One Year Ago: DC UNIVERSE Reboots in September

DC UNIVERSE Reboots in September

Update - May 29, 2012: On Tuesday afternoon, May 31, 2011, news broke around the Internet and in USA Today about DC Comics' planned September 2011 DC Universe reboot-relaunch — what we now all know as "The New 52."

While the official first anniversary of the New 52 won't be until the end of August — the week Justice League #1 shipped to comic book stores — this week marks the effective beginning of what became the biggest comic book news story of at least the Newsarama era and arguably one of the biggest sea changes of the modern comic book Direct Market.

All this week here on Newsarama we'll be taking a look at the early legacy of The New 52 — trying to identity the good and the bad, as well as trying to gauge its future. But to start, we thought it would be fun to revisit those very first hours and days after the first news broke.

The following is that initial DC reboot news story along with links from some of our earliest coverage and analysis of the story. Enjoy...

Original story May 31st, 2011: A fully revamped DC Universe for a "more modern and diverse 21st century", over 50 new #1 issues, a Geoff Johns-Jim Lee Justice League, and the first of the major comic book publishers to fully embrace "same-day" digital distribution...

That is the breaking news from DC Entertainment Tuesday afternoon, finally and officially breaking their silence about their post-Flashpoint plans for their flagship line of comic book titles.

The center of intense rumor and speculation for months now, DC confirmed today that the fictional shared universe of Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern and more will undergo a revamp of their oft-rewritten 76 year-plus history of shared continuity.

Geoff Johns promised USA Today "a focus on the interpersonal relationships within DC's trademark superteam." "What's the human aspect behind all these costumes?" he tells the publication. "That's what I wanted to explore."

The revamp will reportedly involve "introducing readers to stories that are grounded in each character's specific legend but also reflect today's real-world themes and events."

Jim Lee reportedly "spearheaded" the redesign of more than 50 costumes to make characters "more identifiable and accessible to comic fans new and old."

"We looked at what was going on in the marketplace and felt we really want to inject new life in our characters and line," added co-publisher Dan DiDio. "This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today's audience."

Along with the revamp, and sure to cause uproar among those who buy comic books as collectibles, all DC Universe titles will also be renumbered with new #1 issues, including the industry's two longest-running titles — Action Comics, the birthplace of Superman — and Detective Comics, the home of Batman and namesake of the publisher — the former of which recently published its 900th issue, with the latter in the 880s.

The first officially announced title and creative team of the new era was revealed as well. DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee and chief creative officer Geoff Johns will be teaming as artist and writer, respectively, on Justice League #1, launching August 31 and starring Batman, Superman,Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman.

Finally, DC also announced they plan to make all of their titles available for sale in digital format on the same day as their publlished counterparts, starting with Justice League #1. While the decision could probably be described as inevitable, the announcement will still likely be poorly received among some segments of "Direct Market" comic book retailers, whose stores account for the current backbone of monthly comic book sales.

DC has previously taken steps to ease the eventual move to fully same-day digital distribution, announcng in March a partnership with digital distributor comiXology allowing individual retailers to sell digital editions of DC comics through their websites, for a share of the online retail price.

The publisher also sent a letter directly to direct market retailers addressing their announcement. In it, SVP, Sales, DC Entertainment Bob Wayne told retailers, "DC Comics will support this initiative with an innovative mix of publicity, promotional efforts and retailer incentives designed to maximize your opportunity to increase your DC sales. We will discuss additional details of these incentives when we get closer to solicitation later in June."

"We're allowing people who have never bought a comic book in their lives to download them on portable media devices and take a look," Lee said. "Having the ability to give people access to these comics with one button click means we're going to get a lot of new readers."

Lee told USA Today what makes this plan so ambitious is that it's not just about changes in characters or costumes but setting the stage for how comic books will be consumed in the future.

"We're trying to set the table for the DC Universe's future success and health."

More information, including other creative teams, titles, and character changes, is expected with September 2011 solicitations, which should be released Monday June 13, 2011.

Reached for any immediate reaction to DC's new digital publication policy, Marvel Comics declined to comment Tuesday afternoon.

Updated 11:45 ET: In a second interview with USA Today, DC revealed a few more pieces of info, including:

- Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's Justice League will begin its first year with an "updated secret origin reflecting DC's new initiative, giving the group a reason for coming together that it lacked when the league first appeared in 1960."

The team will ultimately boast 14 members, with the iconic core of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman.

Cyborg will also be part of the team, with Johns calling him, "the modern-day, 21st-century superhero".

"He represents all of us in a lot of ways. If we have a cellphone and we're texting on it, we are a cyborg — that's what a cyborg is, using technology as an extension of ourselves."

"The approach is very much about who they are behind the masks and how they interact together and how these personalities mix," Johns told USA Today of the title. "With the world's greatest superheroes, how does that team actually work? Do they all get along? Being able to pull together and see how that relationship is forged and continues to grow has to be at the heart of that book."

- Diversity will be a key theme, with what's called "recent emphasis" on diverse characters such as the lesbian Batwoman and the Hispanic Blue Beetle (along with the African-American Cyborg) continuing.

Says DiDio: "It's not just about straight superhero characters and stories. We're going to use war comics, we have stories set in mystery and horror, we've got Westerns."

- Three-quarters of the current title's creative teams will be "shuffled around", though series that are successful and writer/artist combinations that work well together "won't be tweaked too much."

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