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As you may be aware, there’s a major comics company line-wide relaunch about to happen – as distinct from all the other major comics company line-wide relaunches that have happened over the last few years. But DC’s Rebirth initiative is the biggest attempt by that company to freshen up and revamp their slate since the New 52 reboot (in which the events of the miniseries Flashpoint caused the creation of a brand new timeline) of a little under five years ago.
We talked about the relaunch briefly on the podcast a few episodes back, but at the time, none of the creative teams for the books had yet been announced. Now that DC have gone public with (most of) their plans, then, I thought it’d be a nice time to go through each title and fill in a bit of background detail about what’s going on, who the creators involved are, and whether I personally think it’s a series worth trying out; so that those of you who are potentially interested but not fully au fait with the characters or creators might get a better idea of what you want to pick up when things kick off in June.
The first major thing we learned about Rebirth was DC’s tagline that “It’s not a reboot… and it never was.” This seemed to be suggesting not only that Rebirth itself is not a line-wide reboot of continuity, character and stories (which would be an insane thing to do, even for DC, only five years after that last one); but also, implicitly, that even the New 52/Flashpoint relaunch wasn’t itself as full-on a reboot as they hinted at the time. In other words, they’re retconning their own retcon. How this will play out will remain to be seen in the books themselves, but already we’re seeing that various characters who haven’t appeared (or who’ve only appeared in a very limited way) since 2011 will be making comebacks as part of the event; and in at least one case, the pre-Flashpoint version of a character is returning to the current DCU proper.
From a publishing point of view, DC will be putting out – to begin with, at least – 32 ongoing titles, with 15 of those shipping twice-monthly and the remainder monthly (so, in essence, there will be 47 issues per month). There are also going to be four additional titles published under a new imprint called “Young Animal”, but we’ll get to that later. All books will cost $2.99 per issue (at present, most DC/Marvel comics cost $3.99 or more with only a few at $2.99) and have a lovely new unified trade dress for the initial Rebirth period (in a lot of cases, the often too-busy New 52 logos that were introduced have been flattened and simplified and, in my opinion, look at lot better).
And all series are resetting their numbering again to #1, with the exception of Action Comics and Detective Comics, which are reverting to their original sequences – adding the number of New 52 issues to the totals they originally stopped at, to relaunch at #957 and #934 respectively. Prior to the main series starting, there will also be special one-shot issues (with titles such as Batman: Rebirth) that essentially kick things off in each instance, so if you’re jumping onto a series you’ll want to grab those before the actual #1s.
Oh, and just to confuse things (did they learn nothing from Marvel’s recent relaunch?) this isn’t an all-in-one-month clean slate the way the New 52 was. Some books are launching in June, but others will follow in later months – and some pre-Rebirth titles will also still be getting published in June. COMICS, EVERYBODY!
So with all that in mind, let’s run down the books one-by-one…
The Take: Carrying on from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s landmark run, this will remain the flagship in-continuity Batman title. It’s likely that Batman – whose new costume debuted in the recent Batman #50 – will not undergo much in the way of major changes in his own book at this point.
The Creators: Writer Tom King is highly prized at DC at the moment thanks to his excellent recent run on Grayson. Artist David Finch is a big name but his somewhat grim and gloomy style doesn’t always appeal to everyone. Mikel Janin, also of Grayson, is drawing the Rebirth issue.
Worth it? King is worth keeping an eye on but has big shoes to fill, and this title may get overshadowed by All-Star (below). I’m not hugely keen on Finch’s art (I’d rather Janin were the regular artist) but will certainly give the first couple of issues a go.
The Take: This title will be a team book that involves Batman and Batwoman (Kate Kane) training Tim Drake (still as “Red Robin” but with a costume much closer to his classic 1990s Robin look), Stephanie “Spoiler” Brown, Cassandra “used to be Batgirl” Cain and, interestingly, reformed villain Clayface.
The Creators: Written by James Tynion IV, who has hopped around the Bat-books assisting Snyder in recent years. Art is by Eddy Barrows, most recently of Martian Manhunter.
Worth it? I love almost all the characters who’ll be appearing in this, so I have to check it out. Nothing Tynion has done has particularly thrilled me yet, but he’s a safe enough pair of hands and I do like Barrows.
The Take: Still in-continuity, but otherwise self-contained stories, this is likely to be the headline-grabbing Bat-book even though it’s not the “main” story one, largely because…
The Creators: … outgoing Batman scribe Scott Snyder is pitching up here instead, with an array of big-name artists beginning with John Romita Jr, Sean Murphy, Jock, Tula Lotay, Paul Pope and Francesco Francavila.
Worth it? With that lineup of talent? Absolutely. The question is whether Snyder has any truly great Batman stories left in him after five years, but every artist announced so far is a genuine class act.
The Take: Continuing on from the Stewart/Tarr/Fletcher revival, this will reportedly take Barbara Gordon away from Burnside and out into the world.
The Creators: Highly-regarded indie fave Hope Larson makes her mainstream writing debut, with the excellent Rafael Albuquerque on art.
Worth it? The creators are intriguing, and it’ll be interesting to see where they go after the previous run. Definitely worth a look to start with.
The Take: Dick Grayson goes back to his previous role, but we wait to see why and how he can do so, after the “everyone thinks he’s dead” secret antics of the excellent Grayson.
The Creators: Writer Tim Seeley, one of the co-writers of Grayson, alongside artists Javi Fernandez and Marcus To.
Worth it? I’ll probably skip this. I do like Dick (quiet, back there) but am less interested in him going backwards rather than forwards; and as it’s a twice-monthly book, I just don’t think it’ll fit in my budget. If you enjoyed Grayson it’s got to be worth a look, though.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey
The Take: The classic lineup of Barbara (albeit now as Batgirl rather than Oracle) Black Canary and The Huntress are reunited!
The Creators: Julie and Shawna Benson move from TV (The 100) into comics to write, with Claire Roe on art.
Worth it? I think there’s only really room for me to get one Batgirl book, and as these creators are unknown to me, I think it’ll be the other one.
The Take: The original, pre-Flashpoint Superman (re-introduced in Convergence and the recent Lois and Clark) steps out of hiding to, it would appear, take over as the new Superman and battle an armour-clad Lex Luthor. Recent hints suggest that the focus in this title is possibly even more on Luthor than it is on Clark.
The Creators: 1990s (and beyond) Superman stalwart Dan Jurgens, with artists Patrick Zircher, Tyler Kirkham and Stephen Segovia.
Worth it? Jurgens is solid (if a little regressive) but unspectacular, and I’d rather he were drawing as well as (or instead of) writing; but I can’t really ignore him on this version of this character. Will certainly pick it up to start with. If nothing else, I have to buy Action #1,000 in print when it happens…
The Take: This will reportedly be the “main” Superman title, focusing most intently on the newly-restored Clark and Lois, and their son Jonathan.
The Creators: Peter Tomasi, a generally very reliable writer, and Patrick Gleason, an artist who’s teamed up well with him in the past on books like Green Lantern Corps. Looks like Doug Mahnke, who is great, will also be drawing some of this.
Worth it? I think so, especially if it’s the primary book to feature the character. Both this and Action are shipping twice monthly, so whichever grabs me the most after a couple of issues will be the one I’ll stick with. I think it’s more likely, at this stage, to be this one.
The Take: The third of four titles that will focus on different characters apparently picking up on the legacy of the (soon-to-be-dead?) New 52 Superman, this is the most weirdly intriguing. It’s all about an entirely new, Chinese character called Kenji Kong who gains Superman’s powers and takes on a new version of the mantle.
The Creators: Writer Gene Luen Yang came to DC with a huge reputation from indie comics, but his initial Superman run petered out very quickly. Viktor Bogdanovich is the artist; I don’t know him.
Worth it? If I wasn’t already planning to check out so many books in the Superman line, I’d give this a look (and I’d expect it might do well among people who aren’t interested in a trad-Superman take). As it is, I’ll wait and see how the early issues rate before deciding whether to catch up on it.
The Take: Lois Lane (the New 52 version, we would assume) gains, like Kenji, some of Superman’s powers, and fights crime as Superwoman. No, really.
The Creators: Written and drawn by Phil Jimenez, with additional art by Emanuela Lupacchino.
Worth it? Well, it’s a Lois-led book, so I’ll have to give it a look. I don’t know if I’ve seen much written by Jimenez before, but I like his art – and I like Lupacchino’s even more. So this will definitely battle with Supergirl (below) for my attention.
The Take: Kara is finally getting a new series again in September, eleven months after her hit TV show debuted. The New 52 version of the character is actually quite different from previous takes (and the TV version), with a spiky and aggressive personality – preview art suggests that they’ll be toning this down a bit, along with the costume, to bring her a bit closer to Melissa Benoist’s incarnation.
The Creators: Writer Steve Orlando recently gained plaudits for Midnighter, but I haven’t heard of artist Brian Ching before.
Worth it? It’s great to see there being a Supergirl comic again, and as a big fan of Kara I’ll definitely be buying it – whether it’ll be any good remains to be seen, with her having been out of action for a little while. I do wish this had the aforementioned Lupacchino (who drew the final issues of the last run) on it, though.
The Take: Unusually, this new run – which is another twice-monthly book – will alternate issues between a “Year One” Wonder Woman story, and a present-day ongoing. The previous and mythology-heavy take by Brian Azzarrello was quite well-received, but we don’t know yet how much of that will be retained in this new version.
The Creators: One of the most consistently good writers in comics, Greg Rucka makes a surprise return to DC, on a character he did a highly-rated but truncated run on a few years back. He’s certainly one of the headline draws of the entire Rebirth project, and teams up with artist Nicola Scott, with whom he already works on one of his creator-owned series, Black Magick. She’ll do the flashback issues, while Liam Sharp handles the present day.
Worth it? I baulk at the idea of buying two Wonder Woman comics a month, as I’m just not much of a fan of the character; but it’s a new Rucka DC comic, so it really has to be worth a look to begin with.
The Take: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman teaming up (or, at least, “appearing in the same book”). Perhaps the most interesting thing here might be seeing the “old” Superman interacting with the other two, especially given Diana’s previous relationship with the New 52 version.
The Creators: Francis Manapul, who writes and draws, is an absolutely gorgeous artist; while also writing on The Flash he started well but the stories became a little staid after a while. Clay Mann will assist on art.
Worth it? I suspect I’ll buy the first issue or so to drink in Manapul’s visual take on these three characters, but the stories will have to be strong to keep me around, given the amount I’m already planning to spend on books featuring them.
The Take: Since 2011, Justice League (no denomination) has been DC’s flagship team book, and that looks set to continue here. It’ll be the same lineup as back then (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Cyborg and Green Lantern) – except that Hal Jordan as GL is replaced by both Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz (of whom more later).
The Creators: Written by Bryan Hitch, the legendary artist of The Authority and The Ultimates, who moves over from writing and drawing the recently-launched JLA. Art is by Tony Daniel, best known for his Batman work (both with Grant Morrison and later as a solo writer/artist).
Worth it? With the greatest of respect to Hitch, people don’t generally come to his books for his writing. It’s baffling not to have him drawing at least some of this. I’m not a huge fan of Daniel’s style, and I wasn’t buying Justice League (beyond the very first 2011 arc) even when it was Jim Lee drawing it, so I’ll likely pass.
Justice League of America
The Take: Nothing’s yet been announced about this book, beyond the title. The hook of the previous run was basically “This is Bryan Hitch” so it’s unclear as yet what will set it apart now.
The Creators: Unknown.
Worth it? I suspect there’s going to be a high-profile surprise creator announcement here (the only reason for holding it back), which might make it worth a look, or might not. The only alternative is that they haven’t even got anything lined up yet, which will likely make it extremely avoidable.
The Take: Reason notwithstanding, DC’s publication of Aquaman comics continues unabated.
The Creators: Written by Dan Abnett, noted for his Marvel collaborations with Andy Lanning (but we don’t talk about that any more). Art by Brad Walker, Jesus Merino and Phil Briones.
Worth it? It’s Aquaman.
The Take: Unsurprisingly, the main DC Flash is still Barry Allen; but this series looks like it’s finally going to introduce a proper version of Wally West/Kid Flash (who is now, unlike his pre-Flashpoint version but matching the TV series, younger and black).
The Creators: I don’t recognise writer Josh Williamson but looks like he’s been around Image, Marvel and DC a fair bit doing the odd thing. Artist Carmine di Giandomenico is probably best known for Spider-Man: Noir, while fellow penciller Neil Googe is a Brit who I don’t really know much about.
Worth it? I’ve never been as thrilled with Barry in the comics as I am by the TV show, so unless this shows signs of following a similar path, I’m not sure it’ll grab me.
The Take: There have always been at least two Green Lantern books in recent years, but the pattern of one being a Hal Jordan solo book and one being a team book looks like being broken by Rebirth. This title will feature Simon Baz (who has actually been Earth’s main GL since his introduction in 2013, but has mostly appeared in Justice League titles up to this point) and Jessica Cruz, a relatively new character who started out by gaining the ring of Earth 3’s evil Power Ring, but will now become a GL proper.
The Creators: Writer Sam Humphries made a splash with indie one-shot Our Love Is Real, and was a rising star at Marvel for a while on titles such as Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates and Legendary Star-Lord. In a slightly surprise move, this is his DC debut. Art is by Robson Rocha, who I don’t know, and Ardian Syaf, who’s done some nice stuff.
Worth it? I’m unlikely to buy two Lantern books, to be honest, and neither of these characters has really grabbed me yet. But it’ll be interesting to see what Humphries does, as a promising start to his comics career petered out a little bit during his time at Marvel.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps
The Take: Hal joins back up with the likes of Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart and Kilowog for the newest take on the ongoing Corps saga. How he becomes a GL again (he’s technically not one at the moment) remains to be seen.
The Creators: Current Green Lantern writer Robert Vendetti moves over to here, with Ethan van Sciver and Rafa Sandoval on art. Both artists have done strong work in the past.
Worth it? On the one hand: Guy Gardner. On the other: Hal Jordan. The jury’s out, basically.
The Take: DC have a continued interest in making Cyborg successful due to their movie plans, so here’s a new series with him. It’ll need to sell better than the last one did, though.
The Creators: Making what appears to be his comics debut, writer John Semper moves over from a hugely storied career in TV animation – most notably running the ’90s Spider-Man and Hulk cartoons. Art is from Will Conrad and the experienced Paul Pelletier.
Worth it? I’m just not enough of a fan of the character. This’ll need to be strong out of the gates with an interesting take to be worthy of attention in a crowded market.
The Take: Not to be confused with the Teen Titans (below), this is a book reuniting some of the older characters who used to operate under that name: Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing), Donna Troy (formerly Wonder Girl), Arsenal (formerly Speedy), Garth (formerly Aqualad) and Lilith.
The Creators: There’s Dan Abnett again. Brett Booth has worked on both Teen Titans and Nightwing recently, so has form with some of these characters.
Worth it? As a huge fan of the 1980s New Teen Titans I’d be in the market for a new series featuring those characters – but I’m not sure this is it, not least because the particular lineup of characters doesn’t thrill me. Chuck in Starfire, Raven and Beast Boy/Changeling and we might be talking.
The Take: Oh! Here are Starfire, Beast Boy and Raven. Okay, then. Despite not being teenagers, they’re in this along with Damian Wayne’s Robin, and the new Wally West. So I guess the idea might be “older versions of Teen Titans training new ones”? There must be some more characters coming into this as well at some point, I’d have thought.
The Creators: Writer Ben Percy, artist Jonboy Meyers. I’m unfamiliar with both, though Percy has apparently been writing Green Arrow recently.
Worth it? Despite not knowing the creative team, I might be up for trying this out, purely for the characters involved. Damian can be excellent if written correctly, which people don’t always manage to do.
The Take: Slightly unclear. Ever since the New 52 began, Ollie Queen has been a younger, somewhat Arrow-inspired version. But in the Rebirth preview art, he’s got a much more “classic” bearded look going on. I don’t think the suggestion is that the grizzled old Mike Grell version is actually returning to the DCU the way Superman is (though I’d love that to be the case), maybe just that he’s moving in a new direction. Oh, and he’ll be finally meeting Black Canary for the first time in this universe.
The Creators: That man Ben Percy again, with art by Otto Schmidt and Juan Ferreya.
Worth it? I do like Green Arrow, but I like a very specific take on Green Arrow (that is, the 1980s stuff, with a bit of Smith/Winick early 2000s thrown in) and the current version isn’t really that. Plus, it’s a twice-monthly book. So I’m unlikely to commit to it, unless it comes out really strong.
The Take: I’ve long-since lost track of whether Slade Wilson – a potentially and occasionally very interesting – is an anti-hero or a straight-up villain in current continuty, so I don’t know where this series will land him.
The Creators: Writer Christopher Priest, who’s been around since the 1980s and was notably the first African-American editor at either of the Big Two, makes something of a surprise return to DC. Art on the twice-monthly book will come from three artists: Carlo Pagulyan, Igor Vitorino and Felipe Watanabe.
Worth it? I’m sort of interested to see what Priest, after a good decade or so away from this stuff, will do here. But as another twice-monthly commitment, I’d also want to know a bit more about what state the character’s in and what sort of stories we’ll get. Morally ambiguous mercenary stuff? I’d be up for that. Badass villain? Not so much.
The Take: It’s Harley Quinn, aka “DC’s license to print money”.
The Creators: Surprising no-one, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner continue to write. Art by Chad Hardin and John Timms.
Worth it? If you’re already into the current take on Harley, then surely it will be. I like the writers, but have never really clicked with this version of this character. I’d be far more interested if Conner was drawing, too.
The Take: The New 52 version of John Constantine gets another new series (his third since the original Vertigo Hellblazer run and character ended). Apparently the opening hook is that John is faced with the dilemma to “either agree to live forever thanks to a demonic curse, or transfer the curse to 8 million London residents, killing them all in the process.” Does that strike anyone else as, er, not a dilemma in the slightest?
The Creators: UK-born, US-resident writer Simon Oliver (who wrote the Constantine-less Chas: The Knowledge one-shot in 2009) is teamed with an as-yet-unannounced artist.
Worth it? No matter the best intentions of the creators (and Oliver says he wants to lean heavily on the original run and characters), I’m just not interested in watered-down, ersatz Constantine. Give me the real John back, then we’ll talk.
Red Hood and the Outlaws
The Take: If you didn’t know, the Red Hood is a revived Jason “Dead Former Robin” Todd, who Batman is apparently fine with letting run around with a bat on his chest and a pair of handguns. Branding, eh? The previous Outlaws series featured Starfire and Arsenal, and was controversial for its seedy portrayal of the former. This time around they’re replaced by Artemis and, er, Bizarro. Yes, Bizarro.
The Creators: Scott Lobdell continues to, presumably, be the one person at DC who still wants to write Red Hood. Artist Dexter Soy is, frankly, better than this.
Worth it? I try to avoid Scott Lobdell comics wherever possible, especially if they’ve got women in. I also try to avoid Red Hood and the Outlaws wherever possible. So, with apologies to Soy, this is a very easy comic to continue to completely ignore.
The Take: As you probably know from the upcoming movie, Suicide Squad features a group of villains press-ganged into carrying out mercenary acts for the government. While the very nature of the series means that the lineup has been flexible over the years, this new launch will see a team in line with the film’s: Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Deadshot, Katana, Boomerang and an unnamed “couple of others.”
The Creators: In what again feels like a deliberate piece of movie promotion, DC are putting Jim Lee on this, rotating (it’s a twice-monthly book) with Philip Tan. With the best will in the world, Tan is not up to Lee’s standard. It’s written, in another surprise move, by Rob Williams – a British writer who’s been kicking around for some time and having his stock gradually rise, peaking with the genuinely superb recent Martian Manhunter.
Worth it? I would have steered clear, but I’ve liked Williams’ recent work very much, so I’m going to give it an early shot, at least. And you can be sure the Lee issues will look good.
The Take: Former Blue Beetle Ted Kord hasn’t been seen in DC comics since Flashpoint. His successor Jaime Reyes, meanwhile, had a somewhat underwhelming relaunch in 2011. This book brings the two of them together for the first time (Ted was dead when Jaime debuted in 2006).
The Creators: Written by Keith Giffen, who has history with both characters – he co-wrote the defining Ted run as part of Justice League International, and co-created Jaime alongside John Rogers in the terrific 2006 series. Artist Scott Kolins has been around for a while, but I don’t really know him.
Worth it? Well, I love both these characters, so: yes. My only qualm is that I’m not entirely sold on Giffen as a solo writer, compared with when he works alongside someone like Rogers or J.M. deMatteis. But I’ll certainly give it a chance, and it has to be better than Jaime’s last series.
The Take: Yes, Batman and Superman both have sons currently in-continuity. In fact, Damian Wayne has been around for ten years now (Grant Morrison brought him out of an Elseworlds story and into “reality” at the start of his run, and batted away scepticism over the move by turning him into a brilliantly engaging and subtly developed character). Jonathan White, meanwhile, is the son of the pre-Flashpoint Clark and Lois (who use the name “White” rather than “Kent” for obvious reasons), and in Lois and Clark recently discovered powers of his own. This series, which takes its name from a classic run of 1970s alternate-universe stories, will see the pair meet up for the first time.
The Creators: Initially unannounced, then reported as being writers Chris Burns and Dennis Culver, and artist Jorge Jimenez. I don’t know any of them.
Worth it? The creators are an unknown, but I like the idea, and – as mentioned above – Damian is great fun in the right hands. We’ll see.
The Take: Yes, that Batman Beyond. The cartoon “future Batman”, Terry McGinnis, officially entered mainstream DC continuity in 2014 (having had comics about him published under a looser continuity for a few years beforehand). But while recent storylines saw Tim Drake take over the role in the future, with Tim now back in the present (and in Detective Comics), this series will revert to Terry.
The Creators: Continuing directly on from its pre-Rebirth incarnation, Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang will again be the writing/art team.
Worth it? It’s not for me, to be honest – but anyone who liked the previous version will surely want to carry on with this.
And finally, this. After the initial raft of announcements – which, it has to be said, looked somewhat conservative and lacking in experimental or unusual books – DC then announced that Gerard Way (yes, the singer from My Chemical Romance, but also the writer of Dark Horse’s excellent The Umbrella Academy and a DC editorial assistant in a past life) would be overseeing a new line of books. “Young Animal” is an imprint that looks like it will play a similar role to the original early Vertigo titles (Vertigo, as it happens, is continuing in its current form as an Image-esque creator-owned imprint): that is, books that are set in the DC universe, but which occupy their own strange little corner of it.
Way will have editorial involvement in the whole line, and is writing what is undoubtedly its flagship title: a relaunch of Doom Patrol, with artist Nick Derington. He’s then co-writing two other titles: Mother Panic (co-written by Jody Houser with art by Tommy Lee Edwards) and the amazingly-named Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye. The fourth book, Shade the Changing Girl, is a revamp of the old Steve Ditko character (most memorably written by Peter Milligan for Vertigo in the early 1990s) Shade the Changing Man; it’s written by Cecil Castellucci and drawn by Marley Zarcone.
With a more diverse creator lineup than is generally offered by the main DC line, this looks like being a very cool and exciting new line, from up-and-coming talent with genuinely weird and interesting concepts. Let’s hope Way sticks around long enough to make a real go of it. At the very least, every one of these first issues is going to be worth a look.
It’s easy to be cynical about any relaunch that DC or Marvel (especially DC) undertake these days; and despite the noises they’ve been making, it’s only when we see the books that we’ll know if they learned the right lessons from previous “fresh starts” such as the New 52 and the smaller-scale “DC You”. There are definitely problems with the above lineup: the character diversity has improved, but the creator diversity is as weak as it ever was, and the whole thing feel regressive rather than forward looking (even when it’s in ways that I like, such as bringing back “my” Superman). As a long-time fan of DC, I feel like this is a relaunch calculated to appeal to me more than (most of) the last five years’ worth of comics from them have done – but as I said on the podcast, I’m not really the audience they need to go after. And aside from the Young Animal batch, I really don’t know how much of this is going to attract new readers.
But then, our podcast is (in part) aimed at people who might be newer to the comics than I am: so looking at the above, what do you folks think? Is there anything that jumps out at you that might not have done before? Will you be using Rebirth as an opportunity to hop on the DC train, or to get off it entirely? Let us know!