DC Reveals Major Changes, New Direction For Comic Book Line

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

Beginning in June, DC Entertainment is de-emphasizing continuity and scrapping the "New 52" branding of its superhero comics line, as the publisher launches a “bold new direction for the DC Universe” and a slew of new titles it's calling “inclusive,” "contemporary," and "accessible."

“In this new era of storytelling, story will trump continuity as we continue to empower creators to tell the best stories in the industry,” DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio says in a press release announcing the June launch, which follows the company's two-month break for its line-wide Convergence event.

In June, DC reports it will publish 24 new #1 issues to join 25 already-existing comics that will continue from their March numbering for a total of 49. New titles will be added to the line throughout the year. DC's new line will introduce some new creators to DC, like Ming Doyle and Gene Luen Yang, while also bringing back some familiar faces, like Garth Ennis and Bryan Hitch.

Robin, Son of Batman
Robin, Son of Batman
Credit: DC Comics

And to clarify: Although DC is no longer using the "New 52" moniker, the 2011-launched, rebooted DC universe is apparently sticking around — just with less emphasis on the new universe's continuity, and more emphasis on diversifying the line.

In its announcement on Friday, DC says they’re evolving their comic storytelling to appeal to a wider group of readers, and its “next generation of fans.”

Using terms like "contemporary tonality," "fresh," "inclusive," "accessible" and "modern" to describe its new comics. DiDio says the company's new line will "tell stories that better reflect the society around us."

The move appears to be a response to what DiDio recently described to Newsarama as the "changing readership" of comics.

"We're seeing more diversity in our audience. We're seeing a younger crowd," DiDio says. "We're seeing people really enthusiastic about comics. So what we're trying to do is embrace all our audiences, and to create product that I feel talks to everybody."

Credit: DC Comics

While announcing they’ll be “keenly focused” on going "back to basics" with its legendary characters like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, at the same time they’ll be “reinventing key characters,” such as Black Canary, Cyborg, Bizarro, and Starfire, with a new “contemporary tonality to ensure a diverse offering of comic books.”

One of the more apparent moves toward the changing audience is the addition in June of more comics with female title characters, including Black Canary, Starfire and Power Girl who’ll share a new ongoing series with Harley Quinn, in addition to Harley Quinn’s continuing solo series.

Brenden Fletcher, who co-writes the successful new DC title Batgirl and Gotham Academy, will launch Black Canary that DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee called a "modern, fresh take" that may appeal to fans of the hit TV series Arrow.

Credit: DC Comics

Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, who will continue to write the surprisingly successful Harley Quinn title, are the writers of the new Starfire and Harley Quinn/Power Girl series, respectively.

The June line-up also includes more comics that lean toward humor — presumably in response to the overwhelmingly successful launch last year of Harley Quinn. Included among the new June titles are Bizarro, Bat-Mite and Prez — comics that a DC press release labeled as "offbeat" and "irreverently funny."

Prez is presumably a reinvention of the 1973’s four-issue series Prez: First Teen President.

Credit: DC Comics

Yet the company is also reaching out to readers who prefer grittier comics — something that may be a response to the success Image Comics has been experiencing in recent years with comics like The Walking Dead, Saga and Wytches.

Credit: DC Comics

John Constantine will have a revamped new title called Constantine: The Hellblazer, which will be co-written by Vertigo alum Ming Doyle (The Kitchen) with interiors by innovative Image artist Riley Rossmo (Proof).

And Garth Ennis and John McCrea will return to DC for a series called Section Eight, which will feature characters from their former hard-edged comic Hitman.

While most of the "continuing" comics in DC's main superhero line will retain their existing creative teams (from before the Convergence break), there will be a few changes.

Geoff Johns will be leaving Superman and handing the reins to award-winning writer and DC newcomer Gene Luen Yang, who will work with current series artist John Romita Jr.

Superstar artist Bryan Hitch will launch a new Justice League of America title that's being described as "new tales of the world's greatest heroes, "implying a loose — or perhaps even nonexistent? — tie to continuity in the greater DCU.

Green Arrow will be written by author Ben Percy with art by Richard Zircher. Cullen Bunn, who already writes Sinestro and Lobo for DC, will take over Aquaman with Trevor McCarthy. And Catwoman will get a new artist, as David Messina joins the creative team.

Credit: DC Comics

A few ongoing series that were presumed last month to be returning are actually missing from DC's June line: Batman and Robin, Constantine, Earth 2, Justice League Dark, Justice League 3000, Red Hood and the Outlaws and Supergirl. However, some of those titles such as Constantine, Earth 2, Batmam and Robin, and Red Hood are being revamped as new titles with similar premises but with new June-launching #1 issues. Some of those titles are being announced in separate venues Friday morning (see below).

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

DC also revealed that its Free Comic Book Day issue in May will be titled DC Comics: Divergence and preview several June issues, including Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman (which Synder promised will have a significant new status quo ), Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok's Justice League, and Yang and Romita's Superman.

Here’s a look at the full creative line-up for the continuing 24 titles. Look for some images and more information on the identity of the 24 new titles Friday morning as they debut at various comic book news sites.

25 continuing titles:

Action Comics by Greg Pak/Aaron Kuder

Aquaman by Cullen Bunn/Trevor McCarthy

Batgirl by Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr

Batman by Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo

Detective Comics by Brian Buccelato/Francis Manapul

Batman/Superman by Greg Pak/Ardian Syaf

Catwoman by Genevieve Valentine/David Messina

Deathstroke by Tony Daniel/Tony Daniel

Flash by Rob Venditti/Van Jensen/Brett Booth

Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan/Brenden Fletcher/Karl Kerschl

Gotham By Midnight by Ray Fawkes/Juan Ferreyra

Grayson by Tim King/Tim Seeley/Mikel Janin

Green Arrow by Ben Percy/Richard Zircher

Green Lantern by Robert Venditti/Billy Tan

Harley Quinn by Amanda Conner/Jimmy Palmiotti/Chad Hardin

Justice League by Geoff Johns/Jason Fabok

Justice League United, writer TBD/Travel Foreman & Paul Pelletier.

Lobo by Cullen Bunn/Cliff Richards

Secret Six by Gail Simone/Dale Eaglesham

Sinestro by Cullen Bunn/Brad Walker

New Suicide Squad by Sean Ryan/Carlos D’Anda

Superman by Gene Luen Yang/John Romita Jr.

Superman/Wonder Woman by Peter Tomasi/Doug Mahnke

Teen Titans by Will Pfeifer/Kenneth Rocafort

Wonder Woman by Meredith Finch/David Finch

Credit: DC Comics

24 New #1s:

Black Canary
Black Canary
Credit: DC Comics

Announced exclusively here on Newsarama:

Robin, Son of Batman by writer/artist Pat Gleason
Black Canary by writer Brenden Fletcher and artist Annie Wu
Martian Manhunter by writer Rob Williams and artists Ben Oliver and Paulo Siqueira
Earth 2: Society by writer Daniel H. Wilson and artist Jorge Jimenez
Midnighter by writer Steve Orlando and artist ACO
Bat-Mite by writer Dan Jurgens and artist Corin Howell

Announced on IGN:

We Are Robin
We Are Robin
Credit: DC Comics

Batman Beyond by writer Dan Jurgens and artist Bernard Chang
Cyborg by writer David L. Walker and artists Ivan Reis and Joe Prado
Dark Universe by writer James Tynion IV and artist Ming Doyle
Doomed by writer Scott Lobdell and artist Javier Fernandez
Harley Quinn/Power Girl by writers Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner and Justin Gray with artist Stephane Roux
Red Hood/Arsenal by writer Scott Lobdell and artist Denis Medri
Starfire by writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, with artist Emanuela Lupacchino
We Are Robin by writer Lee Bermejo and artists Rob Haynes and Khary Randolph

Credit: DC Comics

Announced on CBR:
Justice League of America by writer/artist Brian Hitch
Bizzaro by writer Heath Corson and artist Gustavo Duarte
Prez by writer Mark Russell and artist Ben Caldwell
Omega Men by writer Tom King and artist Barnaby Bagenda
Mystic U (tentative title) by writer Alisa Kwitney and artist Mauricet
Section Eight by writer Garth Ennis and artist John McCrea
Dr. Fate by writer Paul Levitz and artist Sonny Liew

Omega Men
Omega Men
Credit: DC Comics

And finally:
Green Lantern: Lost Army
by Cullen Bunn, art by Jesus Saiz and Javi Pina.
Justice League 3001 by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Howard Porter
Constantine: The Hellblazer by Ming Doyle and Riley Rossmo

The full text of DC’s press release also follows below.




Iconic Super Heroes & Super-Villains Universe is Diversifying

To Make Room for More Types of Storytelling, More Fans.

June Slate of Titles Includes Long-Awaited Return to DCU of Bryan Hitch, Garth Ennis; Gene Luen Yang & Ming Doyle Join Team of Top Talent.

BURBANK, Calif. (February 6, 2015) – This summer, DC Entertainment launches a bold new direction for the DC Universe (DCU) that is even more inclusive and accessible to a wider group of readers as the publisher continues to evolve comic storytelling for its next generation of fans. Award-winning, critically acclaimed writers are headlining the June 2015 slate of DC Comics’ new periodicals and graphic novels, including Gene Luen Yang, Bryan Hitch, Garth Ennis and Ming Doyle.

Beginning June 3, the DC Comics line of comic books will consist of 24 brand-new series that will begin at issue number one, as well as 25 on-going, bestselling fan favorite series that will continue without a break in the issue numbering.  The total number of periodicals in the DCU will be 49, with additional new titles debuting throughout the year.

“This heralds in a new era for the DC Universe which will allow us to publish something for everyone, be more expansive and modern in our approach and tell stories that better reflect the society around us,” said DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio.  “Whether you’ve been a DC fan your whole life, or whether you are new to comics – there will be a book for you beginning in June.”

DC Comics will be keenly focused on going back-to-basics with its legendary characters, like BATMAN, SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN, while also reinventing key characters, such as BLACK CANARY, BIZARRO, CYBORG and STARFIRE, with a new contemporary tonality to ensure a diverse offering of titles.  Top writers and artists, as well as emerging fresh voices, are on board to help create an expansive lineup of comics that appeals to a broad audience of fans.

Depicting some of these iconic characters in a more contemporary light include National Book Award finalist Gene Luen Yang who will join artist John Romita Jr. in the ongoing adventures of SUPERMAN.  Comic superstar artist Bryan Hitch will write and draw new tales of the world’s greatest heroes in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. The pitch perfect team of Garth Ennis and John McCrea returns to DC Comics for a limited series called SECTION EIGHT featuring characters from their popular Hitman comic.  VERTIGO creator Ming Doyle will be lending her talents to DC Comics, penning CONSTANTINE: THE HELLBLAZER along with newcomer artist Riley Rossmo.

“More than ever before, DC Comics fans are being exposed to our rich portfolio of characters through multiple sources, including an unprecedented number of highly successful TV shows, video games and upcoming major motion pictures,” said Co-Publisher Jim Lee.  “We are looking to extend that experience within publishing to ensure there is a comic book for everyone.  For example, fans of the ARROW television show may want more stories about BLACK CANARY. Now they can find modern, fresh takes on the character in the pages of her standalone series both in stores and digitally.”

Breakout star, Brenden Fletcher, co-writer behind the all new, highly successful BATGIRL book will also be  writing the new BLACK CANARY series launching in June.  Fan favorites Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti will be the creative team on new titles STARFIRE and HARLEY QUINN/POWER GIRL and will continue to  helm the perennially bestselling HARLEY QUINN.

“Beyond character and creators, the June slate will showcase different styles and approaches to storytelling as we add offbeat, irreverently funny titles such as BIZARRO, BAT-MITE and PREZ,” said Lee.  “Truly there will be something for everybody as we simultaneously celebrate our rich legacy while embracing new voices and concepts.”

A first look at upcoming storylines will be the focus of DC Entertainment’s Free Comic Book Day issue – DC COMICS: DIVERGENCE – available Saturday, May 2, featuring three 8-page previews for the June releases of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s BATMAN, as well as Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s launch of the Darkseid War within JUSTICE LEAGUE featuring the biggest villains in the DCU – Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor, andGene Luen Yang's DC Comics debut with celebrated artist John Romita, Jr on SUPERMAN.  More than half-a million free issues of the DC Entertainment sampler will be given away at comic book retailers globally.

“In this new era of storytelling, story will trump continuity as we continue to empower creators to tell the best stories in the industry,” said DiDio.

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