DC Entertainment's latest comic book initiative relies on a very simple, very classic formula: Take some of the best creators at the company, pair them with some of the best characters at the company and stand back. Welcome to DC Black Label.
"Many of our perennially best-selling, critically acclaimed books were produced when we unleashed our top talent on stand-alone, often out-of-continuity projects featuring our most iconic characters, a prime example being Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns," DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee explained in a statement about the new imprint. "Creating DC Black Label doubles down on our commitment to working with all-star talent and trusting them to tell epic, moving stories that only they can tell with the highest levels of creative freedom."
Invoking Miller was not a random choice; the iconic creator is writing his first full Superman project, Superman: Year One, for the imprint, with John Romita Jr. illustrating. Also on tap are Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, reteaming for Batman: Damned — which teams the Dark Knight with John Constantine for a story that tests the former's sanity after the Joker is found dead — and, in her first major DC work, Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly co-creator Kelly Sue DeConnick, partnering with Phil Jimenez for Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons, which tells the lost history of Wonder Woman's people from their creation through the arrival of Steve Trevor on Paradise Island. (Jimenez's promotional art for Wonder Woman Historia is in the video above.)
Other projects in the works for DC Black Label include the already announced John Ridley project The Other History of the DC Universe, a new Batman project from the best-selling creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo called Batman: Last Knight on Earth and the return of writer Greg Rucka to Wonder Woman, with a project set 20 years in the future under the working title Wonder Woman: Diana's Daughter.
Each of the DC Black Label titles will be released in a format and schedule dictated by its creators and take place outside of the canonical DC Universe as seen in the regular comic book series, allowing creators to take full advantage of the creative possibilities on offer.
"We are carefully crafting each series to fit the vision of the creative team," said Mark Doyle, executive editor for the imprint. "All of these creators are masters of their craft. I'm psyched to be working on a Wonder Woman story with Kelly Sue and Phil, helping to bring John's vision of The Other History of the DC Universe to life and reuniting with some of the greatest Batman talents in the industry."
The line is scheduled to launch in August with the first issue of the three-part Superman: Year One. DC's official synopses for the launch titles are below.
Superman: Year One from Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race) and John Romita Jr. (All-Star Batman, Superman)
A groundbreaking, definitive treatment of Superman's classic origin story in honor of his 80th anniversary. This story details new revelations that reframe the Man of Steel's most famous milestones — from Kal-El's frantic exile from Krypton, to Clark Kent's childhood in Kansas, to his inevitable rise to become the most powerful and inspiring superhero of all time.
Batman: Last Knight on Earth from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the creative team behind Dark Knights: Metal
Batman wakes up in a desert. He doesn't know what year it is or how The Joker's head is alive in a jar beside him, but it's the beginning of a quest unlike anything the Dark Knight has undertaken before. In this strange future, villains are triumphant and society has liberated itself from the burden of ethical codes. Fighting to survive while in search of answers, Bruce Wayne uncovers the truth about his role in this new world — and begins the last Batman story ever told.
Batman: Damned from Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, the creative team behind Joker
On a deserted Gotham City bridge, a body is found. Whispers spread the news: Joker is dead. But is this a dream come true or a nightmare being born? Now Batman and DC's outlaw magician John Constantine must hunt the truth through a Gotham City hellscape. The city's supernatural recesses are laced with hints about a killer's identity, but the Dark Knight's descent into horror will test his sanity and the limits of rationality, as he must face a horror that doesn't wear a mask.
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons from Kelly Sue DeConnick (Bitch Planet) and Phil Jimenez (Infinite Crisis)
A Homeric epic of the lost history of the Amazons and Queen Hippolyta's rise to power. Featuring monsters and myths, this three-book saga spans history from the creation of the Amazons to the moment Steve Trevor washes up on the shores of Paradise Island, changing our world forever.
Wonder Woman: Diana's Daughter (working title) from Greg Rucka (Wonder Woman, Batwoman)
It's been 20 years since the world stopped looking to the skies for hope, help and inspiration. Now the world keeps its eyes down, and the powers that have risen have every intention of keeping things that way. Amongst a scattered, broken resistance, a young woman seeks to reclaim what has been forgotten, and on the way will learn the truth about herself, her heritage, and her destiny.
The Other History of the DC Universe from John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, The American Way)
A compelling literary series analyzing iconic DC moments and charting sociopolitical gains through the perspectives of DC superheroes who come from traditionally disenfranchised groups, including John Stewart, Extraño, Vixen, Supergirl, Katana and Rene Montoya, among others. At its core, the story focuses on the lives of those behind the costumes and their endeavors to overcome real-world issues. It isn't about saving the world, it's about having the strength to simply be who you are.