Anyone who has been paying attention to comic sales has doubtless seen countless reports on the performance of the New 52. And while DC’s ambitious relaunch has done a lot of good for their market share (with Justice League routinely topping the charts and four books selling over 100k copies per month), the sales for a number of their books started lower than they hoped and dropped fast to pre-relaunch levels. Cancellations were imminent, and today, DC made the announcement, naming six books that will be concluding with issue number eight.
None of these books should come as a surprise, but, well… Rest In Peace, Blackhawks, O.M.A.C., Hawk and Dove, Mister Terrific, Static Shock and Men of War.
Now, most of those, I don’t think we’ll miss. Though Didio and Giffen’s fun, energetic take on O.M.A.C. quickly found a cult audience, particularly among dedicated comic fans who appreciated their history, it never found any mainstream hold at all, shedding 21,000 (over half its readership) in four months and showing no signs of leveling out.
Men of War, though…. Many of us here at read/RANT thoroughly enjoyed Men of War, a comic that (at its best) managed to combine superheroics and traditional war stories in interesting ways. Though I think the comic was, in general, fairly flawed, it was an enjoyable book month in and month out, and one that had a lot of potential.
It’s also fairly disappointing that many of the characters in these canceled books were in the relatively small amount of minority heroes in the New 52 – Mister Terrific, Static Shock and OMAC all featured strong, interesting protagonists, and its a shame they didn’t find an audience.
Seeing where the cancellation lines falls can’t be great news for a few books on the New 52, as read/RANT critical darlings I, Vampire and Voodoo both hover perilously close to that line, while the less well-loved Captain Atom actually already crossed it, with #4 underselling Hawk and Dove by about 100 copies.
But DC has six brand new books ready to launch, and to my surprise and pleasure, they aren’t all standard, big name superhero books. Let’s look at the list.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
I don’t think that anyone is shocked by Batman, Incorporated, a book many of us have been waiting for since the New 52 kicked off. Same with Earth 2, a book that was announced ages ago and has been discussed in depth ever since. G.I. Combat and The Ravagers are new to me, and though I’m not particularly excited by either, I’ll happily give both a shot.
The two most interesting entries on the list, to me, are in the middle. World’s Finest, a pairing of Earth 2 Huntress and Power Girl stranded in the DC Universe, has a done of potential, particularly considering the critical love of the current Huntress miniseries and the previous Power Girl ongoing. With a solid set of art teams and a neat premise, I have high hopes for that one.
Similarly, Dial H is the kind of splashy choice I’m shocked didn’t make it into the first batch of the New 52. China Miéville is a fairly major modern writer, and attaching him to a psychological drama in the world of superheroes based on a cult classic could be a huge coup for DC, particularly when his first arc goes to trade and gets sold in book stores with Miéville’s name on the cover.
That said, comic writing, particularly monthly comic writing, is a VERY different skill set than writing books, and I’ve seen plenty of novelists try to jump into serialized storytelling and struggle. Miéville is very talented, though, and the Dial H cover at the top of the page is ridiculously cool, so for now, I would say this: be excited.