The number 52 has been a significant figure for DC Comics. Back in 2006, miniseries, “52,” presented a world without Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman and featured the return of 52 parallel worlds. Today, 52 stands for something new and bold in the comic book industry.
For over a month, DC Comics has relaunched all their comics and presented readers with 52 new #1 issues for old and new heroes alike. This event has been referred to as DCnU (DC New Universe) as every title from long-running series (“Action Comics”) to short-lived ones ( “Batman: The Dark Knight”) are getting this reboot treatment. So, past continuity is a thing of the past as these characters are being presented with a modern perspective.
On “The Source,” DC Comics’ Blog, a viral video featuring individuals like co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee and Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras explained what this venture means for DC. “This is a great opportunity for readers who aren’t familiar with our character to jump aboard, to come join the party that is the DC universe,” Harras said.
The catalyst for this game-changer was “Flashpoint” #5. “Flashpoint” followed Barry Allen/The Flash as he entered a world that was turned upside down, where Batman was Thomas Wayne (Bruce Wayne’s father) and Wonder Woman fought with Aquaman through their kingdoms. At the conclusion of “Flashpoint,” the world didn’t look the same, and that same week, “Justice League” #1 ushered in the age of the DC 52.
Since then, other titles have rolled off the printing presses to the eagerness of fans. Series like “Action Comics” are retelling the origin of these icons while titles like “I, Vampire” and “Resurrection Man” are bringing back characters that have been absent for a while. A few titles have even integrated the fallen Wildstorm heroes into their own titles (“Grifter) or team books (“Stormwatch”). However for other series, major changes have occurred in what was the status quo like with “Batman” for example.
Before DCnU, Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne shared duties by both being Batman while Damian Wayne acted as Robin and Stephanie Brown was Batgirl. In this new universe, Bruce Wayne is back as the one and only Dark Knight while Damian is still Robin. Meanwhile, Dick is Nightwing (his first post-Robin identity) again and the paralyzed computer hacker, Barbara Gordon, has returned to her first calling as Batgirl.
While talking to the Huffington Post, new “Batman” writer Scott Snyder, who is also penning the new “Swamp Thing” series, explained what this new introductory issues means for Batman fans. Although Snyder said that the origin of Batman is still intact, there are other ways it will work within DCnU.
“…I’m really excited for it to be a jumping on point for new fans because it’s a story that, as much as I was excited to bring to fans of the character with tons of references and Easter eggs, it’s also a story that’s designed to be able to introduce new fans, like my son when he gets a little older for example. Or for it to be the first Batman book for someone and have them be able to pick it up and say, ‘Oh this is why I love Bruce Wayne, why the writer likes Bruce Wayne, I can see it from the beginning,’” Snyder said.
Yet, there are a few exceptions to DC’s relaunch. The Green Lantern titles, for example, didn’t turn the clock back as much as Superman and seems to be focusing on the same storyline that came before this massive change. So, Hal Jordan having his Green Lantern ring and title removed while Sinestro is reinstated into the Green Lantern Corps.
Although the idea of DC’s business move seemed risky at first, the first month worth of new #1 issues appear to be a success for this iconic company. According to The New York Times, “The first issue of the new Justice League, the company’s flagship book, has sold more than 200,000 copies compared with the roughly 46,000 for each of the last few issues before the reboot.” The Times continued to report that “…nine other series, including Action Comics, Batgirl, and the Flash, at least doubled their normal sales and sold over 100,000 copies…”
While these new comic book series are appearing strong and there is excitment for this new approach toward old favorites, some comic book titles haven’t fared as well. According to comicbookresources.com, John Rozum, co-writer of “Static Shock,” left this new series while Green Arrow writer, J.T. Krul, who wrote the previous Green Arrow series, will no longer write for the emerald archer after issue #4. Keith Giffen will continue the story duties from there.
As for the new “Superman” series, whose first issue arrived in stores last week, writer/breakdown artist George Pérez will remain with the book until issue #7.
Newsarama.com reported that “The new creative team as of Superman #7 will be writer Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens on layouts and/or pencils. Pérez may remain on the title as finisher/inker.”
When it comes to comic books and stories of good versus evil, no one knows what to expect. The same can be said of DC Comics’ attempt to reach out to more readers and offer veteran readers a twist on these classic heroes.
So, although some series have faced some rather early issues, overall it appears as if the DCnU has found a way to put the super back in their superheroes.