Can it be? Am I actually excited about DC Comics? Again? I’ve made no bones about my aversion to the company-wide reboot of 2011, but it seems that starting this summer, DC is dropping the The New 52 branding and starting fresh with all-new books, and a diverse and wide-ranging roster of talent, including — full disclosure — several friends and alums from the SIUniverse! So maybe I’m a little biased.
I have to come clean. I hadn’t regularly bought DC Comics in years. As much as I disliked the 2011 reboot, I actually fell off years before as the books kept going from Crisis to Crisis (to Crisis!) and frankly, it was just exhausting. The Flashpoint arc, and the resulting — and confusing — continuity1 that emerged was the final straw and I basically gave up on being a weekly reader. That is, until last year and the debuts of Gotham Academy and the new creative team (and direction of) Batgirl.
With today’s announcement of creative teams and new books, it seems that the publisher has learned a lesson or two from the success of those books2 and is attempting to parley that into the rest of its offerings. Check the official announcement for a rundown of all the titles — standouts include the double shot of Greg Pak returning on both Action Comics (with Aaron Kuder) and Batman/Superman (with Ardian Syaf); Batman Beyond by Dan Jurgens and the homie Bernard Chang; Black Canary by Brendan Fletcher, Annie Wu(!), and Irene Koh(!!); Doctor Fate by former DC head Paul Levitz and Shadow Hero artist Sonny Liew; and We Are Robin by Lee Bermejo and Khary Randolph.
Jesus. I’m going from two books a month to, like, twelve!
In addition to those titles, I wanted to focus on a few more that I’ll be adding to the buy pile come this June. Again, I can’t believe I’m actually excited about DC books again, but there’s no book I’m more excited about than friend of the blog Gene Yang taking over the reins on Superman! His first ever story for the Man of Steel will be found in DC’s Free Comic Book Day offering this May.
While Gene is no stranger to superhero books, this is the first time he’s written for either of the Big Two — which, if you ask me, is a major coup for DC. If last year’s The Shadow Hero is any indication, Gene is going to bring a lot of heart and wonder back into the Man of Steel’s eponymous series — something Pak has been able to accomplish in his two Super books, but has, in my opinion, been missing in all of the other iterations of Superman in the (now defunct) New 52.
Speaking of double duty, I’m also stoked for Ming Doyle’s first foray into the mainline DC Universe — she’s currently illustrating the Vertigo series The Kitchen — as they’ve got her writing Constantine: The Hellblazer and penciling a new series called Dark Universe. I’ve never followed the more supernatural DC titles in the past, but knowing Ming — and her passion for the DCU — I’m definitely all in on both books. Now if only DC had replaced The New 52 with The Rule 63 and given her a series of gender bent heroes and villains. Now that’s a book I’d buy for sure!
The third and final newly announced DC title comes from another familiar face here on the NOC. After turning the industry upside down with his brilliant take on Shaft for Dynamite, our own David Walker is finally taking his talents to one of the Big Two as he’s just been announced as the writer of Cyborg with superstar artist Ivan Reis on the interiors. This is a huge deal for a lot of reasons.
First, it’s about damn time that a mainstream publisher like DC bring on a writer with David’s sensibilities. He’s spoken candidly in the past about the importance of bringing authenticity and complexity to Black comic characters, so hats off to DC for entrusting Cyborg to him, especially considering that the character is being set up to get a lot of shine in the coming months and years.
Not only has Cyborg been a fixture in DC media beyond the page, his inclusion in the upcoming Batman v Superman and his own solo movie in 2020 means he’s going to be one of DC’s foundational characters, and who better than a BadAzz MoFo like David Walker to be the one to solidify Victor Stone’s legacy in the DCU?
So congratulations, DC Comics. It took a few years, but you have fully embraced the 21st century. Thank you for acknowledging that there is a comics audience beyond 42-year-old white males. That said, this doesn’t let the publisher — or any publisher — off the hook. These are first steps. There is still room for more people of color, more women, more LGBTQ representation on the page and behind the scenes. The lesson? Diversity isn’t a fad. Hopefully, this announcement signals that DC has gotten the message.
We shall see. Because we’ll be watching.