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 1-4012-3451-8|
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 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.
Publication history 
Following the conclusion of the Flashpoint limited series, all DC titles 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 has 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 event is dubbed as the Second Wave, and reveals more of The New 52 DC Universe. Batman Incorporated was previously absent from the initial line up of Batman titles and would continue Grant Morrison's storyline involving a conflict between Batman and Talia al Ghul.
On June 8, 2012, DC announced that in September 2012, the one year anniversary of The New 52 launch, all titles would be getting a zero issue, dubbed "Zero Month". In addition, the Third Wave of titles were 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 of 2012, DC announced new titles Threshold, Constantine, Justice League of America, Katana and Justice League of America's Vibe. Threshold would be published in January 2013, while the latter 3 would be published 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 will be published as the 52nd title for the month of February.
On the week of January 28, 2013 all printed The New 52 publications featured advertisements for Channel 52. As of February, two page back-ups titled Channel 52 appear in all books, replacing the previous "DC Comics: All Access" features. This news feature stars Bethany Snow, Ambush Bug, Vartox, and Calendar Man as reporters and anchors on a 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.
On January 30, 2013, DC announced that all titles released in April 2013 will be "WTF Certified". Each title will have a gatefold cover and story lines and moments that will leave readers in a state of shock, including the return of Booster Gold. However, there has been confirmation that DC would drop the "WTF Certified" branding and will not be featured 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, which included The Savage Hawkman, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man, Sword of Sorcery, Team 7, Deathstroke and The Ravagers.
In April 2013, the cancellation of Batman, Incorporated was announced for July. 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, for August. 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.
Changes to 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 in 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.
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:
- Justice League
- These are titles featuring characters related to the Justice League and its various affiliations, including the Justice Society of Earth 2.
- These titles feature the "Superman Family" of characters. Superman's marriage with Lois Lane never happened, he is a bachelor, and his adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha Kent have died. Storylines emphasize his alien nature and how it isolates him from humanity.
- Fundamental elements of Batman's history and timeline have been rebooted, but still bears strong similarities to the previous continuity. Stephanie Brown's and Cassandra Cain's histories have been erased. All of the Robins, except for Stephanie Brown, have been accounted for, including the non-canonical Carrie Kelley, and Barbara Gordon has recovered from a three year paralysis, recently returning as Batgirl. The stories build on recent developments, and Bruce Wayne is again the only Batman.
- Green Lantern
- The Green Lantern line has seen minor changes in its continuity. However, some characters' origins, such as Guy Gardner's, have significantly changed. The new storyline builds on the aftermath of the War of the Green Lanterns story arc. Sinestro becomes Green Lantern again after taking Hal Jordan's ring, Abin Sur's connection to the Indigo Tribe has been explained, and Kyle Rayner headlines a new team whose members represent each light of the emotional spectrum.
- Young Justice
- These titles feature teenaged characters whose books do not fall into the other groups of titles.
- The Edge
- These are war, science fiction, western, or crime comics, including titles formerly belonging to the WildStorm imprint.
- The Dark
- These are titles with supernatural themes, including titles formerly belonging to the Vertigo Comics 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. However, DC remained dominant in the Top 10 of comic books until April 2012, when the launch of Marvel's crossover event "Avengers vs. X-Men" led them to take the top slot for the first time in seven months. By the end of 2012, Marvel was still the top publisher, leading the year-end-analysis in both dollar and unit market shares with a 34.06% dollar market share and a 37.59% Unit Market Share, compared to DC's 31.94% and 36.75% Dollar market share and unit market share, respectively.
Since October 2012, DC's sales have been declining and in April 2013 their unit share fell below 28% while dollar share was below 26%.
Critical reception 
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.
Accusations of sexism 
Lack of female creators 
"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". 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.
Editorial controversies 
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, The Savage Hawkman, and Deathstroke 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.
See also 
- 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 event, used to simplify and reboot concepts in the DC Universe.
- "Infinite Crisis", the 2005-2006 sequel event to "Crisis on Infinite Earths".
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- Clabaugh, Rich (August 31, 2011). ""Justice League #1": a new start for DC Comics". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved August 31, 2011.
- One title featuring DC Universe characters but not set in the standard continuity, DC Universe Online: Legends, is not affected by the rebooting/renumbering.
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