Like Marvel comics has had before them, today I’m taking a look at the new DC Comics Rebirth lineup of titles announced last weekend. DC Comics attempted to reboot in the summer of 2011 with their New 52 initiative. Though initially successful, readers quickly tired of the redundant writing & art styles that was often overtly in your face with little substance and dated concepts, while creative talent left the books in droves over accusations of overreaching editorial mandates. In 2015, the publisher began walking away from the concept; first with their Convergence event whose story was used to reestablish the Multiverse and then the DC You initiative, a sincere attempt to diversify the style and creative talent on their line of books. In spite of some really great comics, DC You failed to reestablish the publisher’s already shrinking market share while the one two punch of Star Wars & Secret Wars allowed chief competitor Marvel Comics to dominate the direct market. During WonderCon 2016, DC Comics announced another new initiative with a relaunch of the publishers comics with new #1’s and creative teams for their series of titles. Some look great, some of the creators brought in during DC You have leveled up, some familiar faces are sticking around, some new writers have been brought into the fold and some comics vet’s are returning after years away from the publisher. Some books look great, some have potential, some look kind of bland and some look like hot garbage. Will divide the contenders from the pretenders with Yay, Mayhaps or Nay. As always, remember that not even all of the creative teams have been announced let alone all the possible series so this lineup is subject to change.
Snyder is this generations Batman writer plain and simple. While he and Capullo are splitting up for the time being, the artists lined up for this series are a murderer’s row of superb talents. Here is a list of all the artists Snyder either already has lined up to work on this series or is trying to get on the book
John Romita Jr
Not only is that insane and an amazing assembly of talent, it would also be the artistic antithesis of the New 52 “house style”
You know how during Snyder’s run, there would be short one shot issue’s between arc’s with guest artists that would often feel like highlight’s of the series? That’s essentially this comic every month.
How DC Comics managed to pull this off in bringing Rucka & Scott back into the fold while they’re already working on a successful creator owned series at Image I have no idea but whatever they did, great fucking job because this is a Wonder Woman comic anybody could get behind. Rucka already had an extensive run on the series and is poised to take over when the character has been at it’s highest profile in decades, all with the help of two extraordinary artists and an awesome sounding concept in theory. Easily the bi-weekly series with the greatest upside of the bunch.
Tom King is writing Batman and that is literally a dream come true for many comics readers. In a very short time, King has shown that no matter what he writes, it’s worth buying and he has just the right amount of subtlety with his big idea’s to do something truly special on the title. If you’re going to have someone take over Batman after Scott Snyder, this is the guy. Former Grayson illustrator Mikel Janin is one of DC’s best, Jordie Bellaire is a genius colorist & David Finch is still wack but even he can’t ruin this.
CHRISTOPHER PRIEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do you like what Nick Spencer did on Superior Foe’s of Spiderman? If you answer is yes (and if it isn’t, I’m sorry) then you should know that the DNA of writers Christopher Priest Black Panther & Quantum & Woody is at the core of that books writing. And that’s a relief because if you are going to do a Deathstroke book in 2016, it need’s humor and farce; two things that Priest is a master of. The need for three different artists seems weird, especially when Felipe Watanabe is the only one that feel’s like he’s brining anything unique to the book from the DC House Style but it’s Christopher Priest; this guy made hilarious comics with some of the most 90esque mullet wearing hero’s back in his day so this should be no problem.
While I understand the appeal of the concept around the recent Batgirl reboot and think everything on the art side of the series was ace’s, from what I read of the series, the writing always felt like it was blatantly pandering to the zeitgeist in a way that felt inorganic & slightly insulting. But, what was established with the character has a lot of potential for the right creative team and this could be it. Hope Larson is similar to Gene Lueng Yang in having been a steady presence in small press circles whose comics have transcended to the young adult space on some level. She is also an actual women in her early 30’s who lives in a major metropolitan area which means she instantly has a clearer perspective on this conception of Batgirl. Rafeal Albuquerque should be known well enough to comics readers at this point for his outstanding work on American Vampire, Animal Man & 8ight. In those three aforementioned books; we’ve seen him master horror, traditional superhero & weirdo science fiction while staying true to his own unique style and I can’t wait to see how he handles hyper modern urban vigilante this time around. And, she’s back packing in Asia for good measure, sounds awesome.
Writer Steve Orlando was basically right behind Tom King for breakout writer of 2015 with his multifaceted queerstoiplation style on Midnighter & Virgil. Nobody wrote a more badass character then Orlando’s Midnighter. Just the idea of that, on an ongoing Supergirl comic while she has a TV show on the most popular broadcast network in America is incredibly exciting but anybody that’s read his creator owned work from Image like Virgil or Undertow knows that he’s also capable of so much more then that as well. And the through line from all three series has always been his unrelenting imagination which again, applied to a Supergirl comic at this time in Supergirl’s history, is really enticing. Add artists Brian Ching to that who has been bringing a distinct, imaginative and highly enjoyable style to Conan: The Avenger the last couple years, and you got a must read comic until proven otherwise.
People who care about comics writing finally have a Flash book with a great comics writer. That’s a win no questions asked as Williams will be the best scribe to work on the character since Geoff Johns. While Williamson’s bad guy perspective might be a little weird for The Flash, especially the Flash in 2016 with the popularity of the TV Show, Williamson is a great at writing character’s in a more general sense which would be nice as some semblance of personality is what this series has been missing for quite some time. Carmine Di Giandomenico has mostly done Marvel work but he shares a style similarity with Neil Googe in that they are able to do the more typical Jim Lee/Gary Frank DC aesthetic but with a hint of cartoonishness that should probably fit well with Williamson’s style and the tone of the property.
After being given a few high profile writing assignments around the Bat books at a point when he probably wasn’t ready for it, writer James Tynion IV has steadily improved over the last two years by focusing on lower tiered DC books and creator owned work. Tynion has grown as a writer with some excellent work on books like Constantine The Hellblazer & Ufology along with a genuine hit in The Woods, all the while still working on Batman related titles such as backup’s for the main book, Batman & Robin Eternal or Batman & The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While Tynion might have had a leg up getting into the business because of his association with Snyder, he’s more than earned his way onto this title and the concept reads like a unique low stakes take on the Batman Inc concept. For those that haven’t been reading Martian Manhunter, Eddy Barrows is an incredible comics illustrator on a technical level, designer & visual storyteller so no matter how you feel about the concept, this comic will be worth it for his visual contributions as well. And while Alvaro Martinez of Batman/Batman & Robin Eternal & Ultimate X-Men is probably less interesting then his collaborators on this book, he’s young enough that it’s possible you could see an evolution of his style here from getting the opportunity to work with Barrows. The new Detective Comics team is somewhat understated in comparison to the announcements above, but I’d argue it has as much potential as anything announced in DC Rebirth so far to be something special.
New Superman by Gene Luen Yang & Viktor Bogdanovic
What’s potentially cool about this comic is that they’re basically giving Gene Luen Yang the best possible opportunity to be successful at the publisher with their superhero’s. He’s already proven that he can write Superman in his extended run on the title prior to Rebirth while his most notable works are about exploring Chinese heritage, history and culture in Boxers & Saints, The Shadow Hero & American Born Chinese. Giving him Superman in China seems like a no-brainer from that perspective. Bogdanovic graduated from Batman Arkham video game comics to the Suicide Squad: Bloodshot/Katana miniseries and I’d argue he’s the best thing about that book with a style that feel’s similar to classic Bruce Timm animation. A weird comic that might struggle to sell but all the elements are there for it to be a great read
Keith Giffen is part of one of the greatest Justice League runs of all time featuring Blue Beetle and Scott Kollins is always on point. This is a no brainer.
Cosmic and the deep sea aren’t really that different when you think about it so Dan Abnett should have some cool idea’s for this. Brad Walker tends to go very DC house style when doing superhero work but he did really cool stuff with Abnett in his Marvel cosmic days. And, Geoff Johns claims he’s coming back to finish off his Throne of Atlantis storyline with Ivan Reis. Lot’s of potential on this one
Gotham Academy by Brenden Fletcher &……..
Initially announced with the Rebirth in it’s list of title but not featured in the WonderCon announcement. Karl Kesrchel has already stated that he’s no longer working on the book and it’s not clear if Becky Cloonen is sticking around DC but co-writer Fletcher promises
so there’s that.
Justice League by Bryan Hitch, Tony Daniel & Fernando Pasarin
Probably the most logical replacement for Geoff Johns extended run on the Justice League as he’s been the only guy to have a successful companion book to John’s main series. Hitch’s Justice League was really enjoyable at the beginning with some cool idea’s but it’s story felt disjointed and all over the place after a few issues. With a little more focus, this could be a great run on the title and artist Tony Daniel is a huge asset.
Peter Tomasi & Patrick Gleason did cool work on Batman & Robin for the series first arc before it just became redundant and crossover happy and Doug Mahnke has a similar enough aesthetic to Gleason to make this look consistent. Overall, this feels like a comic that is pretty good. Pretty good comics are pretty good for a while but end up inevitably being cut for a comic that’s great and with this shipping twice a month, this creative team will need to be the best work of their career to rise above the general attrition of the medium.
Two thirds of this creative is sound with Rob Williams coming off a great run on Martian Manhunter and Jim Lee being a legend in the game. Phillip Tan is weak sauce and Lee has struggled with monthly series so going bi-weekly might be a challenge. Still, this is easily the best creative team DC has had on a Suicide Squad comic in decades and that’s worth getting excited for. That said, prepare to be disappointed by delay’s, mercenaries coming in on Lee’s pencils & underwhelming Phillip Tan work.
As an artist, Francis Manpul is among the best in the industry. As a writer, the juries out as he’s always been tied to Brian Bucceletto. This is a huge break for him and will probably determine whether he can move forward as a writer or if his best work is on the art side. This is an ambitious title which is taking a pretty big risk in giving Manapul full reign of the story. Clay Mann is an interesting illustrator whose style is almost nothing like Manapul so the choice to pair him on the book feels like a strange one. Could work but definitely has a lot of unknown variables.
Harley Quinn by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Chad Hardin & John Timms
Look I don’t get it but I know you kids love it so enjoy
DC continues there year’s long odyssey to make Green Arrow & Teen Titans popular with comic book readers again using new comics writer Benjamin Percy to run back his time on the former and reboot the latter. Percy comes from the world of fantasy horror novels and wrote a great two issue mini-arc with incredible art by Jean Paul Leon of Detective Comics. Since then, he did a decent Green Arrow that hasn’t managed to stand out in any meaningful way. This time around, he has a solid art team on both books and at least a number one to give him some momentum. Worth checking out but whether any of it’s essential remains to be seen.
Superwoman by Phil Jimenez & Emanuela Lupacchino
Being a frequent collaborator of Grant Morrison, I’ve had more then my fair share of Phil Jimmenez art which is perfectly fine but have no experience with his writing on Tempest or Wonder Woman so I can’t really make a judgment call here. I think I need to read Tempest….
Here’s where the diversity in comics talk get’s a little muddy. Just based on sheer numbers, we can say for a fact that DC is less diverse from a standpoint of creators on their books here and also has nothing lined up with women or people of color from past books like Gail Simone, Greg Pak, David Walker, Becky Cloonen, Annie Wu, Amy Chu or Ming Doyle. With that said, they are bringing on new minority creators in John Semper, Julie and Shawna Benson. While that’s cool in the abstract, it should be noted that none of these writers are from comics. Which means that there are comics creators, both minority and otherwise, that are getting passed over for television writers. The problem here is two fold; one is that comics only work in being more imaginative then television or movies, if they’re are telling the same type of story what’s the point? The other is that these are jobs that could be going to actual comics creators currently making great comics. Besides the aforementioned creators that are already more qualified to write Cyborg or Birds of Prey because they’ve actually written comics before, any number of new creative talent could be the next Jonathan Hickman, Rick Remender, Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen ect and I think DC Comics needs to find some of those guys because there is only so many more ways they can shuffle the deck on their current lineup.
What is new & exciting about having the same writer from over twenty years ago come back to work on the same title? Especially when the same creator has been putting out mediocre comics for the majority of that time period? You’ll have to ask DC Comics because clearly I don’t know. Patrick Zircher used to be dope but is fucking boring now and a total asshole on social media. I feel bad for Kirkham and Segovia.
The only Seely comic I’ve ever liked was Grayson and that was because Tom King was co-writing it. You do the math
Sam Humphries, you almost had me there for a second on Starlord & Kitty Pryde but then your regular ass Marvel books started coming out again and we all remembered why we ignored your comics in the first place. Pretty sure Weird World will be fine without him.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps by Robert Venditti, Ethan Van Sciver & Rafa Sandoval
Fifteen years from now, a bored high school student is going to check out a Green Lantern Comixology sale and buy all these issues off the strength of Ehtan Van Sciver, only to be severely disappointed once the dialogue reads like those crappy Transformer movies.
Not only is Brett Booth a garbage human being who was either too dumb to realize how he was fanning the #GamerGate troll flames or more likely, just didn’t care, his art sucks anyway. Brett Booth is like every complaint anybody has ever had about Rob Liefeld with none of the originality.
If DC can’t make this work with the near perfect team of Tynion, Doyle & Rossmo, they probably aren’t going to do it with these guys. John Constantine remains lost in the wilderness post Vertigo.
Batman Beyond by Dan Jurgens & Bernard Chang
Red Hood and the Outlaws by Scott Lobdell & Dexter Soy
Nothing says Dan DiDio like taking the same book that nobody liked in the first place and making it worst with inferior art talent.