Jun 01 2011

A shakeup for DC’s series

Published by at 11:58 pm under Comic Books,DC Comics,News

DC Comics announced a few changes that might be significant.  Details are sparse at the moment, but here’s what DC Comics, USA Today and the New York Times have reported.

  • Every DC series will restart at issue #1 and many of the characters will be younger than they were before.  It’s less clear whether the plots will substantially change in noncosmetic ways.  The only substantial changes announced so far are that “a lot” of series are not returning, Justice League will focus more on relationships and DC will branch into genres besides pure superhero action.  “We’re going to use war comics, we have stories set in mystery and horror, we’ve got Westerns.”
  • “We really want to inject new life in our characters and line. This was a chance to start, not at the beginning, but at a point where our characters are younger and the stories are being told for today’s audience.”
  • DC will be digitally releasing all of its issues the same day they arrive in comic stores.
  • Some titles will return and “a lot” won’t.  Most DC writers and artists are also getting shuffled around. “Series that are successful and writer/artist combinations that work well together won’t be tweaked too much.”
  • The direction for the costume changes is to look more contemporary.   They’re also trying to “alter the physicality of many heroes and villains to modernize the DC Universe.”  I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds like a dangerous surgery illegal in most countries.
  • “The recent emphasis on diverse characters such as lesbian superheroine Batwoman, Hispanic hero Blue Beetle and African-American adventurer Cyborg (who will be a core member of Johns and Lee’s new Justice League) also will continue.”

32 responses so far

32 Responses to “A shakeup for DC’s series”

  1. B. Macon 02 Jun 2011 at 12:25 am

    –I’m really hoping they give a bit more personality to Superman and Wonder Woman.

    –I’m looking forward to the off-genre stories. For example, one of the reasons that Batman feels really distinct to me is that it’s not just a pure superhero story–sometimes there are elements of horror and I think it takes the detective/crime aspects more seriously than most superhero series.

    –I do not anticipate that DC will make much headway with younger readers, because there’s still the structural problem that kids and young adults rarely buy their own books and too few parents and teachers will buy or assign comic books for kids. (I think cartoons and movies will continue to be a much more convenient point-of-entry for most young audience members than comics are).

  2. ekimmakon 02 Jun 2011 at 12:26 am

    Sounds like they’re doing the same thing as Ultimate Marvel.

  3. Beccaon 02 Jun 2011 at 12:39 am

    Wow. Sounds like some major changes. I look forward to seeing how stuff turns out.

  4. B. Macon 02 Jun 2011 at 2:22 am

    “Sounds like some major changes.” Very possibly. In a few years, we’ll know more about how many of the changes have actually stuck.

    “Sounds like they’re doing the same thing as Ultimate Marvel.” I did notice some similarities between the two.

    I’d personally rather read about an interesting sixty-something than a boring twenty-something, all other things being equal, but I think age does help relatability. It did seem sort of a glaring hole in the DC lineup that they had so few young characters in major non-sidekick roles*. Of DC’s 15 most major heroes, how many are younger than 25? Static Shock, Superboy** and Supergirl are the only candidates that come to mind, and to be honest, I don’t think I’d have any of them in the top 15. (Maybe not even the top 25 depending on how heavily you mine the Justice League ranks, which are overwhelmingly adult).

    *Okay, Robin is a major character, and he’s not a sidekick in Teen Titans, but I think he’s generally best-known for his sidekick work.

    **OH, GOD. The less said about Superboy, the better.

  5. Goaton 02 Jun 2011 at 11:25 am

    This makes me scared, some of the changes sound good, but for the most part it seems like DC is turning into the CW…

  6. B. Macon 02 Jun 2011 at 1:42 pm

    In fairness to DC, CW doesn’t do a lot of war stories or Westerns. Also, if CW ever DID try a war story, I’d probably commit seppuku by trying to eat a campaign hat. That said, the Bradley Manning debacle could make for a cool Gossip Girls episode.

    UPDATE: It’s not exactly CW, but the upcoming show Combat Hospital *does* sort of look like Grey’s Anatomy-in-Afghanistan.

  7. Torion 03 Jun 2011 at 6:45 am

    Personally, I dislike a lot of teen superheros and don’t see why DC thinks a ‘young audience’ is so stupid they can only relate to those their own age. I have more in common with Battgirl and Harley Quinn than most of teenybopper shows/books around today. Some exceptions like Katniss from Hunger Games and Rose from Vampire Academy, but those ARE some kickass novels. Anyway, what kind of age changes are being made?

  8. Phoenixon 03 Jun 2011 at 9:00 am

    This is sad. This is so very sad. At the rate they’re going, their continuity has become about as stable as the weather. I’ll sound curmudgeonly, but I was grumbling about the destruction of character histories lost to the original Crisis. I rolled with that and plugged along for ten more years, but they just couldn’t stop. The instability they had unleashed was too great. Now it seems like a race to see how many #1 issues they can create. In fact, rather than clinging to a pretense that they’re producing series, they should just scrap the endless parade of mini-series and just put out novels and graphic novels. That way they could focus on building characters and epic storylines in the span of a big one-shot to get people’s attention and then scrap it all for a whole different concept a few months later.

    They’re in it for money because it’s a business. They aren’t concerned with history or continuity or creativity or character longevity execept as they pertain to the bottom line. They should just stop kidding everyone. They should also stop kidding themselves. The thinking when Robin was first created back in the forties was that younger readers would relate to younger characters. The reality that they still don’t seem to grasp is that the readers want to be the hero and not the sidekick, the age thing being pretty irrelevant.

    It’s sort of like the TV networks moving programs to different time slots and different nights and remaining mystified after all these years when the ratings fall.

    How many movies, TV series, cartoon shows and merchandising items have been made about Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman? How much cultural impact of that sort has come from…Image Comics? Let’s go check out that WildCATS movie this weekend. I’m sure it’ll be much better than Spawn was. Three cheers for commercial pandering.

  9. B. Macon 03 Jun 2011 at 12:03 pm

    “Anyway, what kind of age changes are being made?” I don’t think they’ve announced those details yet, but the picture they released makes Superman, Wonder Woman and GL look like twenty-somethings. Maybe teens?

    DC is making many of its main characters younger

  10. B. Macon 03 Jun 2011 at 12:57 pm

    “They’re in it for money because it’s a business. They aren’t concerned with history or continuity or creativity or character longevity execept as they pertain to the bottom line.” This ties into one of my main concerns about the larger comic book companies: The vast majority of their profits come from characters that were created 30+ years ago (or, in DC’s case, 70+ years ago). On Comichron’s list of the top 50-selling comics in the last month, I think the only character that DOESN’T date back 30+ years is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    In contrast, novel-publishers rely quite a lot more on characters from the past 20 years and have done quite a lot in the past 10. For example, running through the NYT bestsellers list for hardcover fiction, the average book stemmed from material launched 13 years ago.

    Dead Reckoning–part of a 10 year old series.
    10th Anniversary–part of a 10 year old series.
    Conviction–a Star Wars novel (a 40 year old series).
    Buried Prey–part of a 21 year old series.
    The Jefferson Key–part of a 5 year old series.
    The Sixth Man–I think this is part of a 8 year old series? (I know that the two authors started publishing together ~8 years ago, but I’m not sure if this book is actually in a series with the earlier works).
    The Land of Painted Caves–part of a 30 year old series.
    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest–the first book was published 6 years ago.
    The Snowman–part of a 14 year old series.
    The Final Storm–I think this is the first work with these characters.
    Sixkill–the final (posthumous) work of a 38 year old series.
    Caleb’s Crossing–I’m pretty sure this is the first work with these characters.
    The Fifth Witness–part of a 6 year old series.
    2030–Albert Brooks’ first novel! Congratulations.
    The Paris Wife–I’m pretty sure this is the first novel with these characters. (Well, the main character is Ernest Hemingway’s first wife).

  11. Phoenixon 04 Jun 2011 at 9:16 am

    I was just watching a bonus feature for GL: Emerald Knights. I listened to Dan Didio, Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison speak passionately on the inspiration and innovation that went into GL: Rebirth and the Blackest Night arc. They were really into it all and conveyed a stirring sense of awesomeness for their work. Throughout, though, I was nagged with a recurring thought-track of \So? None of it matters because you’re about to wipe the slate clean, reset everything to #1 (AGAIN!) and rejuvenate any heroes left standing.\

    Watching this persistent vegetative decline is torturous. Justice League’s going to focus on relationships rather than epic team adventure? Pull the plug already and change the letters from DC to CW.

  12. B. Macon 04 Jun 2011 at 11:19 am

    “So? None of it matters because you’re about to wipe the slate clean, reset everything to #1 (AGAIN!) and rejuvenate any heroes left standing.” Sadly, I think this is true of pretty much every company-owned comic book series. (Batman will be fighting the Joker and Spiderman will be fighting the Green Goblin 50 years from now–there’s too much money at stake for the company to want to offer any long-term resolution that sticks).

  13. Cool don 04 Jun 2011 at 11:39 am

    This is a critical moment for dc.I believe that if this is handled well it could be fantastic or it could to turn out to be utter rubbish.

    I’m currently reading the red Robin comics and I’m enjoying it, what will happen to it if tim drake will be younger and hasn’t become Red Robin yet. Will the comic be cancelled. I enjoyed Fabian nicieza’s writing and the art.

    Jim Lee has been off comics for sometime does this mean that he will be drawing the new justice league.

    No offence to the designers but I don’t really see much difference in the character designs except for wonder woman.

    I’ll be alright if they don’t turn the comics into sappy soap operas. Or dc will be getting a lot of calls from me, the good it’d do, just joking. They shouldnt mess dc up.

  14. B. Macon 04 Jun 2011 at 1:52 pm

    “I’ll be alright if they don’t turn the comics into sappy soap operas.” Amen! One potentially ominous clue is the word “relationships,” which COULD mean more satisfying characterization*, but unfortunately it might instead mean “a soap opera romantic quagmire so thick you need a diagram to know who’s banging whom.” (E.g. Torchwood, most CW shows, Congress, etc).

    *For example, I think Justice League International was an excellent series that thrived on interesting interactions between relatively minor DC characters more so than straight-up action or rehashing popular characters. It also answers the question of whether it would take Batman one punch or two to knock out Guy Gardner, who was one of DC’s most reviled heroes at that time. (One, of course).
    Batman takes down Guy Gardner... in one punch!

  15. ekimmakon 04 Jun 2011 at 2:08 pm

    One thing that may or may not turn out well is resetting iconic events, like the crippling of Barbara Gordon. Either they’ll end up having Joker shoot her like last time, and people will complain that it’s predictable, or not do it, and have a lot of people complain that they’ve discarded an important part of the character.

  16. B. Macon 04 Jun 2011 at 3:12 pm

    I would be really surprised if they reset her disability long-term.

    First, there’s already a Batwoman they’re happy with, so I don’t think there’s a pressing need for Barbara to be an action hero.

    Second, she was never an epic best-selling character, so there’s not much marketing pressure to put her back into the lineup. (In contrast, when they pull a major character out of circulation, like Bane “killing” Batman, Batman will return sooner rather than later).

    Third, I think fans are generally satisfied with the change? Well, there’s been grumbling that it’s usually women that get shoved in the fridge (male heroes don’t often get maimed/disabled and it doesn’t usually stick for them), but I think it helps her stand out, a la Professor X. Plus, I think the Batman series has earned some latitude on this front because it’s just as barbaric to its male characters, I think. (For example, The Joker killed Jason Todd even more gruesomely than he capped Barbara). Both are more like the Passion of the Christ than the rated-PG wound that befell Professor X.

    The analogue that comes to mind for Barbara Gordon getting maimed is the death of Gwen Stacey. I think that the character is too widely respected to be allowed to live. 🙂 No, really–she’s special because she is pretty much the only comic book character that DOESN’T return from the grave. She’s a critical burst of realism in a universe where death is otherwise meaningless.

    Her death is coming even though the circumstances change. For example, she gets killed by Carnage in Ultimate Spiderman, even though she was originally killed by the Green Goblin.

  17. Torion 10 Jun 2011 at 6:31 pm

    I just saw Harley Quinn’s new look. I’m hpoping to God it’s fake or a scam or something. I don’t even see Harley Quinn anywhere in there.

    Here’s link:

    Fake or real? Anyone have any info?

  18. B. Macon 10 Jun 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Sorry, but it’s legit. That’s the cover of the new Suicide Squad #1 (Harley is now a SS member).

    On the plus side, publishers sometimes adjust costumes in response to fan displeasure and/or revulsion. For example, DC recently redid Wonder Woman’s costume and it looks vaguely almost acceptable. In the day since the cover was released, fan reaction has not been very positive, so I think there is at least some hope for a redesign.

  19. Torion 11 Jun 2011 at 9:59 am

    Thank you for telling me that. I’m very upset over this as DC has killed the harlequin in a way even the Joker couldn’t. (Not that I think he’d take killing his obsession so lightly.) Honestly, why are they dropping the harlequin theme? She IS a harlequin after all. I refuse to accept this as canon. She looks terrible and nothing like the girl who giggles as she beats people to death with blunt objects. Her hairs and face look awful and why’d they do away with the make-up?

    What is Mr. J supposed to do with this thing?

    And my such a racy outfit? Yes, I think Harley is a very sexual creature but this seems more like something she’d wear during a scheme or something- not an everyday costume. I assume this is for the Joker, but he never struck me as the type to have a genuine sexual attraction for anyone- he seems more asexual by nature to me. This just won’t work.

    They’re trying to appeal to ‘today’s audience’ but who are they kidding? Do they honestly think anyone my age, other than die-hard fans of certain characters, actually read comics? I hate this new look. It’s not my Harley Quinn at all.

    People are claiming this is okay because it’s something Nolan would have done. No. Nolan, I think, would have been more realistic with Harley, at least kept up the harlequin theme, and been less desperate in sex-appeal factor they have going here.

    So angry right now. I shudder to think what they’re going to do to the Joker.

  20. Wingson 11 Jun 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I’m a Marvel and I still feel insulted by that Harley Quinn design.

    – Wings

  21. B. Macon 11 Jun 2011 at 3:08 pm

    “I shudder to think what they’re going to do to the Joker.” Changes to the most marketable/lucrative characters are usually gradual and/or temporary. I would be surprised if the Joker or Batman underwent major changes.

  22. B. Macon 11 Jun 2011 at 3:08 pm

    One of my lady friends and I had roughly the same immediate reaction to the cover: “This probably has something to do with why women don’t buy more comics.”

  23. Torion 11 Jun 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Exactly!!! She just looks terrible to me. Anywhere we can write to them to get this atrocity fixed?

  24. B. Macon 12 Jun 2011 at 12:47 am

    I think the DC Letters page would probably be best. “Do you have any thoughts or comments you want to share with us concerning your favorite DCU or Vertigo title or character? … Fill out the fields below and your letter will be forwarded directly to the editorial offices.”

    PS: This won’t be a problem for you, but just some general advice to anyone else writing a complaint letter: I’d always recommend being intelligent/reasonable/polite. I find that disappointment is more effective than anger and/or threats. (Would you rather accommodate someone disappointed in your story’s new look or someone straight-up insulting it and otherwise lambasting your judgment?) Also, mixing in some compliments about how much you liked a previous design (or designs) of HQ would probably help so that they have a better of idea of how they could redesign the character.

  25. Torion 12 Jun 2011 at 9:38 am

    Thank you!!! I’ll go there now! 😀

  26. Torion 12 Jun 2011 at 10:21 am

    I’ll be posting that link on the Harley/Joker coommunity at Livejournal for them to write letters as well. Here’s the letter I’m going to send. Let me know if I should rearrange or change or add anything to make it more affective. I’m worried I put too much of my emotion into it and they’ll discredit what I say . . . Please let me know!

    ‘I am here to express my extreme dislike of the new Harley Quinn design. While it is hard to put into words how much the new design upsets me, I can try. I feel you should know that when I saw the new design, I cried. That is not my harlequin. In fact, that is not any form of a harlequin at all. This is not the adorably dangerous girl I know Harley to be, not the girl who giggles at death and would do anything for the Joker. This girl looks more like a dominatrix to me, a desperate ploy to get the attention of little boys who likely will not be reading comics nowadays anyway. No, the audience is mostly with the already-established fan-base. I speak on the behalf of the majority of Harley Quinn/Joker fans when I say we’d like to see less ‘sexy’ more ‘clown’ with some sexy thrown in. While the full-body jester suit might be in need of a change, doing away entirely with the harlequin theme is hurtful to everyone who loves Harley. In taking away her make-up and jester hat, you take away who she is. She and the Joker live by not conforming to society, and in dressing her this way, you’re forcing her to do just that. It’s in her name, her acrobatics, her laughter— she IS a harlequin. Her new design does not hint at that at all and it’s just as bad a mask as ‘Harleen Quinzel’ was. The Joker would not approve.
    Putting red, black, and diamonds in her new design does not mean it will work. In order for the Joker to keep her around, she’ll need to look like a clown again, for I don’t think he’d care about this outfit at all, asexual as he is. I understand wanting to modernize her original costume, but this is taking it too far, so as to be almost distasteful. Her original costume is signature and to do away with it entirely is hurtful and will drive away most fans- including me. We feel the costume is only the beginning and soon you’ll be downgrading her to simply ‘the Joker’s whore’ instead of the murderess she is. She’s not just with the Joker for lustful purposes; she’ll do anything for him and, when it comes down to it, she always has his back.
    I propose a compromise. Obviously, most of us mourn the loss of her blonde hair, the make-up, and the harlequin theme. It is possible to go back to her original design and work from there. For instance, it is entirely possible for her to wear a black and red bodice, black pants with holsters for guns or a small mallet (her signature blunt object), the white face-paint and mask, the much-loved jester’s hat, and blonde pigtails. She’ll still be sexy, more modern, but the harlequin remains. We can all sit back and enjoy our favorite clown doll as she giggles and beats people to a brutal death in Mr. J’s name.

    I am not averse to change. I am all for improving Harley. Please, however, if you have any shred of respect for your readers and the love we have for the character, you will not change her so much as to be utterly unrecognizable. We just want to protect our harlequin, and in this case alone, Mr. J might, too.’

  27. B. Macon 12 Jun 2011 at 2:01 pm

    “I’ll be posting that link on the Harley/Joker coommunity at Livejournal for them to write letters as well.” Okay, but please encourage them to be mature/thoughtful/etc. Empathy goes a long way in persuading an entry-level grunt (e.g. me) reading the letter that your concerns are serious enough to forward to his/her boss.

    I’d be MUCH more likely to pass along something along the lines of “I understand what you were trying to do, but you could do it more effectively with X and Y” than “this is absolutely horrible” or “this will never work.”

    For example, looking at the new HQ, I’m pretty confident that DC’s goal was to sex up HQ to increase her appeal to horny guys, perhaps along the lines of Poison Ivy. But I feel this new HQ design is more likely to creep guys out than arouse us. She looks too obviously psychotic, whereas PI usually looks conventionally beautiful and not freakish. If I were going for sex appeal, I think it’d help a lot to redo HQ’s hair (go with black OR red but not both) and soften her face to make her look more human.

    I feel her costume crosses the fine line separating sexiness from sluttiness. If this character is meant to have sex appeal, I’d recommend giving her real shorts and a real shirt. She’s built like a supermodel, so pretty much anything she wears that isn’t totally creepy will look hot. (PS: I feel her proportions actually turned out reasonably well–I think a lot of comic book females are so impossibly thin-and-buff that they look sort of horrifying).

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. I sympathize greatly with the editors and artists responsible for this, because this is a pretty hard case. How do you give sex appeal to a female character that had been pretty distinct for having very little and dressing like a harlequin? Moreover, she’s the “face” of the new Suicide Squad. So she should look something like a vaguely relatable human, right? (No offense to King Shark or Deadshot, but one is a fish and the other wears a costume that makes him look rather inhuman).

  28. Phoenixon 13 Jun 2011 at 9:01 am

    Wow. It looks like she’s been reworked by Granny Goodness and turned into one of the Female Furies. I don’t know who this “today’s audience” is they claim to be targeting, but it must not be anybody who’s ever bought or read or enjoyed their comics.

    While I’m on the subject, I don’t like Superman’s new suit either and probably won’t like whatever they have planned for Batman. I was just barely OK with what they did to Wonder Woman’s earlier this year. I haven’t seen her newest yet.

  29. Cool don 14 Jun 2011 at 5:32 am

    Hey you guys this are the issues as well as the designs.


    cant get over red robins wings.

  30. Torion 24 Jul 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I came back because I found another issue with Harley Quinn’s new design I wanted to run by someone. I’ll be writing a new letter to DC adressing several issues with the functionality of her new costume. Would it be off-putting or wrong to say that the new design made me question whether or not the people behind the new design really knew who Harley Quinn was? I feel this way because they gave an Olympic level gymnist . . . a cape. Yes, a cape. Most capes are usually quite pointless anyway, unless they have some kind of special ability, like for Batman. For Harleym, it is downright silly. Not in the clownish way, either. lol! I mean, that if she tried to do a hand-spring, she’d end up getting tangled in her pointless cape. In my opinion, it also clashes with the rest of her outfit (not that anything else on it really fits together either).

    I liked her original costume because it was so obviously that of a harlequin, her nakesake. It was also something she could easily move around in, a body suit more practical for her gymnastics. I’m going to suggest that they consider going back to her original outfit and improve it, not do away with it altogether. She IS a harlequin and to do away with it sort of defeats the purpose of her name and identity as a clown girl.

    Any thoughts on this? The lack of originality and functionality of this costume doesn’t bode well for her character- I’m worried for what they have planned for her. So far, the only useful thing I know she’s going to be doing is leading the new Suicide Squad. Yet, even then, if she’s leading something, shouldn’t she look more relatable, in her face? And hair? (Again with the clashing thing- plus, the blonde made her look softer even when she did terrible things. They should focus on making her look a little more relatable.) Just because Harley is mentally deranged doesn’t mean she has to look like it. That’s what I liked about her, because, on the outside, she could always try to present herself as someone sane.

    This was long. Sorry. 🙂 Let me know your thoughts!

  31. B. Macon 24 Jul 2011 at 7:39 pm

    “Yet, even then, if she’s leading something, shouldn’t she look more relatable, in her face?” Hmm, I’m not sure I would try selling this on relatability. It’s a series centered around a group of Death Row inmates, so I don’t think it’s going for anything vaguely similar to the Peter Parker approach. (The main characters are a bipedal shark, an assassin whose main goal is to die in a particularly spectacular fashion and a mentally-imbalanced jester. I don’t see any audience stand-ins here). Second, the character’s original design isn’t much more relatable.

    I think one of the changes they were going for was to make her seem more serious and distinctly villainous. Personally, I think a cape would detract from that. That said, it’s a pretty small cape and easy to miss. (I missed it at first glance).

    One thing that I think really worked about Harlequin and distinguished her was that she had a manic/whimsical side to humanize her beyond being just another psycho killer. I obviously haven’t read the new Suicide Squad yet, but I would imagine that humanizing her is even more important when she’s a protagonist/antihero than when she’s a villain.

  32. Damzoon 31 Aug 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Hey for those who are interested, the DC relaunch started yesterday, with Flashpoint 5 and Justice League 1.

    The Justice league wasn’t bad, it was quite fun actually. And its a great start for those who are are interested in starting DC comics.

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