We all saw it coming and here it is – the first cull of titles which debuted as part of September 2011’s revamp of the DC Comics line. After their eighth issues, the following series will be no more: Men of War, Mr Terrific, Static Shock, Blackhawks, Hawk & Dove and OMAC.
I can’t say I’ll be shedding any tears for the first four of these, having disliked them sufficiently not to bother after their first or second issues. Hawk and Dove I stuck with until this month’s #5, which seemed like quite enough. OMAC, though, I’ve been enjoying hugely, as Dan DiDio, Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish produced a monthly love letter to Jack Kirby. Perhaps we’ll get the occasional special – there has to be some perk to being a pet project of DC’s co-publisher, DiDio.
Determined to keep that New 52 momentum going, though, DC have immediately announced replacements: Earth 2, World’s Finest, GI Combat, Dial H, The Ravagers and Batman Incorporated. Here’s what we know, in italics, courtesy of DC’s The Source blog, with my comments immediately after each entry.
- BATMAN INCORPORATED – Writer: Grant Morrison. Artist: Chris Burnham. The acclaimed ongoing writer of ACTION COMICS, Grant Morrison, presents a fresh take on BATMAN INCORPORATED, in which the Batman brand is franchised globally in preparation for a major international threat.
- How odd to describe Morrison in terms of Action Comics when he’s already the ‘acclaimed ongoing writer’ of Batman Inc. While it seems there will be tweaks, this isn’t especially new, it’s the return of one of the best Batman series for years. Most issues have had thoroughly enjoyable scripts by Morrison (acclaimed non-ongoing writer of Aztek!), while recent collaborator Chris Burnham is a huge new talent. I’m looking forward to seeing how things go now we know Talia is behind evil organisation Leviathan.
- EARTH 2 – Writer: James Robinson. Artist: Nicola Scott. The greatest heroes on a parallel Earth, the Justice Society combats threats that will set them on a collision course with other worlds.
- This is the series we thought would be called JSA, but it seems the scope will be larger that ‘just’ the finest heroes of a generation. It sounds as if we’re getting a series of stories akin to the old annual JLA/JSA/Obscure Team summer blockbusters of the Seventies and Eighties. I’d have been happy with a simple JSA series in which they’re the greatest heroes of their world, whether set today or in the Second World War. As well as that, we’re getting a gimmick, one which could provide a lot of fun for Robinson, who just adores little-known characters. And it’s about time Nicola Scott, one of the best and most reliable pencillers around, received a spotlight project.
- WORLDS’ FINEST – Writer: Paul Levitz. Artists: George Perez and Kevin Maguire. Stranded on our world from a parallel reality, Huntress and Power Girl struggle to find their way back to Earth 2. Perez and Maguire will be the artists on alternating story arcs.
- Now this is a nice surprise. The current Huntress mini-series has been showing that the heroine has an affinity for cats, hinting that this is Helena Wayne, daughter of Batman and Catwoman, rather than Helena Bertinelli. And it looks like writer Paul Levitz hasn’t been toying with us, as he helms a book teaming this original-style Huntress with her old best friend, Power Girl. Peege has been much missed since the New 52 began, although a pale shadow of her other identity, Karen Starr, has appeared in (bye bye) Mr Terrific. With luck, this will be the confident, warm, funny heroine who starred in her own book in recent years, who knew she began life on another Earth. And with George Perez and Kevin Maguire on board, we’re guaranteed a beautiful-looking comic.
- DIAL H – Writer: China Miéville. Artist: Mateus Santoluoco. The first ongoing series from acclaimed novelist China Miéville, this is a bold new take on a cult classic concept about the psychological effects on an everyman who accidentally gains powers to become a hero.
- I’ve read only one comic book story by China Miéville, in Hellblazer #250, and it was ruddy good, so I’m excited to see what he does with Dial H for Hero, one of those Silver Age DC concepts that keeps coming back. Well, a dial that bestows super-powers is pretty much every reader’s wet dream. I’m good with a darker take, just so long as we readers are invited to design the odd settee or tank top. I don’t know Mateus Santoluoco but a Google image search has me optimistic that he’ll produce work worth looking at.
- G.I. COMBAT – Writer: J.T. Krul. Artist: Ariel Olivetti. Featuring the return of a classic DC Comics series, THE WAR THAT TIME FORGOT, along with rotating back-up stories and creative teams – including THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, with writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Dan Panosian; and THE HAUNTED TANK, with writer John Arcudi and artist Scott Kolins.
- Oh, this sounds right up my street, some classic DC strips in there, to be handled by favourite creators. The best thing they could do would be to stay as faithful as possible to the original concepts, the ones that worked, while not trying too hard to be retro. The Blackhawks, and Sgt Rock in Men of War, it could be argued, show that a familiar name isn’t enough – you need to find that original magic, and ladle on originality of your own. Gray and Palmiotti know this, at least; it’s what they’ve been doing in All-Star Western.
- THE RAVAGERS – Writer: Howard Mackie. Artist: Ian Churchill. Spinning off from TEEN TITANS and SUPERBOY, this series finds four superpowered teens on the run and fighting against the organization that wants to turn them into supervillains.
- Oh dear. I’ve pretty much had enough of teens on the run in the current Teen Titans book, I like things nice and settled. And then blown up. Still it’s years since I’ve read a Howard Mackie comic, I’m intrigued to see how he’s developed while he’s been wherever. And Ian Churchill is a popular artist, though he never sees to stay on books very long.
The six new series will replace BLACKHAWKS, HAWK AND DOVE, MEN OF WAR, MISTER TERRIFIC, O.M.A.C. and STATIC SHOCK, all of which will conclude with their eighth issues in April. Many of the characters from our canceled books will appear in DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 titles, and in some very surprising ways,” said Harras. “We’re developing stories that reach from cultures around the globe to parallel worlds. We’re just getting started.”
So there you have it. Six out, six in – I rather like the idea of a wave of fresh titles wiping away a bunch of ones deemed not to be working. Obviously, most of us will lose the odd favourite – ever Men of War has its fans, over at Bleeding Cool – but new favourites should emerge too. And there’s also the likelihood OMAC and a few other outgoing characters will return (aha, confirmation comes in Vaneta Rogers’ excellent interview with Bob Harras at Newsarama).
The only real disappointment is the lack of genre expansion. Still no romance title, no out-and-out humour book, no cop comic … does everything have to fit into one of the ‘family’ lines (Superman, Batman, JLA, Young Justice, Dark, Edge, if memory serves)?
So, come April and DC are guaranteed another big round of mainstream publicity, and fans have some new titles to, hopefully, enjoy. But enough of me – what do you think of today’s news?
House of Mystery cover borrowed from the Grand Comics Database, thanks guys!