support it.
THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN6 of 12Like Deathstroke and Grifter, Rob Liefeld was brought on board The Savage Hawkman a series that was already struggling in a move intended to bring more readers to the book.
Liefeld has departed Hawkman (and his other two DC titles), and thus far, sales have remained to be among the lower echelon of The New 52. With the future of the book post-Liefeld not entirely clear and Hawkman a main part of the new Justice League of America series, it's possible that his solo series might be one of the next New 52 ongoing titles to go.
FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E.7 of 12Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. has been a quirky fan favorite since debuting along with the rest of The New 52 last September, but it has a couple of things going against it: No. 1, well, it's an ongoing series starring the DC version of Frankenstein, an obscure character reimagined by Grant Morrison during Seven Soldiers. No matter the quality of the series, it's hard for any non-marquee superhero book to thrive at DC or Marvel these days.
Two, it saw a major creative shift as of June's issue #10. The book's original writer, Jeff Lemire - getting rave reviews on Animal Man left the book to take on Justice League Dark, with his Matt Kindt stepping up.
That's no slight on Kindt's abilities he's worked with Lemire in the past, is currently getting acclaim for his series Mind MGMT at Dark Horse and seems to be a natural pick for a replacement but so far it hasn't helped the momentum of a book that already has struggled, sales-wise.
THE FURY OF FIRESTORM: THE NUCLEAR MEN8 of 12The current volume of Firestorm has seen a number of creative team changes since its inception, with Dan Jurgens on board as writer and artist as of October's issue #13.
The book, now one of the lowest selling titles in The New 52, eschewed choosing either of the Firestorms from the old DC universe in favor of pulling both of them together; then adding on more Firestorms from all over the world.
The book crossed over with Justice League International this spring to an attempt to boost its status, but that series ended recently, and if sales don't increase imminently, Firestorm might meet a similar fate.
BLUE BEETLE9 of 12When DC launched 52 new series simultaneously, part of the benefit was that some characters that hadn't gotten much of a spotlight lately like Blue Beetle were getting a new opportunity to shine.
The downside of that is, it's hard enough for a character like Blue Beetle to support a book under normal conditions, and it's even harder for the series to stand out when effectively competing for retailer and reader dollars with the likes of simultaneously relaunched series starring Superman and Batman.
Blue Beetle was the third lowest-selling New 52 series in August among those not already canceled, and if things don't turn around in the near future, Jaime Reyes might suffer the same fate as fellow young hero Static Shock, the star of another original New 52 series.
GRIFTER10 of 12Multiple creative teams? Check. Consistently bottom 5 seller? Check. Public fallout with most recent writer? Check.
Yes, like Deathstroke, Grifter suddenly finds itself with only a partial creative team. Now, in this case Frank Tieri was already brought on to co-write, but the fact remains that of the original New 52, this is the lowest selling title that hasn't already been canceled.
Also like Deathstroke, Grifter is now in Team 7, seemingly flat-out setting both characters up for teamwork instead of solo adventures.
WildStorm as a whole has struggled to take off, especially when their characters have been solo. Voodoo is already gone, and StormWatch remains just outside the bubble thanks to its close ties to Demon Knights and the rest of the DC Universe. Perhaps the continued further integration of the characters into current teams will be the jumpstart they need.
G.I. COMBAT11 of 12Let's face it, war comics just aren't working for DC Comics. Men of War ended with April's #8, and was consistently the worst seller of the original New 52. And of course, you can't forget Blackhawks... unless of course you did, which we honestly can't blame you for, since it came and went so quickly with the characters all-but-disappearing from the DCU.
G.I. Combat replaced those two books in May with an anthology format including a lead and a back-up story. Those two tales have only been selling for four months, but make up, unfortunately, August's lowest-selling title in the entire New 52, other than the already-cancelled Voodoo and Captain Atom (and lower on the chart than the shuttered Resurrection Man).
There also have been no announcements for a "next story" after the current stars, Haunted Tank and Unknown Soldier. It's a shame to have a big company like DC really try something new and have it not quite work out, but without a major sales boost, it seems the days of DC war comics may be left to the glory days of old.
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