DC's New 52: The Second Wave

We all knew it was coming--DC's teased us with it for months now. We had details on one book and hints on another, but to have a fully planned six-book lineup, with fairly impressive creative teams and a distinct purpose for each title? I have to applaud DC here, because I'm interested in each of these new titles.

Batman Incorporated was the one title we all knew would be back, from interviews, announcements and even the teaser at the end of the recent oversized one-shot, Leviathan Strikes. Grant Morrison returns to finish his Batman epic, while Chris Burnham continues his path to superstardom as the sole artist on this twelve-issue run. It's probably worth noting that that series, however, is now billed as ongoing--even if Morrison leaves after the first year, it wouldn't surprise me if sales keep the title going, the same way Tomasi is now helming Batman and Robin, Morrison's previous vehicle for the franchise.

Creative team details aside, Batman Incorporated will see the culmination of Morrison's Leviathan saga, whose ultimate villain was recently revealed to be none other than--spoiler warning!--Talia al Ghul, who formed the criminal organization in an attempt to recover her son and combat Batman's worldwide crimefighting initiative. This reveal added an incredible sense of history to an already intriguing run filled with new concepts and startling twists to old ones. It remains to be seen, of course, whether or not the end of Morrison's story will return the characters to a familiar status quo or leave them changed for a new writer to pick up--but as always with Morrison, the ride itself is what matters, not the destination. His Batman run has been exciting and innovative thus far, and I'm in until the end.

We've also had James Robinson and Nicola Scott's collaboration hinted at for several months, but now we finally get the details--instead of a simple Justice Society miniseries, we get the more ambitious Earth 2, a book that will (presumably) deal with the superheroics of an entire parallel world. Both of these creators being left out of the new 52 launch shocked many fans, but when it was revealed that they were working on something greater for the company, intrigue set in. The emphasis on the Justice Society will remain, of course--they are, after all, the most important part in DC's famous parallel world--but with more than just one team in their sandbox, Robinson and Scott have the opportunity to tackle even greater storylines and consequences for their characters. One of the most interesting aspects of the title, however? Its association with the next:

World's Finest by Paul Levitz, George Perez and Kevin Maguire, with the artists taking on alternating story arcs. The series will address Huntress and Power Girl, both seen so far in the new 52, both of whom have equal claim to both worlds. Before Flashpoint, they'd settled in to DC's stable of characters on their "main" Earth--but now, with a new emphasis on Earth 2, the mystery has returned. Is Huntress, currently starring in her own miniseries (also written by Levitz), Helena Wayne or Helena Bertinelli? Is Karen Starr, currently appearing in Mr. Terrific, the heavyweight Power Girl or simply a buxom blonde on Michael Holt's arm? This series will address those issues, as Huntress and Power Girl team up to discover why they've been locked away from their home reality. Effectively forming a new franchise when linked to the Earth 2 title, World's Finest has the potential to be an all-star title worthy of watch.

It isn't only big name creators given room to play in DC's Second Wave, of course--comics newcomer China MiƩville joins with artist Matues Santulucco to present Dial H, a Vertigo-esque take on the Dial H For Hero concept. This title joins Animal Man, Swamp Thing and others in the "Dark" section of DC's New 52, and emphasizes the psychological effects associated with the character. After all, when the H-Dial lets its bearer change into new and exciting superheroes, he takes them on entirely--yes, he would retain his own personality, but he changes identity as well. Furthermore, it's wish fulfillment for the everyman--someone who goes from an ordinary life to gaining incredible cosmic powers from a newfound device. This new approach to the book is emphasized by its editor, Vertigo line-editor Karen Berger, and while the title is firmly set in DC continuity, the tone will come from both worlds.

G.I. Combat becomes the new war title in DC's stable, with writer J.T. Krul and artist Ariel Olivetti helming the title and its The War That Time Forgot revival. I have an indescribable love for a series that sends soldiers to their fates on an island filled inexplicably with dinosaurs, and although Krul and Olivetti aren't my favorites, I acknowledge that they're a good fit for this title. G.I. Combat will also feature rotating backups to provide new takes on DC's other war serials, such as The Haunted Tank (by John Arcudi and Scott Kolins) and The Unknown Soldier (by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Dan Panosian). I'm very impressed by the creative teams for the backups, and I'm excited to see how those develop as the series (hopefully) continues. War titles have been a hard sell for DC as interest in the genre shrinks, but you have to admire them for the continued attempt and the creative muscle they attach.

Finally, we have our first real spinoff title in the new 52--The Ravagers by Howard Mackie and Ian Churchill, spinning out of events in both Superboy and Teen Titans. There's a lot to say here, and I'll begin with speculation: I don't think it's a stretch to say that the book (promised to feature four characters on the run from N.O.W.H.E.R.E., the organization going after young metahumans) will star Rose Wilson and Caitlin Fairchild, both of whom are currently appearing as N.O.W.H.E.R.E. operatives in Superboy. Rose is nearly a given, especially with the title of the book, but Fairchild has had an intriguing story arc and is already on the outs with N.O.W.H.E.R.E. It would also help to emphasize the Wildstorm universe's integration with DC, something that the company is already aggressively pursuing with the increased Daemonite threat across numerous titles.

I also want to point out that Mackie's new title is spinning out of two titles by Scott Lobdell, one of Mackie's colleagues in 90's Marvel. I'm excited and intrigued to see them work together again, and although I realize that Mackie has his detractors, he's put out some excellent work (Ghost Rider, anyone?) I think this could be an excellent fit for him. And with upcoming ties between Teen Titans and Legion Lost--soon to be helmed by another 90's Marvel alumni, Tom DeFalco--DC's Young Justice franchise continues to grow in new and unexpected ways. Finally, it's worth wondering whether or not Ian Churchill will utilize his newer, Darwyn Cooke-ish art style, or his classic, Jim Lee-inspired style. I'm hoping for the former, as it showcases his true talents, but I recognize that the latter is probably more marketable, especially with Lee's new status in DC's editorial hierarchy. We'll see.

All in all, though, I'm excited. What about you?

Comments

  1. I'm excited to read more BATMAN, INC. Had your article come a day earlier it would have been a spoiler, but I read the LEVIATHAN one-shot last night so I knew who was behind the events. Another one I'm interested in is DIAL H. I'm very familiar with Mieville's fantasy fiction. He's extremely creative, develops whole universes at a time, and is very very dark. Can't wait to see his spin on this one. The May 2012 New 52 books also made a headline in USA TODAY - - but their article is rather short and not even close to being as comprehensive as yours. Nice job!

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  2. I'm half-and-half on the cancellations. I was enjoying MEN OF WAR, OMAC, and STATIC SHOCK, but I won't miss BLACKHAWKS, HAWK AND DOVE, or MISTER TERRIFIC. I most wanted STATIC SHOCK to succeed, but I have to admit that even though I liked the book it could have been a lot better. I think the mystery of Virgil's duplicate sisters was off-putting to new readers, who probably expected something more like the cartoon they grew up with. Maybe Scott Lobdell will use Static in TEEN TITANS.

    Ivan Brandon was leaving MEN OF WAR anyway, so I was already concerned about how good that book would be going forward. (Hopefully they'll still collect the existing issues.) OMAC was great fun, but I'm sure Keith Giffen will be on something new before long.

    As a big JSA fan I'm most interested in EARTH 2 and WORLD'S FINEST, but all the new stuff has potential. And they've had more time to develop these books than the initial wave, which has to be a good thing.

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  3. Men of War and Blackhawks just didn't click with me as I was reading them, so I was planning to try them as full arcs instead, rather than individual issues sandwiched between superhero comics. I feel like war titles are the kind of books I need to get into a certain headspace for. I'm disappointed that they're ending so early, although now I can at least read the full runs without waiting much longer. Mister Terrific had so much potential, but absolutely none of it was explored. I agree that the mystery of the "twins" in Static Shock probably didn't help matters, although honestly, it was the most interesting part of the book to me (even if I had absolutely no clue why the sister was cloned in the first place).

    OMAC's really the only one that I'm going to miss, simply because I don't think we've ever seen such a successful attempt at doing a Kirby book in a Kirby style. Most other attempts were pale imitations at best, but here, something really clicked. Oh well, c'est la vie. Giving up one book I'm interested in for six new books that all catch my interest is something I'm willing to do.

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  4. As with the first batch of 52's, I'm interested. I'll try each one (although that EARTH 2 worries me). Sad to hear abour MEN OF WAR. I liked the 1st issue but had to cut it due to budgetary reasons. The other axed titles I tried, but didn't like. Here's hoping for the best.

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