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DC Comics Relaunches Vertigo Imprint With New 'Sandman' Series From Gaiman

DC Entertainment announces six new series by year's end, including Neil Gaiman's return to "Sandman."

DC Comic The Sandman Art with Neil Gaiman Inset - P 2013
DC Entertainment; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Rumors of the demise of DC Entertainment's mature readers comics imprint, Vertigo, have, it seems, been greatly exaggerated. Fresh off its most successful new series launch in 13 years (Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy's aquatic horror The Wake), the imprint has announced that it will launch six new series in the final quarter of 2013, including Neil Gaiman's much anticipated return to the Sandman franchise.

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Gaiman's return to Sandman initially was announced at last year's San Diego Comic-Con as Sandman Zero, a prequel to his original 75-issue run on the award-winning series to be illustrated by J.H. Williams III, an artist who previously has worked with such well-known writers as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Greg Rucka. A story in the New York Times has revealed that the new series, to launch Oct. 30, has been re-titled The Sandman: Overture

The New York Times bestselling author also is connected to another of the new series, The Dead Boy Detectives, which will launch in November; the eponymous lead characters originated in a 1992 storyline from The Sandman. The other titles launching are:

  • Hinterkind -- about "a post-apocalyptic world in which the creatures of myth and legend have returned" -- written by 2000AD veteran Ian Edginton with art by Francesco Trifogl.
    Francesco Trifogli
    Francesco Trifogli
  • The Discipline, an erotic thriller from Peter Milligan, whose Enigma series launched the Vertigo line 20 years ago, and artist Leo Hernandez.
  • Suiciders, a post-apocalyptic science fiction series about two boxers at the different extremes of their careers by writer/artist Leo Bermejo.
  • Coffin Hill, by fantasy novelist Caitlin Kittredge and illustrator Inaki Miranda, about a teenager's accidental resurrection of a dark power left buried since the Salem Witch Trials.

The announcement of these new series coincides with a subtle relaunch of the Vertigo brand within DC Comics. Following the departure of original executive editor Karen Berger earlier this year, Vertigo has been headed up by Shelly Bond, a longtime senior editor of the line who has given interviews promising that she intends to use Vertigo to "kick down the barriers between what comic books can be and what popular culture is," and "show the masses that comics are the most essential part of pop culture."

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Of course, given the success of comic book movies like Man of Steel, Marvel's The Avengers and Iron Man 3, it's unclear whether there are actually any barriers left between comic books and popular culture, but at least Vertigo has, for the most part, stayed away from the superhero genre with the exception of a handful of titles. It's perhaps worth noting that, Batman and Superman aside, many of DC Entertainment's comic book movies have come from Vertigo titles: The Losers, V For Vendetta and even The Road to Perdition are these days considered part of the Vertigo catalog.

Bond's presence as executive editor (and hyperbole) has been present in Vertigo's actual comics for the past couple of weeks, with releases featuring editorials boasting that "we DEFY the rules and slaughter the stereotypes" and advertisements for new releases built around the "DEFY" hook (The Wake, for example, is advertised with the tagline "DEFY Fear," while ads for the new 100 Bullets: Brother Lono series invites readers to "DEFY Graves").

With sales of The Wake managing to raise the entire Vertigo line to its best sales level in a decade, it appears that Vertigo, itself, might be defying the perception that, without Berger, it was headed towards swift closure. Perhaps Gaiman's Overture really will be the beginning of something after all.