By September 2016, DC's "New 52" universe will be five years old. Over the years since DC made that bold move, the universe has evolved and the DC line has shifted quite a bit -- including the incorporation of old universes after the 2015 Convergence event. What will 2016 bring to DC as a company, the DC universe and its stories, and DC readers? Newsarama put together what we believe are five questions facing DC in 2016.
5) Cinematic Influence: How much will the DC Universe be influenced by Warner Bros.' suddenly significant cinematic one?
We all knew DC's shared cinematic universe was coming. But with this month's release of the latest trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the idea became real. As Wonder Woman showed up to help Superman and Batman at the end of the trailer, superheroes fans everywhere anticipated the addition of other superheroes and the eventual formal debut of the Justice League.
With the movie scheduled for release in March 2016, about the same time most of DC's ongoing series will be hitting their #50 issues (most of them oversized), how much of an influence will the cinema version of the DCU have on the one in the comic books?
Tim Seeley, who's taking over the New Suicide Squad series next year, admitted to Newsarama that he is being influenced by the trailer he saw for the upcoming live action Suicide Squad film. And why not? As the writer noted, people who are interested in the film, who might want to check out the source material, should be able to recognize the characters and concepts they read in the comic books.
Will DC take that idea into other comic books as the DC cinematic universe grows? And is that the right move to make?
4) Events and Weeklies: To event or not to event, to weekly or not to weekly? That is the question.
For the past decade, since the debut of the Infinite Crisis line-wide event and the subsequent 52 weekly, DC has been dabbling in weeklies and events off and on, with varied success rates. Currently, the company is seeing some success with Batman and Robin Eternal, the follow-up to last year's similarly successful Batman Eternal weekly series, and the company was able to rake in some decent sales with the recent Convergence event, despite having virtually no regular series on the shelves during those months. And that's before even mentioning the reporting that DC will be doing more weeklies in 2016.
That said, DC's history with weeklies hasn't always been successful. And events have their limits as well, with DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio even admitting to Newsarama that the company wants to avoid forcing readers to buy constant events.
What form will that take in 2016? What happens to the Batman Eternal weekly when this version ends in March? Will another take its place? Or will DC have another event up against last year's Convergence numbers in April and May? Will the 50th issues in March lead into a major change-up and event-styled launch the next month?
3) Comic Book Convergence: How much of the old universes will DC embrace?
In 2015, DC ended its two-month Convergence event with a shocking new revelation: The Crisis on Infinite Earths had never happened, and as a result, there exists in the DC Universe a potential endless (or yes, "infinite") number of Earths -- the multiverse, back in full effect.
Comic book fans were excited about the prospect of viewing long-absent alternate worlds from the DC of old — including the DC of old itself. But six months later, the instances of these old worlds showing up have been few and far between.
But that's been changing, with the addition of comics like Telos, Titans Hunt and Superman: Lois and Clark, opening the door for DC to visit characters from more alternate universes. Will the lukewarm sales on those three new series be enough to justify DC trying other similar concepts? Will 2016 see the addition of infinite earths to the line-up?
2) Five Years Later: How can the company maintain the successes of "New 52" — and add to them?
On any given month, when Diamond Comics' sales numbers are released to the public, it's a pretty safe bet that the two top-selling DC ongoing titles will be Batman and Justice League. Both titles still have the same writers they had four years ago when they were relaunched as part of the "New 52" — Scott Snyder on Batman and Geoff Johns on Justice League — although Batman gets a change in artists in 2016 when Greg Capullo leaves.
As DC moves through 2016, half a decade after their "New 52" reboot, how long are those writers going to stay on those two titles? And if either Snyder or Johns does leave the top-selling titles, will blockbuster titles like Batman and Justice League still serve DC as well?
And what can DC do to bring some of their other titles up to the same type of numbers? Is it time to put a new #1 on some of the titles and relaunch the low-hanging fruit? Will DC have to make some drastic changes, similar to (although perhaps not as drastic as) their relaunch in 2011?
1) What is the New DCU?
In 2015, DC Entertainment announced that their comic book universe would be shifting from the "New 52" to the "DCYou" after the company's two-month Convergence event. And although it was probably a good move to drop the "52" moniker (since the line hadn't been composed of 52 books for quite some time), the shift wasn't really that noticeable within the universe itself. Yes, there were some crazy concepts being thrown at readers at the time of the name change — including a powered-down, public-identity Superman and a mech-wearing Jim Gordon Batman — and the company added some new all-ages ideas to their line, but the make-up of the DCU was similar to the one from three months earlier, when the line was still called "New 52."
When the "New 52" launched in 2011, the line had a distinctive feel. There were "Edge" and "Dark" titles and categories for various superhero lines — all existing within a shared universe. But lately, the more innovative titles seem removed from other, mainline superhero fare. DC appears to be trying a little bit of everything, from youthful titles like Gotham Academy to off-the-wall comic books like Omega Men and Martian Manhunter.
Assuming DC will introduce new titles to refresh their line once they hit mid-year 2016, the question for the company's showrunners will be, what makes the DCU new and different in 2016? Is there a unifying theme that unites the various areas of the DC Universe? What is the New DCU?