DC Comics is betting on reader nostalgia for a new line of comics coming out this summer called "Retroactive."
"It's the creators working on the characters that so many fans grew up reading," said DC editor Ben Abernathy, who's overseeing the project. "[Readers] have a real fondness and love for the material. And the opportunity to revisit that era, with the creators who made it great, is a welcome change from everything else going on in the industry these days."
During July and August, a series of one-shots will focus on classic DC heroes and teams, featuring new stories by writers and artists associated with those characters. Each creative team will supply 26 pages of new story, and their contribution will be accompanied by 20 pages of reprints.According to Abernathy, the creators involved are helping pick which old stories should be reprinted along with their new material. "Our approach was to consult the creators involved first to see if there was a particular story they wanted reprinted or might pertain directly to their story," the editor said. "We've gotten a ton of suggestions, believe me!"
In July, the titles to be released will all pertain to the '70s: Batman by artist Tom Mandrake and writer Len Wein; Justice League of America by artists Andy Smith and Gordon Purcell with writer Cary Bates; The Flash by artist Benito Gallego and Cary Bates; Green Lantern by artist Mike Grell writer Dennis O'Neil; Wonder Woman by artist J. Bone with Dennis O'Neil; Superman by artist Eduardo Barretto and writer Martin Pasko.
The August titles will includes the following '80s-inspired titles: Superman by Marv Wolfman, Wonder Woman by Roy Thomas, The Flash by William Messner-Loebs, Justice League of America by Gerry Conway, Green Lantern by Len Wein, and Batman by Mike W. Barr. The '90s titles will include Superman by Louise Simonson, Wonder Woman by William Messner-Loebs, The Flash by Brian Augustyn, Justice League of America by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, Green Lantern by Ron Marz, and Batman by Alan Grant. Artists for the August issues have not been announced.Abernathy said DC was interested in putting writers from those eras with the characters for which they're best known, but for the artist selection, they had to be a little more creative. "For the most part, the artists worked on the respective character from the era," he said. "For others, who obviously didn't, we approached artists we felt could do justice to the era and material."
Once DC nailed down who would be writing the stories, Abernathy let them pitch the new stories. "The writers had free reign," he said. "The mandate given was, basically, we wanted to tell a fun story that was set in the era, whether it be posed as a 'lost story', 'story they always wanted to tell' or maybe something connected to the reprint."
Each story takes place in the era being featured, and the art and story will reflect it. For example, the '70s Wonder Woman story has the hero in her "white costume," while the '90s Justice League title will feature the JLI.
"Across the board, the concept's been met with enthusiasm and excitement by the creators and I think our collective editorial response has been equally positive and energetic," Abernathy said. "The books I'm directly editing are a blast so far."The editor said that when he announced the Retroactive titles at a panel during the WonderCon convention, reader response was also enthusiastic — something he chalks up to nostalgia and respect for creators who established the characters in the past.
"I think this is a great opportunity," he said, "for fans of the DC characters and great storytellers to just pick up a standalone issue and enjoy a killer read."