There is something to be said for the subtle art of defying expectations. When New Super-Man was first announced as part of DC’s Rebirth initiative, reaction was mixed. On the one hand, it was positive news that acclaimed creator Gene Luen Yang would be able to branch out with a series more independent from the larger DC Universe. On the negative side of the ledger, the concept sounded a little derivative. A Chinese Super-Man joining a Chinese Justice League? Did the DCU really need yet another iteration of Batman? Luckily these fears proved to be ungrounded. In the first four issues, Yang did a fabulous job of developing the cast, so the principles do in fact feel like original characters instead of superficial riffs. The series quickly settled into an appealing mix of humor and adventure, as Kenan (i.e. the titular new Super-Man) tried to negotiate his powers and the responsibilities that came with them. This week Yang bring to the fore a couple subplots which complicate the narrative in a surprising and intriguing manner.
Like Marvel comics hashadbefore 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.
Tyler’s Recommendations: Manhattan Project: The Sun Beyond the Stars #3
“It’s been a while since the last issue, but this week the intergalactic adventures of Yuri and Laika continue. Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra have created one of the wildest comics around, and I’m always excited to read the next chapter.”
One of the mission statements for DC’s Rebirth initiative has been the idea that the publisher had veered too far into the territory of dark and gritty. Yes, post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC is best remembered for the iconic brooding work of Alan Moore and Frank Miller. At the same time, it also produced Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ Justice League, a title whose whimsical buffoonery, absurd situations and endearing characters came to define the team for a generation. Somewhere along the way, as the argument goes, DC lost track of such diversity in styles and let their titles fall into a stale uniformity of “seriousness.” This editorial preference hit its nadir with many of the failures of the New 52 relaunch. As with any overarching theory, it is a radical oversimplification, yet one which DC’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns embraced with his Rebirth Special. Blaming Alan Moore (literally and figuratively) for the darkness, Johns declared that the time to right the ship had arrived. One of the best examples so far of Rebirth’s newfound interest in lightheartedness has been New Superman whose second issue does a first-rate job of continuing the promise of last month’s debut.
Pat: So last week DC announced a new direction for the publisher signaling an end to the New 52 initiative and attempt to address some of the problems with their line of books. How do you feel about this shift and the books that were announced?
Cosmo: Well, I think that the time has come to lay the “New 52” label to rest. It has been three and a half years, so the branding has had its day. What was once exciting to see at the top of a cover has become ho-hum. The moment is right for a new initiative.