DC: Now Number One?

Flashpoint has, for months now, been touted as the event. I was very curious about what it could do--it was an alternate reality, Flash-centric event. Sure, it was written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Andy Kubert, both industry superstars.
It spawned a host of spinoff titles, most of which are intriguing in either concept or creative team, if not both. And the finale was culminating with the end of story arcs across DC's line. But, really, how significant could Flashpoint change things?

As it turns out? A lot. Flashpoint may be the most significant DC event since Crisis on Infinite Earths. On August 31st, only two DC titles will be released. The first is the fifth and final issue of Flashpoint. The second is Justice League #1 (notably lacking an "of America" suffix) by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. Quite possibly the two biggest names in today's comics industry. And with such an all-star creative team, the title will feature, appropriately, all-star characters for the first time in years.



Superman, redesigned (and perhaps even younger) for a modern age. Batman--Bruce Wayne? Dick Grayson? Even Thomas Wayne? Who can say? Wonder Woman, in a new variation of her Jim Lee redesign. Hal Jordan and Aquaman, both written by Johns in other titles. The Flash--presumably Barry Allen, in an outfit I actually dislike quite a bit. And--rather than the Martian Manhunter, to round out the original Big Seven lineup for the first time since the Silver Age--Cyborg, spinning out of his incredibly prominent Flashpoint role. He was in the JLA as written by Robinson, but rarely ever seen--here, I imagine he'll have a much higher profile.

And after Justice League, DC simply goes insane. 52 titles total, all new number ones.

A Superman title, written by Grant Morrison. If he can recapture the Superman magic from All Star Superman, Superman Beyond or Final Crisis, I'll be on board wholeheartedly. I have a few caveats, however. The first is that it doesn't cut short Paul Cornell's brilliant run on Action Comics (but if it must, that Cornell gets another title he's equally suitable for--perhaps, dare I hope, a Lex Luthor ongoing?) The second is less of a caveat but rather a two-sided complaint:

Allegedly, Superman and Lois Lane may no longer be married, as part of the continuity changes that Flashpoint brings. On one hand, I absolutely understand why--the triangle of Superman, Clark Kent and Lois Lane is incredibly important to the mythos. And with Grant Morrison at the helm, I'm even willing to give it a chance. However, I've grown up with Lois knowing Clark's secret, with her being his equal partner. Despite that, I'm willing to accept that the writers know what they're doing, and Lois is so iconic that I doubt she'll be out of the books entirely. My real complaint is that there hasn't been any real focus on the couple at all. At least with One More Day, as controversial as it may have been, we'd just come off of a multi-year run stressing the relationship between Peter Parker and Mary Jane, and the story in itself was (or at least attempted to be) a testament to their love. With Superman? This past year, he's been on his own walking around the country, and for the past two years before that, he was busy dealing with Kryptonians, on Earth and then on New Krypton. Before that, it was the Legion of Super-Heroes and Brainiac. The last time we really had a story that dealt with the two of them as equal partners? Probably when Kurt Busiek had them raising Chris Kent together. Flashpoint won't deal with Superman and Lois as a couple at all--if the relationship is dissolved without any real acknowledgement of their supercouple status, I'll be very disappointed.

Moving on: we've heard almost nothing about the Batman line so far. I imagine that Grant Morrison's plans for Batman, Inc remain unchanged, as it's one of DC's top sellers, and even if Scott Snyder is off of Detective Comics, he'll likely be a part of the rumored Bat-event that spins out of the Snyder-plotted Gates of Gotham (I hope so, at least--Snyder has achieved serious critical acclaim). We have, however, heard a bit about Birds of Prey--it will return with a new number one, without recently-returned writer Gail Simone. It's an interesting move, but one that might even cement Birds of Prey as one of DC's enduring titles. It moved from Chuck Dixon to Gail Simone fairly seamlessly, but sank after her first departure. If played right this time, it just might survive and acquire its next big writer. When a title becomes so associated with a single writer, it can survive in its own comfortable niche, but rarely grows beyond that, and suffers when they inevitably leave. Maybe it'll be good to let Birds of Prey survive, and hopefully even thrive, on its own.

Aquaman will launch by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis, while Green Lantern returns, again with Johns. These were expected, but the news that Green Lantern will retain its continuity bodes well for those that worried this linewide renumbering also meant a complete reboot. Given that Geoff Johns truly revitalized Aquaman in Brightest Day and has provided incredible superhero action for Hal Jordan in recent years, I'm happy with these announcements--the storytelling isn't brilliant, but it makes for firmly reliable and highly commercial comics.

Also of note for the Green Lantern franchise is news of a team book that will bring together one member from every Corps. No word of the creative team yet, although I wonder if this is a retooled version of the Red Lantern ongoing by Peter Milligan?

Hawkman by James Robinson and Philip Tan makes for a book that I can easily ignore, having not liked much of Robinson's recent DC work and having hated pretty much all of Tan's. But, hey, I guess somebody likes them.

Teen Titans returns with a new number one, written by Fabian Nicieza. He's always done best when dealing with team books (I guess I'd count Cable/Deadpool as a team book, of sorts, but I'm more looking towards his New Warriors, X-Force and Thunderbolts days). If he can get the creative freedom to really develop the Titans without editorial interference (it worked for his Marvel books because the characters were second-tier and largely unrelated to other titles, but in Teen Titans, the characters either have their own titles or are strongly connected to other franchises) then I can see the Teen Titans truly entering a great era for the first time in years. I just hope Nicola Scott sticks around on artwork! She's probably the closest thing we'll ever have to George Perez back on the book, and she's really made it her own. I do wonder, though--will any of the sidekicks be rebooted back to their original versions? It'll be interesting to see what comes next.

A new Legion series called Legion Lost. All I can imagine is that Flashpoint and the continuity changes that follow have caused incredible rifts through the 31st century, and the Legion is...well, lost. I was in love with the original series by this name, and even if there's no connection, I remain hopeful. I'm very curious, however, to see if Paul Levitz will continue to write the Legion's ongoing adventures, or if his faux-contract (arranged when he stepped down) is finally over. Truthfully, I don't know if I care either way--I've been enjoying his work the past two years, but it feels almost as if he's playing it safe. Maybe the Legion needs someone else to bring them back up on the sales charts. Meanwhile, Deadman will take over Adventure Comics--but DC did suggest that the title would become an anthology again, so maybe Deadman will be joined by some other stars of Brightest Day? Rob Liefeld has an upcoming DC assignment--maybe (and this is entirely speculation) he'll doing pencils on a Hawk and Dove feature for the title, if they're out from Birds of Prey (perhaps even written by Gail Simone, so that she can wind up whatever plotlines she had prepared for the pair).

Wonder Woman will have shed the Straczynski-inspired continuity changes of the past year, while Justice Society of America will gain a new writer following Guggenheim's departure. Given his claims of having serious long-term plans for the title, I'm actually rather surprised (and disappointed, I was really loving his take on the team).

What news will we get in the days ahead? One thing's for sure--these are very, very interesting times for DC, and Marvel knows what's best, they'll be preparing for the competition.

Comments

  1. Wow. I've had family in town since last week, so I've been out of the comics news site loop and all of this information is completely new to me. (Though having read Flashpoint #1 and heard that #5 was the only thing shipping on 8/31, it's not a surprise that a Crisis or Zero Hour level event is happening.) Some quick reactions, and I'll go to CBR tomorrow and read the details since I should be going to bed now.

    Justice League: Johns/Lee has been rumored for a long time, and it's exciting that it's finally happening. I've said here before that the book isn't currently working despite top talent and a clever choice of characters. It's the right time for a top 7 revamp. My guess is that the Dick Grayson Batman is on the team so as not to disrupt Grant Morrison's plans for Bruce Wayne.

    Can't help but be excited about a Morrison Superman, though I also hope there's room for proven talent like Paul Cornell and Pete Woods. (I too would buy the hell out of a Luthor book by that team.) Obviously what they've been doing the past few years isn't connecting with the audience even though I've liked a lot of it. With Morrison involved, I'd hope for Mark Waid too but he recently reiterated on Twitter that he'll never (his word) get to write Superman. I don't feel that the Lois & Clark marriage messes up the character in the same way that Peter & MJ did, so I would be a little sad to see that go. Though, as you point out, it's not like they've been doing anything with the idea.

    I'd be surprised if much of anything changes in the Bat-titles because it's one of the few areas that's selling. I can't help but be sad about Gail Simone off Birds of Prey again, but I trust her judgement and your point about the title is a good one. (I assume Secret Six will remain unchanged, and dare I hope for her return to Wonder Woman?)

    Obviously no major changes in GL because that's the other area that's working both creatively and commercially. Johns has earned a lot of trust, but we'll see if even he can pull off an Aquaman ongoing.

    I like Philip Tan, so I'll check out Hawkman even though I've been rereading Starman and it's hard to believe it's the same guy who's been writing JLA.

    Agreed that Nicieza is a good choice for Titans -- I'm a few issues behind on the current book, but it can't help but be an improvement -- and I hope Nicola Scott stays too.

    I actually like Levitz' Legion, so I'll be disappointed if that's coming to an end already. I've also really warmed up to Guggenheim's JSA, so I'm bummed about that too.

    Have they said anything about Flash ongoings other than that Johns definitely isn't writing one?

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  2. Secret Six has been one of DC's most stable titles, sales-wise; not a top seller, but a comfortable lower-mid-list title. And it's one of those titles so tied to her voice that I can't imagine anyone else writing it, even with DC's radical changes. I'd hope that it's one to stick around, but I could easily see it being replaced with something higher-profile. I'd love to see Simone on Wonder Woman again, too, but sadly, her tenure on the book didn't exactly light up the sales charts. I can't imagine who else they'd get to write it, though, as their big writers are mostly spoken for. I wonder if it's time for Morrison to get her? He's been hinting since Final Crisis that he's wanted to write for her, and with Flashpoint changing things around quite a bit, it might be the perfect time (and if he remains in charge of Batman, too, that would leave him in control of the Big Three--I could see all kinds of iconic moments and genre experimentation there.)

    Teen Titans as it has been...it's not a BAD title, under Krul's pen, but all he's really done is try to restore the team to something more commercial. He's got the voices of the characters fairly well, even if they're not particularly nuanced, but the plots have been pretty unremarkable. Nicieza/Scott would be a fantastic team for the book, I think.

    I haven't heard anything about Flash yet, although didn't Johns suggest that Flash: Speed Force would be coming out after Flashpoint at NYCC? I vaguely recall hearing him talk about that at one of the panels we attended. Although given that Johns is off the franchise now, it's possible those plans have fallen through (unless they've given it to Sterling Gates to replace his original Kid Flash plans). I imagine that there has to be a Flash ongoing as one of the new number ones, though; especially coming off of a Flash-centric event.

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