The New 52
|The New 52|
Cover of DC Comics: The New 52 #1, July 2011.
|Publication date||August 31, 2011 – present|
|Main character(s)||Justice League, DC Universe|
|DC Comics The New 52||ISBN 978-1-4012-3451-5|
|DC Comics The New 52 Zero Omnibus||ISBN 978-1-4012-3884-1|
|DC Comics The New 52 Villains Omnibus||ISBN 978-1-4012-4496-5|
The New 52 is a 2011 revamp and relaunch by DC Comics of its entire line of ongoing monthly superhero books, in which all of its existing titles were cancelled, and fifty-two new series debuted in September 2011 with new first issues. Among the series being renumbered are Action Comics and Detective Comics, which had previously retained their original numbering since the 1930s. Touted as a large publishing event following the conclusion of the "Flashpoint" crossover storyline, DC's relaunch entails changes to both the publishing format and DC's fictional universe to entice new readers.
Other publishing changes include same day release of physical comics with digital platforms, characters from the former Wildstorm and Vertigo imprint being absorbed into the DC Universe, and new titles being released to bring the number of ongoing series being published on a monthly basis up to fifty-two. The changes made to DC's internal continuity are intended to make characters more modern and accessible.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Changes to the DC Universe
- 3 Publications
- 4 Reception
- 5 Other media
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Launch and Second Wave
Following the conclusion of the Flashpoint limited series, all titles set in the DC Universe were cancelled and relaunched with new #1 issues. The new continuity features new outfits and backstories for many of DC's long established heroes and villains. An interview with DC Comics executive editor Eddie Berganza and editor-in-chief Bob Harras revealed that the new continuity does not constitute a full reboot of the DC Universe but rather a "soft reboot". While many characters underwent a reboot or revamp, much of the DC Universe's history remained intact. Many major storylines such as "War of the Green Lanterns", "Batman: A Death in the Family" and Batman: The Killing Joke remain a part of the new continuity, while others have been lost in part or in whole. DC editorial has also constructed a timeline that details the new history and which storylines to keep or ignore. Each first issue included interviews with select The New 52 writers, discussing what they hope to bring to the new comics.
On August 31, 2011, Midtown Comics Times Square held a midnight event in which they began selling Justice League #1 and Flashpoint #5. On hand to sign the books were DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, who is the writer on both titles, and Co-Publisher and writer/artist Jim Lee, who is the illustrator on Justice League.
On January 12, 2012, DC announced that after their eighth issues, Blackhawks, Hawk and Dove, Men of War, Mister Terrific, O.M.A.C., and Static Shock would be cancelled and replaced with six new titles. The new titles were dubbed as the Second Wave, and revealed more of The New 52 DC Universe. Among them was Batman Incorporated, which was previously absent from the initial line up of Batman titles, and would continue Grant Morrison's storyline from before The New 52 involving the conflict between Batman and Talia al Ghul.
"Zero Month" and continued title changes
On June 8, 2012, DC announced that in September 2012, the first anniversary of The New 52 launch, all titles would be getting a zero issue, dubbed "Zero Month" In addition, the Third Wave of titles was announced: Talon, Sword of Sorcery, Phantom Stranger, and Team 7. With these additions to the line, Justice League International, Captain Atom, Resurrection Man, and Voodoo were cancelled.
In October and November 2012, DC announced new titles Threshold, Justice League of America, Katana and Justice League of America's Vibe, and Constantine. Threshold would be published in January 2013, Constantine in March 2013, while the others would be published in February 2013. DC later consolidated these new titles as the Fourth Wave of The New 52. G.I. Combat, Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Grifter, Blue Beetle, and Legion Lost were cancelled as a result. Young Romance: A New 52 Valentine's Day Special #1 was published as the 52nd title for February 2013.
In January 2013, DC Comics announced the cancellations of I, Vampire and DC Universe Presents, both ending in April 2013. To celebrate the 60th birthday of Mad Magazine mascot Alfred E. Neuman, DC solicited variants drawn by Mad artists for 13 titles being published in April 2013.
Starting with titles released on January 28, 2013, all printed New 52 publications featured advertisements for fictional news channel, Channel 52. The two page back-ups, titled Channel 52, appear in all books, starting in February 2013, and replaced the previous "DC Comics: All Access" features. This news feature stars Bethany Snow, Ambush Bug, Vartox, and Calendar Man as reporters and anchors on the fictional in-universe news show. The art is provided by Freddie E. Williams II. Each week brings new content regarding the current or future on-goings of the DC universe. Channel 52 and Bethany Snow make an appearance on the second season of Arrow.
On January 30, 2013, DC announced that all titles released in April 2013 would be "WTF Certified". Each title would feature a gatefold cover and story lines and moments that will leave readers in a state of shock, including the return of Booster Gold. However, DC later dropped the "WTF Certified" branding and did not feature it on any of The New 52 books. In February 2013, it was announced that DC Comics would launch two new politically-motivated books, The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires and The Movement. They would explore concepts similar to the Occupy Movement and the role money has in a world of superheroes. A wave of cancellations was also announced for May 2013, which included The Savage Hawkman, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man, Sword of Sorcery, Team 7, Deathstroke and The Ravagers.
In March 2013, DC announced that it would launch four new titles for June 2013. These included Superman Unchained, Batman/Superman, Larfleeze and Trinity of Sin: Pandora. In April 2013, the cancellation of Batman Incorporated was announced for July 2013. DC also solicited two Director's Cut one-shots for the Superman Unchained book and the "Batman: Zero Year" story arc. In May 2013, it was announced that Batman Incorporated Special #1 would be published to finish off the Batman Incorporated series in August 2013. Another Director's Cut one-shot was solicited for the "Trinity War" story arc, along with the cancellations of Demon Knights, Legion of Super-Heroes, Threshold and Dial H.
"Villains Month", "Forever Evil" and "Zero Year"
In June 2013, DC announced that all titles in September 2013 would be "relaunched" as a #1, featuring a villain from that respective book, as part of "Villains Month". For example, Detective Comics, which would have published issue 24 in September, will be released as Detective Comics #23.1 and Poison Ivy #1, with the issue being known by both titles. It will be the first major crossover in the New 52 since "Flashpoint" and will spin out of the aftermath of "Trinity War". Each book featured 3D lenticular covers on the front and back. DC also released 2D versions of the covers. Some books published multiple "Villains Month" issues, while others skipped publication in September 2013. For example, Batman, Superman, and Justice League are some of the titles that published four issues, while The Flash published three issues, Aquaman and others published two issues, and Green Arrow and others only published one.
In addition to "Villains Month", a seven-issue, limited series, titled Forever Evil, by Geoff Johns and David Finch, launched in September 2013 and focuses on the Crime Syndicate, an evil version of the Justice League from Earth-3 in the Multiverse, as they attempt to take over Prime Earth in the Justice Leagues' defeat at the end of "Trinity War". The "Forever Evil" event ran in other titles starting in October 2013, including three six-issue tie-in books that launched: Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion by Brian Buccellato and Patrick Zircher; Forever Evil: Arkham War by Peter Tomasi, Scot Eaton and Jaime Mendoza; and Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S. by Matt Kindt and Manuel Garcia. Other tie-in titles include Teen Titans, Suicide Squad, Justice League, Justice League of America and the "Forever Evil: Blight" storyline in Constantine, Justice League Dark, Trinity of Sin: Pandora and Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger. Forever Evil #1 was also reprinted in a Director's Cut one-shot in October 2013.
It was also announced in June 2013 that the "Batman: Zero Year" storyline in Batman would spin off into an event during November 2013, which would include other titles outside of the "Batman" line of titles. The event, initially conceptualized to tell Batman's origin in The New 52, will be featured in issue #25 of Action Comics, The Flash, Green Arrow, and Green Lantern Corps, along with Batgirl, Batwing, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, Catwoman, Detective Comics, Nightwing, and Red Hood and the Outlaws in the "Batman" line. The various books will explore their characters' connections with Gotham City, and their first encounters with Batman.
On June 17, 2013, DC announced two new titles, Justice League 3000 and Superman/Wonder Woman, would begin publication in October 2013. On July 16, 2013, DC announced Harley Quinn, which began publication in November 2013. In August 2013, it was announced that Justice League 3000's initial publication would be delayed to December 2013, following creative changes on the title.
Launch of weeklies and start of "second phase"
In October 2013, DC announced Batman Eternal, a weekly year-long series which would feature Batman, his allies, and others in Gotham City. It was announced in January 2014 that the series would begin in April 2014. The cancellation of Katana and Justice League of America's Vibe was also announced, with the titles' final publication in December 2013, while Green Team: The Teen Trillionaires would end in January 2014. Following the release of Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure, DC announced cover variants for 20 titles published in January 2014, featuring Scribblenauts-inspired artwork.
In November 2013, DC announced one-shot issues Superman: Lois Lane #1 and Batman: Joker's Daughter #1 for February 2014, featuring Lois Lane and the new Joker's Daughter, respectively. DC also announced that 20 titles being published in February 2014 would feature steampunk-inspired cover variants. As well, Johns revealed that the end of "Forever Evil" in March 2014 would mark the end of the first phase of The New 52, with a new phase starting in April 2014, "one that will see the introduction, and re-introduction, of a lot of characters, concepts and a decidedly new center to the DC universe."
In December 2013, it was announced that another weekly year-long series titled The New 52: Futures End would begin publication in May 2014, with a free zero issue for Free Comic Book Day. The series would be set 5 years in the New 52's future. Co-writer Jeff Lemire stated the series is "an exploration of DC's past, present and its future." Batman Beyond will make his New 52 debut in the series. In January 2014, DC announced Aquaman and the Others, Justice League United, Secret Origins and Sinestro ongoings and Forever Evil Aftermath: Batman vs Bane #1 for publication in April 2014. In addition, they revealed that Justice League of America, Nightwing, Stormwatch, Suicide Squad, Superman Unchained and Teen Titans would end in April 2014. In February 2014, Gail Simone revealed that her series, The Movement would be canceled in May 2014, after 12 issue.
In February 2014, DC announced that as part of the celebration of The New 52's third anniversary, all ongoing titles published in September 2014 will feature stories that tie-in to The New 52: Futures End. DiDio stated "These stories aren't going to just be tied into the weekly. But what you'll be seeing is a lot of the writers who are working on series right now projecting forward — their ideas, their storylines, where they think their character might be five years from now." He added that like the "Villains Month" event, these titles will also feature lenticular 3D covers, saying, "The covers now will also have the ability to have a 'flicker' effect. That means that the images change and show the transformation going on... There is a level of change that is taking place with our characters during the course of this story." DiDio added that new ongoing titles will launch in June and July to also be included in the event. Following the month of tie-ins, a third weekly title launches in October 2014. This title is set in the present DC Universe, while showcasing the events and circumstances that led to the future depicted in Futures End.
Changes to the DC Universe
In June 2011, DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee revealed that he and DC Art Director Mark Chiarello had enlisted artist Cully Hamner to help spearhead the redesign of characters for the relaunch of the DC Universe.
In late July 2011, DC released The New 52, a free preview book giving solicitations and previews of all of the new titles launching from August 31, 2011. Notable continuity changes shown include Superman's two new looks: one of which consists of jeans, a blue T-shirt with the "S" logo and a cape, and the other consisting of Kryptonian battle armor that resembles his classic costume. Other notable changes include the integration of the Wildstorm imprint's characters into DC continuity, with Martian Manhunter as a part of the new Stormwatch team in the relaunched Stormwatch series.
Justice League was the first book of the relaunch, with the first issue released on August 31, 2011. The first story arc takes place five years in the past, detailing the first meeting of the Justice League members and the formation of the team.
The initial run of first issues show a universe in which superheroes have only appeared within the last five years and are viewed with suspicion and hostility, with Superman and Batman being pursued by the police five years ago at the start of their careers. In the present day, organizations such as the United Nations and the United States government seek to exploit and control the superheroes through groups such as the Justice League International and the Justice League of America.
The "Batman" titles strongly resemble the past continuity, however, former Batgirls Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain have had their histories erased. Additionally, all of the Robins, except for Stephanie Brown, have been accounted for, including the previously non-canonical Carrie Kelley. Stephanie Brown made her first appearance in The New 52 as the Spoiler in the teaser issue to Batman Eternal in Batman #28.
Various character changes have also occurred, such as Barbara Gordon recovering from the paralysis inflicted upon her by the Joker's bullet in The Killing Joke and returning to crimefighting as Batgirl, while several characters, such as Starfire, Guy Gardner, and Tim Drake, have had their origins significantly changed.
The publications are divided into seven families of titles, revolving around central characters or themes. With the start of the "Forever Evil" event in September 2013, all subsequent monthly title solicitations no longer group the titles by these families. However, a modified version of the family groupings returned in the December 2013 solicitaitons, with all titles involved in "Forever Evil" grouped together, and the remaining titles grouped by their previous families.
- "Justice League"
- These titles feature characters related to the Justice League.
- These titles feature Batman and the "Batman Family" of characters.
- These titles feature Superman and the "Superman Family" of characters.
- "Green Lantern"
- These titles feature the members of the Green Lantern Corps, as well as the other Lantern Corps of the emotional spectrum.
- "Young Justice"
- These titles feature teen-aged characters and superhero teams.
- "The Edge"
- These are titles with war, science fiction, western, or crime themes, and include titles and characters formerly belonging to the WildStorm imprint.
- "The Dark"
- These are titles with supernatural, fantasy and horror themes, including titles and characters formerly belonging to the Vertigo imprint.
Pre-orders for Justice League #1 exceeded 200,000 copies. Justice League #1 has been sent back to press at least four times and all of The New 52's first issue titles sold out by September 24, 2011. For the month of September 2011, DC had 8 of the top 10 comic books for the month, in spite of Marvel's heavily publicized replacement Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales debuting in that title that same month. Justice League #1 was the top selling comic book in 2011.
Writer Warren Ellis was unimpressed with the relaunch's sales, stating that it garnered DC a half-point lead in dollar share and a five-point lead in units sold over Marvel Comics. Ellis also pointed out that the units DC sold are returnable.
Columnist Heidi MacDonald stated that while the market share comparisons are correct, the sales figures for single issue books do not take into account the fact that returnable comics are downgraded by approximately 10%, and that DC's sales are about that amount lower than the actual sales, in order to allow for potential returns. MacDonald opined that while the sellouts and reprintings make returns unlikely, the sales will remain 10% lower throughout the books' returnability period, which will last through December, and that actual sales will be adjusted for this factor in Diamond Comic Distributors' end of year figures.
Writer and ComicMix columnist Glenn Hauman wrote that relying solely on Diamond's numbers, to the exclusion of newsstand, overseas and digital sales, does not provide a complete measure of the relaunch's success. Hauman emphasized that the long-term availability of infinite digital editions will mean that sales will continue on the books for weeks and months afterwards, and that the market share for that market is uncertain.
By December 2011, Marvel Comics had regained the top spot for market share in both dollars and units. By the end of 2012, Marvel was still the top publisher, however. Following October 2012, DC's sales figures fluctuated. In April 2013, unit share fell below 28%, which rose in September to a 45.17% market share and broke several records. This fell to 31.13% in December 2013 and stands at 30.77% as of January 2014.
Forbes, The New York Times and the A.V. Club saw The New 52 as a good editorial move from DC. The Christian Science Monitor's Rich Clabaugh cited the relaunched Action Comics and Detective Comics as the strongest of the first week's releases.
In terms of the books themselves, Keith Phipps and Oliver Sava of The A.V. Club praised the art in Justice League #1, but thought its writing and structure was a weak point. In all, the two reviewers named O.M.A.C., Captain Atom, Animal Man and Wonder Woman their favorite books of the relaunch. They also singled out Batman for high praise, and also both enjoyed Action Comics, Swamp Thing, Batwoman, Frankenstein Agent Of S.H.A.D.E., Demon Knights, Batman and Robin, Nightwing, Aquaman, The Flash, All Star Western and Voodoo. However, they both disliked Detective Comics, Hawk and Dove, Legion Lost, Red Lanterns, Legion Of Super-Heroes, DC Universe Presents: Deadman, Superman, Batman: The Dark Knight, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men and The Savage Hawkman. On the remaining titles, the reviewers were either split, or exhibited mixed reactions ranging from indifference to cautious optimism or curiosity.
Corrina Lawson of Wired dubbed the New 52 "a big, fat failure" from a reader standpoint, noting that the same stories could have been told without rebooting the fictional universe. She did, however, state that the New 52 was good from a business perspective, as it led to an increased market share for DC.
Lack of female creators
The launch of the New 52 was met with criticism at the lack of female creators, which had dropped from 12% to 1%, the latter figure represented by writer Gail Simone and Amy Reeder, an alternating artist on Batwoman who would not debut on that title until issue #6. This led to a tense interaction between fans and DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con, where DiDio was asked by a fan about the drop of female creators on DC titles from 12% to 1%. DiDio responded:
"What do those numbers mean to you? What do they mean to you? Who should we be hiring? Tell me right now. Who should we be hiring right now? Tell me."
In an editorial responding to DiDio, ComicsAlliance editor-in-chief Laura Hudson wrote, "Women are half of the world, and a significant percentage of the DC Comics character stable, and yet only 1% of their creators. And the way that you treat and represent half of the people in your world—and by extension, half of the people in the real world who might potentially buy your books—should be more than a marginal concern."
On July 29, 2011, DC released a letter addressing the lack of female creators on their official blog, highlighting notable female creators currently being published by them and promising more in the future. Hudson called the letter "an enormous and very positive departure from how DC Comics has dealt with controversies about gender and race in the past, which was almost uniformly not to comment", adding, "While it remains to be seen what sort of meaningful changes in either attitudes or hiring practices will follow, it certainly leaves me feeling more optimistic than I have in some time, or maybe ever."
Portrayal of female characters
DC has also received criticism for its handling of certain female characters during the relaunch, sparking discussion of exploitative overtones in titles such as Catwoman #1 and Red Hood and the Outlaws #1. Laura Hudson of ComicsAlliance and Andrew Wheeler of Bleeding Cool criticized the relaunch for oversexualized characterization of its female characters, such as Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Starfire and Voodoo, and for cancelling books with female leads like Power Girl, and relegating the star of that series to the status of Mister Terrific's girlfriend. Writer/editor Jim Shooter disliked the treatment of female characters in general, and referred to the treatment of Starfire in particular as "porn for kids". In contrast, little attention has been given to the characters whose costumes have been updated to be less overtly sexualised, such as the Star Sapphires. Keith Phipps and Oliver Sava agreed with the observations of Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws, but opined that Voodoo was a positive example how to incorporate a female character's sexuality as a relevant aspect of the story without appearing exploitative. Wheeler also complained that retconning Barbara Gordon's paralysis as a temporary injury from which she recovered, and restoring her as Batgirl, to the exclusion of Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown, made the DC Universe less diverse and inclusive. Responding to the criticism, Catwoman writer Judd Winick explained that it was DC that desired this tone for that book.
A number of editorial controversies emerged in the wake of The New 52, prompting Topless Robot, a genre website owned by The Village Voice, to publish an article in September 2013, "The Eight Biggest DC Creative Screw-Ups Since the New 52 Began". A number of these controversies concerned firings or resignations of creators, which in some cases, stemmed from conflicts between those creators and editorial decisions.
Writer/artist George Pérez, who left Superman after six issues, explained his departure in July 2012 as a result of the level of editorial oversight exerted on the title. This included the inconsistent reasons given for rewrites of his material, the inability of editors to answer basic questions about the new Superman's status quo, such as whether his adoptive parents were still alive, and the restrictions created by not being told that Action Comics, with which Superman had to remain consistent, was set five years before Superman, a situation complicated by the fact that Action writer Grant Morrison was not forthcoming about his plans.
In the following month Rob Liefeld, who had been hired by DC to plot Grifter and The Savage Hawkman, and to plot and draw Deathstroke, and who had indicated the previous month that his run on those titles would last into 2013, announced that he was quitting DC Comics, with his last issues being the #0 issues to be published that September. Though he characterized his experience on The New 52 as an overall positive one, he did not disguise his animosity toward editor Brian Smith, with whom his clashes were among his reasons for leaving the company. Other reasons he cited were frequent rewrites of his material, and the overall corporate culture that was more prevalent now that both DC and Marvel were owned by large media conglomerates. Liefeld also referred to Scott Clark's artwork on Grifter as "crap". In response to these events, artist Pete Woods defended DC editorial, stating that the restrictions placed on creators was the result of a plan they had for all 52 of their titles that required them to be consistent with one another. Editor Tom Brevoort and writer Gail Simone defended Brian Smith, disputing Liefeld's characterization of him, leading to a heated exchange on Twitter between Liefeld and Brevoort, and eventually head Batman writer Scott Snyder as well.
In late November 2012, Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool had noted the possibility of Gail Simone leaving Batgirl and possibly DC Comics as a whole. In December 2012, Gail Simone had revealed that she was no longer the writer of Batgirl, despite the title being a consistent top-seller, as well receiving favorable reviews. She had been informed by her new editor, Brian Cunningham, via e-mail of the creative change. Ray Fawkes would fill-in for two issues, Batgirl #17 and #18. Twelve days after being fired, however, Gail Simone had announced that she had been re-hired as the writer of Batgirl, and that she would return following Fawkes' issues.
In early September 2013, J. H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman announced their intention to leave Batwoman with issue 26, citing last-minute editorial changes as the reason. Among these editorial decisions was a prohibition on having the title character marry her fiancée Maggie Sawyer. Co-Publisher Dan DiDio explained that the major superheroes in the Batman family of books should not get married because finding true happiness would undermine the angst and turmoil that typify those characters, and their commitment to the superhero lives they lead. Writer Marc Andreyko, who is openly gay himself, takes over the title with issue 25, which features a "Batman: Zero Year" tie-in. This creative change interrupts the finale to Williams' and Blackman's last on the title. Issue 25 and 26 had already been written prior to their departure.
- In the video game Batman: Arkham Origins, skins based on Batman's New 52 costume design (as well as a metallic variant) and the Batman of Earth 2's New 52 design, are available to be unlocked.
- In the video game "Injustice: Gods Among Us", Batman's New 52 costume is a purchaseable DLC pack along with Superman and Wonder Woman's designs.
- The 2014 direct-to-video animated feature, Justice League: War, is based on the first New 52 Justice League storyline, "Origin".
- "Flashpoint", the storyline that leads directly into The New 52.
- DC Implosion, a 1978 event in which DC cancelled or reformatted many of its titles, although not for the purposes of rebooting the fictional universe.
- "Crisis on Infinite Earths", a similar 1985 storyline, used to simplify and reboot concepts in the DC Universe.
- "Infinite Crisis", the 2005-2006 sequel storyline to Crisis on Infinite Earths.
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