DC Entertainment had plenty of news to share at this year's Comic-Con International at San Diego, thanks to series of new graphic novels, crossover and comics coming up in fall 2015 and next year.
Here's a round-up of some of the more notable announcements from the company, and what the news means for DC fans and industry watchers coming out of this weekend's event:
Announcement: Convergence continues in three new ongoing titles.
Details: Superman: Lois and Clark by Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks, Telos by Jeff King, Carlo Pagulayan and Jason Paz, and Titans Hunt by Dan Abnett and Paulo Siqueira all follow the events of Convergence beginning in October.
What it means: All those worlds from Convergence live on somewhere in the DC Universe, and they can be picked up by writers and artists who have the right pitch. This time around, it's a united Lois and Clark, a new version of the Teen Titans, and a follow-up story by the writer of Convergence with a character he invented for the story.
Announcement: Geoff Johns "Darkseid War" story in Justice League becomes a month-long weekly event in October, with several spotlight issues.
Details: A series of six one-shots will spotlight Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Lex Luthor, The Flash and Shazam during October, all tying into the Justice League event "Darkseid War."
What it means: This isn't the first time Geoff Johns has gotten an idea for one of his comic books that's so big it becomes larger than the one comic can contain. This time, though, readers should be pleased to learn the tie-ins are very character-focused and will involve Johns himself.
From what readers have read about "Darkseid War" so far — coupled with the descriptions of the October tie-ins, it looks like "Darkseid War" will not only involve Amazons, New Gods, the Anti-Monitor, and characters from Earth 3, but will also put members of the Justice League in brand new roles — like Lex Luthor ruling Apokolips and Batman sitting in the Mobius chair.
The descriptions for the "Darkseid War" tie-ins also emphasize that continuity at DC isn't that important anymore — Johns' story utilizes John Stewart (who's lost in space in current continuity), Bruce Wayne as Batman (even though he's not Batman anymore in current Bat-stories), and other nods toward the new "loose" continuity of the DC You.
Also, the tie-ins provide a weekly series of books in a month when DC will be going up against some strong numbers from last year, since October 2014 saw three weeklies being published at the same time (and one of them launched).
What other ways could DC battle those weekly numbers from the end of last year…?
Announcement: DC launches a new Batman weekly series in October, and Robin gets a crossover event in December.
Details: This year marks the 75th anniversary of Robin, and DC is commemorating the event by including the boy wonder in their newest Batman weekly in October, as well as a December crossover.
Batman & Robin Eternal is the title of a new weekly that starts on October 7 and continues for six months, serving as a follow up to last year's weekly Batman Eternal. The comic will feature art by Tony S. Daniel, Paul Pelletier, Scot Eaton and others, with Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV as show runners again (like on Eternal). Other writers will include Tim Seeley, Genevieve Valentine, Steve Orlando, Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, and Ed Brisson.
Then in December, current comics Gotham Academy, Robin: Son of Batman and We Are…Robin cross over for five weeks, with framing one-shots at the beginning and end.
What it means: It's no surprise that DC is launching a new weekly series in October, since the company had three weeklies in 2014 — that's a lot of sales to go up against in month-to-month sales comparisons.
It's also no surprise that there's another chapter after Batman Eternal — that news had broken months ago — but there's a change in the structure this time. For readers who thought Batman Eternal dragged a bit in the middle, it's probably good news that the next installment will be quite a bit shorter at six months. But the involvement of so many writers is unusual. Sure, it's evidence that the Bat-office continues to recruit fresh, new talent, but will this weekly benefit from so many cooks in the Gotham kitchen?
As for the "Robin War," there are so many former Robin's in the DCU that this kind of battle seems almost inevitable.
Announcement: Artists named for Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
Details: Artists Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson will be joining Frank Miller on his much anticipated conclusion to The Dark Knight Returns saga. The new, eight-issue comic book series, co-written by Miller with Brian Azzarello, will be published monthly beginning this fall, with a special 16-page "Dark Knight Universe" comic in the center of each issue, featuring a rotating cast of creators and characters. Miller will be drawing some interior art and covers.
What it means: The Dark Knight Returns is one of the most heralded comics in history — certainly one of the most well-known comic boks in modern times. Whatever success DC had with their After Watchmen mini-series, which didn't even involve the original creators, they should do much better with an actual Miller project. Azzarello and Kubert's involvement — as well as DC's pretty good recent track record with ship dates — means this comic should come out more regularly (and maybe even make more sense) than All-Star Batman & Robin.
Announcement: Vertigo to launch 12 brand new comics at the end of 2015.
Details: Each consecutive week in October, November and December, DC's mature imprint, Vertigo, will launch a new title.
October sees the publication of The Twilight Children #1 by Gilbert Hernandez and Darwyn Cooke; Survivors' Club #1 by Lauren Beukes, Dale Halvorsen and Ryan Kelly; Clean Room #1 by Gail Simone and Jon Davis-Hunt; and Art Ops #1 by Shaun Simon and Michael Allred.
November will have Unfollow #1 by Rob Williams and Mike Dowling; Slash & Burn #1 by Si Spencer, Max Dunbar and Ande Parks; Red Thorn #1 by David Baillie and Meghan Hetrick; and Jacked #1 by Eric Kripke and John Higgins.??December sees the following debuts: Sheriff of Baghdad #1 by Tom King and Mitch Gerads; New Romancer #1 by Peter Milligan and Brett Parson; Lucifer #1 by Holly Black and Lee Garbett; Last Gang in Town #1 by Simon Oliver and Rufus Dayglo.
DC's fall slate will also include Vertigo's already successful ongoing series American Vampire, Astro City and Suiciders.
What it means: Indie comics, characters and creators are hot right now — evidenced not only in the surprising recent sales growth of Image Comics and other non-superhero companies, but even emphasized in the indie feel of many new comics at Marvel and DC.
Vertigo was once an industry leader in mature, non-superhero fare, so it's about time the imprint bolstered its presence in the comic book market. It's particularly important with the imprint losing one of its most steady sales leaders, Fables, when its 13-year run ends later this month.
And with the success of TV shows based on comic books — even non-superhero comic books — there's no doubt that Warner Bros. wouldn't mind some fresh, new ideas bubbling up to television from the Vertigo imprint. (Speaking of which, the Lucifer comic book is well-timed with the Fox TV show set to start this fall.)
If anyone was wondering what would happen after founder Karen Berger left Vertigo, these new titles should clarify that Executive Editor Shelly Bond and the folks at Vertigo have no intent to back away from their cutting edge reputation — and fans should be glad to see some familiar, fan-favorite names among the mix, along with new creators to check out.
Announcement: More Earth One titles coming for Flash and Aquaman.
Details: J. Michael Straczynski is writing a new Flash: Earth One graphic novel (with an artist yet to be named), and Francis Manapul is both writing and drawing a new Aquaman: Earth One book. JMS previously wrote the three Superman: Earth One books. Both are slated to be released in 2016.
What it means: DC executives had already voiced a commitment to the Earth One approach after the success of its previous graphic novels under the imprint. The digest-sized books retell the origins of existing DC superheroes in graphic novel-sized, modern, realistic stories by some of DC's best writers and artists.
With the success of The Flash TV show, the impending push for Aquaman in the DC cinematic universe with his Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and solo movie, and the plans for both characters being part of the Justice League movies (as well as a solo film for The Flash), this commitment to bookstore-targeted stories about the two characters is a no-brainer. And the creators aren't surprising — JMS seems to have found his niche with these books, and Francis Manapul has recently done a good job of proving himself as a writer/artist on series like The Flash and Detective Comics.
That said, there's no word yet about a release date for the promised third volume of Batman: Earth One from Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. Another Earth One series. Wonder Woman: Earth One by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette is tentatively scheduled for April 2016, timed to coincide with the character's big-screen debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Announcement: Neal Adams will launch a new Superman series in November, and Chronicle creator Max Landis gets his own Superman comic.
Details: Coming of the Supermen, a six-issue limited series by Neal Adams that kicks off in November, will feature Superman versus Darkseid and his son, Kalibak, and will involve Lex Luthor and characters from the city of Kandor (now known as New Krypton).
Max Landis will tell a "seven-part collection of stories from the life of Clark Kent" in Superman: American Alien, which starts in November and features art by Ryan Sook, Jock, Nick Dragotta, Tommy Lee Edwards, Joelle Jones, Jae Lee, Francis Manapul, and Jonathan Case.
What it means: Neal Adams' title will give the legendary artist the chance to show off his skill on the Man of Steel like he did with the Caped Crusader in his Batman: Odyssey miniseries.
And Max Landis, son of director John Landis, had actually already spilled the beans more than a year ago about wanting to do this "seven stories" approach to Superman (and as the link explains, this isn't his first time writing the character).
At the time, Landis described the seven stories as "random moments in Clark Kent's life, from age 7 to 44: a haunted barn, a smart cop, a vacation gone wrong, first time being shot with a gun, a verbal fight with Lois intercut with a very physical fight with Lobo, a talk with Lex Luthor about the nature of humanity, and then the arrival of Doomsday."
DC has been courting Landis for awhile, according to the filmmaker's YouTube video from 2013 where he revealed he was approached by DC to work with Greg Pak on a reboot of the death and return of Superman. (He declined the opportunity, but you can see him explain it on the video.)
Check out more American Alien art here
Announcement: Batman meets the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Avengers (but not those Avengers).
Details: DC Entertainment and IDW Publishing are teaming up for a six-issue crossover miniseries between Batman and the heroes on the half shell, written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Freddie Williams II. TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman and other TBA artists will illustrate variant covers.
And the digital-first series Batman '66 based on the 1960's Batman TV show, will cross over with John Steed and Emma Peel, two characters from The Avengers, a British spy-fi TV series from the same era.
What it means: There really isn't much more to say, is there? Depending on your feelings about these characters, these projects will be all kinds of messed up or all kinds of awesome.
Announcement: Grant Morrison is back with more Multiversity and a series of Batman graphic novels.
Details: Grant Morrison follows up his mind-bending mini-series with Multiversity Too, a line of original graphic novels beginning in 2016 with Multiversity Too: The Flash. He'll also be releasing original Batman stories as part of an anthology with other creators in a series of graphic novels titled Batman: Black & White.
What it means: More Multiversity. More Grant Morrison Batman. What it means is that fans of Grant Morrison's recent work at DC get more of everything they loved from their favorite writer. It also emphasizes DC's intent, within their new "loose continuity" approach, to give Morrison access to their characters from throughout the Multiverse, for as many stories as he's willing to invent — and even any stories he wants to share from other creators.
Announcement: DC announces the return of the Milestone Universe.
Details: "Earth-M" will be home to the universe of characters from 1993's Milestone Media and a slew of other new characters. Two Earth M hardcover graphic novels will be published annually, along with other miniseries and one shots. A Static Shock digital series will start soon, which Reggie Hudlin is already writing, Denys Cowan will be involved in the new titles, and Geoff Johns and Jim Lee will work together on a one-shot.
What it means: Fans of the Milestone universe are finally getting some attention for the characters they love so much, and the involvement and enthusiasm from DC executives like Johns and Lee go a long way toward giving us hope that this time around, it might stick. It's also interesting to see a new designation emerge for one of DC's Multiverse earths.
Announcement: DC Reveals Eight New DC You 2016 Limited Series
Details: Announced just before Comic-Con actually, DC announced an octuplet of mini-series coming next year, several featuring characters written by the person who created them. They include separate Swamp Thing and Metal Men series by writer Len Wein, Raven by writer Marv Wolfman, Firestorm by writer Gerry Conway, Katana: Cult of the Kobra by writer Mike W. Barr, Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life & Death by writer Amy Chu, Metamorpho by writer/artist Aaron Lopresti and a reinvention of Sugar & Spike by writer Keith Giffen.
"We want the best writers working on our characters, and these are the best writers for these characters," explained DC co-publisher Dan DiDio.
What it means: Despite deemphasizing continuity, the publisher isn't above or beyond recognizing their past, assigning veteran creators new projects featuring concepts they created - some decades ago.
Sugar & Spike is something of a melding of the two, reviving a classic property but in a completely new and contemporary vein, as adult private investigators operating in the metahuman world... but with a twist doubling back to a classic concept, that metahuman world looks like it may be the post-Crisis/pre-New 52 DCU, at least judging by the promo image DC released.