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Five years after relaunching its entire comics line with an initiative dubbed the New 52, DC Entertainment unveiled a new revamp of its publishing side, titled Rebirth.
The company is starting most of its titles from No. 1, bringing in some new writers and new artists on the books, and putting two of its flagship books, Action Comics and Detective Comics, comics that have been published since the 1930s, back to their original numbering.
“Sometimes you lose your way, you get a little lost,” admitted DC co-publisher Dan Didio to a packed room of 500 fans at WonderCon, the comic and pop culture convention in Los Angeles on Saturday.
The New 52 proved to be a divisive event for comic fans and comics retailers with some books being hits — Batman by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, is one example — while others didn’t connect.
“You felt it. And after a while, we felt it too,” he said, adding one purpose of Rebirth was to reaffirm to fans the company’s commitment to readers.
Among some of the changes: the price of comics is being reduced, characters are being redesigned and some titles will begin publishing twice a month. “We’re doubling down … on our key characters.”
Among the creative changes:
Tom King, who once worked for the CIA, will write Batman, DC’s biggest selling title, picking up after Snyder, whose five-year run on the title was company’s the biggest success, commercially and critically.
King previously worked in counterterrorism and will draw on his experience dealing with “madness that haunts us” and not having it overtake you. “Batman is us,” he said. “He’s out there with his wits, with his family and his obsession.”
Gene Yang, whose work American Born Chinese became the first graphic novel to be a finalist for the National Book Award, is writing New Superman, a comic that is set in Shanghai and whose main character is a 17-year old Chinese teen who finds himself with Superman’s powers.
Well-regarded authors Greg Rucka and Christopher Priest are returning to write comics for the company, with Rucka returning to write Wonder Woman. Rucka’s return signals that DC is hoping to raise the heroine’s profile — and the quality of her title — for when the character hits the movie screens for the first time in her own movie in 2017.
Joining the Chinese Superman in the new lineup are a Latina Green Lantern and the return to prominence of Batwoman, a lesbian, among several comics highlighting diversity. There is no doubt that the titles are meant to draw in new readers and reflect the modern world, but DC executives said it was less about overt discussions about diversity than being reflective of today’s world.
“This is the new normal. It’s the reality,” said co-publisher Jim Lee after the presentation. “If you’re creating a list of characters to use, it’s less about filling quotas than seeing who are cool characters and what haven’t we seen before.”
Chief creative officer Geoff Johns, one of the comic world’s big writers who also oversees DC’s successful forays into television, said the big difference between the launch of the New 52 and Rebirth is that the company is making a point to be more cohesive in its approach.
“The difference in process is we’re having huge creative meetings and discussions,” he said. “It’s like a writers’ room in TV. And for each book, we go, ‘Why are we are going to do this? What are we trying to say [with] this book?’”
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Sir Anthony Hopkins