DC Comics’ “New 52” was a tremendous success – until it wasn’t. The massive and complete overhaul of the entire DC Comics publishing line in September 2011 put the publisher on the comic book map in a way they had not been for years. DC was firmly in charge of the comic book sales charts. They took every single one of their comics and ended them in August of 2011; the next month 52 brand new comic book titles hit shelves. Fans went nuts as comic book specialty shops could not keep these books in stock.
But over the past five years interest in DC’s “New 52” waned. The books had completely new takes on characters like Superman, Robin, Wonder Woman and teams like the Justice League and the Teen Titans but failed to sustain interest. Other than the titles surrounding Batman, fans missed the legacy of DC’s more than 70 years of publishing. Revealed in an announcement to comic book retailers on February 18, 2016, DC is bringing back the legacy and it all kicks off in an 80-page comic written by Geoff Johns with artists Ethan Van Sciver, Phil Jimenez, Ivan Reis, and Gary Frank titled “DC Universe: Rebirth.”
Longtime comic fans, especially those of DC Comics, know how important the word “Rebirth” is to DC. Johns along with Van Sciver brought the word into vogue with “Green Lantern: Rebirth.” This six issue mini-series originally published in 2004 that revitalized the “Green Lantern” line of comics. Not only did the book return Hal Jordan to the role of Green Lantern, a place he’d been absent from for a decade, but it cemented the legacy of every hero ever associated with the Green Lantern Corps. Johns had produced a mega hit for the company.
In 2009, Johns and Van Sciver tried it again with “Flash: Rebirth.” This six issue series returned Barry Allen to the front of the “Flash” universe. This one had little impact on the overall publishing plan of DC as many of the changes were unnecessary as the legacy of the Flash was one of the great parts of DC Comics for much of the previous 25 years and effectively eliminated the need for Wally West the hero who had been the Flash since 1986.
What “Flash: Rebirth” did though was set the stage for “Flashpoint” the catalyst for the “New 52.” But there is only one issue of “DC Universe: Rebirth” by Johns to serve as a launching point into a new DC Comics era as opposed to the traditional six issue mini. Johns is expected to work with the DC editorial team and many of the creators to get this new launch from DC off the ground and a key compoent of this is respecting the history of the characters something many fans felt DC did not do for the last five years.
“We’re also doing it by building on everything that’s been published since Action Comics #1 up thru The New 52,” Johns told Comic Book Resources in an exclusive interview. “I really see this as an opportunity, and like I’ve said before, take all the characters and thematics that we love — from the past and the present — and build a story that brought them all together, revealed new secrets and truths and mysteries, and moved it all ahead.”
Johns’ respect for what has come before and his drive to make things fresh in the present are what made the rebirth of the Green Lantern franchise so compelling. It also served Johns well when he wrote “JSA” in the early part of the millennium. He did an updating of the original superhero team the Justice Society of America that honored the past of the characters and put them into a modern context with many new characters. The success of the “JSA” was one of the key aspects lost with DC’s New 52.
In another legacy restoring move both “Action Comics” and “Detective Comics” will resume their old numbering post “Rebirth.” These are DC’s oldest and longest running comic book series featuring Superman and Batman respectively. They had been restarted with new number one issues along with all titles in the “New 52.” But post rebirth “Action Comics” which ended with the 904th issue will resume its numbers with the 957th issue (904 + 52). “Detective Comics” will start post-rebirth with issue 934 (881 + 52).
All other DC Comics titles will receive new number one issues and be priced at $2.99 which is a nice reduction from the current $3.99 that appeared on all but a few of DC’s books. However, no new creative teams have been announced for the post-Rebirth books. Johns is hinting at something big, but it won’t be “Justice League” which he wrote for 50 of the “New 52’s” issues. Creative teams for the books are expected to be announced at WonderCon 2016 in Los Angeles but expect recently announced DC Comics exclusive talents like Tom King, Clay Mann, and John Timms to be working on some of the DC’s major books.
The entire line up of books will be down from 52 as well. As revealed by Comic Book Resources, “The line will consist of 32 total ongoings, 17 twice-monthly and 15 monthly titles. DC will also publish 23 “Rebirth” one-shots ahead of launching the new ongoings.”
Look for more information as DC gets closer to the “DC Universe: Rebirth” on May 25, and the full-blown “Rebirth” in June.